At the beginning of November, we took the first of what I hope will be many trips to Seattle. October was a busy month for Zach, and an upcoming trip to Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday gave us little time off, so we planned this getaway for a weekend, leaving on Friday night and returning Sunday evening. Knowing our time was brief, we had a light agenda – Bainbridge Island on Saturday, Seattle Center on Sunday with time to enjoy coffee, meals, and beer in between.
For this trip we made our base the Queen Anne neighborhood. Located northwest of downtown, it sits on a hill overlooking the city. With a small strip of restaurants and coffee shops, we were able to fuel up each day without having to go far. Our Airbnb was a room in a beautifully restored home with a welcoming host. We arrived rather late in the evening on Friday, but she took care to orient us with maps and food recommendations for the weekend.
On Saturday morning, owing to the difference in time zones, we were up early. We chatted with our host and fellow guest – felt a bit like our couchsurfng days – and walked to El Diablo for breakfast and coffee in the brisk morning air. El Diablo was brimming with Saturday morning patrons. We opted for more filling fare than pastries – a hearty breakfast sandwich and burrito – and sat down to enjoy the scene.
After breakfast, we began to work our way toward the ferry terminal downtown. Our host had shown us a more scenic walking route, and we followed her advice. Before we began the steep descent from the top of Queen Anne, we dropped by Kerry Park. It was the wrong time of day to visit, but if we blocked out the sunlight, the view was alright!
We continued downhill to a pedestrian walkway that led us to a beautiful waterfront park and path. It was much more pleasant than walking through city streets. We walked alongside Myrtle Edwards Park admiring the views across the bay. Shortly after we detoured to the Olympic Sculpture Park, we realized we needed to take an Uber the last mile and a half to get us to the terminal in time for the next ferry to Bainbridge Island.
When we returned to Seattle later that evening, we had a drink date with a trumpet professor and his wife in the Ballard neighborhood. I had hoped to get there with some daylight remaining to explore, but we’ll save Ballard and its Nordic heritage for our next trip. We met them at Reuben’s Brews, which was packed with regular Saturday night revelers and extended Halloween partiers. There was some sort of burger truck next to the patio, but it disappeared before we had a chance to grab any food. We had an excellent time with them – which is not always the case with those types of meet and greets – and enjoyed a really fantastic Autumn Ale. In search of food after we parted ways, we went a block away to Obec Brewing (owned by a friend of a friend!) where their food truck had recently departed. We had a pint there anyway and continued our search for nourishment. We finally found salvation at McLeod’s Scottish Pub. Amid the much younger bar hoppers of Ballard, we scarfed down our entrees and called it a night.
The next morning we awoke to another beautiful day. Since we had packed lightly, we decided to take our backpacks with us to avoid backtracking later in the day. We spent the morning similarly, this time at La Rêve Bakery. Initially more calm than El Diablo, it filled up as the morning progressed providing some excellent people-watching. Before leaving Queen Anne entirely, we perused the neighborhood bookstore. Always in search of postcards, I also walked out with a collection of Krakauer essays bringing my book total to three.
Our diversion for the day was Chihuly Garden and Glass. A permanent exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass artwork, the space opened at the Seattle Center in 2012 and sits opposite the Space Needle. We didn’t have any expectations, but were utterly captivated by his work. We even realized that the glass sculpture we’d seen so many times at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake was a Chihuly piece.
There were eight galleries, each featuring a different style and period in Chihuly’s career. My favorites were the Persian Ceiling and the Glass House, but nothing was dull. Most of the galleries were dimly lit to allow the illuminated colors to shine. It was easy to lose track of time as each piece demanded examination from every angle and depth.
After the galleries, we entered the heart of the exhibition, a gorgeous 40-foot tall glasshouse inspired by Chihuly’s affection for glass conservatories. Suspended from the ceiling was a 100-foot long glass sculpture, a symphony of color and light. Not necessarily floral, it reminded me of poppies. Leading off of the Glasshouse was the garden, a harmonious mix of glass art and plants. Probably a little more stunning when the flowers are in bloom, it was still spectacular set against the fall colors and cerulean sky. There were four statement pieces in the garden, along with other spires and swirling formations. The Sun, resting on black mondo grass at the head of the Glasshouse, was the most striking.
With indoor galleries and a fusion of natural and man-made forms outside, Chihuly Garden and Glass packs a big punch. The ticket price is a little high – although if you go two hours before closing there’s a $10 discount – but ultimately it didn’t bother me. The opportunity to experience the pieces in person is special. The ticket offers other perks, like complimentary photos, gallery talks every hour, and a glass-blowing demonstration outside. But even without those extras, it would be worth the visit.
After Chihuly, we ducked into the Armory Building on our way to lunch. The Armory was originally built in 1939 to house the 146th Field Artillery, but has undergone a few transformations since then. First as Food Circus for the World’s Fair in 1962, and later as Center House, today the Armory houses many things, including several theater groups, a children’s museum, and a school but at its core it’s a site for the numerous cultural festivities organized by the city’s residents. We stumbled upon the Dia de Muertos festival and enjoyed watching a couple dance performances and considered spoiling our lunch with tostadas and tamales.
Taylor Shellfish and Oyster was our lunch destination. Zach wanted fresh oysters while we were near the ocean and chose Taylor for their reputation as a sustainable purveyor of oysters for over a century. I am not a fan of oysters, but thoroughly enjoyed their chowder and house salad. A hair-of-the-dog pilsner helped round out the meal.
We didn’t have much time left before we needed to catch a train bound for the airport, so we decided to walk downtown and revisit Pike Place Market. We first visited the market on an unplanned overnight layover in 2017 on our way to Macau. On that trip we went to the market on a Sunday morning, and while it was busy, it wasn’t terribly crowded. This time we visited at 2pm on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and it was brimming with people – too many people.
Instead of wandering the market, we ducked into The Crumpet Shop, a quiet refuge from the harried mobs of people outside, and enjoyed my first crumpet! Shortly thereafter it was already time to start our walk toward the train and begin the trek back to Boise. Our brief foray to Seattle couldn’t have been better, but certainly left us eager to return.