Those of you who follow my posts know I’d been talking about the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 taking place in Penticton, British Columbia. Well now that event is in the past and I’m finally getting around to putting my experiences on paper, err web.
I signed up for a pre-excursion to Lake Chelan, WA leaving from Seattle. Prior to this I was on the fence about attending since airfare was too expensive for this lowly wine blogger to fly from ATL to British Columbia. When the news came about an excursion leaving from Seattle, I squealed with delight and began booking airlines, hotels, shuttles, more airlines and more hotels. I have wanted to visit Seattle for many years and I have to tell you, it is a city you must see.
Upon landing at Sea-Tac I made my way to the Sound Transit light rail. This is not for the faint of heart if you are dragging heavy luggage and equally heavy carry on. I’m a girl and I don’t travel light, I enjoy having some comforts with me especially when traveling across the country or in this case eventually out of the country and I’m on my own. Anyway, after I finally dragged my 50 pounds of luggage to what seemed a mile, I found a spot on the rail to store my luggage and sat myself down to catch my breath. One stop later a man in his mid to late 20’s boarded the train wearing Army green long johns, sunglasses and bunny ears. I texted my husband, “Apparently Portland isn’t the only city that’s a little weird in the NW, Seattle seems to be as well.” I mean this in a good way since one of Portland’s motto’s is Keep Portland Weird. This was certainly weird. The guy dressed like an Army Bunny and his friend got off at Stadium Station. I was dying to know what the story was and where he was going but I my own plans.
Minutes later I arrived in downtown Seattle. I knew my hotel, The Executive Hotel Pacific was just 5 minutes from the downtown station. I also knew it was somewhat of a steep grade up Spring Street…what I didn’t know is what a feat this would be with 50 pounds of luggage, the kind you drag behind you, not the spinner type. This by the way will be rectified before I go on another big trip as I now have a possible torn rotator cuff which does not allow me to lift my arm further than a few inches.
After what seemed another mile I finally arrived at my hotel, out of breath and beat. I checked in, dropped off Boris and Natasha (the name I’ve now coined my suitcase and carry on), freshened up and hit the street heading for the only place I know to go, Pike Place Market. The same place every tourist in Seattle ends up. I know this because I saw people from my plane milling around the market.
I had last eaten around 6:00AM EST, it was now 12:00PM PST and my stomach
was demanding food. After watching the guys at Pike Place Fish Market hopelessly waiting to see a fish or two tossed I was drawn to Mt. Townsend Creamery where I purchased a small baguette and a sampling of soft cheeses. Next I spied Don & Joe’s Meats and purchased two Landjägers, a semi-dried meat that I adore, must be my German roots. Making my way out of the overly crowded market my lack of food and throngs of tourist were making me a little cranky. I was even tempted to chastise the late teen or 20 something I saw in the market. You see this same man got sick on our plane and vomited not only on himself but the man traveling with him. I understand people get sick but this does not mean you should then walk around in a public place with remnants of vomit on their clothes, sheese what the heck! They had luggage, change for crying out loud.
I stumbled back into the sunshine searching for a spot to enjoy my picnic lunch. I located a waterfront park next to the market and spotted a guy selling bottled water from a cooler while rolling cigarettes to sell for cheap. I bought some water, found a spot on the grass and soaked in the blue sky, sunshine and enjoyed some fascinating people watching. What’s all this talk about rain in Seattle anyway?
While noshing on my delightful lunch, I listened to a petite blond girl wearing a summer dress singing and playing guitar. After 30 minutes I headed back to the market where I explored shops of days gone by. Market Magic, a magic shop very similar to those I used to love as a kid, Tenzing Mono an apothecary and perfumery that had this soap, lotions and potions maker grinning from ear to ear as I took in the shelves and shelves of herbs and tinctures and array of bottles. So many stores and levels, seafood, flowers, pasta, meats, vegetables I was in heaven but saddened to know I wouldn’t be able to purchase to my heart’s content.
I made my way back to the hotel but first stopped for a café au lait that I sipped at a sidewalk café people watching and taking in the sights and sounds. Once back at the hotel I prepared for the 5:00 wine hour at my hotel where I imbibed in a rather forgettable Chardonnay. After I’d had my fill I set out for the Dahlia Lounge, one of the many offerings by Tom Douglas and his Seattle restaurant empire. Crossing 4th and Virginia I saw my first glimpse of the Space Needle in the distance, my destination set for tomorrow.
Inside Dahlia Lounge I grabbed a small booth by the bar and dove into the menu. With a plethora of local Washington wines I settled on a red but unfortunately I failed to take note of the wine, I know bad wine blogger. I can tell you what I ate, Kona kampachi, a delicate Hawaiian farmed fish similar to Yellowtail served ceviché style with curry oil, rhubarb and cilantro. Next came the Tuscan grilled bread salad with basil pesto, olives, tomatoes and spicy coppacola, I’ll be replicating this at home. Both were divine. After dinner I scooted across the street to Lola, another notch in the Douglas empire. There I sat at the bar and ordered a small carafe of Lola Red, a wine made especially for the restaurant. Fully satiated I took my time getting back to my hotel where I watched a couple of episodes of Frasier (it seemed fitting) until calling it a night.
When I awoke the next morning I thought it was around 8:00 judging by the amount of sunlight coming through my windows. The previous day I had to unplug the hotel alarm clock due to a lack of plugs for all my electronics. Groping on the side table I finally located my phone and was shocked to see it was just 5:00AM. I felt like I was in the land of the midnight sun as I noticed sun lighting the sky since 3:00AM.
Still on East Coast time and fully awake I took my time getting ready for day and set out for the monorail to see the only other tourist spot I know in Seattle, the Space Needle.
Arriving at Seattle Center a mere 5 minutes after boarding the monorail I grabbed a cup of coffee in the food court. I must note not once did I patron that big name coffee giant that got its start in Seattle but instead opted to support the smaller companies. I took my coffee outside and gazed upon the 600ft structure while taking pictures in all directions with the sun, without the sun, from a distance, up close, you name it. I even have a picture of a maintenance man mopping the cement.
While at the Seattle Center I marveled at the glass structures surrounding the Chihuly Garden and Glass, anyone who has seen Dale Chilhuly’s work at Las Vegas’ Bellagio knows the beauty and amazing colors that are capable of coming from sand, extreme heat and a wonderful artist. I would have enjoyed gazing at the glass works inside but I was there too early and I still needed to see some guys about a flying fish.
Back downtown I strolled along streets lined with skyscrapers, small boutique stores and large national department stores all the while navigating back to Pike Place Market. There I felt like I was stalking the most famous store front until I finally saw the Pike Place Fish Market guys throwing fish as people placed their orders. Northwest seafood lovers eagerly wait the Copper River salmon season that runs mid-May to mid-June and these large fish were literally flying out the door. Ok, well at least over the counter to be weighed, packed in ice and wrapped with sheets of newspaper before going home with some lucky person.
My mission accomplished I made my way to Pioneer Square. I walked down 1st street where the skyscrapers and a four lane road eventually gave way to beautiful tree and flower lined two lane street. The transformation was so remarkable I grabbed a seat on a bench outside Bill Speidel’s Underground Tours where I watched a sea of school children unload off school busses and others walk from nearby schools. Their excited screams and energy before taking a tour of Seattle’s infamous past beneath the city streets reminded me how fun it was to go on field trips, oh yeah I was on a sort of field trip myself, time to get moving.
I was on my way to Pioneer Square where I had a date with a charcuterie plate at Seattle’s Salumi Artisan Cured Meats. When Armandino Batali, Mario Batali’s dad, retired he opened Salumi, just one block from where his grandfather opened the first Italian import store in Seattle back in 1903.
Arriving 5 minutes before the doors open to the small cramped store front there was already a line of 15-20 people. Once the doors opened people slowly filed into the store, standing at the counter giving their orders while the most amazing aromas of spices wafted out the door. I wish I could bottle that smell and share it with others. I ordered the charcuterie, cheese and olive combo to go since the store front is very small and has limited seating. I then headed back to my hotel as Seattle is teeming with homeless and I didn’t feel right about eating my wonderful meal in front of those without. The meal was so large I had enough for a snack later in the afternoon.
That evening I met up with fellow bloggers at Purple Café where I enjoyed a flight of
Washington reds; Martedi Wines Sangiovese, Woodward Canyon Nelms Road Merlot and VA Piano Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. I also partook in several glasses of bubbly and a sampling of appetizers; tender calamari served with a Moroccan tomato aïoli, BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado) and king salmon tartar with seaweed salad, jalapeño, orange, sesame seeds and ginger aioli. Makes me hungry and my mouth drool just typing it in this post.
From there we wandered down to the Waterfront area where we watched The Seattle Great Wheel spin its 42 climate controlled gondolas a dizzying 175 feet up in the air making it one of the largest Ferris wheels in the US. What is it with Seattle and tall touristy structures? We ended our evening at Ivar’s Acres of Clams, a quintessential waterfront seafood restaurant. We arrived about 30 minutes before closing, just enough time for a glass of local brew and Ivar’s famous clam chowder which we learned has been sold since 1938.
Bellies fully of good food, head full of good drink and hearts content the three of us dredged up steep Spring St. where I said good-bye to my fellow bloggers who I would be meeting up with the next morning for the next leg of our trip, our bus ride to Lake Chelan, WA. Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss this post.