City of coffee!
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
Couchsurfed with Mary Lawson
The usual cell phone issues meant I wait a little bit for Mary but she was very generous in offering to drive out of her way and come pick me up. She lives a good ten minute drive from the Greyhound bus station.
We arrive at her house that she shares with four other people and 4 pets, two dogs and two cats. I meet one dog, Lola and Mary's two cats Pandora and Shell. Mary does not have a usual working schedule, so was due at work pretty soon after she dropped me off. I was happy to wander down to the local university campus and grab a late lunch and a coffee. I'm also thinking about my next trip, so find a Barnes and Noble to do some research. I'm pretty tired also, so happy to spend a few hours in a book store reading about new places to go visit, whilst also continuing to listen to the new tunes on my itouch. Mary was due back to her house at 8pm so I got back around then and hung out with the cats until she came back from work.
That night, we went to a bar to meet some of her friends who regularly meet up once a week to hang out and chat, I end up talking about baseball with one of her friends for an hour then the series LOST with another one of her friends for a while. It was cool to be hanging in Seattle with some very laid back and cool people. I know when a city is too cool for me and Seattle is beginning to feel a little like Portland. I can handle that though. I also got to know Mary a little better and her love of British comedy. She hung out with a friend from Saudi Arabia last summer who is a big fan of British comedy, even the IT crowd. It's amusing when you can say a line from Little Britain and maybe only one other person in the room gets it........Bitty! But I want Bitty now! Oh man, I think I discussed that in Boise too, well, there was a lot of Bitty around!!
The night grew long and before long, we were back at Marys and I was making my bed up on the sofa. Pretty comfy sofa, the only strange aspect was waking up in the middle of the night to find the pure white cat Shell sat on my chest. Literally! Sat on my ribcage just looking at me! I didn't mind, I found it pretty funny, but I'm never going to sleep like that, she made do with sleeping around my legs.
Miles walked 2.70
Day 144 May 27th - My plan was to wake early and go explore Seattle city centre and the markets and the space station needle thing. But, when a room mate pops their head around from the kitchen and asks if you want a cup of tea, you don't say no. After a nice chat and she leaves for work, another room mate wakes up and offers fresh coffee, sure, sounds great! Then my host wakes up and we sit and chat for ages. I end up missing about 5 buses before I pulled my finger out and caught a bus before midday that dropped me off in Chinatown.
I settle for some duck with rice in a black bean sauce. I was looking for sushi but settled for duck. Chinatown was relatively small and quiet, just across from the train station and slightly north of the giant stadiums (Qwest field and Safeco field) that dominate the southern part of the city.
I walk towards the waterfront and head north towards Pike Place Market. The sun is out, the roads are busy for the upcoming long weekend and I am thoroughly enjoying walking along the waterfront. I love looking at the docks, industrial areas and the outerlying area of Seattle.
I am taking the day slow and steady, in the back of my mind is knowing I will be with familiar faces and family very soon but I try to focus on exploring Seattle and making the most of my day in this city of natural beauty. I find myself walking among Yankee fans, uh oh, they are in town this weekend. Would have been good to see a game, but my host is not the biggest fan of sports and I've managed to twist her arm enough to watch the Champions League final tomorrow. The waterfont area is very friendly, lots of families enjoying their long weekend, or extended long weekend, people lining up for some 'fish and chips' Seattle style and the ice cream stalls are kept busy. Seeing as I had just eaten, ice cream can wait.
I leave the waterfront, climb some stairs and find myself in Pike Place market. I wander up to the top floor of the market where the crazy warren of cafes, food stalls and little shops are located. Seattle is famous for its bellowing fishmongers and it's a treat to watch them in action.
My host is going to bring me back here tomorrow, so I don't stay at the market long. It's while walking past a souvenir shop that I remember Seattle has a tall landmark, the one on the Frasier titles. I totally forgot about that, I look to the skyline and can just spot it, so I head over to that direction for a skyline view of Seattle and the surrounding area. As I walk along Pike Place, I spot a large line outside of Starbucks, and people are taking pictures? I'm puzzled, so I assume there is a celebrity in the store or some famous band is playing outside. I stand opposite the coffee shop and realise I'm standing infront of the very first Starbucks coffee shop. Oh joy! Now, really, people are lining up for a very long time and coming out with a regular cup of coffee, just down the road there is no queue and they can get the same one? I find that confusing, it's not like you are stood near the Lincoln memorial in DC where Dr Martin Luther King JR gave one of his famous speeches, or are standing where the Berlin wall once stood, or running up the 'Rocky' steps in Philadelphia, You are outside the first Starbucks!?
When I reach the Space Needle, the view from the top is sublime! This will be one of my last skyline views and seeing as it cost almost $20 to enter, I'm going to take my time and soak up the views, history and people watch too. The Space Needle is 605ft and has a revolving restaurant. The 360 degree view of Seattle and the state of Washington takes my breath away, yet again. I lost count of the number of times I have written those words 'takes my breath away' but it's true. I stand and admire downtown for ten minutes. I love the view of the docks, nestled beside the two stadiums, behind the tall clutter of downtown buildings. I still have Fleet Foxes in my ears, it's funny how a skyline view can be made that more emotional and spectacular with some music in your ears. I think back to my journey, the adventure I've been on and can't help but smile to myself. Have I really come this far? Even busing across the USA seemed pretty daunting to begin with, but I've made it to the north west and survived those crazy Greyhound buses. Only one more to go, before I get comfy with some Rumskis!
Walking around the top of the Space Needle, I look out to the nearby lake from where my host Mary lives in the distance, near the university. I look out to the ocean and walk around to find myself looking at downtown again. I recall my first view of the downtown skyline of New York City. I had just completed six interviews and had a couple hours to kill before getting a bus back to JFK airport. I remember standing there for a long time too. Imagining the previous skyline and contemplating about working in that crazy cluster of skyscrappers!
Skipping my focus from downtown, I can see the stretch of land of Washington state leading to snowy mountains in the background. A perfect clear day to view this gracious state. I've only used up 30 minutes so far, so I head into the building at the top of the needle, purchase a cup of a mixed Mr Whippy, sit looking out to the Lake and people watch. It's quite sweet the number of couples, who will walk around, stop, look out at a particular view and an arm or hand is soon planted on their partner. It's sweet to watch and I can't help but smile, then they turn around and see a gingerman suddenly move his head and pretend to be looking into his ice cream or somewhere else. It's also fun watching a little family with one of two children, I think of my brother and his wife, and just can't wait to see my little nephew.
I finally leave the Space Needle after milking an hour and a half out of my ticket.
The heavens open and it begins to rain. I can't go back to the house yet as Mary isn't finished till 8pm and it's only 4pm. I end up finding a Barnes and Noble, pick out a book that Mary mentioned to me the day before and read away.
I meet Mary back at her house after 8pm and we head out for some Thai food. The food was great, a cute little place in a small town near her house and the university. I go for a spicy yellow curry and we talk away over our food. We head back to the house and just as we are sat finding something to do, her housemate opens the front door and cartwheels his way in! What an entrance! Some friends are having a bonfire in a back yard, so we take some booze and drive over. The house is near a small bridge. In the back garden, they have dug a hole, dropped in some stones and some people are toasting various types of treats. There is around 12 people hanging around the fire, there are a couple of guitars, plenty of booze and the smell in the air resembles Boise. We stay here for some time, I chat to a few people on sports, my travels and living in NYC. Some people come and go and then we all head indoors. I fix the downstairs toilet before someone suggests dance party in the dark? Interesting. Then, some people are chasing each other and I can't help but feel very sober and very old. Mary and I stay a further half an hour and call it a night.
Get to bed around 2am and again, I wake after a few hours to find Shell sat on my chest. I'm getting used to it now!
Miles walked 3.61
Day 145 May 28th - I wake pretty early, we are now looking after another two dogs! So the pet count is now six! One of the extra dogs is the size of a rat and is constantly shivering, if freaks me out and constantly sits near we, for what I can only describe as warmth! I throw it away each time. The other dog, is huge! A big dog of some sort, but is locked in a cage so is constantly whining. Oh man. Of course, Lola comes and sniffs me a few times and then the two cats are jumping on me. Good job I'm fine with animals and I figure, I can sleep the following week.
So, today is Champions Leagues final. Utd are in the final again, I'm not nervous, we're the underdogs and I'm fully expecting Barcelona to win no matter how much hype there is in the English press. With Ronaldo a couple of years ago, we were turned over, but I'm of the opinion that Barcelona are one of the greatest sides I will see in my lifetime, so enjoy watching them play and enjoy the game. I don't get as nervous as I used to, but I don't know why. Anyway, Mary wakes late, we have some eggs then head out to find a bar/pub. The bar she aims for is packed to capacity, but a little bar across the road is taking the excess, they weren't expecting to be busy and forgot about the final, so the staff look like they are being run ragged! I grab Mary and I a couple of bar stools and we sit with a drink each. As in 2009, Utd start great and Barcelona look cagey in the first ten minutes, if only Utd had scored 3 or 4 then, they could just shut up shop! HA! So Barce score. I continue watching and suddenly THUMP! I turn around and some guy has collapsed! He looks very drunk, but everyone else is going crazy,'someone call 911', 'this man needs medical attention', 'oh my god, someone help'. OK, I might be harsh, I might be British, I might be uncaring, potentially, but his face was the man of someone who clearly drank far too much before midday on a Saturday, so I had no concern. I turn back to the screen as Hernandez sets up Rooney and Utd score. I turn to Mary who is looking at the guy on the floor, and I mumble, 'Utd just scored and I can't cheer because of that f**K**!'. No-one was watching the game! Surprise surprise, after a few minutes, he got up, walked outside and carried on drinking! Idiot. I loved the reaction of the people in the bar, clearly not football fans as I can only imagine in the UK, that guy would have stayed on the floor for a while before maybe one of his mates checked on him. Is that just me? These helpful people from the USA, I don't know whether it's in their blood, whether they want to be a hero or just simply care about fellow human beings? I know in NYC, while riding the subway, if someone was ill, you dare not touch them in case they later sue you? Crazy I know, even the train drivers would just wait at a station for medical help or the cops, no-one dared touch these people. Of course, if you're like me, when you don't feel well, you leave the train, wait for it to leave the station then throw your guts up! Oh what a fun Monday morning that was after eating bad cheese!
Anyway, Utd go on to lose the game, Barcelona were awesome and 3-1 wasn't too bad, it could have been worse. Mr Scholes comes on for his last game and Mary and I depart soon after the final whistle, after eating some nachos covered in all sorts of crap.
We decide to head back into the city. We explore more of the Pike Place market, watch a cool band perform outside the first Starbucks, we buy some Yuppie coffee from a fancy coffee house, sit and talk politics on some sunny steps, check out a small festival, and wander around and talk like we'd been friends a long time. We end up watching the Hangover 2 after getting a text from one of Marys friends saying there were going, but they ended up missing the showing they told us about. Funny film, easy to watch, not sure why people get so critical, it's made for laughs not for Oscars. I love Ed Helms, of course, I love the US Office, but please stop, no more seasons! Seven is enough!! During the trailors, a girl behind us had a pretty annoying laugh or loud intakes of air, but always at times when no-one else was laughing. Was it Melanie from Home and Away? With that laugh? Oh man, my memory is struggling, but most people ended up giggling at non funny moments as this girl was laughing, but I just couldn't bring myself to turn around and look.
We leave the film and a very cool band from Portland are playing on the street. This is what I love about the north west, random happenings like this, so much fun. We listen for a while till our bus turns up and takes us back to where Mary parked the car.
We are heading out for a 90s night at one of her favourite clubs. We get ready back at hers, and she drives again. We have a couple of beers inside the club and one by one, her friends pull out. Her face drops as each one drops out, I guess she'll just have to put up with me. We end up dancing till 2am. It was awesome, although for the first couple of hours, 90s music was defined as mixing some 90s tracks with modern music. In my humble, opinion, all they need to do is press play. I tell Mary this and that for me 90s music would be Snap, Rhythm is a Dancer. It just popped into my head. My dancing had to be very inventive, I stacked the shelves, I pushed the trolley, I was holding a hot sphere, all sorts of crap, I was getting some weird looks from Mary, haha, but who cares. So, after 1am, the last DJ comes on and plays Snap - Rhythm is a Dancer! At last! 90s music!! Remember Ace of Base, all that she want is another baby? So, the last hour or so was so much fun! I felt like I was dancing the last few bites off my body, like I was dancing the thousands of miles of bus journeys out of my system, I felt so alive and so free and that is only ever a good feeling!
Got to bed pretty late, I had let my chest cat out earlier in the evening so I actually got a decent sleep. An awesome day!
I had such a fun time in Seattle with Mary. A very intelligent and fun person to be around. She has a travel bug in her as well, and is setting off for Colombia later this year to study and work for a year. She plans to return to her studies when she returns home, I told her it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you are happy. One of her friends recently returned from Colombia and she is eager to head out there, learn Spanish and live a different life to the one she has now. We shared so many stories from travelling, she was in Honduras earlier in the year and was in Antigua as well. I'm very grateful for Mary hosting me at the last minute, joining me for for the Champions League final and for being such great company!
Miles walked 2.80
Day 146 May 29th - I wake pretty early. Room mates are setting off for work or leaving for days out with family. Mary has yet to rise yet. My bus isn't till 130pm, but I usually need to be there an hour early. She wanders downstairs around 1230, looks at me and isn't aware of the time. She says she will just pop upstairs to put her shoes on. Forty minutes late she reappears, she had a shower and got side tracked. I have 20 minutes to get into the city centre to grab the bus. No problem, drive is only ten minutes. We head out, catch red light after red light then the highway is packed solid! Oh well, there is always a bus at 340pm, I check my ticket terms and conditions, no refund! Nuts! With having two people in the car, we hit a commuter lane on the highway, Mary puts her foot down and I arrive at the bus station 130pm on the dot. Sadly, I say a quick goodbye, I loved spending time with Mary, we talked for hours and danced for hours!
I picked up my ticket and luckily, being Greyhound, the bus was ten minutes leaving the station. I only have a two hour journey up the road to Bellingham.