The Aimless Wanderer: A New Perspective on Seattle

Day Three of Seattle held many fascinating adventures for me. It was a day completely free of goals.

I suppose it may be strange to have a goal of no goals for a day traveling a new city; so please, let me explain.

I didn’t have any aims to visit a particular musuem, to see a particular iconic site, or to relive any iconic movie scenes. I didn’t plan on visiting any one particular restaurant, and I didn’t have any plans to visit a particular bar.

My goal of no goals was to simply go forward. So forward I went.

First, I wandered the streets around my hostel, looking in at the tiny storefront windows of the Chinatown bakeries. I’m a glutton for torture, apparently. I’m pretty sure I left tiny little salivating nose prints (much like dog window art) at this local shop, where the pastries smelled to die for, and from the looks of pure enjoyment on the store-goers, the store offers delicious foods.

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After torturing myself with visions of pastries never to be had, I headed down Jackson Avenue, no idea in what direction, but the Waterfront was on my left and Downtown Seattle was in front of me somewhere. I knew that eventually I would end up somewhere fascinating. In a city this large and teeming with so much diverse culture, how could I not stumble across a secret wonder?

And as I wandered with no aim in mind, I watched the city awaken in front of me on a Saturday morning. It was not a disappointing experience. The sun had already risen and was shining on the buildings downtown, offsetting the cloudy skies that were rolling in, offering hints of blue here in there in skyline. As I walked, I kept my eyes open and wide, looking at the storefronts of the city streets around me. Luckily enough, within a short walk of my hostel I found two different small museums.

The first:

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This little museum offers $4 admission to adults, and $2 admission to children. It’s a small, one roomed museum funded partially by the city, and partially by the proceeds from museum entrance. At 10 AM on a Saturday, I was the only one touring this little museum; though it’s quaint and small, there is a fantastic feel to this museum as it pays homage to the history of Seattle’s police force. It’s not much, but worth the small price of entrance, which let’s be honest folks, is cheaper than most cups of coffee.

After my small diversion, I continued every further on down the road. Still walking down Jackson Avenue, I diverted briefly to a side street, when I saw this sign:

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Now this museum, is definitely a hidden jewel in the city. It’s completely free of charge, being funded by the National Parks, and it’s open to the public every day of the week. It’s a small museum, two levels, that offers a unique perspective on the history of the Klondike Gold Rush. My favorite part of this little place was the actual set up of the exhibits. The curator decided to take a uniquely human perspective on the Gold Rush, rather than just a historical perspective.

Sure, you had the requisite historical newspapers and images detailing what/why/when/where/how, but this was effectively brought together with the story of five separate individuals from different cultural, social, racial perspectives, as well as different ages. As you walk through the exhibit, you get to read about their lives at different points of time within the Klondike Gold Rush.

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Nordstrom’s story was one my favorites throughout the museum. He was originally a Swedish immigrant who came to the US with no more than $10 in his pocket. While that was still a decent amount of money back in the day, it was by far more impressive to see what he did with his experience. Apparently, after wandering the Washington wilderness in his attempt to make it to the Klondike Gold Rush, when he finally made it to the encampment and had a hot cup of coffee and fresh sourdough bread, he said it was the best drink and meal he had ever had.

I think it may have been the exhaustion, because surely camp food couldn’t have been THAT amazing. Who knows though, maybe it was.

Once I left this little museum, I headed back out to Jackson Avenue, and made my way ever further toward the water. I reached the corner of Jackson and 1st Ave, and decided to turn right. Saturday morning had unfolded a world of new smells and sounds, and it looked like 1st Ave was a gateway to a whole new world (read in a Disney-esque musical voice).

Down the road, I came across this tantalizing sign, and had to walk into the building, which housed a collection of small boutiques, book stores, and of course, delicious pastries.

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Sadly, there was nothing edible to eat, and I again left behind some nose art as I drooled over their menu of delicious loafs of bread and sandwich menu.

By this time I was absolutely starving and in search of lunch. I learned I was actually wandering in Pioneer Square. You’re not lost if you’re just wandering. Luckily, my wandering streak allowed me to happen upon this little restaurant — a small two man kitchen more reminiscent of a seedy dive bar than a restaurant up to health code.

However, the best restaurants are always the ones that look the worst inside and out (at least this is the case in regards to quality Mexican food in the south), but who actually sport pretty damn spotless kitchens.

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Now, Mediterranean Mix boasts at being the King of Falafel, providing quality New York style pizza, and a FAMOUS Philly cheesesteak. I’m not sure about the others, but they did have some pretty damn good falafel.

I chose this restaurant for a plethora of reasons:

1. Mediterranean food typically tends to be a decently safe bet for dairy free, egg free, soy free, gluten free, peanut free concoctions
2. Chicken Shawarma and Basmati rice is actually one of my favorite meals of all time
3. Falafel is basically the best street food to exist
4. I was starving.

Despite a pretty strong language barrier between myself and the waiter (let’s call him Bob, for simplicity’s sake), I was able to convey my allergies and my dining predicament. With a puzzled look over my oil inquiries, and my (very sad) desire to leave off their homemade tzaziki sauce, I managed to place an order with Bob.

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Oh man, was it worth it. I was a little bit worried about eating the food, considering the language barrier we encountered. However, the basmati rice was flavorful, perfectly seasoned and tossed with sautéed tomatoes and cilantro to give it a bit of an extra kick, and the chicken shawarma was quite possibly some of the best I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve had a fair amount of shawarma.

And the falafel? Mmm mm good. Granted it was missing out a bit on the tahini spices to give it a lil extra oomph, it was still moist and flavorful. I wouldn’t say that Mediterranean Mix is the King of Falafel, but I would go so far as to say maybe the Duke of Falafel would be a pretty good title.

After I ate as much of the giant dish of food as I could, I was still left behind with the remains of at least two more meals. For $10 I got the biggest helping of Mediterranean food that I couldn’t possibly finish. I didn’t want to throw away my food and waste all that money, and I didn’t want to carry around my remaining food for the rest of the day.

So, with one goal in mind, I decided to head back to the center of Pioneer Square, an area filled with beautiful Native statues, and filled with what appears to be an ever-growing populace of homeless individuals in the Seattle area. With my goal in mind, I headed back around the corner to Occidental Avenue to find my square again, and approached a kind gentleman who smiled at me when I approached, and didn’t seem to try and shrink into the shadows like his companions.

His name was Ephram, and he had the kindest eyes, lined with wrinkles from what appeared to be years of smiling and squinting in the sun. He wore colorful beads around his neck, matching the Native statue he sat beneath; and despite his circumstance, he had the most cheerful disposition.

Ephram was joyous. Talking to him, I couldn’t help but smile and be delighted. We exchanged hellos and handshakes, and I offered him the remains of my food. I was worried that he would think I was rude, or that he would somehow take offense. But talking with Ephram, I can’t imagine him taking offense at anything in life. He had a cavalier attitude and a simplistic positivity that was utterly contagious.

I asked him which would be better for the day: the Seattle Giant Ferris Wheel or Pike Place Market?

He advised me as follows:
“Go to the Ferris wheel and enjoy the view of the water and storm clouds.”

With words like that, how could I go anywhere else but back to the Waterfront? And boy was Ephram right. But first, I had more wandering to do.

I meandered my way around Occidental Avenue and then back to 1st Avenue, looking at the shops around me, and enjoying the scents that wafted out of storefronts, designed to tantalize the tourists on their way to Pike Place Market.

I came across this tiny little shop that appeared to have the MOST DELICIOUS chocolate chip cookies on earth. And judging from the looks of pure bliss as customers bit into them, I would say it was a pretty good assessment.

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Sadly, this little shop did not offer any cookies that were dairy free, egg free, soy free, peanut free, and/or gluten free. There weren’t any cookies that were free of a single one of these. Alas, I walked out of the store a little sad at heart and continued on my not-so-merry cookie free way.

Soon, I found myself at Cherry St, where I decided to wander up the hill a bit due to a tantalizing sign about a bookstore. So I made my way up Cherry St until I found this awesome little store that specializes in murder mysteries.

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While pure murder mysteries and suspense thrillers aren’t my normal cup of tea for books, this store was fantastic. It was a small little shop, homey in its abundance of giant comfy leather chairs that had obviously been well loved, and walls lined from floor to ceiling with different sub-genres of mystery novels.

This store also had a fantastic collection of autographed books. There was an entire section of autographed James Bond books that you could pick up for a cheap $20-$30.

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After touring the mystery titles in this little book store, it was time to move on further into the city.

It was time for the Waterfront.

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The Seattle Waterfront is completely different during the day than it is at night. The streets were just teeming with life, tourists and locals, and filled with a chaotic energy that just fills you with excitement at the prospects of the Waterfront. During the day, I was met with the strangest sites, two of which included these little dogs dressed up to attract attention and tips.

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These dogs were some of the most mellow Chihuahuas I’ve ever come across. They sat there, chill as can be, with hoards of people around them taking picture after picture of them in their little dresses and wigs.

After I took my pictures of the chill Chihuahuas, I turned the corner and stood in line for my tickets to the Ferris Wheel.

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While in line, enjoy these great pictures of the back of the Seattle Aquarium (which is most definitely on my to do list).

Once I got to the front of the line, I got my ticket for the Ferris Wheel.

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Because I was a group of one I got to join a group of three in my little bubble. We got to ride the wheel a total of three times around, and it was beautiful. The view from the top was gorgeous, but all around it was just amazing to see the Waterfront beneath me, and the just all around.

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It was great getting to look down on all the diners on the piers, hidden underneath the great wheel.

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At one point in time we saw Seattle Search and Rescue doing some training missions. However, this poor dummy was just left in the water, stranded, for about twenty minutes before they came around for him at last.

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Eventually though, the dummy was rescued. No fake hypothermia for him! But the view of the Space Needle and the buildings of Downtown Seattle was just fantastic.

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The view of the water, just slightly tumultuous, and the skies grey and cloudy with just hints of blue, was the perfect and iconic Seattle weather for people watching on the piers. And with my last round on the Ferris Wheel, I took this fabulous picture from the top:

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And with my exit back down to grounded reality, I was taken back through to the Waterfront Carousel, filled with hoards of people, and little children clamoring over one another to ride the Waterfront horses, lit up with soft lighting, hiding the chipped pain on the hooves.

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Well, after I made my way through the crowds of the Waterfront, I walked across the street, again wandering aimlessly toward nothing. And again, I was rewarded with some hidden places in the back streets of Seattle.

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This sign tantalized me with ideas of a quaint Irish pub, and let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love owls? With a name, and a sign, so cute, I simply had to find my way to wherever Post St actually existed.

Eventually, I did find the street, on what appeared to be underneath another bar, and hidden in an alley, underneath the Main Street of 1st Avenue. Luckily, the Owl n’ Thistle appears to cater to the lost and wandering, and post signs around corners to guide you to their doors.

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Sadly, the Owl n’ Thistle didn’t offer any food that I could eat; however, they did offer a wonderful atmosphere and an imported cider.

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I had never had a Magner’s cider before, but it was quite delicious. It had a nice oaky taste to it, more reminiscent of a Strongbow cider. Though a bit crisp and acidic at first, the flavor definitely developed into a nice finish that went down smooth and quick, without an overly sweet taste that tends to be more popular with American produced ciders.

The pub was mostly empty when I was there, and if I were a local, this would probably be my evening hangout. The prices were nice, but the Owl n’ Thistle is all about the ambience. Leather bound books line the wall, and low lighting with old, lightly dented, copper tables and cracked leather chairs and booths filled the building. The pub was sectioned off in different areas, offering a fantastic setting wherein you could have light conversation, and nothing was overly boisterous. The design was fantastic for acoustics and general atmosphere.

Let’s just say I was in love with this place.

So, to relax, and enjoy the setting, I pulled out my book, and enjoyed my drink.

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For me, this was perfection in regards to the height of relaxation.

I know a number of people who find it uncomfortable to go out alone, whether it’s dining, drinking, or anything. Obviously, I’m not really the type.

Read as overly independent and introverted.

I prefer to do things alone. When you go out alone there are no expectations. You don’t have to look attractive. You don’t have to be entertaining. You don’t have to put on an image of extroversion.

If you couldn’t tell, I like going on solo-adventures and moving at my own pace. So, it was with great joy that I sat down and read my book and drank my cider in complete seclusion of this cozy Irish home-away-from-home pub.

Alas, with the bottom of my glass visible, it was time to find my way home.

So I paid my bill, and bid adieu to my barkeep, and wandered back out into the city streets, looking for my way back to Chinatown.

It seemed my day of wandering helped me learn the confusing streets of Seattle. Without staring at maps, and relying solely on the few streets I had memorized, I made my way back to 5th Ave and King St, the entrance of the International District.

It was about 6:30 PM when I finally crawled my way into my room, and kicked off my shoes and collapsed into bed. A hard day of wandering the city streets, with very little downtime for actually just sitting and relaxing, it was time to unwrap an Enjoy Life bar, throw on the pajamas, and lay in bed with some music and a book.

Day 3 in Seattle: The Traveling Allergen participated in cruel and unusual self-inflicted punishment as she toured bakeries and wandered the city.

Stay tuned for more updates on my gastronomical adventures in the Pacific Northwest, and lots of pictures of my non-food related adventures!

Hopelessly Lost in Seattle

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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OR maybe being lost in some sort of fantastical forrest.

Who knows?

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.

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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.

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Every angle of the piece brings together something new and unique on its own level.

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But through the forest of glass creations, was this monstrous center piece that is just insane to think of the construction of it.

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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.

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And, of course, life isn’t complete without some spiky glass chandeliers made out of weird shapes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

His response?

“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.

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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?”

SHE DID!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

The Traveling Allergen: Seattle, Day 1

Eating out with allergies is always an adventure. Eating out when you’re allergic to the entire world is like a trip to Mordor without a Samwise to keep me from being eaten by dangerous spiders, and in general, keep me alive.

With my fear of restaurants and cuisine, I’m a bit worried about my two week solo-adventure to Seattle.

Today is my first day in the city. I arrived in the city this morning, promptly at 9:36 local time, and immediately got lost in the airport. After wandering the airport for about 45 minutes, I found my way to the light rail into Downtown Seattle. Public transport is a beautiful thing people. For $2.25 I made my way into Downtown Seattle on a spectacularly clean tram.

Once I exited on Westlake Center, I made my way up from the underground and walked around a bit. I again found myself lost in the city , which is by far the best way to tour any new area. After I got off the tram, I made my way up from the underground and walked around a bit. I found a Starbucks (no surprise), and sat down in the middle of Westlake Center (a giant outdoor mall/business center/general large commercial area) with a cup of iced coffee and some delicious homemade brownies free of gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and peanuts that my wonderful mother made for my trip.

Here I am enjoying people watching in the beautiful 75 degree sunny weather, smack dab in the middle of downtown Seattle:

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While regaining energy from a caffeine and chocolate buzz, I attempted to learn how to read a bus map. Let me tell you…I am not talented at reading maps, and being a Colorado girl, I have no sense of direction when you take away my mountains.

However, I did come across a nice socialist activist (no joke, his tshirt said “Socialism Now!”) who informed me that Mount Rainier is always on the south side of Seattle, and also told me what bus to get on, I found my way to Seattle’s very own Chinatown.

Verdict? Chinatown in awesome.

Now, you may be wondering “Why is Allison in Chinatown on her first day?”
Well, I’m staying in a super awesome youth hostel located in the middle of Chinatown. The best part about this is it’s right next door to a comic book shop, and right around the corner is the wonderful Hing Hay Park, where I discovered an abundance of giant games.

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This giant chess board was accompanied by an adorable little old Chinese man performing in this amazing square that was surrounded with beautiful murals of artwork.

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I relaxed around here for a while, watching people play chess and shuffleboard while children fed the over zealous pigeons who are obviously fattened up on fried rice and pastries.

Later, I wandered around the corner to an awesome little espresso and tea shop called Gossip, where I had the most delicious peach tea of my life.

And what I’ve learned about Chinatown is that everyone is so genuinely nice and helpful. When I finally found myself in need of real nourishment, not brownies and caffeine, I wandered around town until I came across a small food court that encompassed about ten different local Asian cuisine restaurants, ranging from Chinese, Thai, Japanese, English (this was random, but the creme puffs seemed to be pretty popular with the locals), and Hawaiian.

Personally, I tried Aloha Plates, a fantastic hole-in-the-wall Hawaiian restaurant. Let me tell you…these ladies were so incredibly kind and understanding of my allergies.

After being bitterly disappointed that their famous Kahlua Pork dish was not soy free and dairy free, she took down my allergies and helped me to figure out what dishes were available for me. She determined that their lemon chicken with jasmine rice would be a suitable option for me.

So, I sat down and watched them prepare my meal, and I was stunned by their kindness. Three people operate in the tiny kitchen of Aloha Plates. It’s a meager four burner stove, an oven, four cooking pans, and refrigerator that make up this kitchen. But what they lack in amenities, they make up for in heart.

Understanding that I have multiple allergies, the cook changed all of their equipment. They brought out a new cutting board, new knives, new pans, and all new equipment for me. I was delightfully surprised with this wonderful dish:

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Lemon Chicken with Jasmine Rice, served with (as my waitress/cook was really excited to tell me) a personally crafted sauce of Sesame Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Lemon that was a delightful addition to my meal.

And it was fantastic.

So for my first day in Seattle, wandering the streets of Chinatown, and attempting new cuisine were all a massive success. Being lost in the city, finding my way through public transport and general human kindness, and discovering tasty delights has been the perfect start to a two week solo journey through the Pacific Northwest!

When Life Gives You Allergies, Bake a Soufflé…

Alright, though I haven’t tried it, I imagine making an egg-less, flour-less, and dairy-less soufflé would actually be incredibly difficult, and quite possibly no longer qualifying as a soufflé in anyone’s mind.

So, I guess the next best thing would be to pour yourself a stiff drink and occasionally complain to your friends and family about the trials and tribulations of suffering from chronic allergies.

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Sometimes it’s cathartic to complain about the lemons that life hands you. While I don’t suggest you make a daily habit of venting your frustrations (because honestly, at some point your friends, family, and coworkers will stop caring all together), it can be a good emotional release to get out your frustration.

Me, personally? I complain to my mom about my allergies on a daily basis. Now, the only reason my mom still loves me and listens to these rants, is because the woman is a veritable saint.

Also, peeps, she’s the one who taught me how to cook, and how to create my own recipes, so let’s give that lady a round of applause.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with trying to find a way to be optimistic in the face of so many allergies. I had dealt with being gluten free for over five years before I was diagnosed with my new chronic allergies of dairy, egg, soy, peanut (all legumes on earth, 😦 bye bye hummus), kiwi, and honestly who knows what else. Even finding out these allergies, my body seems to have never recovered.

Every week it’s a new allergy. Since January, I’ve been living in an antihistamine haze, and let me tell you, that’s not nearly as much fun as it should be. Constant sleepiness and itching are not suggested ways to move through life.

But here I am, disproving Darwin on a daily basis. What’s a girl to do when all she wants to do is drink coffee and consume pastries, but she can’t?

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If only I could find somewhere to eat my emotions in tasty muffins. Sadly, if I want muffins, I have to make those babies myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love baking and cooking in general, but sometimes, I just wish I could run to Starbucks, grab me a caramel macchiato, and a delicious cheese danish, and eat my feelings.

Unfortunately, if I tempted this venture, the poor barista would be sticking me with an epi pen and telling his coworkers the next day how he shot Allison, the Lobster Queen with a shot of epinephrin in between blending frappucinos.

I envy you people and your delicious coffee and pastries.

And if you’re wondering why I’ve dubbed myself lobster royalty without being properly crowned by the lobster pope, it’s because I believe it’s a well earned title. Sadly, I have been hiding under hoodies for the winter season, but spring shall soon be upon us in Colorado, you know…in July, when we maybe stop snowing at random intervals. My allergies turn me into a lobster.

That’s right people: a lobster. Well…I don’t have feelers, and I’m not a bottom feeder, but let me tell you, I look like a perfectly boiled lobster, skin wise at least.

It’s great. If you drenched me in butter (adding to the lobster glow), you could basically serve me up with a steak and pass me off as a slightly larger than average lobster off the coast of Maine.

I know Hannibal Lecter would approve.

I really just want to eat food. I was a horrible foodie before, always trying restaurants, trying new foods, new recipes, new drinks. With one allergy test result from the Mayo Clinic, all that was taken away.

No more restaurant extravaganzas. No more adventurous recipes. No more…food.

Eating out has become a legitimate fear, a social anxiety, and an embarrassment.

It’s been an adjustment to go from eating out every weekend, to trying new restaurants with my brother, going out with friends. I make up excuses now.

Sorry, I have to work.
I’m just not hungry.
Nothing sounds good, I think I’ll just stay in tonight.

I honestly fear eating out in a restaurant. When you eat out with allergies, particularly chronic allergies, you put your life in your waiter and chef’s hands.

I’ve worked in customer service, and I know how tempting it can be to seek revenge on a customer who is particularly difficult, or even just the customer who broke the camel’s back after a long line of crappy customers.

But when you have chronic allergies that can threaten your life, you legitimately depend on your waiter and chef to take a vested interest, care and concern in accommodating you, and to provide you with accurate information.

If any of this fails, eating out can be disastrous, as I have learned.

But eating out with allergies doesn’t only boil down to the fear of getting very sick. It also boils down to the embarrassment of being THAT customer.

Trust me waiters, I know that you have gone back into the kitchen at times with the reaction of “You would NOT believe what someone is asking now…” or some sort of variation thereof.

So let me introduce you to The Apologetic Allergen.

My opening with a server usually starts with “I’m really sorry, but I’m going to be THAT customer tonight… I called ahead, but I really do need you and the chef or manager to confirm that your kitchen can accomadate w,x,y,z allergies…” Trust me when I say that people with chronic allergies don’t BUG AND PESTER out of a desire to be horribly annoying, but out of a desire not to end up with another medical bill.

So please, I beg of you to any server’s who read this, please treat your Apologetic Allergen with respect, understanding, and a vested interest in providing them as safe of an eating out experience as possible. When you do, you’ll find yourself a DEDICATED repeat customer, and someone who will go out of your way to mention to your manager your helpfulness.

Kindness to the Apologetic Allergen pays off people.

At this point in time, my life can pretty much be summed up as follows:

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It’s funny, but true. Allergies have made me lose control of my life. The only way to combat losing control? Wake up at 4 am and bake. And eat. And bake some more.

While life may not be full of soufflés full of everything wonderful in the world, at least with some insomnia induced chemistry experiments I can create some delicious baked goods.

So, until next time, I bid you adieu my fellow allergy sufferers (or not) and thank you for tuning into the momentary bitterness of a 20-Something Allergic to Life.

This blog post is: full of sarcasm, sour lemons, free of tasty foods, and free of allergens.