Friday, November 20, 2009

Seattle: The Land of Lattes, Ferry Boats, and Down-To-Earth People

I have been wanting to travel to Seattle for about twenty years. I've seen "Sleepless in Seattle," and watched "Fraser," as well as the swooping aerial views on "Grey's Anatomy," and I've been sure the city has been calling my name.

The rain makes me happy and I don't mind the perpetual grey clouds, and I also love the winter attire of boots, tights, and coats. But here in San Diego, well I just can't remember the last time it rained and if I wear my favorite, boots, tights, and skirt combination here in sunny San Diego by afternoon I'm overheated and have to go home and change anyway. Forget about getting J.Crew's wool-blend ribbed tights because their is no use for it around here.

(And just to let you know, living here in sunny Southern Cal I only own one pair of shorts and I don't enjoy wearing sun dresses. I feel so exposed. I'm not a summer-weather-attire type of girl, but oddly enough, can withstand high temperatures without feeling miserable - the very reason people think I could not survive any other place. )

So last weekend I finally got to experience Seattle on a surprise trip. As you might have read in my last post, my husband swept me off my feet and took me on a celebratory weekend away to an unknown place. The place? Yes, he took me to Seattle. I have, after all, been moaning about not being able to go to that far north western city for quite sometime now and I think he thought it was high time to take me there.

And we went. Arrived on a sunny day. There are a few details I observed about this grand city just south Canada:

  • When it is sunny, it looks different than a sunny day down here just north of Mexico. One does not need sunglasses and the rays are a tint of orange-red, and sparkles from glimmer of water fresh from a recent rain.
  • There is not much fashion and I only saw one person wearing the tights, boots, skirt combo. Come on people. Perfect weather opportunity. The North Face jacket and the Nike running shoe seems to be the attire for the city. We went to see an evening movie and only observed the above combo and reflected that in San Diego tennis shoes are mostly only worn when running or playing a sport. Oh, and we were there on a Friday night - date night and chance to wear your best gigs.
  • Department stores and hotels have their thermometers set at a high temp. Yes, it's cold outside, but the minute you walk inside it's take outer layer off time (seriously concerned about their heating bills). Observation: in San Diego there is not much of a temperature change from outside to inside. Many stores don't even have air conditioning and if they have a heater, it is set low enough so that people can keep on their sweaters or jackets.
  • Where are the 7-11 and five-and-dimes stores? This ain't no New York City folks. No joking around here. There are no billboards or flashing lights on buildings and later I figured out why there is not those conveniences stores on every corner.

  • Speaking of every corner, on one street corner my husband and I saw three different Starbucks from one vantage point. There are so many coffee shops. Unlike New York City where cafe's can claim they have "NYC Best Coffee," Seattle is vying for the title, "The Best Coffee In the Entire World." No messing around with their lattes.

  • Not that I observed so many of them, it is just that the homeless were really bad off. I live in an area of freely roaming homeless and I'm rather familiar with who hangs out where. But those who are on the streets in Seattle looked seriously destitute. One lady had a sign that said something like, "I have two small kids and I just got laid off. Please help me." She was actually sobbing with big tear drops coming down and her face contorted in desperation as she shakingly held up her sign up. One evening we saw a homeless sleeping in the a door entry in a down- sleeping bag. He looked scared. Would he make it through the night? On the news, it said that shelters were running low on food. There was such a need.
  • Those Seattleians are not only proud of their coffee, but also of their ferry system.
  • The city keeps going on - not like Beijing or anything, but it is much bigger than I ever expected.
  • We were both very surprised to observe quite a few smokers! I thought this city was one of the healthiest in the US so we were both amazed that smokers were abundant. We conclude that it might be because it was cold outside and smoking kept a person warm - around here most smokers were the young rebellious types.

On our way out, we hurried to the airport only to find we were seven hours early (uh, a bit of my easy-going husband's oversight) so we signed up for stand-by on a flight in two hours. We went through inspections and I was pulled aside for a jar of jam we bought at Pike's Place. I put it in my larger bag and went back to check in as baggage. When I came back through the line, I took off my belt, boots, coat, scarf, and, after the instruction of the baggage inspection person, took off my precious necklace.

The necklace was a large glass heart hanging from a silver circle band that was given to me as a mother's day gift last year. I set it on top of all my things and pushed it along on the conveyor belt only to watch it fall off the stack onto the belt and then through the rollers to the tiled floored into shattered pieces. The manager came over, wrote up the report and handed me the paper to file for a claim. I told the manager that my heart was broken in Seattle.

Who knows if I will ever get the chance to go back to the beautiful city with the greener than green lands and the nice down-to-earth people, but now that I'm back here in Southern Cal I'm trying my very best to embrace what I have here and enjoy the sunny, warmer weather. My tights, boots, and skirt attire, well I can appreciate them from afar and save them for another trip to another place. Until then, here’s to the perpetual sunny days and 70 degree weather here and I will continue to love and admire Seattle from a distance. Until the next visit, thanks Seattle for your lattes, breathtaking aerial views, comfortable attire, and beautiful city. You should be proud.

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  1. high winds, cancelled ferries, power outages, flood warnings. the benefit of watching the news from the big city to the south. It is an amazing city, hugh soaring concert halls and tiny tieny coffee shops. high fashion and comfortable fashion. Some of the best local wineries ever! sunsets and sun rises to rival anyplace on the coast (sorry RA). Gorgeous view of the sunset from the hotel room on the 40th floor facing west just after a snow storm. The counrty side as it blends into forests and mountains. Music everywhere, even in the rain. Low slow float plane fight in and landing on the lake then a 15 minute walk to the Space needle. Dinner at Crab Pot on pier 51 during sunset. (That is where i'm having my birthday dinner next week.) SEATAC has gotten much better over the years. Still friends have all had their troubles with security there. just a small backpack of stuff needed on the flight or if the bags are delay a day, but everything goes in the checked luggage. Walk in the airport and shed all the outer layers and stuff them in the bag at the counter. Find a nice south facing coffee shop, good book, warm chocolate, a nice way to wait for a plane. Remember to get a window seat on the right side headed south and have a fabulous view all the way south of mountains, lakes and forests. Next time come for the spring tulip festival in Skagit valley. The most tulips in one place out side of Holland. Great BnBs and wonderful bike rides amonst the flowers. Love heading south to Seatle to visit friends, shop, work but it is nice to get on the ferry or float plane and head home.

  2. are so good at articulating what you're experiencing! It was such fun to read about your adventure until the part about arriving at the airport 7 hours early (big bummer - missed time exploring the city) and your precious necklace shattering
    :-( Don't you just love Pike Place Market?!?!
    Now you know what I'm talking about when I speak of fashion here in Oregon. Same thing! Though you can dress up (well, my def. of dress up, which is casual dress) and only a few people look at you oddly! I too love sweaters and boots and coats, etc. so am loving wearing them again. And yes, you dress and undress each time you enter a store. I love the NW! You'll have to try Portland sometime too, if you've never been. It's a wonderful city with some funky, eclectic areas and even the "ritzy" areas are funky and non-snooty! I think the thing I missed the most in San Diego when I first moved there (and the entire 22 yrs. living there) is the funkiness, the artsy, fartsy type of people, hippies, counter culture ("so granola", as my children call them), musicians, etc. Both Seattle and Portland have that in abundance! It's some of the best people watching on the west coast. To get my "funky fix" in San Diego I used to head to Ocean Beach...the only place similar to what I missed so much! ~Suzy

  3. I want to go there too. I wonder how long it will take my husband to plan a trip? :)

  4. I loved hearing about your trip although I am very sad about your necklace. I hope you and Clif had a wonderful time celebrating your anniversary!

  5. Yes, great tips @anonymous! If we had known ahead of time that we were going there, we might have asked around to find out what was the best way to see the town. So funny about the "comfortable fashion." I've been to NY, Chicago, San Fran, & of course LA and they all have something in common: fashion. So I was just so surprised that such a big city such as Seattle was nothing like it's counterparts! Oh, and I forgot to say I saw Leg Warmers! Haven't seen them since when? Early 80s I'm sure! It was a fantastic town and now I know what to expect.