Friday, October 19, 2012

Seattle, more than the Space Needle

I had really low expectations for Seattle. People in Portland described it to me as an “industrial” city and the only thing you know in advance is the Space Needle. So I thought that I may stay one night or two.

I ask my GPS to show me the way to Seattle, and sure enough, it led me directly to the needle. It was a clear afternoon and the sun was starting to camp in the cloudy blankets of the horizon. I went up to the restaurant for dinner and the view was actually breathtaking. This is the most beautiful downtown of the whole United States. Nobody warned me of the orange tones of the sky reflected over the ocean. Nobody warned me about the triangular edge of sailboats cutting the sparkling surface of the water. Nobody prepared me for the lament of the ferries, the hydroplanes descending between skyscrapers and the flames of light reflected by the windows.   

I ordered a smoked salmon and some wine so my blood could match the landscape. Now there was glory in both sides of my skin.

Why is this place so beautiful and why nobody talks about it? 

The next day I went to the local market so I could see the most spectacular places at the end. Well, the Pike Market of Seattle had me captive for a couple of days. This market makes the whole downtown smell like aromatic herbs. I have learned a huge lesson in urban fashion just in this pair of blocks. The street musicians are organized in a roster, so everybody has its chance, and they can only perform in the designated spots. At some point, there was even a guy playing piano on the street. How the hell he brought that?

This city also has a good selection of coffee shops. So it called my attention to see a line at the nearby Starbucks. I was wondering why?  Turns out this is the very first Starbucks ever, and they even keep the original logo in it, with the topless mermaid.

I was walking through the main entrance of the market when I hear some joyful screams and tourists running with their cameras. Then one guy started to throw fish in the air to get caught by another man on the stand. There was nothing else happening, so I began to make questions. Turns out to be one of those marketing phenomena you can learn from. That place was nothing but an ordinary fish stand close to bankruptcy in 1986. So they decided to call themselves “world famous”, even when nobody knew about this little market stand, and added this performance of throwing the fish from one place to another. Sure enough, people came to take pictures in this “world famous” stand, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Behind the market, I took a ride in a large wheel that gives you a beautiful view or the coast. Then I went for some crab soup in the restaurants that surrounds the pier.

At night I got lost and end up in a scary alley.  I noticed a wall completely covered with chewing gum in the bricks. There was an entrance, and a guy selling tickets for five dollars to see an improvised series of sketches performed by stand-up comedians. First, you go to a little bar and have some buzz to reduce your laugh boundary. Then you go to this small space and have one of the most enjoyable moments you can have in a theater. The sketches are actually improvised, and to prove that they are based on characters, situations and quotes suggested by the audience on the spot. Very talented people. I can't believe none of them is famous.

Back to the hostel, I spent two hours philosophizing with my roommates and then had a good rest. The next morning I had breakfast surrounded by barefooted young women that grab some toast and coffee before heading to the shower.

Seattle also holds the title of been the city where I experienced my first kiss in the US. I’d love to share the story with you all, but I have to be a gentleman. But don’t worry, I may decide to be an artist instead.


  1. It's interesting that you ran into the most popular tourist sites by accident!

    It was great meeting you at the Needle and being part of your journey!

  2. Well, I always carry a map in my pocket so I can decide where to get lost :)