Exploring Seattle

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July 24th 2015
Published: July 24th 2015
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It's 12.44 on the 24th July. It's been a little while since I've written a blog - we've packed our days so full here in Seattle - but hopefully I can write and upload one today, then another one whilst on the train to San Fran tomorrow.
So, I think I left off on Saturday evening, so I pick up from Sunday morning. We all got up and had breakfast before everything was tidied away at 9am, then got ready to go out at 12. The plan for the day was to head down 5th into Downtown Seattle to explore. We left and walked the 10 or so blocks to where 5th intersects with Union, Pike and Pine streets, and the main shopping section begins. From there, we decided to split up as everyone wanted to go to different shops and buy different things. I didn't have anything in particular that I wanted to buy so spent the two hours until the arranged rendezvous wandering around the huge department centres listening to the audio book of Enders Game and indulging in a little people watching (which Seattle is excellent for owing to its high concentration of crazies and eccentrics in the downtown area).
Once it reached 2.30pm, we met up outside the Gap on the corner of 5th and Pike, popped to McD's to grab a drink, then all took a seat in one of the plazas nearby. Seattle had clearly had a drive to provide free games in their communal areas, which means that in all of the plazas and along the harbour side there is a selection of ping pong tables, curling matts, bean bag toss games and the like that everyone can use. We grabbed a Jenga type game and played a few rounds at our table, all the while watching a couple of tramps play an animated game of bean bag toss.
We sat in the shady spot, enjoying the heat and the life of the city for an hour or two, then headed up to a food court to grab a bite before making our way up the hill towards home.
When we arrived back Rosie, Kate and I set up in the common room on the second floor as it was the coolest spot in the hostel, and spent an hour or two reading with a mercifully cool breeze coming in through the open windows. After a little while, however, we noticed that there was unusual activity starting up on the street outside, King Street, and hung out the window to find out what was going on. I looked it up and found out that the Chinatown Seafair parade was due to start at 7pm that evening, and in the hour leading up to it the street became busier and busier with people setting up to watch.
We had front row seats, hanging out of the window of the hostel, and watched the entire parade go past. It was pretty impressive, as parades go. There were dancers, Chinese dragon groups, martial artists, drummers and clowns - as well as a plethora of floats for every company and business in the area.
Finally the last group passed our window, and by 8.30 we wandered downstairs to cook and eat. By the time we had eaten and washed up, we were ready to retire to our rooms for writing, reading and eventually sleeping.
The next morning we were up and to breakfast by 8.10, as we wanted to head down to the Pike Place market to see the famous fish throwers and other assorted vendors. We managed to actually get out of the hostel by 8.40, and so arrived at the market by 9, just as everyone was setting up. So, we decided to head down the road to the original Starbucks store on Pike Place to get a coffee. The Starbucks was maintained as it was when the shop opened back in the 70s, complete with the old logos and shop front.
We took our coffees through the market, and came back to the Pike Place Fish Company, who were now open for business - but not too busy by this point. We stood and watched as the first few orders came in, which were shouted by one guy, then sung pack to him by all of the others before another threw him the fish from the counter - which he deftly caught. We watched them do this a few times, getting videos and photos - then carried on into the depths of the market. The next hour or so was spent wandering through the little stalls and shops in the labyrinthine market, until we were satisfied we'd seen everything there was to see.
Rosie and I had bought 1/2lb of salmon from the Fish Company to put in our pasta bake that night, so had to pop back to the hostel to put it in the fridge. So, we arranged to meet Matt and Kate back in the city in an hour. When we met back up it was around 1 or 2pm, so we decided to head to the Target (like a Walmart) to pick up a couple of things we needed, then slowly make our way back via the harbour front.
On the way we passed the Pike Place Market Fish Company once more, who had by now collected a large audience. Orders were coming in from all sides, and thus fish were flying everywhere. It was quite a spectacle, and made great watching - especially when one of them would pick up a fish, shout another guy's name and sling the fish across the stall to him, prompting a minute or so long game of fish-catch for no reason other than it being a bit of a laugh.
Eventually we came away, and headed down the hill to the waterfront. We walked, basking in the warmth of the summer sun, back from there - stopping for a while at a vacant ping-pong table to have a few games. The atmosphere on the front was lively and fun - something the free games really contributed toward.
We arrived back at the hostel at about 5, and begun preparations for dinner - Rosie and I mainly guessing how to prepare salmon for a pasta bake. It turned out very well, however, and the bake was a success.
Being in the sun all day somewhat drains your energy, so we were soon in our room to relax. I popped out again for an hour or so to wander down the prom as the sunset, so inviting was the gentle warmth of the evening. By the time I returned, everyone had headed to bed, so I did my writing and followed suit.
We got up at the normal time Tuesday morning - about 8.30, and had breakfast. We were ready to go by 12, and we had decided to head to the library for the day. It was about a 20 minute walk towards Downtown to get there, the library being an impressive glass structure building 10 stories high. We wandered around for a while, and set up on the top floor. I spent the next couple of hours exploring the libraries vast collection of books and magazines on subjects from 'life with native Americans in the 1800s' to 'adventures in the Yukon' to 'encyclopaedia of biomedical science'.
After this, I spent the next couple of hours with the others, reading Jude the Obscure, and enjoying the view of Downtown from the top floor. By the time everyone had had enough of quiet reading it was 4.30. Matt and Kate wanted to head back to begin cooking, while Rosie and I needed to do something a little more active before turning in for the evening. So, we headed down across town to the Olympic Sculpture Park - which was a small park with abstract art dotted throughout - then walked back via the seafront, popping into the souvenir shops and playing a few of the free games.
As we walked, we noticed a nice little bar was doing burger and fries for only $4, so we had a drink and a burger each out on their patio, then headed home. We probably didn't to return until 5.30-6pm, at which time we found Kate and Matt in the kitchen area. We cooked our pasta and ate, sitting around and chatting for an hour or so. As the sun set I decided to pop out for a run down the front, and ended up finding a good pace and running 6 miles before coming home.
As usual, by the time I returned, about 10, everyone was in bed - so I grabbed my books and sat downstairs for a while to read, then headed up to my bunk to sleep. As me and Matt were in a 6 bed male dorm we had a few characters sharing our space by this point. First we had Luigi, an old Mediterranean looking man (we named him thus, no idea what his actual name was), who stunk up the room no end when occupying it, and ate his dinner of spaghetti in brown water out of a huge serving bowl. Also, we had Caesar (his actual name) for a couple of nights - a wonderfully energetic and friendly man from LA but looked as if we may have originally been Central American, and who had the most unbelievably loud snore. I have never heard anything like it, it genuinely shook the bunk that I shared with him, and was clearly audible through the music playing on my noise cancelling earphones. Finally there was Yoshi, the old Japanese motorcycle enthusiastic who was driving down to South Dakota for a bike convention, who engaged Matt in lengthy conversation in broken English - the subjects of which Matt is still unsure about. It was amongst this band of quirky, international rogues that I tried to sleep on that Tuesday night.

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25th July 2015

Sleeping partners
I just had to comment on your wonderful description of the men that you were sharing your dorm with on that Tuesday night. It had me in stitches! I can just imagine 'Luigi', Ceasar and Yoshi with all their varied idiosyncrasies all in one room with you and Matt just trying to get some sleep. Hilarious! Mum xxxx

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