While I do love my small town living in Ashland, Oregon, population 21,000, Bob and I also love getting away to the “big city.” In the big city, I can safely go to the grocery store in my sweat pants first thing in the morning, before I’ve brushed my teeth, and not run into five people I know. I’m not in any way suggesting I do this, I’m just saying I can do this. If I wanted to.
Thus, the fact that our two daughters live in Portland and Seattle respectively means we have an excellent excuse to visit two of my favorite cities in the Pacific Northwest. We were recently in Seattle, and got to take advantage of its many splendors. On a sunny day, I completely understand why Seattle is nicknamed the Emerald City. I’m a sucker for a city by the water, and with the sunshine glinting off the blue bay, Seattle sure has that one down.
Emily lives in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood, and a short two-block walk from her apartment building is Kerry Park, with its absolutely stunning views of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and Elliott Bay. I often try and start a visit to Emily with a walk to Kerry Park, just to breathe in the beauty of Seattle and its surrounding waterways. From there, I like to take a spin through the Upper Queen Anne neighborhood. The old (and new) homes are gorgeous, and I love to wander residential streets and look at front doors, porches and front gardens. I’d look at back decks, backyards, and kitchens too if I was just a little more confident of talking my way out of a trespassing charge and of jumping fences.
If you’re a regular reader of our newsletter, you know there are two things I love to do, walk and eat, and not necessarily in that order. One of my favorite Seattle food haunts is Salumi, a sandwich shop and producer of cured meats. I realized on my last trip that I’ve bought a Salumi sandwich on my last three visits to Seattle in a row, so I must really like it. Salumi has been around for 20 years, and the grandfather of the original owner—who is the father of chef Mario Batali—opened an Italian grocery store in Seattle 100 years earlier. Their hot and cold sandwiches are outstanding, and they are generous with tastings of their cured meats to help customers decide what they’d like to order.
Recently Emily and I bought sandwiches at Salumi, then took them on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, a beautiful 30 minute ride across Elliott Bay. The views of Bainbridge and back to Seattle are amazing, and for an $8.50 fare (the way back is free!), it is well worth your time just for the ferry ride alone. I really only saw the downtown of Bainbridge Island, which is a very cute three-ish block retail and restaurant neighborhood. I’m sure the Island has much more to offer, but we chose to walk the downtown area, then wander a bit along the water, before heading back to Seattle. Homes along the waterfront on Bainbridge Island are also beautiful to gawk at. Once again, I’d love to get closer, but for those nasty trespassing laws.
I have to admit to loving a very touristy part of Seattle too, Pike Place Market. If given the opportunity, I’m happy to take a quick wander through the market and check out the food and craft booths. A couple of favorite stops include Rachel’s Ginger Beer (thanks to Emily for turning me on to this delicious non-alcoholic drink), the donut robot at Daily Dozen Donuts—with hot and fresh mini donuts, and Sarah’s favorite, the Johnson Berry Farm jam stall. I also enjoy a meander past the famous fresh fish stall, but it’s usually packed with people waiting for the popular fish toss.
Emily works in East Lake Union, and with my love of the water, I was delighted to eat Salumi sandwiches on another Seattle visit with Sarah and Bob down by the houseboats on the Lake. I’m a lover of a good rom/com, and can’t help but remember Tom Hanks living on a houseboat in Seattle in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. When Meg Ryan comes out to see him, and they miss each other right near the houseboats, sigh…..But I digress. The houseboats are beautiful, and although I don’t see myself living in one, I sure like to look at them.
One last tidbit that I’d recommend is the Center for Wooden Boats, on South Lake Union. The Center boasts a museum, which wasn’t open when I stopped by, but there are old wooden docks with beautiful historic wooden boats tied up that you can wander around and admire. The location is stunning, and with seaplanes docked nearby, I found myself gasping out loud once or twice at the beauty of it all.
Thankfully, with Emily calling Seattle home, I’ll have plenty of other opportunities to check out more of Seattle’s top spots. And to go to the grocery store before I’ve brushed my teeth too.