Seattle or Bust: 48 Hours in the Big City
We were so pumped to be rolling into Seattle knowing that we would have a hotel to stay in for two nights. Actually, "so pumped" does not accurately describe our excitement. In the days leading up to this city life our bodies were feeling tired and worn out (also stinky), not to mention an unexpected visitor graced us with his presence in Spud (a mouse!). We never did find that mouse but we regained our mental and physical energy in this vibrant city which we ended up exploring for 48 hours on the dot. The sights, food, people, and even weather are something to write home about so here we are...
We checked in to our Hyatt Place hotel room as early as possible ("I know it's only 10 am, sir, but do you have a room available for us?! Also, how tall is your parking garage?"). We always feel a little out of place when we first check-in. Sort of like Pretty Woman, in a different sense. I try to keep my armpits closed but I'm sure the stench that clouds us as we enter an enclosed space sends people away like magnets of opposite charge. But by the time we come back down to the lobby, we are new and trendy city-folk in our late 2009 apparel. Surely know one would know we were a family of four, sleeping in a van with a mouse the previous night!
Day 1 (half day):
We got right to it in Seattle, and headed straight for a decently-reviewed conveyor belt sushi joint. Once inside and barely seated, we began eyeing the plates of sushi that came slowly rolling past us, each one begging "pick me!" Being the conveyor belt sushi virgins that we were, we began selecting this plate and that. Then another. And 'Oh, this one looks good too!" Like other things in life, the boys fed off our energy and joined in too, eating sushi rolls and salmon nigiri left and right. Each plate was labeled with a number ($3, $4, $5 for example) and by the very end we had a leaning tower of plates to add up.
With full bellies, we waddled back towards the Space Needle. We ended up discovering an incredible park at the base of the needle called "Artists at Play" playground. It was filled with fun rope courses, musical instruments, and a human-powered carousel. We hung around there long enough to burn a few hundred sushi calories, then made our way back to the hotel for an inviting dip in the pool.
Day 2 (Full Day):
We drew back our hotel curtains and were not surprised to see an overcast day. We embraced the Seattle weather since we very rarely have had a cloudy sky so far on the trip. It actually felt comforting in a way. The hotel provided a free shuttle to numerous things in Seattle but the number one activity we had to check out? The Pike Place Market, of course! All those friends and family members, Instagram posts and blogs definitely held up their end of the bargain promising a great experience at one of the oldest operated public farmers' markets in the United States.
The tops things we loved here:
1) Duh. The Pike Place Fish Market
This is the place to go for the high-energy, handsome-man-shouting, fish flinging. Doesn't seem like it would be, but one fish purchase turns into an entertaining show from the workers at that stand. We almost lost Reid in the crowd and found him ten feet to our right hanging out by the bronze pig. I don't think my heart slowed down from that for a few hours.
2) City Views
If you need a break from the crowds and market hoopla, then simply exit the back for a beautiful panorama of the city.
3) Gum Wall
Just as the name suggests, this is simply a brick wall covered in used chewing gum in the alley underneath Pike Place Fish Market. It lines both sides, for long enough, and is just the right amount of color to stay and snap a few pics and grossness to leave quickly there after. If you have children you may catch yourself panicking and yelling "DON'T TOUCH!" as your child reaches for that colorful goo.
4) The Food
Not only can you get fresh fruit and veggies of any size, color, and varietal (the snap peas were the size of my forearm!) but you can also dine on fresh pastries, fish & chips, nuts of any flavor, hot food, cold food, you name it, they have it. And it's all at your fingertips here.
After hotel naps, we decided to dine senior citizen-style and showed up to a supposedly great and walkable Thai Restaurant at 4 pm (Ti 22, was the name). What can I say? Sometimes you want Thai. And sometimes when you have kids, you eat early. This restaurant could very well be the best Thai food we have eaten. I'm still drooling thinking about the Pad Thai and Tom Kha Gai soup. The bonus, we had the place to ourselves and took advantage of happy hour (meaning the kids AND adults could be loud). If I ever go back to Seattle, I'm uber-ing my arse here pronto.
Day 3 (1/2 Day):
With our remaining hours in Seattle we took one last stroll by the Space Needle while allowing our free breakfast to settle. The city and hotel offered some much needed respite from Spud and we were so thankful we didn't have to try to experience this vibrant place in our van. Secure underground parking was a big bonus, Chip always stresses a bit about a possible van-theft when we're away from Spud in cities. 'Cause seriously, who wouldn't want to steal a 30 year old, mouse-infested, gold van that 4 people have been living out of for a few months?
But for our last (and possibly most scenic) experience of the trip, we got to include our pal, Spud. We loaded our now clean clothes, toy cars, and kids in him then squeezed out through the parking garage heading straight for the Bainbridge Island Ferry. You may enter as a passenger or in a vehicle. After paying roughly $20 one way (here are the fares), a man in official garb directed us aboard the ferry. I'll never forget we got stuck on the incline at the end of the boat. My daydreams throughout the entire ferry ride included our brakes giving out, sending Spud barreling off the ferry and into the water. I'll ruin the surprise for you, nothing happened.
What we did see though was an incredibly different aspect of the city. So often we get caught up in just seeing the things that are right in front of us. But to pull away and see an entire skyline of city really put it all into perspective. We had barely scratched the surface in Seattle, and obviously didn't try to (especially with small kids) but we had an enjoyable time nonetheless for the 48 hours we were there. We would most certainly make a trip back!