Yesterday, Saturday June 2nd, we spent exploring this city and learning the lay of the land. We started with coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Seattle's Best. YUM! We then walked the 9 or so blocks from our hotel to the Westlake Center, where you catch the monorail to the Space Needle. The monorail was built in 1961 as the city was preparing for the World's Fair, and it cost $3.5 million dollars, which ended up paying for itself with all of the visitors of the fair that year. The Space Needle was also built in 1962 for the World's Fair. At that time, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River, and today, it's not even close to being the tallest building in Seattle. It's funny because when you see movies and tv shows with the Space Needle in the background, they make it look so big and dominating in the skyline of the city, when in reality, it sits off by itself, away from other major buildings, and is nowhere near their height! Oh well, it was something to visit and you got a great 360 degree view of the city. Well worth the stop!
In combination with our ticket for the Space Needle, we also bought entry into the Chihuly Glass Gardens, which were amazing. I didn't know what to expect, but when you are walking around outside of the gallery, you catch glimpses of some of the work and it makes you want to see more. The entire outdoor garden has works of art and there is an inside gallery that blows your mind. Mary (Jen's mom) was telling us that he did a display of chandeliers in Venice, however, after we visited. His work is unique and beautiful, definitely one of a kind and something that everyone should take the time to see. If you don't know anything about Chihuly, take the time (20 minutes or so) to watch the video at the gallery, it gives you great insight into the artist himself and his bodies of work. Gorgeous!
We walked around the area, as there was a science fair and lots of outdoor entertainment in the same area, and it was relaxing. People lounging in the park, taking dogs for walks, exploring the science fair, etc. It reminded us of the "museum campus" in Chicago, but on a much smaller, easier to maneuver layout. Everything here is so green and people seem to really take pride in their city and keeping it clean.
After riding the monorail back to the Westlake Center, we walked (well, hiked) up to Elysian Brewing Company. Jen and I are craft beer enthusiasts (thebeerchicks.blogspot.com), so we are making the most out of our time on the west coast and stopping at as many breweries as we can drag our mom's to. Elysian is an eclectic brew pub in an alternative area of Seattle. It was very inviting, and great people watching! We even ran in to the "Conspiracy of Beards", which is a men's vocal group that performs the songs of Leonard Cohen. It was very strange, but something you wouldn't learn about if you didn't get out and travel! We enjoyed the beer at Elysian very much, one of my new favorite breweries:) and then moved on. Knowing that it was going to be a long walk, we figured it would be good detox time before the next stop...and slowly made our way down the hill.
We found ourselves at the Pikes Market, one of the famous landmarks in Seattle and the home of the original Starbucks. People were everywhere and you could get anything from flowers to fruit to spices to fresh fish from the famous Fish Mongers at the Pikes Fish Market. This place is known for the "flying fish" which inspired the "FISH! Culture" within some willing corporations. The basic premise, have fun while you work and reward yourself and others for doing something good. I read this book during my last graduate program for Educational Leadership...so I bought their new book "Catch!", which they graciously signed, for my professor who has written me many wonderful letters of recommendation. We also bought cheese, bread, cookies, and fruit for the excursion that we were taking the next day.
After walking around the market, taking pictures, and sampling everything in sight, we headed to Pike Brewery for dinner and more drinks. I was not impressed with their beer at all...and actually couldn't even find one that I wanted more of, but the food was great. I had halibut and chips...amazing! I love halibut, ever since I had it the first time in Alaska a few years ago, I just can't get enough, especially when it's fresh. That's the beauty of the port towns! After dinner, Jen and I headed to Collin's Pub, which was closed the night before.
We were enjoying a nice sour beer at Collin's when the bar back, who happened to originally be from Berwyn, IL (our neck of the woods), told us to never f*** a guy that has no books in his home. Ok, sure. Never really thought about that, but good words of advice I suppose! Then a small bachelor party came in and sat near us at the bar. They were friendly, not near drunk enough, but they did a fantastic thing. The three guys with the bachelor, actually chained (a huge link chain with a massive lock) a bowling ball to this guys leg. It was great because he has to carry this thing around all night and it was always on the bar in front of him. People always talk about doing stupid things like this, and never follow through. A+ for follow through guys! We had a couple more drinks and then headed back to the hotel for the night.
This morning, Sunday, June 3rd, we got up, headed to Seattle's Best and then hopped in the car to head to Mt. Rainier National Park. Unfortunately, Mr. Mountain didn't want to peak his head out from the clouds, but it was a beautiful park. We hiked a trail, about 2.2 miles, to see some waterfalls and get some exercise. We then headed to the "top" of the park where there is 13 feet of snow on the ground, Paradise. This is where you are supposed to get the best views of Mt. Rainier, but the clouds never budged:( People were having snowball fights, some were skiing, other just looking on in awe of the massive amounts of snow and trying to pick our the glaciers on the mountain. We enjoyed our treats from Pikes Market at a picnic table and relaxed. It was quite a drive to get there, the hike was a good hour of exercise (up hill!), and this was our lunch/treat. Shortly after, we headed back towards Seattle.
Once back in the city, we went to see the Fremont Troll. He is very interesting looking and you'd be lucky to get a picture of him without someone else in the way. There are constantly kids climbing all over him! But, it was cool to see and he is holding a real VW Beetle...so look closely! From there, we headed to Gas Works park. This is a cool hidden gem, with great views of the downtown area across the water. People were playing Frisbee and flying kites, which isn't something you see very often! It was fun and relaxed, a very eclectic mix of people and personalities enjoying the beautiful outdoors. The best part of our visit was the trip to the bathroom. As we were waiting for a stall to open up, this older woman walked in with her Pomeranian following shortly behind. The dog walked in, looked at us standing there, and proceeded to walk under the stall door where Mary was using the facility. I immediately started laughing because I could only imagine using a public restroom and being intruded upon by someone else's dog. When the dog saw her, it walked back out and looked at it's owner, who replied "yes, it's occupied". Some people just make you shake your head!
Our last stop of the day was at Pyramid Brewery. They has a decent looking menu, so we decided to make this a beer tasting and dinner stop. The beer was good, much better than Pike's, and the food did it's job. If you haven't tried a Pyramid Brew, I would highly suggest their popular Apricot Ale, YUMMY! This would be a great place to hang out and watch a game as well. It's located right by the Safeco Fieldhouse where the Seattle Mariner's play and near the Seahawks stadium as well...well played by Pyramid!
It's finally time to chill out and take in all that we have seen...tomorrow we head for Vancouver. No plans have officially been made, so suggestions are welcome!!