We've now been in Boston for just shy of two months. I have to say, I miss Seattle like crazy, and have often thought, if we ever move back to Seattle, where would I want to put roots down? And I have to say, my mind keeps drifting to West Seattle.
The entire year we were in Seattle, I had really wanted to make it to Alki Beach and West Seattle, but for one reason or another it just never happened, until one of the last few weeks we were in town at all. My mom had come to visit for the weekend, and among a crazy whirlwind through the city that we embarked on, we took the water taxi across Elliot Bay to West Seattle. Originally, it was to kayak around the West Seattle peninsula, but a kayak proved a bit too...intense...for my claustrophobia, so we opted instead to rent bicycles from the place. My mother, Grayson and I hopped on beach cruisers and rode our bicycles the entire parameter of the West Seattle peninsula, from where the water taxi drops you off, past Alki Beach, and to the Alki lighthouse. Unfortunately the lighthouse was closed, but we stopped by anyway. From there, we cut through the middle of the peninsula and went down to the farmer's market, checked out the main drag and indulged in delicious cupcakes. From there we rode our bikes the rest of the way across and back to our original starting point. It was an intense ride, but TONS of fun. Below are some photographic highlights. I surprised mom for her birthday with a harbor cruise and went through the Locks, after which she saw boats from her favorite show "The Deadliest Catch," we palled around Pike Market and Pioneer Square, and of course, at the end of the weekend, we tried some cupcakes! This time from a new shop I hadn't tried before, Yellow Leaf in Belltown. I had the Tomato Soup cupcake, which just tasted like pumpkin pie. But it was yummy!
We've been back in town for just shy of a couple of weeks now. It was difficult to board the plane and leave Europe, there were a handful of towns and cities I could have easily made my home in, but I will admit it was nice to come home to Seattle. The weather was beautiful and sunny when we arrived as well.
Coming home was really strange. Riding the bus, which I've done at least twice daily for the last year was different having navigated public transit systems all over the European continent. It made me miss the Paris metro and Prague trams especially. A couple of new annoyances about the US now that I'm stateside again: (this is actually an old annoyance made fervent by Europe), in the States, people just stand wherever they want on the escalators, and no one really asks them to move aside to move up, if two dorks are standing abreast in front of you up the slowly crawling and ascending escalator and you maybe don't necessarily *need* a robot to climb the stairs for you, you just simply appreciate the robot's help in getting you up the stairs faster, it's almost rude to excuse yourself to pass people on the escalator here. But in *most*, not all, places in Europe, there's an unspoken rule where you stand on the right side of the escalator, and the left remains open to allow people to walk past. People will even cram their huge pieces of luggage in front of them rather than occupy the small aisle on the left-hand side of the escalator. We first noticed this phenomenon in Vancouver, BC, where again the right side of the escalator was for standing, and the left for walking. This is an amazing, revolutionary model for etiquette and efficiency, and Grayson and I are single-handedly doing our part to bring it to the States. Even if we're not in a rush, we're going to excuse ourselves all up and down the elevator on the left-hand side until the nation catches on!!! :)
Annoyance number two: trains. Oh my goodness how I love trains. And there aren't hardly any around here. Nothing like Europe. There is Amtrak, but it doesn't go anywhere, and there are a couple of commuter trains in Seattle, but they, also are not everywhere. Nor do they hardly go anywhere. We could take a train from the airport to the city, or from Prague to Munich. Rome to Paris! They were everywhere, comfortable and super-punctual (except sometimes in Germany of all places!) I wish trains were as prevalent and amazing as they are in Europe.
Though most of all, I just kind of enjoyed the feel of Europe, the people, the general way in which they do things and believe things ought to be done. The smaller portion sizes, the huge prevalence of bicycles (and bicycle lanes on the sidewalk!), the huge parks everywhere (like Seattle!), Muji stores!!!, and mostly, just the amazing culture and buildings that is everywhere around modern day real life. It's just nuts to see businessmen in expensive suits riding their bicycles to the ultra modern and high tech buildings next door to centuries-old buildings.
I did, however, miss a couple of things: more than two pairs of clothes. Free laundry in the comfort of my own home. Paper towels. Coffee the way I'm used to it. Ice cubes in every drink and free refills (though this is something that would be best gotten used to live without). Nail clippers-I never dared buying them because we always had to get on a plane in a couple of days and it would have been a waste of money. Perhaps.
Coming home to our apartment was really weird. I couldn't begin to explain it but it just felt so strange, pleasant, but totally foreign. A place with all our stuff where we could stay...it was so *weird*, even the size of it seemed strange, not like it was super tiny compared to everywhere we stayed, or super large, just ... different. As soon as we dropped our bags, I drank a diet coke which was still in the fridge, laundry was started, I took a loooong shower and put on my NORMAL clothes. Since then we've been taking it as easy as possible and I've been super lazy and not fixing up any photos or doing much of anything Europe-related. I went right back to work and have been getting back in the routine, and now this weekend we'll be in Boise, and the following weekend my mommy is visiting, so we'll be kept on our toes.
Last weekend we went out and about. Friday night we went to an art opening at Roq La Rue, a hip local gallery that specializes in pop surrealism art. The show was called "Lush Life," and featured a lot of multimedia images that attempts to bring "together painters in both the alt-art world as well as contemporary art scene, who all work within a guideline of tight technical craftsmanship as well the use of opulent and decadent imagery to convey higher inner truths and emotions. This take on 'Neo-Symbolism' is different from it's predecessor in that while it still mines the unconscious for a sense of mythic gravitas, it incorporates American culture's pervasive pop culture-flavored and cartoony aesthetic." I like that the paintings were modern but so many reminded me of the tons of paintings I saw in Europe, with high technical skill and attention to realistic detail, yet imbued with modern, symbolic elements, technologies or techniques. I even found one I adored so much I'd consider paying $3200 for...if I ever had that to burn on a painting...Mia Araujo's 'Across the Nile.' Check out more images from the show here.
I spent Saturday slumming around the downtown library, and the rest of the weekend doing some errands and chores. The weather was favorable, especially after a work week of grey, windy rain. And now it's sort of been the same this week, mostly grey and windy and rainy, and then the sun pokes out for a bit.
My little brother came up to visit for a few days, and he got a whirlwind tour of Seattle while he was here. We went to the Seattle Center, the Sculpture Park, Pike Market, took a harbor cruise around Elliott Bay, went to Safeco Field and Qwest Arena (just the outside), through Pioneer Square, then off to Ballard to see the Locks and Archie McPhee's, Wallingford for Dick's, Fremont to the Troll, a few glorious, sunny moments at Gasworks Park in an otherwise grey, rainy week, then milled around the U-District, and even went up to Northgate. It's left me exhausted just in time to leave for Europe!
Here are some scenes:
Dismantling the Space Needle...
Safeco Field, Home of the Mariners
Welcome Back, Ken Griffey, Jr! Woohoo!
Qwest Arena, Home of the Seahawks, and our new Euro football team, the Seattle Sounders!
Ballard Locks - we got to watch a yacht move through!
Gasworks Park during the five minutes of perfect sunlight!
Grayson and I celebrated the first day of spring with yummy food and sangria!
And then I got Easter presents early, since we'll be far away for my favorite holiday (bunnies!) I got cupcake dental floss (ahh yeah, Archie McPhee's) bunny paper clips, and a hopping mechanical bunny who is also fuzzy:
The city was also celebrating springtime with some fun sidewalk chalk!