The Pacific-Northwest is a destination I have dreamed about going to. Our family trips seemed to always head east. In college I go a little more south and south west but the square states continued to elude me.
I’m starting to gather a laundry-list of “you’d-love-it” places to go. Everyone has these destinations, someone asks, “Have you ever been to Denver?” “No,” you reply. Then, their immediate reaction is “YOU’D LOVE IT.” Usually preceded with a gasp, occasionally paired with a hand clap, always accompanied with a look of awe and excitement.
On my “you’d-love-it” list was Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. I’m not a hipster but I am obsessed with Portlandia, fresh seafood, and the West Coast Mentality. I remember talking to my cousin about what it’s like to work in the Pacific Time Zone, “by the time you start working, everyone’s already been at it for hours, it’s like coming in to work after lunch everyday,” he said.
My cousin moved to Portland a while ago. I can’t really put a year on it, but it was a big deal. I have a small family and we’ve all managed to stay contained to Northeast Ohio. Dan (my cuz) went to Bowling Green and stayed out “west” and his first job was in Dayton (I think, maybe Findlay) and that was a big deal. His decision to head really, really, really west to Portland was hard to swallow. I felt like once one person packed up and left the core family area it would be a release of the floodgates. I was sure I would be next, to Houston or Chicago or Boston, and we all know how that story is going so far. Dan’s brother did just move out to Philly, so the family spread has begun. Philly is not on my “you’d-love-it” list, but I do need to go now!
Portland had been on my radar for a while and with Portland comes Seattle. It doesn’t make sense to go to one and not the other- I mean, they’re the only cities up there. That’s my beef with Portland, I would love to live there except it seems very cut off from the rest of the US of A. Maybe we’re spoiled in the Heart of America but I like the driveability of so many destinations. I do wonder that if Portland and Seattle were any closer to civilization they might not be who they are today. They’ve been able to grow into the diverse, hipster microcosms because of the divide. Interesting thought. But then explain Austin…definitely not in the middle of nowhere, and in the heart of the biblebelt and oh, I don’t know, Texas, and still manages to be super weird. #KeepAustinWeird.
Am I ever going to write about my trip to Seattle and Portland?
My Partner-In-Crime and I decided to head west for a fall vacation. With much thanks to my graduate class schedule, our time was limited. This would be a Thursday-Sunday trip to Seattle and Portland. Were we crazy? Yes. Did it all work out? Fabulously.
We flew into Seattle on Thursday and arrived early afternoon. I am loving arriving at destinations day of. My previous thoughts have been to arrive the night before and wake up fresh. Recently, we’ve been arriving day of and it’s great. There’s just something nice about being able to get ready at your own place in the morning. I have all of my make-up, my whole wardrobe (well, what’s not packed) and it just feels nice. Seattle was easy to navigate from the airport to the public transit and we got off at a stop not even a block from our hotel.
We stayed at The Arctic Club in Seattle. To date, it’s my favorite hotel stay ever. There’s a rich history of being a place where goldminer’s would come down from the Yukon to to lavish in their riches. It was a step back in time, into a very luxurious time. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a 4-Diamond Hotel either. Even though it is a Hilton Property, it felt very cozy. I love boutique hotels. The entrance features a bar and billiards table. We enjoyed the service of Viktor later that evening. Yes, with a “k”! They had any sort of classic concoction you can think of, Boyface ordered a Manhattan, of course, and I requested an Aviator. We also attempted to play pool and disgraced the game. It’s shameful to think I grew up with a billiards table yet my skills are wanting.
First order of business was to check-in and plan for the remainder of our day. The room was spectacular. I loved the walruses on every door. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do with no set schedule. Seattle is one of the few places we’ve travelled without having a built-in tour guide. I adore that most of our travel is strategic around where our friends and family are. Nothing beats having a local, but we didn’t. We were doomed to being touristy and Seattle did not disappoint. We ventured out to Pike’s Place Market and had chowder. We devoured some wicked pizza at Serious Pi, upon the recommendation of a friend. We even picked up some cheese and were tipped off to a good place to taste wine. We spent some time in the wine shop tasting some Washington reds and playing with a brand new baby kitten. After acquiring a bottle for the hotel we marched back, with the hills reminding our calves of what San Francisco feet like.
We re-cooped at the hotel and indulged in our wine and cheese. I don’t traditionally think of Washington as a place for wine but I was impressed. We got to watch the Browns embarrass themselves for about half of the game before it was time for our reservation at Elliott’s Oyster House. This may have been a fairly commercial place in Seattle but the food was incredible. We split some oysters and really enjoyed ourselves. This is when we figured out that we like east coast oysters the best though. So, in some rare occasions, the west side may not always be the best side. Except in Cleveland, west side is the best side, whaaaat.
We were pretty pooped afterward and this is when we retired to the best bar ever and played a pathetic game of pool. I have some evidence of a night well had. Not only did we eat through Seattle, my favorite way to get to know a place, we drank through it too.
The next day we had some time to kill before our train left for Portland. I wanted sushi. We picked out a place in their International District with killer reviews and notoriety for being hard to find and super small. We walked around the beautiful city and found some waterfalls, glass blowing, and really strong coffee. When we arrived to the sushi place shortly before noon there was already a line at the door. Good thing too because there was no signage or markings of any kind to note this building might house some of the best sushi you’ll ever had. The sushi delivered and soon we were on a train to Portland.
I don’t want to talk about the train. We shared our car with a very, very loud family. I could barely hear myself think, just screaming at each other continuously, despite being less than 35 inches apart. Un-friggin-believable. I tweeted at AmTrak about the whole ordeal and had a nice chat with them about the new Mumford & Sons album. Kudos to you AmTrak. We took the scenic route, the Cascades, and it was gorgeous. They don’t make mountains like those back east.
My view from the train.
Okay- I think we’ve had enough for now. This was Seattle in nutshell. Can’t wait to spend more time there, wish it wasn’t so secluded.
Portland, OR is up next.
What is your favorite place to visit out west? If you went to Seattle, what would be the first thing you did?
What’s on you “you’d-love-it” list?