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Two days in Seattle before the cruise

Thursday, 5 May

With a three-hour time difference, I was awake before daybreak, but rolled over to only be awakened when the building construction a block away started about 7:30. After a shower and dressing, I walked the stairs down, noting that each hall had been painted in a different shade – sort of a cross between jeweled tones and autumnal colors. Large wall art as well as some sculpted pieced lined the halls. At the base of the stairs, I entered through “the clock door” into the café and got a large decaf Americano, which I brought back by the lift to the room. With no room safe, I chose to lock the electronics and other important stuff in my roller bag as I prepared to head out.

NCL’s website indicated that a PCR test was required within 48-hours of boarding, so I had scheduled the Covid test at the Washington State Convention Center in the 10:30 window. Armed with my umbrella and wearing both my fleece jacket and yellow rain slicker (and a scarf), I walked the 7-8 blocks and entered a near empty building lobby. Following directions, I was the only client, so I chatted with the two women while swirling the swab in both nostrils. As I parted, they advised me and the couple who had just arrived that the results might not be available until Sunday, as the test vials didn’t get picked up until the following day.

Crossing Pike Street, I headed down two blocks and over one to re-enter the 1-Line at Westlake, where I caught the transit to the northmost station. Google Maps thought I wanted make the whole journey via mass transit, sending me by bus south to cross under I-5. Instead, I switched to walking mode, and from the terminus I was directed to a wide pedestrian bridge which took me over 12 lanes of speeding traffic while a modest shower prompted my umbrella’s coverage. Through the campus of North Seattle College, I headed to Saint Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral. Situated at the top of a rise at the corner of Ashworth and N 103rd St, the blue and white single-story building is surrounded by established foundation landscaping and rises double my height above the street corner.

From the street level, I walked, trying to find good angles to capture the substance of the cathedral. The drop and plantings seemed to discourage any tight shots to capture its essence. Once I’d explored street views, I climbed through evergreen bushes to a walkway alongside the building. No doors were immediately visible, but my research had indicated a bookstore co-existed there, and I figured it might be a point-of-entry. Turning a corner, an indent promised access along the back edge, but doors on either side were locked and no light was visible inside. Continuing to the side facing the parking area, I turned to find several floor-to-ceiling glass panels and an open door!

Entering, closing my umbrella and removing my hat, I approached an older gentleman in a cassock. Explaining my mission, I requested permission to visit the nave, and to take pictures. He agreed and beckoned me to follow. A lengthy conversation then followed, where we spoke on religion, society, theology, history and the Orthodoxy. Born in Ukraine, he’d immigrated in 1950 as a youngster; he was the rector known as Metropolitan Ignatius. Surprised when I learned this, for I had spent an hour speaking with a bishop in his cathedral! [I wrote a separate blog after my visit.]

Sending me off with a copy of a book on the Orthodox Church as well as a dozen beeswax tapers, I returned to the campus and brooked the overpass to reach the Northgate terminus. Returning to Westlake, I walked past the hotel entrance to visit a Thai restaurant I’d seen the prior evening. Bangrak Market had been doing a booming business, but arriving at half past one, there were enough empty tables for lunch. I chose a green bean starter to be followed by Tom Yum Nam Sai with chicken, accompanied by a local IPA.

As it turned out, the green beans had been slightly steamed and sauteed with garlic, and were topped with chopped garlic bits – a dish made in heaven! It reminded me of my NYC days and a similar dish at the local Hunan restaurant around the corner. And the soup was delicious too, arriving with a flame rising from the steaming bowl. Mushrooms, tomato, cilantro, lemongrass and green onion joined the slivers of chicken breast in the tasty broth. Ordered at medium heat (spice level), the red pepper flakes continued to “heat” up the broth as I slowly ate my beans and wrote in my journal.

Back to the hotel, I took a nap. Rising about two hours before game time, I headed to the T-mobile Stadium via Westlake and the transit line. Slowly walking the damp and rainy ramps and sidewalks, I finally got to the gate, only to determine that I wouldn’t be allowed access with my daypack as it wasn’t clear. Up the street was a vendor well prepared for such issues – they even had lockers for excess that wouldn’t fit into a clear plastic carry-all. Getting the smallest, I removed my journal and camera, folded the pack, put in the bottom with my camera on top. I then went to the box office.

Promotion night! Tickets were $10, $20 and $30 for specific sections. Getting a third-tier cheapie, I cleared security and rode an escalator to the main viewing level. After a walk around the concessions, I heard a vendor announce that $6 drafts would go off happy hour in 6 minutes, so I queued up and got an IPA. Between stairs and more escalators, I headed up two more levels and found my seat. My section soon filled with about 20 local “peds-trauma” nurses. These women (and a few guys) were more intent on drinking and gossiping, so the one or two baseball fans moved down next to me and we watched the game. The Rays managed to have one good inning, amassing 4 runs. They barely held in there, allowing the Mariners to score 3 times later in the game.

With one of the baseball-fan nurses, we joined the exiting crowd to walk back to the transit station. She was heading south, while I returned north to downtown. Moving away from the masses at the entry end of the station, I was able to board the next train, and wound up in conversation with an Urban Planning student from Staten Island. He had a Mets hat on, but was interested in hearing about the game and then about my trip. So engrossed, I wound up talking right through my stop, so I had to exit and cross over to backtrack that one stop as I returned to the hotel.

Housekeeping had been in to clean the bathroom, but the bed was unmade. I settled in to check emails and was surprised to find that I had an order for a book! I sent the buyer an email advising him that I was just beginning a trip and would fulfill on my return. Deciding on Bainbridge Island for the next day, I prepared for and went to bed.

Friday, 6 May

Construction again woke me. I guess that since it rains so frequently in the Northwest, a day full of drizzle doesn’t hamper the building trades, since Seattle always seems to have some high-rise being erected. Once dressed, I collected a tall decaf from the coffee shop, and pushed through my daily news feeds. Armed with my large umbrella and wrapped up as I had the day before, I began my stroll up Second Avenue, slipping westward towards the water and eventually walking along Alaskan Way towards the ferry pier.

Bypassing the kiosks, I engaged with a ticket seller and was blessed with a half-price round trip ticket because I’m a senior! Wearing a mask, I hovered in the waiting area until the doors opened for the ferry to Bainbridge Island. One of some 200 islands in Puget Sound, this had a reputation for quaintness and quiet, and I’d never made it across the Bay on previous trips. The lounge was huge with lots of benches and heat. Perhaps a third of the passengers headed upstairs to the open deck, but I settled in and watched as we progressed out through mist, across the water. Overcast with drizzle seemed to be the call of the day.

Back on land, there really wasn’t much signage to give an indication of where to head. Bainbridge Town is more of a quaint village in feel, streets lined with verdant trees. I’d read that there were wineries and tasting rooms, so I figured I’d check them out, as I slowly ascended the mild slope, checking out retail establishments as I strolled under the umbrella. First to catch my eye was a hole-in-the-wall tasting room for Eagle Harbor. A narrow space, a local woman was staffing the downtown presence for the winery. She offered a 4-pour tasting, of which I liked and enjoyed the Super Tuscan, the Cab Franc and the Petite Sirah. She related some of the winery’s history, included recent ownership changes, as well as a bit of industry gossip. A younger couple came in and split a tasting, exiting before me. (Speed tasting?)

The main street is named Winslow, and I followed it beyond the commercial limits to the crest and then descended into a residential area. Rhododendrons towered over me rampantly in bloom, making me remember my years in the northeast. Several dogwoods were also in bloom, shades of our Princeton home. The continuing light rain enhanced the quietness, as the multitude of shades of green rioted across my visual palette. It was almost sensory overload, I was so entranced.

Back to the hilltop, I headed to the right and down into a small local harbor and yacht club. Berthing boats rather than the ships and ferries where we’d docked, I scanned over a wide variety of vessels as I passed public sculpture that dotted the walkways and benches. After climbing back up the hill again, I continued to a retail complex that housed a cinema, and a wine bar called Luna. Speaking with the proprietor, I learned that he deferred the local wines to the individual tasting rooms, and offered both Washington and non-Washington wines for tastings. With wisdom, he included some healthy non-alcoholic drinks for youngsters to consume outside the premise, while waiting on their parents to get a buzz before a movie outing. I sampled 3 following his suggestion, with the standout being the Laou (red).

Returning to Winslow by crossing through a “farmer’s market” of crafts folk, I came across Elena, a tasting room that was much busier and nearly full of younger adults. I opted for a 5-tastes premium flight: a white mourvedre, viognier, mourvedre, malbec and a cab sauv. While tasting I got to chatting with a local “political fixer”, who worked both sides of the political spectrum for candidates whose campaigns sought his expertise. We continued to sip away, with me settling on the delicious malbec, chatting until I determined that I might want to think about catching the ferry back. Snagging a handful of dark chocolate bars, I waved my farewell. Spotting a grocery store, it turned out to have a nice selection of gourmet cheeses and decent baguettes, so I got my supper and headed to the terminal.

The ferry ride was on schedule and uneventful – the best kind. During the passage I spent the journey speaking with four women from Iowa. On arrival, I decided to take First Avenue, realized I was hungrier than bread-and-cheese, so I stopped in at the Pike Pub, which was intriguing as it occupies multiple levels, which I would find an ADA handicap nightmare.

Getting a glass of water, I managed to break it as it slipped onto the floor, but managed to consume 2 more while waiting on the Pike Wood-Aged Kilt Lifter and the Dungeness Clam Chowder. The beer had been aged in gin barrels and was awesome. The soup needed both salt and pepper to meet my tastes. For a main I had a Spicy Wild Salmon with Dungeness crab and pink shrimp over cilantro rice and arugula with a spicy coconut sauce. I believe I licked the plate clean, as that course encompassed many of my favorite flavor profiles.

Returning to the hotel, I pushed through email and spent some time reading trash on my tablet. Easy evening, and I had plenty of time in the morning to deal with packing. Feeling no pain, full.

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