September 24, 2011

The Emerald City

Thursday was my full day in Seattle.  My friends had to work so I spent the day on my own.  I woke up super early due to my body still thinking it was in Kentucky.  I decided to start off my morning walking up to Kerry Park which is just north of Leslie and Johns' apartment.  And by North I mean up a very steep hill.  Seattle is way more hilly than I realized.  The park overlooks Seattle and was very beautiful.  The weather was overcast and slightly cool at first but I heated up fast. 
After taking several photos I headed towards Upper Queen Anne where I planned on having my breakfast.  Leslie told me about a book and coffee shop there.   I headed that way or so I thought and got lost by not taking a turn up North.   So I walked through several residential blocks which were really cool to see.  I love the architecture in this city.   The houses are tall and slim and modern.  There are the traditional old houses that pop up in between the new ones.  The variety works well in Seattle.  I called Leslie after walking a lot further than I knew I should have and she told me I took a wrong turn.  So I back-tracked and went up another hill.  Most of the shops were still closed but there were several coffee shops.  I dipped into Queen Anne books which had a Cuban coffee shop attached.  I am so indecisive about picking something from a menu when I haven't seen it before.  I always want to try everything and wish I had more people with me so I could take a bite of their food and a sip of their drink.  I love to share.   I settled on a cafe con leche and artichoke empanada.  I sat in a chair and tried to warm up from the cold drizzle outside.  I found a local newspaper and flipped through the ads and articles.  I found a section touting famous restaurants and food in the area.  One place called Paseo was in the area near where I would be going for a chocolate factory tour at noon, so I wrote down the address to check on googlemaps when I got back to the apartment.  I finished my breakfast and headed back down the hill.  I went by Kerry Park again to take in the view.  Sometimes you can never look at something beautiful too many times.  I took a few more photos since the sun was out.  At the apartment, I found that Paseo was a famous Cuban restaurant where the lines tend to curb about the block.  I knew this is where I wanted to eat lunch today.  I had the time and can’t pass up a place like this.  Plus, the reviews online were nothing but spectacular.
I gathered my things again and headed to the bus stop.  I had scheduled a tour of the Theo Organic Chocolate Factory in the Fremont district.  Leslie had suggested this based on another Peace Corps volunteers recommendation.  The place was small and quaint and the shop inside had so many samples of chocolate.  We were advised not to do any tasting before the tour because we would be eating many samples and they had a sequence to the tasting.  At noon, I pulled on my hair net and we corralled into a small area for a presentation. 

It was cool to hear the history of chocolate and how it’s come along.  Theo Chocolate is the only organic and fair trade seed to chocolate company in North America.  There are other organic chocolate companies in the US but this is the only one that actually begins the process with the seeds.  We first tasted a 91% dark from Costa Rica, then a 80% from the Dominican Republic.  There was also a milk chocolate, chile chocolate, and hazelnut crunch.  Then we went into the hot factory and she showed up the different machines and explained their different functions. 

There was also a kitchen where they created confections.  I tasted the fig and fennel seed confection which was pretty tasty.  The tour ended and we went back to the shop to taste more varieties and to spend some money on this great local business.  I could have spend $100 there but I didn’t.  I left and then headed to find Paseo.  The map indicated it was a 0.8 mile walk.  That didn’t sound too bad until I realized the whole 0.8 mile was uphill.  I needed the exercise so I didn’t hesitate.  I found the place and it was pretty small and very busy.  There were four small tables inside and ten people standing outside waiting on to-go orders.  I ordered the most famous item which was the Cuban roast sandwich and some chips and salsa.  The sandwich was on a fresh baguette with aioli, cilantro, pulled pork, and romaine lettuce.  I grabbed my items and headed back downhill to catch the bus and go back to Leslie and John’s to eat.  I planned on eating then walking to the Space Needle and getting a pedicure until Leslie got off work.  I

 went back to the bus stop off and waited about 20 minutes for the bus to arrive.  I got on and assumed I would be back near Lower Queen Anne within 15 minutes or so.  I did notice we weren’t going back the way I came but I just assumed we were going in a loop.  I got to take a few bites of my sandwich (I was starving) and it was really good.  The bread hit the spot.  It was the kind that is really crunchy/chewy on the outside, soft on the inside.   After being on the bus for 50 minutes and seeing everyone get on and off and then being the last one on the bus the bus driver asked me where I was going.  She then told me I was on the right bus but go on the wrong side of the road and to get off walk across the street and another bus would be there within minutes.  I hurriedly got off and sat down at the bus stop.  The next bus wasn’t supposed to come for 20 minutes.  I called Megan and we started chatting and then I realized I had left my mom’s raincoat on the bus.  I was horrified.  My mom lent me her new jacket and now I’ve lost it.  This is why I don’t like to borrow things, I feel horrible if something happens while I have it.  Anyway, I figured I would just call the bus company later to see if it was turned in.  Just as I thought there was no hope, the bus came and guess who it was?  The same bus I was just on with the same driver.  The coat has to be on there I thought.  As soon as I got on I asked to driver and she did have it.  Shewwwwwww.  Relieved.  So I’m on the bus, I have the coat (which I promptly put on) and I’m headed in the right direction.  Now all I had to do was figure out where to get off.  The weird part is, I’m usually really good with directions and my bearings but I guess I bit off more than I could chew in Seattle.  Lesson learned. 

As soon as I heard that I would need to take the bus to get to the train station the next morning, I immediately asked for assistance.  Leslie volunteered John to take me.  Again, a huge sigh of relief.  Due to my untimely bus excursions I didn’t get to see everything I wanted in Seattle.  I didn’t get to Pike Place Market nor the Space Needle.  I did get to the nail salon for a $15 spa pedicure.  You can’t beat that and my feet were in need of some R&R after the long day of walking.  Leslie and I had Vietnamese for dinner and called it a night.  I ordered the tofu pho.

I am already thinking about things to do next year when I come back, I just hope Leslie and John are still living there.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

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