Walking and resting in Seattle

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July 26th 2015
Published: July 26th 2015
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It's 12.14 on the 25th July. Currently we are sitting on the train to San Francisco, but for this blog I will write about our last 3 days in The Emerald City.
Wednesday started as usual, we got up for an early-ish breakfast - about 8.30 - then got ready for 12. In the meantime I ran down the seafront to a set outdoor chin-up and dip bars that had been installed a fair way down the promenade. I spent half an hour doing a little body-weight training there, then ran back to the hostel. By the time I had caught my breathe and showered, it was 12 noon. The plan was to walk up to a district of Seattle called Fremont, to explore the area and see the Troll statue under the bridge there.
The walk was long, about an hour and a half to 2 hours, but simple enough - down 5th through downtown, then onto a path that went down past the lake and across the canal. Kate decided she would rather catch the bus than walk, so we agreed to meet her by the troll a couple hours after we left the hostel. The first section of the walk we had done before several times, but the second section down by the water was very pleasant. We kept a good pace, and made our way out of the inner city an past the leisure harbours and water-plane stations that sat on the water's edge. Before we knew it we came to the small footbridge that took us across the canal, in the shadow of the huge road bridge that towered above us.
We popped into the Starbucks on the other bank to get some water or a cold drink, then headed up the hill under the arching supports of the road bridge, to the place where the bridge met the land, and in the acute angle of this conjunction crouched the troll, a huge concrete sculpture half submerged into the concrete floor. We found Kate there, and took photos of us all on the troll's shoulder, then ate our lunch in the shade provided by the underside of the bridge close above.
From there we wandered down into the centre of Fremont, which we discovered to be a pleasant, affluent suburb on the canal side. We bought a cheap slice of pizza from the Whole Foods market and sat on their plaza on the main street for quite a while, somewhat knocked out by the walk and the heat. Once we'd finally roused ourselves we walked a short way down the canal path, then decided we ought to begin our walk back.
Kate decided that she would rather get the bus home too, so we parted from her and I - after a little discussion - managed to persuade Matt and Rosie to walk (albeit slightly grudgingly) up the hill once more, past the troll, and into the pedestrian path on the huge road bridge. From there, as I supposed, we got a far superior view of the canal and the lake, and the city skyline beyond. We wandered across the bridge, watching the little boats pass underneath, and hit ground on the other side considerably further inland and up the hill than the lakeside path we had walked arrived on. We decided to head towards the city, in the hope we would intersect with our original path at some point.
We rejoined our route at the base of the lake and at the beginning of 5th, after making our way through another pleasant neighbourhood. We begun to walk through the city in high spirits despite the ten miles we had already walked and the several miles left before us. When we reached the shopping district we milled around a little bit, with Rosie looking for a specific makeup brand in the many Macy-like department stores, and I looking for a toilet which wasn't closed.
We found both, eventually, in the Norgard shopping centre, and finally headed home, arriving in the hostel and meeting Kate in the kitchen at around 5 or 6pm. From there, we cooked ourselves our dinner and ate feeling we had very much deserved the food after such an active day. Everyone was pretty beat by this time, and headed off to the common room of bedrooms, but I - somehow - still fancied my customary sunset walk down by the harbour.
As usual, when I returned it was getting late, so I wrote my journals, and headed up to bed. The next morning, you guessed it, started as normal - and I trained as I had done the morning before. We had decided to walk to the other famous district of Seattle, Capitol Hill, and so at around 12 we headed out.
The first mile or so of the walk took us through a less pleasant area of Seattle, with collections of tents set up on overgrown grassy plots of land in somewhat of a halfhearted shanty town, the sense of poverty somehow exacerbated by the climbing heat of the cloudless day. Before long, however, we hit Broadway, which took us out of this area and past the huge city hospital on the left (I have had a little bit of a fascination with city hospitals in this trip, given the fact I will be working in one for most of my life; my favourite so far has been the Toronto hospital complex), and the beautiful Seattle University campus on the right.
Broadway soon intersected with Madison, which we followed for several miles - up, over and down the same hill that the Capitol Hill district is perched upon, but further north, and through the Central district. Central District felt very young and dynamic - and I think also was the gay district - and made for a nice walk. We finally arrived at our destination, the Washington Park Arboretum.
The Arboretum stretched North from Madison, and through it a network of paths wove. We picked our way through these, walking about halfway up the length of the park. The first section of the park reminded me strongly of the hot and semi-arid gardens of Southern France or Spain - with dusty paths and tough looking plants - while the second section, down in a sort of valley, felt more like the kind of managed woodland you find in the gardens of British stately homes. We exited the gardens, after having to dash past a fierce and unpredictable sprinkler when it wasn't facing our way , but still getting a little damp, to the West, and now to the East of the Capitol Hill area.
We found ourselves at the bottom of the hill itself once more, and braced ourselves for the climb - which was more short and sharp than it had been that morning. We stood atop the hill, panting and sweating in the midday heat, and saw that we were in a very wealthy, but very sleepy, area - full of huge houses sitting over quiet roads. We walked down to Aloha Av., which was to take us into the centre of Capitol Hill via 12th Av.. We walked past a variety of churches of different denominations - Bapist, Jesuit, Adventist - past little coffee shops and restaurants, and down the small twisting street (the width and shape of which I suppose denoted its age in a city of wide, ram-rod straight avenues).
Finally, we found 12th, and made our way down to Pike Street South, passing a good 10 blocks through Capitol Hill. It was a bustling street filled with independent retailers and caf├ęs, much like what I had incisions the neighbourhood to be like. We turned onto Pike, and towards downtown. A few blocks down we popped into the Starbucks roastery and tasting rooms, which had some of its processes on display to the public, as well as a shop and a large espresso bar. From there we headed into downtown proper, stopping off at the target on 2nd to buy some dinner, then beat the now familiar path home.
By the time we returned it was 5-6pm, and we were all exhausted. We cooked and ate, then pretty much all went to lie down and read - I even skipped my usual walk. I did, however, walk back the Target with Rosie that evening in search of Dairy Milk chocolate. Unfortunately, they didn't have any so we had to settle for Toblerone - with which we wandered back, and went to bed. Luckily, Caesar had left the day before so I was able to sleep a little better without his tremendous snoring.
Friday was a funny day. We all woke up late and missed breakfast, and didn't really rendezvous until lunch time, as we had no formal plan for the day. Matt and I had to pack and move to a different room due to a technicality with the booking, which meant we had nowhere to sit between 11am and 3pm (when we could check in) except the kitchen which wasn't behind the key card opened doors. I took the opportunity, therefore, to make a couple of pasta bakes for Rosie and I on the train, and to write my previous blog.
Gradually we all gathered in the kitchen, and decided to not head out until the evening, seeing as the girls hadn't packed and the weather wasn't too nice. Once we could check in again, I dropped off my bags and walked up to the library (as it had
much better wifi) to upload the photos for my blog - it taking me a couple of hours to do altogether.
By the time I got back it was getting on in the afternoon, so I cooked myself some soup and cheese on toast, before showering and getting ready to go out. We all met in the lobby at 8, and walked down to the waterfront for a stroll. The evening was becoming increasingly more changeable in weather so we walked out to the pier, took some photos and watches the ferries shuttle to and from the docks for a while, then made our way back.
We had our last look at the Seattle skyline as we walked back - returning to the hostel at near 10pm. It was an earlier start in the morning for the train, so we turned in pretty much as soon as we got back - reading and writing for a while before lights out for the last time in Seattle.

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