Friday, 14 September 2012

Round The World Travel: Seattle, USA

Where I am

Seattle, the birthplace of my most beloved grunge scene.  Oh that I had a time machine! Still, the music gods were smiling on me and I arrived just in time for the city's biggest music festival, Bumbershoot.  Perhaps it was this festival's influence, but I really feel that if Secret Garden Party were a city, Seattle it would be.

The second I stepped off of the train it was obvious I was on the East coast no longer.  I smiled at everything widely, because it was so completely and utterly 'West coast' in a way I had heard, but not previously understood.  Everything is wider, more spread out, from the city grid to the diners.  Every sign is enormous and getting anywhere takes a little time, but that's okay, because no one is in any sort of hurry.

More importantly and most best of all is the prevalence of plaid and tie dye and torn jeans and baggy tees and boys with guitars or on skateboards.  Grunge is not dead, y'all!

Where I stayed

The only downside to the festival being on over the weekend was Saturday night was fully booked at every central hostel and hotel under $500, which is roughly $475 over budget.  So I treated myself to one night at the moderately lovely Best Western Plaza By The Green (rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) for $65.  Expedia carries some pretty sweet discounts, especially if you don't mind being a little out of town.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 'fitness centre' (an airconditioned room with a treadmill and an elliptical), the giant breakfast buffet, the bath tub, but most of all the having of a whole, entire room to myself.

The budget won't stretch to too many entire rooms, so for the next 2 nights I checked in to HotelHotel Hostel.  Despite some kind of name identity crisis, this was another trendy, cool, clean and friendly hostel located in the cool, clean and friendly Freemont district.  The rooms and bathrooms were big and high-ceilinged, the artwork funky, the breakfast served late enough to be actually useful (yes Duo Hostel, I mean you) and the girl at the front desk was smoking hot.

I was even lucky enough to share the room with a guy who worked nights and slept days, so we pleasantly kept out of each other's way.

The only downside to the place is its position over a lively pub.  I wouldn't necessarily call that a downside, except that it is a lively pub with nightly karaoke, so yeah, downside.  Not for the light of sleep, but thankfully my younger brother and his noisy friends cured me of being unable to sleep through music outside my bedroom window many moons ago.

What I read

'Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said' - Philip K. Dick

Since reading The Hunger Games I've racked up a lot of dystopian novels in my 'read' pile and every single one of them has terrified me in different ways.  This was no exception and made worse by the fact that the causes of the police state crackdown are never really detailed.  It's simply written as though this is how things are now and you just have to go with it.  At least the end of Waking Life makes a bit more sense now...

What I listened to

A ton of bands at the festival. More on that below...

The radio in the hotel room.  The button said rock.  It should have said top 40 pop shit of the last 10 years.  Gah.

All of the Nirvana on my ipod, because that's what you should listen to in Seattle, ok?

What I ate

Russian dumplings from a festival stall.  I now know I love dumplings of virtually any nationality.

Sushi, apparently a Seattle specialty, and I have to say it was a darn sight more adventurous and tasty than Yo!Sushi at Bluewater...

What I did

Bumbershoot! And no I don't know what that means either!  Musical highlights were the peppy poppy rocky Pains Of Being Pure At Heart,  the way-moodier-live, seething Low, the dear-god-I-love-emo-more-than-should-admit-to Promise Ring and kings of the fest and of the most adorably filthy on-stage banter, the Vaselines.

Drank beer in a 'garden', or alcohol jail, depending on how you look at it.  Much as the music was great and I loved the daytime vibe of the fest, I couldn't reconcile myself to drinking only in fenced off areas, or the fact that at 10pm everyone was sipping from Starbucks cups.  I mean it's a FESTIVAL, and everyone was totally and completely sober... Never thought I'd long for the field of pill heads at SGP, but this mass cleanliness was somehow more unsettling.   Shudder...

Browsed through Pike Place Market, the must-see of the city.  It was, like all touristy markets, full of large amounts of brightly coloured tat that no one needs, but in amongst all that were some excellent, eclectic pre-loved book and record stores.  The cool gent in the record store let me sit and listen to some of his stash even though I said I couldn't buy a thing.

Went to Macy's Labour Day sale and bought running shorts as the elastic in my leggings is not holding up to longer runs.  They are short shorts that shame me into going for a run with their cellulite revealing properties.

Wandered under the Freemont Bridge billygoat style to visit the Freemont Troll.

Drank alot of coffee.  Called it research, because Seattle.

Took roughly a million photographs of the Space Needle, as it's so weird no one can stop staring at it, least of all me.

Even the station is cool

The Gum Wall at Pike Place Market. Kinda cool. Kinda disgusting.

Beer jail

or having fun of any kind.
Getting my grunge on
Sushi and free shades of hideous variety
Impossible to stop taking pictures of it!

The Freemont Troll

Statues getting in on the action

Freemont's boho charm
A hot viking guy who's privacy I've invaded. Hot.
One more, in case I haven't captured how weird it is
Next stop of note, San Francisco! I've got three weeks. Any suggestions for free/very cheap things to do?

Any thoughts on the festival? Is the beer-jail common here?
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