A Seattle Summer
Updated: Nov 5, 2018
If a city could be a spirit animal, Seattle would be mine. It sits on one of the largest active faults and is home to a handful of volcanoes but inexplicably, has still secured a very definitive place in my heart. I’ve been there four times, the first being many moons ago when I interviewed for a position that I ultimately did not get. But timing is everything, because had I been presented with, and accepted, an offer, I wouldn’t have been around in Georgia to meet my husband, our Ninja puppy girl, and incredible friends.
See? Better than any city, any day.
Over the years I’ve had the chance to hop across to Vancouver while in Washington, visit the usual touristy suspects, and stay on the serene Orcas Island. My most recent trip to Seattle was for training, to learn more about public health areas that encompass policy, economics, and culture. The trip was an incredible experience, professionally, and also gave me the opportunity to explore during the off hours.
In between classes, there was ample opportunity to explore. If on the University of Washington main campus, the Suzzallo library is strongly recommended for a visit. I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked while in the library, because I was too preoccupied by the sheer magnificence of the architecture. I mean, look at it. It served as the perfect escape to regroup before moving on with the work day.
The food scene in Seattle is of course outstanding, particularly if seafood is your thing. One of my favorites that I always return to is Tsukushinbo, an unassuming izakaya in Seattle’s International District. There’s no obvious sign, so blink and you’ll miss it. I don’t think it has an official website either. If you decide to try it out, their sashimi rice bowl is incredibly satisfying.
I usually associate comfort food with warm or hot dishes, but this somehow hits the same familiar spot, with unctuous bites of salmon and sweet scallops. The roe perfectly completes the understated party in your mouth.
The seafood bonanza continued at Nirmal’s a few days later. Their curried crab dish is perhaps the best I’ve had, second only to my mom’s blue crab curry. Indian food, or most other Asian foods, aren’t often associated with being “fancy” and some might balk at paying a higher price equivalent to what they might otherwise easily drop at a European or Continental restaurant. That fortunately seems to be changing in many cities, and Nirmal’s does a great job of elevating everyday Indian cuisine to a degree that is still accessible, in a setting that could be best described as industrial chic, with its brick walls, exposed lightbulbs and contemporary seating. The owners rotate dishes that are native to various parts of India, so patrons are always in for a treat. Throw on a bib, grab some naan and dive in!
Seattle’s food scene does however, have more to offer than just seafood, which Radiator Whiskey made abundantly clear. If you call ahead, a smoked half pig head with all the trimmings is yours for the taking.
I didn’t have the opportunity to visit any of Washington’s renowned mountains and volcanoes on my previous visits. This time, the flight into Seattle kind of made it hard to ignore. Washington was all, “LOOK AT ME, I’M ALL MOUNTAINEE AND MAJESTIC,” and I was all, “Sheesh, okay, see you on Saturday.”
And so on a day off, I made my way to the Sunrise visitor center by Mount Rainier, which takes you up to a 6400 foot elevation right off the bat, and then embarked on what was described as a “moderate” trail. Lies, I tell you. That “moderate” path took me up a further 1900 feet, 500 of which happened in just half a mile on foot. There was also the stretch of trail that involved a drop of several hundred feet and loose rocks. But, oh, the view. And the feeling of making it to the top, to take in the sights, was indescribable. Lara: 0, Mother Nature: 1. Actually, Lara: 1, because I did manage to not sh*t my pants back on the burrough. And it was my first time hiking nearly 10 miles, which I didn’t think I could do before, so not too shabby!
I slept like a rock that night. And the following day made a relatively more relaxing trip to Bainbridge Island via ferry. There are wild blackberry bushes everywhere, so make sure you’ve got large pockets at minimum! My favorite stop was the teashop Churchmouse Yarns and Tea. Whimsical decor and great selection of teas. I made the amateur mistake of wearing uncomfortable shoes that day, and while on the island ended up having to buy $30 flip flops that are apparently made of recycled yoga mats. It provides the perfect combination of lush comfort and regret. Four stars!
For my next visit, I will likely make sure it’s during winter, to get a better sense of what the area’s climate has to offer when it’s not all bright and sunny. But from all the locals I’ve spoken to, there’s so much more that easily makes up for those dark months. And from what I’ve experienced so far, I believe it. The proverbial stars may never align for Seattle to become home, but I’m okay with that. It makes each visit that much more special.