Thursday, October 08, 2009

Seattle and Astoria

It’s funny how you can see remarkably little of a city and still—within that short time—decide that you love it. But that’s what cruising is all about after all: getting a small taste of a five to ten cities all at once, deciding which ones you have to come back to (Sydney and St. Petersburg) and crossing some others off your list for life (Pisa, Auckland… pretty much all of the Scandinavian countries). Seattle is one of those places we will come back to, for more than just the length a cruise stop-over. I can’t easily say why I liked it so much. It’s not a single trait of the city, there isn’t one experience I can pinpoint—I just really enjoyed the time we spent there. The shops, the vendors, even just the lay of the city (what little I saw of it); it was all excellent.

We left the pier and navigated our way to Pike Place Market. It’s a multi-level, part indoor part outdoor series of shops, with tons of flowers, fruit, and other foodstuffs for sale. The vendors there actively hawk their wares—which is something that usually turns me off in a big way, but the Pike Place vendors have personality and confidence; there wasn’t that reek of desperation I’m used to those kinds of situations. Before getting to the Market, we’d been told that the original Starbucks was also located in the area. Those directions were a bit fuzzy though, so while we did have a coffee break in a Starbucks near the Market, I have no frigging clue if it was The First Starbucks. But it’s a cooler story if it was though, so let’s just say it was.

Out from there, we took a cab to meet up with a blog acquaintance of Sarah’s: Mighty Maggie. Sarah’s been following The Mighty One for a long time now and Maggie was extremely kind, letting us stop in for a visit. And she made us lunch! (Which was chickeny and noodley and peanuty and delicious.) We hung out with her highly cute kids, and Teddy behaved himself very well, and we just generally had a great time. Maggie’s super funny, and I regret not following her blog before now. Beyond this, we returned to Pike Place, bought some lattes and flowers, and pretty much packed it in. (Between Seattle and Astoria was a sea day, which I’ll leave out for now but might get back to in an End Notes post.)

Astoria came next. Unlike Victoria, where I had zero expectation, I had significant expectations for Astoria. Very low ones. I mean—I know next to nothing about Oregon, and if I don’t know much about something, it can’t be good or important. (See: economics, math, fashion, every continent that isn’t North America.) But as it turns out, Astoria is awesome! First, the locals are super tourist friendly—hanging out near the dock playing Johnny Cash tunes as you come ashore, or offering directions to downtown while letting you photograph their Mr. Muggs-style dogs. Second, there’s an excellent waterfront walk, where depression-era canning factories have given way to restaurants and wine stores, or in some cases have all but disappeared except for pilings and old beautifully ruined boat docks. Third, The Goonies was filmed in Astoria! (Approximate number of times Hey you guys! was uttered: 27.)

We walked into downtown, perused bookstores and thrift shops, purchased wine at a great place called The Cellar on 10th, and ate at an excellent restaurant called The Urban Grill. Beyond this, we’d intended to check out The Goonie House but it turned out that the tourist map was totally not to scale and we didn’t want to burn two hours there and back, so instead we checked out a comic book store where we looked at but did not buy and iron-on that said I HEART SLOTH. If that’s any consolation to you outraged Goonies fans.


maggie said...

You are welcome back ANY TIME! And I'll babysit!

Did you go to the Starbucks IN the market? In the street of shops right across from the covered vendors? Probably had to step over a gajillion people taking pictures of the sign? THAT is the first Starbucks. (BUT THEY ARE ALL ALIKE.)

Dave said...

That's the one we went to! Woo!

Now I'm off to track down the first Dunkin' Donuts. Which is probably in some sexy place like Gary, Indiana.