Seattle has been surprising and a bit of a struggle. I didn’t really know what to expect other than it can be pretty rainy and the people pretty pretentious. As I showed up in darkness, the next morning the landscape was like a wonderland when I looked out the window. The place is covered in dense foliage, many plants which I hadn’t seen before and others that I consider tropical and therefore wouldn’t have expected. The rainy season is beginning so it’s been quite cold and moist. Everywhere seems to pleasantly smell of rain.
Except for Pike Place Market. I spent Sunday afternoon walking around the market, engulfed in massive crowds huddled particularly around the fish shops waiting for the men to throw fish to one another. I loved the smells of the market, even the pungent stench of fresh fish, but more the warm yeasty fragrance of pasteries and the heavy smoke of incense and oils. There were a number of vendors from seafood stand and florists to artisans of jewelry, leather goods, woodcarvings and imported trinkets. Three or four street perfomers were scattered among them; one was an older man outside the booths that played a full size piano while the one closest to the main fish shop was an Asian man playing an Erhu.
Out of all the items I could buy, I decided on a refreshing fruit smoothie from Shy Giant, a homemade ice cream vendor that stands across from the local butcher. It was expensive but it was massive and full of real fruit chunks. They weren’t skimping on quality by any means and it was so filliing I didn’t need to eat until the next morning.
Besides that smoothie, Seattle has proven to be quite expensive. Gas is 3.89/gal which is far more than anywhere else I have been so far. Parking in the Pike Place area was around $11/hr at the usual lots. I think that might even be more than in Montreal or Boston. I was happy to walk several blocks out of my way to avoid those prices. It also gave me the opportunity to walk through Pioneer Square which had some cute overgrown park areas, though also a tremendous amount of presumably homeless loiterers. I’d been having a particularly anxiety-ridden day which I became aware of when a good-natured rugged couple begging for beer money on the corner told me I should smile. I did and they seemed quite amused; my day starting getting better. I think I was craving some sort of genuine human connection and this city moves a lot like the East Coast. Most of the people on the streets are flying right past you with their blinders on. The only time they look up is if you’re pissing them off. As I crossed the old fashioned bus station in Pioneer Square on my way back to the car, a short black woman with a large round face and round glasses asked me how I was doing and smiled as she passed leaning on her cane. She helped me wake up a little.
Today I met Shannon and Dan, two people I was directed to from a man on couchsurfing. I met them in Capitol Hill and we spent a good amount of time at Volunteer Park where there is an old water tower where you can see a 360 degree view of the city, an old conservatory that was closed, and a dahlia collection still in bloom. Shannon is obsessed with taking photos so she stopped every 30 seconds to capture something interesting. I was quite amused as I believe Dan was as well. Afterwards, she went home to work on an art project for class while Dan took me for a tour around some of the surrounding neighborhoods.
We spent awhile at the Ballard Locks, even though the season for active salmon has passed, we still witnessed a few struggling up the fish ladder and several later displaying themselves in the lake like dolphin. We headed back as it began to get dark but before we could make it back to my car, Dan’s car started spewing oil. Oddly, it was able to get back to my car and all the way back to his house. That was rather impressive considering how fast it was leaking out. So, there was a little bit of drama towards the end of the day but overall not as annoying as it could have worked out. I headed back to where I’ve been staying with a friend of a friend outside the city and we had a very nice lasagna dinner as he played video games.