After a pleasant trip up the West Coast on the Coast Starlight train, I arrived in Seattle. Seattle is probably the best city I’ve seen on this trip so far. It seems to match up with several of my interests: coffee, technology, the outdoors, and alternative rock.
I stayed at a nice hostel called The Green Tortoise. It’s very well situated; right across from Pike Place Market. Plus, I was able to get a queen-sized bed for only $33/night due to a loophole in their pricing scheme.
The next morning, I walked into Belltown and went to a coffee shop called Street Bean Espresso. I ordered a capuccino and spent a couple hours writing emails and updating my websites.
After that, I walked back towards Pike Street. Along the way, I passed an Army/Navy surplus store. Naturally, I had to check it out. It was by far the best surplus store I’ve seen. Only a cheap machete collection could have made it better.
I continued along 1st Avenue, and entered Pike Place Market.
I entered a spice shop and sampled some of their excellent orange/cinnamon tea. After exiting the store, the stench of seafood wafted over me. I saw the fishmongers throwing raw fish from one end of the room to the other at the Pike Place Fish Market.
Pike Place Market has some very interesting stores. I went into an herbal apothecary which sold hundreds of unidentifiable liquids in glass vials, exotic herbs, and other arcana.
After that I went into a gem shop, where I had a very interesting discussion with the proprietor about the mysteries of the universe. That guy inspired me to start a geology collection of my own.
I exited the market and walked past a tea house. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign that read “Free tea tasting”, so I turned around and went inside. The room was dimly lit and smelled of incense. In the center of the room was a very low bar where two Asians were preparing tea using a method I had never seen before. Later I found out that it was a Gongfu tea ceremony.
One of them invited me to sit down and drink some Lapsang Souchong. After that I sampled some Pu’erh, which was very good. It has an earthy flavor, probably due to the fact that it was aged in a cave for 11 years. The girl told me that she drinks Pu’erh every day, due to its health benefits. The final tea she prepared was Oolong. Lapsang Souchong is like smoke, Pu’erh is like earth, and, according to her, Oolong is like fire. It was quite good but not as good as the other two.
I felt obliged to purchase some tea to repay their kindness, since it was all for free. The girl withdrew a miniscule bag of Pu’erh, with a price tag of $20. Luckily, she understood my predicament as a poor vagabond and said that it wasn’t necessary for me to buy anything.
Later that evening, I was pleased to discover that the hostel was serving free dinner. I’ve been really lucky with my accomodations!
The next day, I walked to the Seattle Library. It’s the most impressive library I’ve ever seen. It has a glass facade which hangs out over the street - quite useful when it’s raining!
They had a fantastic book selection spanning 10 floors. I read the first section of a book entitled “A Beginner’s Guide to Reality”.
After exploring the city a bit more, I went to the grocery store and bought some soup and a bottle of sparkling apple cider. Not a bad meal for five bucks!
The next day, I went to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. There was an outdoor concert going on so I walked in that direction. Ironically, the music was not alternative rock but rap music. It was decent, but I left after a while in search of some coffee. The place I found was called Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I ordered a cup of coffee, which was prepared in a Chemex using beans from Rwanda. I would say that it was the best coffee I’ve ever had, even better than the coffee I roast at home. Who would have thought it possible!
After that, I went back to the train station and set off for Minneapolis on the Empire Builder.