Tuesday, November 5, 2013

America - Seattle

I reckon I can tell you guys about our two days in Seattle with one post. It might be a bit long…but put on your seat belts  and let's go!

After an array of early mornings to get to airplanes, go through stringent screening processes and twiddle thumbs a little nervously, hoping our flights didn't get delayed, it was quite refreshing to (still) wake up early, but catch a train from Portland to Seattle instead of going to another airport. 

It was frankly, just awesome and the Portland train station is so cute and old school. Having bought our tickets previously via the Amtrak website, we just rocked up about 40 minutes before our train was due to leave (at 8:30am) and waited for the train staff to line us all up and one by one, assign us tickets before we went out to board the train. 

Although I had toyed with the idea of getting business class seats, economy was more than comfortable enough! Spacious and wide seats that reclined, with a powerpoint adaptor and…wait for this, free wi-fi. Brain implosion from the awesomeness.

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With all the creature comforts listed above, we had a very relaxing 3 hour train ride to Seattle, where I attempted to blog, then gave in as my eyelids grew heavier and napped instead and Brad worked through emails and Reddit (important things no?). 

Upon reaching Seattle, cool and overcast, we caught a bus out to our hostel, the City Hostel Seattle, which is just perfectly located between the Pike Place Farmers Market and the Space Needle. 

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The hostel itself is fantastic, housed in a beautifully historic building that I almost walked right past it as I didn't think it would be in such a pretty building! What's fun about the hostel is that each room is painted by local Seattle artists, ours decorated to feel like a neon jellyfish tank, which I was totally digging. The colours were very serene and peaceful. 

The hostel is pretty strict with who it lets in, the doors are always locked and we had to be let through the door by the receptionist as we arrived, where we then checked into our private hostel room. After getting our keycard, which let us in the hotel, we also had to show it to the desk before we could continue into the hostel. So for solo travellers, or those who haven't stayed in hostels before, you're bound to feel pretty safe here. 

As mentioned, the location of the hostel is great. Located in Belltown, it's not too far a walk from the city, but even within the area, there's surprisingly loads of super cool eateries and bars, which made it very convenient for both of us!

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However, first thing was first. Pike Place Market. Lunch!

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Even at midday in the middle of the week, Pike Place Market was busy! People were everywhere, especially around the original Starbucks store, which I thought was a little bit weird honestly. Even though I don't drink coffee, I think being from Melbourne, I'm wired to hiss at Starbucks as a coffee provider. (I do admit to liking their green tea frappuchinos though.)

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After all, when you're in a market bursting with colourful bouquets (that were so, so, so cheap, I wish I had had a vase to fill in the hostel!) and all sorts of fresh produce, why would you be looking at a coffee shop…let alone joining the line to buy coffee, when there's another one about 5 minutes away. 

Go figure.

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However, a line worth getting into, is the line for Piroshky Piroshky. The line wasn't too bad when I got into it, only about 8 people deep, but after joining, it quickly got longer and longer, until it almost wrapped around the corner in the little arcade it was in. Eep! 

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Piroshky Piroshky is a Russian bakery, offering, what else, piroshky! Baked or fried buns with a variety of fillings, that also come in a variety of shapes. They're each quite generously sized, making the decision of narrowing down the choices a tricky one. Do I want more sweet? More savoury? Fish? Beef? Apples? Gah! 

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In the end, I settled on the top selling piroshky, beef and cheese, a smoked salmon pate piroshky with cream cheese and a dash of dill (since we were in the market where they throw salmon around anyway), and an apple cinnamon roll. 

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I surprisingly, enjoyed the savoury piroshkies a whole lot more than the sweet apple roll. The beef and cheese was all comfort, a buttery and fluffy delight, with the cheddar just gorgeously melted through the beef. Yum. I found it hard to decide if I liked the beef or the smoked salmon pate better, which was bursting with fishy flavour, freshened up with dill. I adored the texture and the fun shape it came in as well! 

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The apple cinnamon roll I found wasn't as sweet as I was hoping for, and that there was a lot of roll, but not necessarily so much apple. Maybe I should've just stuck with the chocolate option, instead of trying to be faux healthy. Next time...

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After filling our tummies, we wandered a bit further through the market, where Brad just lazily glanced at everything, and I had my mouth gaping at all the seafood available. So much, so big, so fresh! I wanted it all! We also eventually found the stall famous for throwing salmon around, but it was hard to get any photos at all, as the crowd around the stall was so big! Felt a little bad for the guys, do they actually sell anything, or do tourists just hang out waiting for them to throw fish…?

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The gum wall at the market is also kind of ridiculous. It's kind of like a rainbow had a really big night out and a lot of regret the next morning. Be careful not to get too close, that's a whole lot of other people's saliva… :s

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From the Pike Place Market we decided to walk in the other direction and head down to look at the Space Needle. On the way, Brad was due for a coffee, and instead of stopping at a Starbucks, when I saw a board outside a shop promoting coffee made with a small local roaster, we turned into there instead. 

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It also helped it happened to be the Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company too. I mean, yellow and cupcakes, what more could I ask for?

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Well, apparently a maple bacon pancake cupcake. Oh my gosh. What a beauty hey? I was absolutely smitten with how gorgeously the frosting had been piped. Garnished with a little candied bacon, and with nibbles of chewy bacon throughout the cake, this was possibly one of the most intense cupcakes I had come across. You know how with white wine you can kinda just pop down the hatch, but with red wine you need to slowly sip it otherwise it might be a bit too intense? Well this cupcake was kind of like red wine. Two medium sized bites in and I had to put it down, masticate and just breathe in the intensity of this. Sweet, salty, savoury, and all that smooth icing? I have no words. 

Brad also was rather impressed with the latte he had, and it proved to be one of the best coffees he had while we were in America. 

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We chilled out on the grass next to the Space Needle (couldn't really be bothered going up) where an old man yelled at us for being 'on his grass' and then flipped, laughing and saying he was joking. Uh. Okay? Maybe he's the one on the grass, if you get what I mean.

Dinner that night was at List, just around the corner from our hostel, which conveniently had a very appealing happy hour deal on Mondays and Sundays, all day, of 50% off the food menu. Why hello there!

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The place was rocking when we arrived and intensely dark with rich red lights and mirrors lining the walls. The waitresses wore black, short skirts with ripped tights, and were quick and efficient. The place was a touch noisy for me, or perhaps I'm just turning into a grandma...

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With a bottle of $14 white wine, I quickly jumped onto ordering the gnocchi with black truffle cream, which is a bit light on the truffle (for me anyway). However, the gnocchi itself was quite nice, a little denser than I've had in Melbourne, but it worked will with the cream. 

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Local mussels in a wine broth and seasonal mushrooms with roasted onion chicken are both also quite nice, but not ground breaking amazing. The serves were also relatively small, although we were getting them at about $5 or $6 a dish, so i guess we couldn't really complain! It does make me wonder if you visit on a different day if the servings are the same size or bigger…?

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The night was still quite young post-dinner, so we wandered the block a few times looking for Bathtub Gin and Co. It's a sneaky little thing, with minimal signage, that's incredibly difficult to see in the dark! 

Creeping in through the wooden doors, we descend into a quiet, hushed bar, full of brick walls, antique wood and character. It's a prohibition era style bar, which just invites you to cosy up in a quiet corner and quietly whisper to your partner. 

I swoon and die over the gin list, which must be at least 50 gins long. Whilst I really should be expanding my gin exposure, I can't help but gravitate towards Monkey 47, which I order on the rocks. The waitress actually initially tells me they just sold out, but she must have been able to squeeze out one more order for me from the bottle. 

Meant to be. Clearly.

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The next day, we indulged in a sleep in, a rare occurrence on the trip so far and lazily rolled out of bed, and to Lola for breakfast. Part of the Tom Douglas group, Lola has a Mediterranean twist on the menu in the evening, but breakfast is much more traditional Western fare. 

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Whilst I did very nearly order the 'Made to order doughnuts' for breakfast, a feta omelette with dill, scallions, smashed garlic fried potatoes and bacon more than did the job. Brad's wild mushroom scramble also hit the spot. 

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Along with the giant pot of coffee…for one. Does anyone actually need that much coffee? Ever? I'm absolutely in awe with how much coffee is served in America, although I'm assuming the caffeine levels in percolated coffee aren't as high, so people need more of it to get their kick…maybe? Happy to be corrected!

Although Lola's booths were comfortable and the food hot, I felt that the servings were fairly light and a little bit on the expensive side for America (around $18 before tax for one dish). Whilst potatoes are nice, I don't really like it when my meal is buffered by them to make me full. 

We didn't really know what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day, since neither of us had done much research for Seattle, but having heard plenty from multiple friends about the Museum of Flight, we popped onto a bus and made our way down. 

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Honestly, I'm not one for mechanical moving things, whilst I've always said I can usually talk about most things as I have a small interest in most things, I can't talk cars with people. Let alone planes. However, I ended up enjoying the museum a lot more than I expected! 

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From space travel to the fastest military planes in the world, I couldn't help but get lost in the history and the feats of engineering displayed in each era. Pop into the original Boeing workshop and climb into a Concorde or an Air Force One that's now out of service. 

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There's even a life-size replica of a NASA shuttle that was previously used for training by astronauts, before they get to the real thing, which you can walk around in. It's all pretty cool. 

As Brad napped through the afternoon after the museum visit (we were both quite lethargic this particular day, for whatever reason), I discovered the most gorgeous little consignment store called 'Sell Your Sole', where I died and fell in love. Missoni skirt for $80? Um. Yes please. Also totally relished tottering about the store in almost new Louboutins that I wished I could afford. One day my pretties, one day…

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When Brad woke up, we decided Japanese was in order for dinner, and slid into Wasabi, just next door, which looked very snazzy, with it's modern fit out and funky circular chairs, but the clientele was varied, with families, couples and single diners as well. A good mix if you ask me. Service was friendly, but pretty relaxed and for the most part, I thought the menu looked pretty reasonable price wise. 

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Whilst on entrees were a little bit lack lustre, I usually love a seaweed salad, but found the prawns it came with a bit dry and hardly remember what the crumbed discs were, the sushi fared much better, fortunately!

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I loved how fresh the fish was, with a beautiful smooth texture and light elegant flavours. I also stumbled head over heels over the fact that they had anago, sea eel, one of my favourite things, that I can never ever find in Melbourne. Had to have two serves.

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And some sea urchin. Awww yeah.

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To wrap up, we (or probably just I) had to have the green tea tiramisu! Dense, creamy and with a nice strong hit of matcha, I was pretty darned happy. Not to mention quite full too! 

The last thing we experienced with Seattle, was the awesome train system from the CBD that cost a mere $2.50 each to get to the airport. A quiet and clean 30 minute trip, it's everything you want in public transport to the airport!

Seattle on a whole, whilst a lovely little city, felt like it was also such a change from the other cities we had visited thus far. The character of the city felt a little rougher around the edges, a little more urban, which meant I felt like I was on edge in some of the areas we walked through (although I tend to be a little more paranoid than some). Despite that though, it was interesting in contrast to the rather lively and varied dining scene, which often featured rather generous happy hour deals (that we really should have taken more advantage of). 

I think we also didn't really explore as much of Seattle as we should have, sticking mainly to Belltown and the CBD, which we could easily walk to, so maybe I would have been a little more enchanted if I had more time to explore…but I guess there's always a reason to return then isn't there? 

2327 2nd Ave
Seattle WA 98121

85 Pike Street

1908 Pike Place

2209 4th Ave

2226 1st Ave

2205 2nd Ave

2000 4th Ave

9404 East Marginal Way S

2311 2nd Avenue


  1. I LOVED THIS POST. I am so desperate to get to the US, it looks awesome. Well, except that gum wall, which looks pretty but if you think about it for a second is actually fairly gag-inducing.

    1. Thanks Sarah! I do hope you get to visit soon, any must visit cities in the US on your list? :) Brad pretended to lick the gum wall, and I was totally squealing away in disgust the whole time as I took the picture!