Seattle: Quietly Superlative

Seattle is everything I love about San Francisco at a fraction of the price and without a hint of smugness.

from my travel journal

After nearly three weeks of travel through north America, Seattle was a deeply needed taste of home. Seattle greeted me with a blast of rainy cold, gave me a lift to my hostel, and pushed a cup of coffee into my hand. I hadn’t felt that welcomed by a city in a long time. 

The top of the book spiral.

Everything Seattle did, it did it better than anywhere else. My run along the waterfront was the most enjoyable of the trip so far, warm but not oppressive, flat but not dull, and visually stunning. I had a pork hombow in Pike Place Market that was an unexpected delight. I had a snickerdoodle as big as my head that was the best snickerdoodle I’d ever had (not what one expects from the Pacific Northwest, as the snickerdoodle is a traditionally New English treat). I had a life-changing cup of Guatemalan aeropress coffee. There was a red sesame ball (again from Pike Place) that made me see God. I had dessert at a tiny bar devoted entirely to pie and beer (one of which was called the “Pike Kilt Lifter”). My hostel was by far the best hostel I’d ever stayed in, and the public library was a paragon of what libraries should be like. 

Seattle was also, barring London, the most user-friendly city I’ve ever experienced. It owes a lot of this ease of use to its ludicrously simple public transit: I was able to stumble onto a train at the airport that took me to within a few blocks of my hostel, which was located across the street from Pike Place Market. I’d stacked the deck in Seattle’s favour, but the city played its hand perfectly. 

Seattle gave good run.

I’d heard that the cultural difference between the east and west coasts of the US is similar in magnitude to the difference between the US east coast and Europe. At this stage in my trip I’d marinated in the southern and eastern parts of American culture, which might have been why Seattle felt like a refreshingly waterlogged taste of home in both climate and culture. It was chilly and rainy and kind enough to tell me on which side of the train the doors would open. It felt good, it felt right, and it was exactly what I needed this far into the trip.