There’s something about Seattle that just always calls to me.
Maybe it’s the constantly gray, cloudy sky with a near-permanent haze of rain — my favorite kind of weather. Maybe it’s the industrial city style or the progressive, modern vibe. Maybe it’s just the perfect humidity level in the air that ensures that my curls can never have a bad hair day there.
Maybe it’s all of that combined and more, I’ll never quite know, but I know this: when I am invited to spend some time in Seattle, I am not going to say no.
My aunt lives out there and has for about a decade; the last time I went to visit her was 2016, and Seattle has changed a lot since I was last there. Still, it felt the same from the moment I stepped off the plane at SEA. When I saw six different people wearing paisley bandannas, rainbow tie-dye or hiking gear within the five-minute walk from my gate to the baggage claim, I knew I was in the right place.
The main reason I went to Seattle was not particularly my aunt – sorry, Aunt Jaime – but, rather, my love for hockey. My home team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, had an away game against the Seattle Kraken on Jan. 16, and seeing as how I had never been to an away game in all my years of being a loyal Bolts fan, I was absolutely pumped to go.
It was just a quick walk from my aunt’s apartment, and Climate Pledge Arena is beautiful, with greenery covering its walls, an immense amount of plant-based foods and fantastic views of the game no matter where you may be sitting. From the Kraken’s pirate map-themed intro to their sea shanty third-period hype song, the arena’s theming was constantly on point.
Plus, the Lightning won — 4-1, although two of those goals were empty-netters — so that was the cherry on top of an awesome first away game experience.
I also watched plenty of hockey on TV. My dad was there for the first few days, and he, my aunt and I went to a bar a few hours before his flight out. There, we watched the Kraken take on the Edmonton Oilers in a more local scene than Canada.
Later on the trip, my aunt and I had a night in to watch the Lightning vs. the Vancouver Canucks, and I got to watch Steven Stamkos score his 500th goal — live from the PNW, on my aunt’s couch. Now that is something I will never forget!
I also got a bit of a taste of my aunt’s life in Seattle. For instance, I got to visit her workplace, a high-tech office full of neat toys and beautiful views.
She also has a few close friends that I’d heard of for years — her grad school roommate, Helen, and Helen’s husband and kids — and I finally got to meet them. Doing Harry Potter puzzles on their dining table and laughing over ice cream might not have been touristy, but it was still ridiculously fun.
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Speaking of tourism, I did do plenty of that, from trying (and failing) to geocache at the famed gum wall to shopping the entirety of Pike Place Market. I wandered the ten-floor Seattle Public Library, which is a marvel of modern architecture in which floors six through ten are one big spiraling ramp so you can just keep going down, down, down. I walked the coastal trail and my dad got a coffee from the first ever Starbucks.
It was all amazing — all of it — so much so that I started looking at grad schools in Seattle during the trip.
But what really sold the Emerald City for me was the food.
Food pretty much rules every facet of my life in one way or another, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I had exactly sixteen meals’ worth of time in Seattle, and I made every single one of them count.
I tried three restaurants and some bar food while I was there. Whether it was a pita sandwich filled with falafel and fried cucumber from The Golden Olive, Korean soft tofu and mushroom soup from Cho Dang Tofu, Impossible tacos and “smokey” corn bisque from Veggie Grill or a black bean burger with mushrooms and sweet potato tots from Buckley’s Pubs, I couldn’t get enough of the Seattle restaurant scene.
At Pike Place Market, too, I had some of the best food of my life. I have never tasted samosas like those that I bought from the Pike Place booth version of Washington restaurant Saffron Spice. A friend of my aunt’s also recommended Maíz, an authentic tortilleria right next to the first Starbucks, for their handmade tortillas and champurrado (a warm drink sort of like a thick, spicy hot cocoa). They gave me one tortilla for free — I went outside to eat it thinking I was off on my merry way, but as soon as that warm corn flavor hit my tongue, I turned around and walked right back inside to buy a dozen more.
I only wish I lived closer so that I could eat food like that all the time.
But it’s okay — I know I’ll be going back to Seattle someday. After all, they couldn’t keep me away if they tried after this winter break!