Emerald City Shakedown

Sea-Tac, it has been far too long. Thanks to countless Frasier reruns, I’ve harbored a certain fascination with Seattle since my teens. Unfortunately, trying to nab a long layover only happened a handful of times over the last three years. Even though we had an early morning report time (and took the scenic route via Detroit), I refused to sit on the bed and waste my layover in my room.

Finally 500 Feet Above Seattle, Baby!

I do my best not to jinx my long layovers, especially when winter weather is making everything nothing short of touch-and-go. Without fail, if I make advance plans, one of two things usually happens: 1) reroute or 2) delays. The later tends to ruin my layovers over the former, so I usually patiently wait until the long van ride to the downtown area to begin my feverish Yelp* search for things to do as well as texting my local friends to see if anyone is available. There have been too many occasions where I’d spent weeks planning my layovers, only to have a severe storm or mechanical totally botch everything up.

20131114-153839.jpgLast SEA-TAC Mission: This Dress!

On my previous visit to Seattle back in August 2013, my goal was to purchase a dress from the Tatyana Boutique (formerly Bettie Page Clothing) on the opposite side of town. As I rode the bus, I apologetically stared out the window at the Space Needle. I kept fast to my mission and not only found the store but walked out with the dress I would wear on my 34th birthday. This time, I refused to let a mile walk get in between me and checking off another landmark on my list. When I chased up the Space Needle’s information, I discovered the combination ticket with the Chihuly Garden & Glass Gallery right next door.

Intricately Woven Navajo Blankets (Northwest Room)

Words cannot express the sheer beauty created by artist Dale Chihuly. A Tacoma, Washington native, Chihuly celebrates the glory of glass blowing and textiles. His incredible creations have traveled the world and several of which calling various destinations home. I would best describe my journey through Chihuly’s works as a combination of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the fantastic worlds of Dr. Seuss! My breath was consistently taken away as each room presented some of the most spectacular installations I’ve ever seen. My greatest challenge was not reaching out to touch the dizzying dreams displayed before me.

The carefully crafted pieces and assembly of his collections in the gallery and gardens truly give the guests only a fraction of the scope of Chihuly’s talent. If I called Seattle home, I would be regularly visiting this place to remind myself of the truly beautiful art remaining in the world. I wish American arts programs would celebrate American artists in addition to all the classics. This gentleman’s work deserve celebration and appreciation. (Plus, with all the exceptionally fragile pieces, there are very few children roaming around the exhibit, so it’s nice and blissfully quiet.)

“Mille Fiori” (“A Thousand Flowers”)

Midway through my whimsical adventure through Chihuly’s glorious glass sculptures, I happened upon the Collections Cafe, connecting the gallery to the garden entrance. The excitement of being in Seattle paired with the early start and long, transatlantic trek from Orlando, there was quite the rumbling in my tummy.

An Awesome Assembly of Accordions!

The immaculately curated collections at Collections make the cafe feel like an extension of the gallery itself. This is largely due to the fact that the multiple items assembled were curated by none other than Dale Chihuly himself! Accordions, plastic radios, bottle openers, fishing lures… you could spend your time wandering the cafe taking everything in and completely forget how hungry you are! Each table comes with a handy little pocket guide highlighting all the collections in the cafe. Interestingly, enough most of them are on display… in the TABLES!! Yes, each table has a glass panel in which the collections are meticulously arranged for your viewing pleasure. My cozy table for two had a tiny army of ceramic dogs! The guide book is handy from keeping diners from interrupting each other’s meals!

Wowza, Washington White Wine!

As I perused the menu, I enjoyed a glass of Horse Heaven Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc (2013; Chateau St. Michelle Vineyards & Wineries) from Paterson, WA adjacent to the Columbia River. It was crisp and not-too-sweet and was the perfect warm up for my entree: Garnet Yam Ravioli (with Cocoa Cream, Yam Pakora, Bloomsdale Spinach, Cocoa Nib Crumble).

Seattle home cooking’s good looking!

After a rather light day of eating, my late lunch more than filled my belly, leaving absolutely no room for dessert. Hopefully, in my haste to devour and savor my meal, it did not look like feeding time at the zoo. Had I been dining with someone, there would have been zero conversation as I was engrossed in my meal, leaving no scrap left unclaimed. After squaring my bill and flashing my ticket to the guard, I resumed my tour and took a leisurely stroll through the gardens. There was the option of having an audio tour, but I discovered on the CG&G site, that I could pregame with a soothing introduction by actor Kyle Maclachlan, interviews with Dale Chihuly, the museum curators, and other artistic professionals!

They have Yoga in the Glasshouse!

If I were to ever manage the gumption and skills to cultivate my own garden, I want something fantastically glorious like this one! With an unseasonably warm and beautifully clear day, I truly lucked out. The lush green accented with vibrant shocks of color truly felt otherworldly. Had there been a bench, I might have taken out a book and started reading a bit. The garden path is a touch narrow, so I nearly got run off the cobblestones by a very eager tour group hinging on ever single word on their Walk with the Gardener.

  Oh, Hey, Neighbor!!

After lying on the floor in the Chihuly Glasshouse to gaze up at the Space Needle, I decided that it was time I headed up, especially as evening started rolling in. Disappointment hit me as the SkyCity Restaurant required a $35 food and beverage per person minimum in order to enjoy the revolving dining room. The hostess and I laughed when she suggested I simply buy a bottle of wine and enjoy myself. Sadly, that would have quelled any ability for me to enjoy the rest of my evening. Riding up the observation deck, the enthusiastic elevator guide rattled up the historic run down of The Space Needle and it’s development for the 1962 (Space Themed) World’s Fair.

Toasting the Seattle Skyline with Space Needle Golden IPA

Like most landmark observation decks, folks are jockeying for the perfect place for those family photos and Seattle Skyline Selfies. With the sun beginning to call it quits for the day, the Eastern arc facing the city and Mt. Rainier was packed. A family asked to do a camera swap with me, so we could quickly snap that perfect shot and get the heck out of the melee. I love it when folks have consideration for other travelers.

After circling around the observation deck, I nabbed a table facing the east and slowly nursed a glass of Space Needle IPA while I watched a rather vain 20-something spend at least ten minutes attempting to take a solo photo with her camera in the shade with a phone. I felt the frustration of the other tourists mount as many offered to take the photo for her simply so she could move and give other people an opportunity. She shook them off, so people started crowding in beside her, slowly squeezing her out. When it comes to hot tourist spots, if you cannot afford to rent out the entire place, don’t be surprised if others get in your face about overstaying your welcome. Like the Statue of Liberty, Baseball, and John Stamos, national treasures belong to everyone.

Essential Epic Hair Wind!

On my way toward the Pike Market, I stopped into Sassafras, a shop that showcases Seattle and local area designers. A cute t-shirt with scalloped sleeved on a window mannequin summoned me forth. I honestly cannot remember the last time I asked the clerk to strip the window dressing, so I may try on a piece. I loved the aeronautical, steampunk design and the fact that it had side seams for tailoring at a later date. The clothing are beautifully crafted and they do have a tailoring service for minor adjustments. How nifty is that?

Untitled Totem

I also found myself at Victor Steinbrueck Park around sunset. I was taken back by the beautiful art stranded in a poorly kept park. There was so much litter that I did not want to stay very long. It was disappointing to see all the hard work of the Seattle Parks & Rec go to waste by careless tourists and restless vagabonds. During the springtime and summer, I am certain that it is better maintained for the influx of tourist and sun worshippers. The totem pole was awesome, but I was disappointed to later learn that it was not crafted by any of the local Native Americans. Soaring up to fifty feet and losing sunlight, I had difficultly properly capturing the carvings, so I didn’t stay too long.

No Market After Dark!

Yes, the shameless tourist and purveyor of all things caffeine, I made my pilgrimage to The Original Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place. Naturally, I arrived to a line out the door, but it was truly unclear as to if those wishing to purchase merchandise and not summon a barista could make their purchases separately. After some lovely gentlemen allowed me to pass through the doorway so I could look at they limited edition mugs and coffee (I’m such an easy mark), a very unhelpful clerk rolled her eyes at me when I asked for help.

“You will need to wait in line like everyone else,” she dully informed me pointing to the back of the line, complete with eye roll.

The Original Money Machine

(Whew! I thought only snooty baristas were peppered throughout the East Coast. I am glad that they can keep their image and marketing consistent.)

Taking a deep breath, I returned to the back of the line and patiently waited. As luck would have it, a lovely violinist named Julie was playing traditional Irish folk music in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It pained me that I didn’t have a tenner to buy her homemade CD, Classical Improvisation, or even a dollar to drop in her case. If anyone can find her online, I’d be forever grateful! Slowly, but surely, the line advanced and I finally ordered the mugs I needed. With all the advancements in technology, the  barista in charge of the line could certain be better put to use either outside answering questions or using a handheld machine to ring up merchandise orders. If Apple can do it, you can too, Starbies.

Two former Lady JETs acting like middled-aged Japanese Salarymen

I met up with my fellow fly girl, Nina, at Japonessa. Previously, on my last jaunt to Seattle, we caught up over late night drinks at Palomino. While I was skeptical about a Japanese fusion restaurant, they did have a formidably priced happy hour and a substantial bar area to accommodate guests. The only down swing was that everybody knew it so it was packed and a touch understaffed. Being on the west coast, I was relieved that they do more authentic Japanese food than what I am accustomed to finding here in Florida. Sitting with a friend and catching up was the perfect way to round out my solo expedition through the Emerald City.

Serene Sunset upon The Puget Sound

There are plenty of other fab photos, especially from Chihuly on my Instagram feed. Please drop by and tell me what you think! The Fremont Troll and the Jimi Hendrix Statue are definitely on my hunting list for next time! What are your go to hot spots in hometown of the illustrious Dr. Frasier Crane?

Hey, Baby, I hear the blues a-calling… Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs?


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