Thoughts on Seattle

How is it I’ve made it 40-something years on this earth and never experienced all the amazing things Seattle has to offer? It boggles the mind. Before my flight home today, I woke up early to do a little Seattle Immersion Therapy. (Read that: pack as many things as humanly possible in to a teeny three-hour window.)

Initial musings: There is a coffee shop or a café approximately every ten feet in Seattle. Few people shake hands in this city … they simply don’t have an extra one to spare. One hand holds a cup of Joe; the other holds a smart phone. Forget fist bumping – it’s more like coffee cup clinking. And anything that compliments coffee is also in abundant supply – donut and pastry shops are liberally scattered to help you carbo-load while maintaining your highly caffeinated state of euphoria. You’ll also find the first Starbucks store in Seattle. (It’s actually not the original-original … but tourists don’t need to know any better.)

I never saw the sun while I was there. Not even once. Not a hint. Not a glimmer. Not so much as one iota of Vitamin D reigned down upon me.  I’m sure the sun exists – just not this time of the year. It also appeared as if it might rain at any second for the past 24 hours – par for the course for this coastal city. I kept my umbrella handy at all times … which only reinforced that I was, indeed, Joe Tourist. Locals tend to wear hoodies. Makes sense.

Didn’t see any of the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy”. Was hopeful. Alas, no. Come to think of it … I didn’t see anyone famous while I was in town. Macklemore is from Seattle … where the hell was he?

The Space Needle is an impressive calling card. And while I didn’t visit the top (as it was insanely cloudy), I did see it up close and personal. My Uber driver groaned when I mentioned the Space Needle was on my itinerary. “You. Are. Such. A. Tourist!” he lamented. “I suppose you’re also going to visit the Hard Rock Café!” (Yep – that was on my to-do list as well.)

Besides Hawaii, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a contingency of homeless people. They are everywhere … panhandling, sleeping in tents or congregating in dense tourist areas. It’s also a bit difficult to tell who’s homeless and who’s a hipster – as it’s a fine, but indiscernible line. When I mentioned this to my cab driver he told me he plays a game called “Bum or Bohemian”. Politically incorrect for sure … but also somewhat accurate.

My head felt naked during my visit. Hats, stocking caps and fedoras are worn by a broad contingency of the population. The rest just have their hoodies pulled up.

Seattle is “famous” for lots of things. If I saw the word famous, I stopped and ordered accordingly.  “World Famous Mac & Cheese” read a sign at Beecher’s “famous” cheese shoppe. It was pretty damn good – decadent, delicious and piping hot. Ditto … famous pastries, famous crab cakes, famous coffee. I was only there for less than 24 hours … but easily put on ten pounds. I, meanwhile, am famous for overeating.

I swear … Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) has more random, made-up airlines than any other airport I’ve visited. Condor Air?? Hainan Airlines?? Nippon Airways?? Apparently, I need to get out more. Or visit Asia.

My friend  (and tour guide) Troy lives in Seattle, but doesn’t own a car. How is this possible I wondered? Well, rented smart cars – like coffee shops – can be found virtually everywhere in the city. You merely scan a magic card over the windshield and voila’ – you’re the proud renter of a giant Tic-Tac on wheels. They are perfect from getting from Point A to Point B at only fifty cents a mile. Even better? You can park them anywhere … literally any street, road or avenue.  We rented three different Tic-Tac’s, er, vehicles during our misguided adventure tour.

Given that most people take a couple days to see Seattle in all of its glory and splendor, I was pretty impressed I tackled it in a mere three hours. Think of the damage I could have done if I had six?! I’ll be back … uh, when it’s summer-rific.

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I got the chance to meet two of KISS’ original frontmen, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. The guys were in town to open another of their Rock and Brews restaurants. If Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Viper Room and Bennigan’s had a baby … it would be similar to Rock and Brews. Both rockers were dressed in black (natch!), way taller than I anticipated (6’2”+) and had an odd array of perfectly coifed, somewhat synthetic hair. And both of ‘em were remarkably well preserved – looking fairly polished and alert. I watched both of them glide around the room. They’d glad hand, hobnob, mingle and kibitz with great ease. For the hour I was there, I was watched Paul Stanley graze on about ten different dishes. How the man stays so thin is beyond me. Simmons had a more looming presence. He’d stand around off to the side with his arms folded – like a bouncer or a menacing statue outside a Pharoh’s tomb. His attachment to his sunglasses and lack of expression made him hard to read. Although from I what I saw, he is rather fond of the elusive duck face.

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