“Mama, what are you doing here?!?” Priya exclaimed upon finding me in her bed.
“I slept here with you, remember? Lily and Papa fell asleep in the other room.”
“Oh yeah! (pause, thinking) Sorry if I was kicking you. I always kick Lily because she gets on my nerves. (another pause) That explains why you didn’t kick me back!”
It was our third morning in Seattle, and the jet lag was beginning to ease – it was after 6:00 this morning, a welcome change after our 4:30 am wakeups the previous mornings. We were housed at the Harbor Steps Apartments on 1st Avenue through the vacation company StayAlfred, which offered a two-bedroom suite with a small kitchen, along with apartment building amenities such as a door concierge and fitness center for a far better rate than nearby hotels. While some aspects of the building registered as a bit shabby or dated (I don’t think the pool was cleaned the entire time we were there, although that didn’t stop us from using it), we also had a waterfront view, and a stellar coffee shop – ok, about four stellar coffee shops— just up the block.
We had rented a car for our five-day stay, thinking that between rides to and from the airport and our day trip to Bainbridge, the cost would approximately equal the cost of Lyft rides and a one-day car share. But as soon as we arrived in the city we realized our calculations were off, having failed to account for parking fees in the neighborhood of $30/day. We returned the car upon our return from Bainbridge and undertook the rest of explorations with a combination of walking, bus, and Lyft. After a few rides, Lyft offered us a promotional price, making this approach even more attractive.
After our daily pass through the market, including the delightful artist shop Robot vs. Sloth, we hopped on a bus to take us the mile or two over the highway bridge and into the Capitol Hill neighborhood. There, we ate the best tamales of our lives at the flagship
location of the local Rancho Bravo chain, sampled ice cream and intoxicating waffle-cone aromas at Molly Moon’s, and lost ourselves for hours among the shelves at the charming, expansive Elliott Bay Book Company. Seeing all the discussion groups and author visits they had lined up was enough, itself, to make me want to move to Seattle.
It’s a little obscene how many coffee shops populate Seattle, but the quality someone dulls some of the obscenity. For the most part, you can get your drink in a real cup, so that you can actually taste the beverage directly instead of through the mediation of a cardboard lip or plastic barrier. If you can’t live without your Starbucks, you’re in luck, because Seattle is of course its birthplace. But even if you usually eschew the mermaid chain, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room is worth a visit. Here you can taste a flight to compare different brew styles, view the action in the “theater of roasting,” and a veritable food hall of fancy pastries and sandwiches to complement your experience. “It’s the ultimate expression of Starbucks,” Roastery general master Coulter Smith told the Capitol Hill Seattle blog on the eve of its 2014 opening. Well then.
Wiped out after a day of wandering, we grabbed takeout en route back to the apartment and, to the girls’ delight, sacked out in front of cable TV for the evening. We don’t have cable at home, so there was much to discover, but the Food Network’s “Kids’ Baking Championship” drew us in for an embarrassing number of hours. The next day as we each named favorite bits of our trip, Lily admitted that watching this show was her favorite “part of Seattle” thus far. Turns out the Food Network is another one of those epicenters where our families’ range of interests and hobbies come together.