Recently, my boss asked myself and the other team lead for our group if we thought we should have a leadership summit, where we could spend a few days seriously focused on team improvements. As she works from home in Seattle and it’s tricky for her to travel more than she already does, she also asked if we would be willing to come out to Washington state. As I had never been to Seattle, and barely to Washington, I immediately said yes. (The other team lead agreed to come as well of course.)
Our meetings were to run Tuesday through Thursday so I decided to fly in earlier, arriving Friday morning. My nonstop flight left Newark at 7:00 AM EST so I was able to be at my hotel in Seattle by 11:00 AM PST. This gave me nearly the whole day to explore. After checking in at The Citizen M Pioneer Square (I’ve stayed in the Times Square location several times and it’s the go to chain for my colleague), I headed up to the famous Pike Place Market (about a 15 minute walk) for some lunch. This was a cool spot and not really what I expected as it’s spread among several buildings and streets. I hit the very famous Beecher’s Cheese for some spectacular mac-n-cheese and then the equally famous Pike Place Chowder for award-winning clam chowder. (It was good for it being outside of New England.) It worked out well as I was pretty early so places weren’t super busy as they were later in the afternoon. The weather was so-so. It varied among dreary, drizzly and raining. This was okay as I was able to duck in and out of places when the rain was heavier and be more outside when the rain was lighter.
After lunch, I wandered throughout the market, taking photos. I also grabbed a yummy cinnamon cardamon braid (ended up eating this Saturday morning) at Piroshky Piroshky and a ginger beer (non-alcoholic) float at Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Next up was a stop at Old Stove Brewing (the first of a number of breweries during the trip, so-so beer), a wander down along the piers on Puget Sound, and stops back toward the market at Pike Brewing (better than Old Stove but not spectacular) and then Cloudburst Brewing (really good).
It was getting later now, almost 6:00 PM PST and I had been up since 4:00 AM EST/1:00 AM PST, so I took one more wander by the Pike Place Market sign for a night photo, hit Skalka for some authentic Georgian khachapuri (basically eggs, cheese, and some meat in a bread “boat”), and did another wander along the piers before crashing hard at my hotel.
This turned out to be an amazing day. I booked a day trip to Olympic National Park with Evergreen Escapes. (I had originally booked for Monday but they called to let me know no one else had signed up and it might be canceled. I was able to switch to Saturday.) Our guide for day, Marty, picked me up at the hotel at 7:30 and we headed, basically across the street, to hop the ferry to Bainbridge Island. That was a cool ride as it had been some time since I had been on a real ferry (maybe since Vancouver in 1999) and we got great views of Seattle and Mt. Rainer. Once off the ferry, it was about a two hour drive, including crossing the cool Hood Canal floating bridge, to the park. After a brief stop at the visitors’ center in Port Angeles, we took the drive up to Hurricane Ridge. Now it’s very common for Hurricane Ridge to be clouded over and have no views. That was not the case the day I was there. It was spectacular (look at the photos!). We spent a few minutes hanging around before strapping on some snowshoes and heading out for a two-hour/2.5 mile hike around the top of the ridge. While I had never snowshoed before it was pretty easy actually. We spent maybe 20 minutes right in the trees before spending the rest hiking along a snow-covered road. This was actually amazing and absolutely the highlight of the personal bit of my trip.
After a great lunch (provided by our guide), we drove back down the mountains and stopped by Madison Falls before doing a bit of hiking around Emerald Lake. This was much more of a Northwest rainforest area. It was amazing to see such different environments in one park in one day. We then did the two hour drive back to the ferry and headed back to Seattle. On the ride back over Puget Sound, we had a wonderful view of Seattle light up at night. (It was hard to get good photos of it though.) I walked off the ferry since my hotel was across the street from the terminal, stopping for fish-and-chips at Ivars (would not recommend) on the way. I hung out for a while at the Owl N’ Thistle pub listening to some good music. I really cannot recommend Evergreen Escapes and this trip enough. It was an amazing day. Now I know it was lucky that the weather was perfect.
Sunday dawned grey and dreary. I started the morning with a wonderfully thick, rich and greasy Hot Mess Bitch! at Biscuit Bitch in Belltown. I continued up to Seattle Center for a wander and photos of the Space Needle and the area. (I ended up not really using these as the weather was much better Monday.) Earlier in the morning, I kind of decided on whim to get tickets to the Museum of Pop Culture. They had some great historic guitars (Woody Guthrie, Muddy Water, Buddy Holly, Jerry Cantrell, Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, parts of ones smashed by Jimi Hendrix). There was a special exhibit on horror movies (including the axe from The Shining), sci-fi movies (leather jacket from Terminator 2), and fantasy movies (Sting dagger from Lord of the Rings). It was cool to see great exhibits on Seattle’s Nirvana and Pearl Jam as well. Upstairs they had an area where you could mess around with real guitars, basses, and drums. I really wasn’t sure about this but really enjoyed it.
When I was done at the museum, it was raining pretty hard. I hopped a Lyft and headed south to what turned out to be the great Machine House Brewery (really good, they had 8 cask taps!). I grabbed a great burrito at Fonda La Catrina for lunch on the way to Lowercase Brewing (very good) followed Jellyfish Brewing (okay). After heading back to the hotel a bit of a wander through the Pioneer Square area, dinner was at McCoy’s Firehouse Bar & Grill (pretty good but nothing special).
Monday dawned somewhat sunny. First thing today was back up to Pike Place Market. I hadn’t had a strong to desire to hit the first Starbucks as the line is usually massive (and was on Friday). However, there were only three or so people in line when I was there so I figured what the heck. It seemed appropriate to get a basic Pike Place Roast at Pike Place Market. I added a pretty good almond croissant from Le Panier (again no line) for my breakfast.
Again on something of a whim, I went ahead and got tickets for the Space Needle and The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. As the Space Needle didn’t open until 10 (the time my ticket was for), I took the time to wander the market a bit (great view of the Olympic Mountains in the distance), around the Olympic Sculpture Park, and around Seattle Center getting more photos of the Space Needle (with a much better sky).
Going up the Space Needle was cool. Of course, the views are great (especially given the mostly clear day). I spent some time getting some great photos (tip is to shoot in the gaps between glass panes) and hanging out on the revolving glass floor. Once back on the ground, I spent 45 minutes or so at the wonderful Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. I was sorry that Suzanne missed this as she is a big fan. Lunch was some decent tacos at Dos Chamucos before a long wander (3+ miles) along the water from the sculpture park down to Pier 91.
Next up was the short walk to Holy Mountain Brewing (pretty good and some great metal music!). Then it was a Lyft up to Rooftop Brew Co. (pretty good). I had hoped to hit Fremont (kind of in the area) as well but my colleague had arrived and my boss and him were coordinating dinner. I grabbed a Lyft back to the hotel where we all met up and headed to Nue for some great Asian street food. My colleague (in from England) was beat by now so I headed by myself for a couple of pints at Merchants Cafe and Saloon before turning in (as I had a 6:30 AM meeting).
Tue 17-Jan – Thu 19-Jan
These were our work days so pretty much just spending the day in meetings. It was cool that our temp office was in the Smith Tower, Seattle’s first skyscraper. The building was quite cool with a very art deco entranceway and old school elevators with glass doors and the remains of the manual controls.
- Tue: lunch of sandwiches from Salumi (really good), dinner at Damn the Weather (also really good), quick pop by the (in)famous gum wall, and a cocktail at Zig Zag Cafe (also really good).
- Wed: lunch from ?ál?al Café By Chief Seattle Club (Native American cafe, really good rabbit stew and wild rice maple coffee cake), beer tour of Ballard including Stoup, Fair Isle, and Urban Family (all really good), great steak dinner at Asadero, and then some drinks elsewhere.
- Thur: lunch from the food court at Uwajimaya in the International District, on my own for beer at Optimism Brewing, dinner at 8oz Burger Co. (I was hoping to also hit Redhook, one of the original American craft breweries and right near Optimism, but they were unexpectedly closed)
Fri 20-Jan & Sat 21-Jan
Yet another sunny day in Seattle in January. (Three of my personal days were sunny which was amazing.) I had today off so after breakfast, I decided to Lyft up to Kerry Park for some not-too-long-after-sunrise photos overlooking downtown and Mt. Rainier from this iconic spot. (I hadn’t really planned on this as otherwise I would have been there for actual sunrise.) I walked from there down to the Seattle Center and hopped the monorail and Link rail back to my hotel. After a quick stop (luckily I had time as I had forgotten to grab my extra memory cards and I had filled one up), I headed just across the street to do Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Now for just a bit of history. Seattle was founded in the Pioneer Square area but basically burned to the ground in 1889. The area was always swampy, leading to many issues with flooding and sewer problems. After the fire, the city announced it would elevate the streets while buildings were rebuilt with the first floor, at the old street level, eventually becoming the basement and the second floor, at the new street level, becoming the new first floor. The issue was the streets were elevated eight years before the sidewalks bridging the streets and the buildings’ new first floors were complete. Once this was done, these passageways remained and became the underground tour. This tour was a really cool thing to do and I highly recommend it.
After the tour, I hurried over to the ferry dock to take the water taxi across the sound to West Seattle. I wandered around here for a bit for some great fish and chips at Marination Ma Kai. Then it was a bit more wandering and a trip on the water taxi back across the sound.
After the ferry, I decided to Lyft back up to Ballard to hit a few more of the breweries we hadn’t got to on Wednesday. I managed to make it to Reuben’s Brews (excellent, perhaps my favorite of the trip), Obec (really good), and Wheelie Pop (pretty good). (All told, I managed to hit 15 breweries and had 91 new beers, almost all from flights.) For dinner I headed back downtown to Serious Pie (there’s a location right in Ballard but they only had outdoor seating) before another spin by Pike Place Market and getting back to the hotel to pack for heading home.
Sat 21-Jan: My flight was at 8:30 AM so I grabbed a Lyft around 6 to head to the airport. I had to drop my bag and it was a bit chaotic and confusing but security and getting to the gate was fine. I left pretty much on time despite it being quite foggy. The flight to Newark (non-stop) was fine. Due to the time change, I got home around 6:30 PM.
Summary: I had a great trip and was so happy to be able to get to Seattle, where I’ve wanted to go for a long time. I saw a ton, hitting a good chunk of the tourist sites. My day trip to Olympic National Park was an amazing highlight. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to Seattle at some point and maybe see some more of the surrounding area. The work sessions also went really well and we got a ton of stuff done.