Today, was quite possibly, one of the most wonderful adventures I’ve ever experienced.
Before I go into detail, let me just do a brief list of all the things I managed to pack into my day:
0. Got off on the wrong bus stop
1. Breakfast of booze and bacon in the city
2. Coffee on top of the Space Needle
3. Touring the Chihuly Gardens and Glass Museum
4. EMP Museum (also known as a nerdy girl’s dream museum)
5. Made a wrong turn — hopelessly lost
6. Made five more wrong turns — even more lost…
7. Got on the wrong bus
8. Got off the wrong bus
9. Made another wrong turn
10. Got on the right bus
11. Finally made it back to the youth hostel
12. Got hungry and decided to try fresh Seattle seafood
13. Missed the bus to the waterfront
14. Walked down to the waterfront (DIDN’T GET LOST!)
15. Found some seafood
16. Walked back to the hostel (AND DIDN’T GET LOST!)
Now, my day started off quite early. For some reason, my body decided that six hours was enough sleep, and it was high time for me to introduce myself to Seattle. Luckily, my hostel starts breakfast at 6 AM, so I was good to go for coffee, oranges, a particularly overripe banana, and some grapefruit juice.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I wistfully stared at a few of my fellow early risers as they wolfed down croissants, bagels and cream cheese, and muffins. Luckily, I don’t think they noticed my lustful stares at their flaky pastries. Or, if they did, they chose to ignore it.
Finally, about 7 AM, I made my way toward downtown Seattle. My aim for today? To do the truly classic touristy things. And you simply can’t go to Seattle and NOT see the Space Needle! Little did I know that there were SO many other things to do right next door.
So, I ventured into the city. Good news is I got on the right bus. Bad news is I got off on the wrong bus stop. However, it did allow me the opportunity to (somewhat) aimlessly wander the early morning streets. I found myself a number of small cafes and coffee shops that seemed to cater mostly to the pastry-abled world. Sadly, I’m pasty-disabled. Therefore, I continued to wander around, until I came across a most unusual place, full of punk rock spunk, in what appeared to be a bar open for breakfast.
Since it was still early, and no one was open for touring local spots, I decided I would sit down and plan out my day. Well, moderately (read loosely) plan where I was going to go.
I would be a great Hobbit.
Why, you ask?
Well, I’ll tell you why. I’m short and round, and I THOROUGHLY believe in the importance of a Second Breakfast, particularly when traveling. Luckily, my food allergies limit my options at Second Breakfast, so I was only able to partake in some bacon and a mimosa.
I was a bit disappointed.
For having been around for so long, Five Points Bar was rather lacking on actual taste in both the food and the drink area. First, my bacon was burnt, and honestly tasted like they salted it before frying it up in the pan.
Bacon does NOT need to be salted. Trust me on this, and just step away from the salt shaker.
Second, though my mimosa was made with fresh squeezed orange juice, it was made with subpar Prosecco.
C’est la vie.
Luckily though, by the time I finished my juice and bacon, it was a semi-decent hour for touring the city. With that being said, I Hobbit-strolled my plump Second-Breakfast-filled-self over to the Seattle Center, which luckily enough, houses the Space Needle (as well as a collection of other wonderful places).
Here, at the base of this beautiful work of architecture (which looks like a fantastic floating spaceship circa 1940s imagination), I purchased my duo ticket for my ride to the observation ticket, and it’s prompt follow up to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.
Now, if you’re going to go to the Space Needle, I highly suggest that you go early in the morning. With my launch time at 9:15, there were only five other people on the observation deck with me.
And it was stunning.
It was awe inspiring to walk around the observation deck, viewing the city I’d been in love with since a little girl, accompanied with only the sounds of the wind in my hair and awakening city beneath me.
So after taking a million pictures, I headed inside the observation deck, where I watched promptly ordered coffee and enjoyed the view of the city below the Space Needle.
I finished my coffee, and headed out for one last tour around the deck, and one last picture from atop the Space Needle.
Next, I was off to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Before you enter the museum proper, they have these stunning giant sunflowers that just soak up the sun.
Up close and personal, when you walk the path around these giant beauties, these interactive motion-detecting speakers will emit loud vocal chorus music that adds to the simplistic beauty of theses works of art.
As this was the only outdoor exhibit viewable from outside of the museum, it was time to enter. This was not merely a museum. As you walk through the exhibit, it feels more like you’re walking the mental landscape of a mind that’s reached a higher plain of thinking.
The first exhibit are these beautiful pieces of blown pink and blue glass, sitting in the dark, lit up by small lights to give an eerie effect of glowing swans afloat at the peak of midnight.
OR maybe being lost in some sort of fantastical forrest.
The next exhibit room I wandered into was filled was basically a rainbow room, until you looked at the ceiling. The ceiling of the room was the exhibit: a glass showcase filled with creations mimicking the free flowing forms of coral life, with soft ambient light shining through to give the room this warm rainbow glow.
With sea life on the mind, the exhibit hall then throws you into this darkly lit room, where the only source of light is that which lights up the art work, giving this awe inspiring feeling of being surrounded by nothing but this fantastical creation that merges together underwater sea life with a Willy Wonka-esque imagination.
Every angle of the piece brings together something new and unique on its own level.
But through the forest of glass creations, was this monstrous center piece that is just insane to think of the construction of it.
After the sea life exhibit, there was just a room, in the dark, filled with boats that were filled with pieces of blown glass of all shapes and sizes.
Sounds odd, I know, but was surprisingly cool looking.
And, of course, life isn’t complete without some spiky glass chandeliers made out of weird shapes.
Are you tired of seeing pictures of blown glass yet?
I knew it. Well, lucky for you, I have more pictures with which to bore you. However, from here on out we’re in the Chihuly gardens.
Here in the gardens, it’s a beautiful mixture of diverse flowers of all colors that are offset by towering and twisting pieces of glass work.
and then there is just this randomly placed giant piece of red glasswork, surrounded by poppies and tulips.
So naturally, I had to take a picture with it.
With one final picture, I leave you with your own thoughts on the beautiful pieces of artist Chihuly, that are just sitting in glorious wonder in the Seattle Center.
If you’re a Seattle or Washington local, or you’re just visiting, I say this openly: you will regret not seeing this exhibit. It is a must see for everyone.
We all need a little imaginative beauty in our lives.
So, with my excursion to the Glass Gardens finished, it was time to go to the EMP museum.
Don’t ask me what EMP stands for, I’ve no idea.
What do I know?
This is the coolest museum IN EXISTENCE!! Well, if you’re a nerd/geek this is the coolest museum in existence.
Why is this the coolest museum? You may be asking that, and the good news is that I have an answer for you.
This museum had five main exhibits, but I only cared about three.
1. Fantasy literature and film.
2. Science fiction literature and film.
3. Horror movies.
4. Kurt Cobaine and the Seattle Sound of grunge rock.
5. Jimmi Hendrix and his London Tour.
Can you tell which ones I cared the most about?
Yeah…that’s right, I found Sirius Black’s robe from Harry Potter!
Also, Seattle is apparently the gateway to the Iron Throne, as I found that torturous chair, as well as Cersei Lannister’s fantastic dress with it’s protective iron bosom, and Tyrion Lannister’s wonderful leathered uniform of impish protection.
But we must not forget that it can’t be a fantasy exhibit without some sort of homage to The Princess Bride.
And an homage there was. Oooooooo was there an homage.
They had Princess Buttercup’s dress on display along with Wesley/The Dread Pirate Roberts’ semi-Zorro related masked uniform on display, along with Inigo Montoya’s cherished sword.
As I made my way out of the fantasy section and into the science fiction world, it was a world of nerdy delights!
I found Captain Kirk’s chair, overrun with Tribbles (that’s the Trouble with Tribbles), Starbuck’s uniform from the Battlestar Galactica re-launch, Darth Vader’s lightsaber, Yoda’s walking stick, an Imperial Dalek, a Cyberman, and oh so much more. It was by far one of the coolest experiences I have ever had in a museum.
After my excursion into the basement to find myself in a darkly lit room filled with horror movie paraphernalia, I decided it was time to leave. Five hours of museum touring had really tuckered me out and it was time to find my way back to Chinatown, and to find some food.
Little did I know that this was so not going to happen.
Now, the thing about being a Colorado girl is I can only figure out what direction I am headed in when I have the Rocky Mountains. You always know they are on the west, ergo, you can always figure out what direction you are headed.
No such luck in Seattle, folks.
I made a wrong turn, and I still have no idea which direction I was actually going. Now, I ended up hiking about three miles into north Queen Anne (so maybe I was partially going north). Well, hiking into Queen Anne was full of many stops and many many moments of me unfurling my map and staring at it with the blatant touristy look of “Where the hell am I and how do I get back to where I was?”
At this point in time, I had made my way into a neighborhood that mostly consisted of road construction and houses. I did, however, manage to finally come across somewhere to get food. My experience there, however, was much to be desired.
I went to New York Pizza, which was a highly overpriced pizza/burger joint in Queen Anne, with pretty poor customer service when it came to allergies.
Now, I’ve come to understand that Seattle does NOT have much of an allergy awareness or multi-allergy crossover. Finding gluten free options at restaurants seems to be relatively easy, but finding gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, peanut free food is near impossible. In Colorado, when I introduce myself to waiters/waitresses, I tend to come up against quite a bit of sympathy, and someone (usually) who is pretty damn determined to find me something on the menu to eat.
So, it was much to my surprise that when I sat down at this upscale pizza/burger joint, that I introduced myself to the bartender and was greeted with laughter. I informed him of my allergies, and asked if he could possibly help me find anything on the menu that I could safely eat.
“Good luck and have fun with that.”
I was incredibly disappointed to find that, as a server, in a completely empty restaurant (because I always go places after/before rushes, so as not to be terribly imposing), that he was entirely unwilling to help me. Finally, I had to coax answers out of him.
“What about your sweet potato fries, if I were to leave out the siracha aioli?”
“Yeah, they aren’t breaded.”
“So…what oil do you use?”
“No idea. I just suggest you don’t order them.”
I gave this waiter a blank stare as he responded. His complete apathy in regards to helping me find food was chipping away at the meager tip he was starting out with due to his rudeness.
At this point in time, I gave up on receiving any help from him. Normally, I probably would have walked out at this point in time, but I only had 3% left on my phone’s battery charge, and it was the only place to eat in my vicinity. So I stayed, and inquired further.
“Alright, fine. I’ll take the bacon cheeseburger. NO CHEESE, no bun, no onion. Also, please wipe down the grill, and do not use any oil or butter.”
“So you basically want a piece of meat with bacon and pickles and no flavor?Great.
Now, here is a tip to all you servers in the world. If you get a customer who is nitpicking your cooking style and the ingredients, it’s most likely not the result of someone on a fad diet, but someone who has genuine health concerns.
When you have a customer who goes so far to ask what kind of oil blend is used, you need to pay attention to the accuracy of the information you provide, and the quality of service you give a customer. Otherwise, you can find yourself and your company in a sticky situation if you happen to be so apathetic that it can result in an anaphylactic reaction. MMMMKAY!?
Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox now. But it drives me crazy to be treated with such laziness in regards to my health.
Trust me, if I could enjoy all the tasty foods while I’m on vacation, I totally would.
Finally, my “tasteless piece of meat” (as described by my waiter) arrived.
While it may not have had all the fixings of a normal burger, I found it to be supremely tasty in and of itself. It was fresh meat, cooked to perfection, topped with some wonderful crispy bacon, and some tasty pickles.
However, I don’t personally think that this burger was worth the dollar sign of $11, but who knows, maybe a bun and that slice of cheddar cheese would have made it worth that much money. Somehow, I don’t think so, but I’m a bit jaded on the restaurant after my treatment.
SO while my food was tasty, the moral of the story is: IF you suffer from multiple allergies, don’t go to New York Pizza in Queen Anne.
Also, I suppose the other moral of the story is: If you get lost, don’t keep making turns and switching streets. I suggest to sticking to a single street in order to backtrack. My bad guys.
Now that lunch was done with, and it was about four in the afternoon, I decided that I really did need to find my way back to Chinatown. No surprise, my bartender/waiter was no help when I asked for his help.
Seriously, I’m happy he wasn’t my first experience with people in Seattle, cause he was awful. Everyone else has been delightful. Anyway, back to the story; when I asked for his help as to which bus I should take, or which road I should walk back on, his response was as follows:
“I don’t know, I’m not a tour guide. I only know what I take to get into work.”
Thanks bud, you’re a real gem.
As luck would have it though, I found 5th avenue, and walked that all the way into Belltown, wherein I found the most helpful homeless man who told me which bus to get on to go back to Chinatown.
So nice! And it gets even better: in exchange for a pack of fruit snacks, I got serenaded with a spur of the moment personally written song by a homeless man equipped with an empty water jug, his hands, and a stunningly beautiful voice.
Now, after being serenaded, I felt absolutely refreshed and in high spirits that I was GOING to find the right bus.
I know what you’re wondering: “Did Allison actually get on the right bus?”
And let me tell you, boy was I happy to finally find a bus to get on, because I was tired from walking all day long. However, I did get off on the wrong stop…
Like I said, I am severely directionally challenged. Also, I’m apparently incredibly challenged when it comes to operating a bus system. While I didn’t get off at the right stop in Chinatown, I did get off on an adjacent street I recognized, and I made my slow way back to the youth hostel.
After a long day of being lost in the city, and finding many hidden gems (and not so gems), it was time for a hot shower, some ibuprofen, headphones, and a power nap.
I rested up for a couple of hours, and then decided I was hungry. The heavenly smells of Chinese food wafting through my bedroom window was tormenting me.
If I had known when I booked my hostel stay that I was going to be surrounded by five different Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese restaurants beneath my building, I’m not so sure I would have booked such a painfully torturous experience.
So, I put on my shoes, grabbed a jacket, and decided to make my way to the Seattle Waterfront in hopes of finding seafood. Now, the girl at the front desk told me I wanted to take bus 99 down to the waterfront, and back. She said would be an easy trip.
Unfortunately, after 6:05 PM it would appear that the 99 doesn’t run from Chinatown to the Waterfront.
So, I pulled out my map of Seattle, grabbed Siri, and slowly wandered down to the waterfront. If there was water only on side of Seattle, I may have been able to find it a bit easier, but luckily enough, I only got lost once.
How did I finally find my way to the Waterfront? Jimmy John’s Delivery Biker. Super nice guy directed me to the proper streets.
Once I found myself in the right district, I found myself utterly in love with the area. The cloudy skies at sunset over the water, with mountains in the background, was quite possibly one of the most stunning views I’ve come across. It was a beautiful mixture of nature and man coming together. Buildings, skyscrapers, docks, and water and mountains just blending together in natural beauty, intensified by the sweet salty smell of the water.
While I paused to look out off the docks, I enjoyed the mellow sounds of water sloshing against the wooden planks meshing with the gulls above head, hungrily cawing for any scraps of fish n’chips that may have been lying around, unclaimed, from local hotspots like Ivar’s or Elliot’s or The Crab Pot with all their walk up windows specializing in fried deliciousness.
In case you were wondering, this is Ivar, feeding the world’s largest seagulls apparently native to Seattle. Why he wants to attract those babies, I’ve no idea.
Though I determined that Ivar’s was not the dinner hotspot for me, it seemed to be a local hotspot for everyone else. The food smelled heavenly of fish and shrimp fried to golden perfection. I wandered ever further on down the Waterfront, and found myself falling more in love with the city with every wandering footstep.
I finally decided upon a restaurant: The Crab Pot.
However, it was a thirty minute wait (even for a table of one), so they advised that I go wander around and come back a bit later. So while I waited for my table, I walked out on to the pier, and looked at the Ferris wheel, people watched as a gaggle of high school dates walked by in full Prom gear, supposedly headed off from to their last high school hurrah.
The wind was blowing, and it was perfectly chilly as the sun was setting.
Basically, it was ideal people watching weather. After about ten minutes of only seeing the same ten people walking back and forth across the docks, I decided to wander inside to the Gold Rush Food Court, and looked around the local shop of Pirate’s Plunder, where they cater to the hokey and ridiculous stereotypes of fisherman (insert yellow raincoat, peg leg, and crusty old men with no teeth).
After wandering for a bit, I decided to make my way back to The Crap Pot, wherein my table was luckily ready. I was seated on the upper-deck indoor patio. Sadly, I didn’t have a good enough view to take pictures of the waterfront below me, but I did manage to get some good people watching in while I waited for my food.
Again, my waiter was utterly flumoxed by my allergies, but, despite being amused by my “inability to eat real food” (his words), he was very attentive and determined to make sure I could eat some food.
I’m not sure if this was just a personal challenge, or if he was aiming for a good tip, but he was quite helpful.
Sadly, what I wanted the most (a giant dish called “The Cove”) was not to be for me, as it was a steamed bake of crab, mussels, shrimp, gluten free sausage, and corn that was actually designed for two. And $40 of steamed seafood just seemed a bit over the top for someone on a solo dining trip.
Instead, I ordered the wood-fired grilled giant sea scallops with steamed broccoli and steamed red potatoes, no butter, no oil (everywhere in Seattle seams to use an oil blend of canola and soy.).
My waiter was quite nice, and ensured me that they would clean the grill to make sure there wasn’t a problem with cross contamination.
So while I waited for my food, I amusingly watched my fellow diners all beat their dinners to a tiny little pulp with their little bitty wooden mallets. It was like watching Gulliver attempting to eat seafood. No one seemed to be aware of my amusement at their predicament as they all smashed in their food and then plucked out the meat with tiny little seafood forks.
Finally, my food arrived:
These were quite possibly some of the best scallops I’ve ever had in my life. So tasty.
My waiter was delightfully surprised by my enthusiasm for which I ate these scallops. I’m not ashamed to say I cleaned my plate.
By the time I finished my dinner and paid, it was coming up on 9 PM, and I had been going since about 5 AM. It was definitely time to be heading back to the youth hostel for a cup of hot Earl Grey tea and a homemade brownie that my wonderful mother had sent with me on my trip.
Luckily, Allison made NO WRONG TURNS n her walk back to the youth hostel. I managed to find my way back from the Waterfront (particularly Alaskan Way) all the way back to 5th Avenue and King Street without getting lost. It would seem that my sense of direction pitied me enough from earlier in the afternoon, that I was allowed off the hook for the evening.
SO I slowly wandered my way home for the evening, crawled up the stairs to the hostel, put on pajamas, and promptly passed out in an exhausted haze, filled with scallops, tea, and brownies.
Day Two: The Traveling Allergen was a hit and miss of foodie adventures, but a complete success in falling in love with the city I’ve loved from afar since childhood.