Brian and I ran a half marathon in Seattle back in September ( Has anyone heard of Beat the Blerch?? We’ll post more on this race at a later time). We thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get all of our friends together for a mini-vacation, since we had never traveled with our LA friends before!
The process of planning this trip was a learning experience in what not to do when planning trips with large groups. Here are a couple things I learned:
- The person who just opened their AirBnB account will probably not be able to successfully make a reservation. (Brian tried 2 or 3 different places, and they all turned him down)
- Triple check that you’ve posted your itinerary, and that everyone else has seen it too, for cross-checking which flights to book. (Cat missed the itinerary that we had posted, and booked her flight out of a different airport, so she couldn’t carpool with us on the flight to Seattle).
- If you are an obsessive itinerary planner, your research of the local attractions are appreciated, but please leave the hour-by-hour itinerary at home. It’s not likely to be followed anyways, and everyone who does not travel by strict itinerary will get very stressed out. (Kathy, apparently, is an obsessive travel planner. Everyone else, apparently, is not. This lead to a few heated discussions over group chat about how precisely to allocate our time in Seattle)
- Don’t not plan anything. (The first trip I took to Seattle was with 10 of my friends in a different group, and we made no itinerary whatsoever, since we relied on two of the friends who lived in Seattle to take us around. We ended up not being very effective with our time, and many a morning/late afternoon was spent rolling around in our air mattresses and trying to decide what to do and where to eat)
Friday, September 19
Brian and I flew into Seattle on Friday, and picked up our rental car around 12pm. There were a bunch of other people at the airport who were there for the half marathon as well! I hadn’t realized how large the event was until then (despite the race having sold out its initial Sunday date pretty much immediately ) and the excitement began to kick in.
We drove to packet pick-up straight from the airport. It was in some corner of Washington that was about an hour out of Seattle. Since I’m leaving all race-related details until the post that’s actually about the race, I’ll skip all that for now 🙂
Since we didn’t have to sleep until about 10pm, and we were done with packet pickup by about 5pm (more about why it took so gosh-darn-long in another post) we decided to meet up with our friends at Quinn’s in Capitol Hill for dinner. One of my to-dos every time I go to Seattle is to get foie gras, since it’s illegal in California. Quinn’s is one of the highest rated restaurants that serves foie gras not in some quirky touristy way (i.e. as part of a burger.. what) so of course that was my first choice for Seattle eateries.
We ordered both the foie gras (just served by itself) as well as the foie gras frites. Hands down the frites were the BEST – the foie gras melted right into the sauce, creating this luxurious creamy amazing gravy that was just perfect.
For my main, I ordered the Wild Boar Sloppy Joe. Gotta try all the unconventional foods when on vacation, right? The moment I bit into the burger, I had a confounding confliction of emotion – I both sighed with delicious satisfaction, and cursed the fact that I’d be running at 9am the next morning. The reason? This burger was SPICY. I bit into the accompanying pepper, thinking it’d be a bit like a bell pepper or shishito pepper, and boy was I wrong. Pretty much I spent the rest of dinner alternating between gasping for air / water, and taking gigantic, happy bites.
After dinner, we made a quick stop at Molly Moon’s, because we were in the area anyways, and also, ice cream.
Across the street from Molly Moons, a couple people on bikes were playing what looked like hockey. On their bikes. We scuttled over immediately to gape from the other side of the chain link fence – they were riding around the court with astonishing grace, forward pedaling and back-pedaling to reach for a puck with their hockey sticks! What in the world! It was definitely one of the most impressive things I’d ever seen. So when Brian and I realized that it was time for us to depart to Bellevue to catch some shuteye, it was with utmost regret that we tore our eyes away and said goodbye to our friends.
Saturday, September 20
I’ll skip the details of the race, straight to – Brian sitting on the floor of our AirBnB apartment after getting back to Seattle, wolfing down a pizza flavored bagel that we had bought that morning. Our friends had gone to Paseo’s while we were at our race, and neglected to bring us any of the most reputable sandwiches in Seattle 😦 Terrible friends are terrible.
Since our friends had gone to the Fremont Troll without us in the morning, and had now moved on to Kerry Park (sigh, doing all the things we haven’t done while we’re not able to participate, and then doing all the things we’ve already done after we’re back -_- ) Brian and I lyfted over to Kerry Park to join them.
Then ensued about an hour-long picture taking frenzy (as is always the case when one goes to Kerry Park).
We had not enough time to do anything spectacular before about 4:00pm, which is when we wanted to get in line for Shiro’s Sushi. The restaurant doesn’t actually open until 5:30pm, but since we wanted the highly coveted bar omakase seats, and our group would pretty much take up the entire bar, we had to get there FIRST.
The rest of the group, save Kathy and Ray, decided to head back to the apartment, since Tri’s pants were too tight and he needed to change (lolol). Kathy, Ray, Brian and I decided to head down to the Space Needle and wander around the park there.
And then – Shiro’s.
We did end up being the first ones in line, but not by very long. A queue formed quickly behind us, so we were all relieved that we got there as early as we did. To kill time, Cat brought along her board game, a mafia-style card game called Avalon. We were super obnoxious, pointing at each other and screaming our accusations, and people stopped and stared, but we didn’t really care. It’s actually a pretty fun game, although it’s not one I’d really buy for my own collection.
Michael and Kristy wandered off at some point, to everyone’s dismay, as they were habitual late-arrivers, and the restaurant would not be able to seat us without the entire party present. As the clock ticked closer to 5:30pm, all of us began frantically checking the time, and wondering where the hell the two were. Three of us began calling and texting Michael and Kristy relentlessly, which they all but ignored. We were formulating back up plans – telling them we had a party of 8 instead of 9, or asking Cat’s friend, who came along to say hi but wasn’t actually eating, to stand in as Kristy – when at last, at 5:29pm, they came jogging back. Seriously, those two -_- are just… I can’t even with them.
Then we proceeded to have the most decadent sushi dinner of our lives!
The salmon platter, above, and the tuna platter below, were 2 of my favorites for sure. It was really interesting being able to taste different cuts side by side, as alone I’d never be able to tell chu toro from otoro, but one after the other, the textures are distinct as can be.
I think my favorite was the chu toro – the otoro was a bit TOO rich for my taste.
About one bottle of sake (split between me, Brian, Kathy, Ray, and Phung) and $280 later, we were stuffed to the brim and very very poor. We tried everything in the omakase menu, from conventional fish like mackerel and salmon and tuna, to freshwater eel, amaebi (sweet shrimp! Prepared live – seriously, the chef put the live shrimp on the counter, and they were twitching around!!), and geoduck. It was all delicious, although there was a seasonal mushroom soup in the middle that was okayyyy and very expensive that we all regretted getting.
The group wanted to go drinking afterwards, so Brian and I, despite being exhausted from getting up super early and then running and then walking around all day, decided to follow along to be social. No drinking is complete (apparently) without pregaming, so we dropped by a Walgreens. Everyone except Brian, Cat and I shared a fifth of vodka, which they distributed into redbull cans to avoid having to brownbag. It was so hilariously un-classy 😦 But I guess we’re still at the age where that’s okay..
Our first real stop was Grim’s, which was a suggestion from Michael’s cousin (he had left earlier to get dinner with her, and now she was joining us for drinks). It was a very industrial style bar with old-timey drinks in mason jars. I ordered terribly, and couldn’t stomach my drink at all.
We lounged on the benches and chatted while we all attempted to finish our drinks (to no avail, for most of the ladies). Soon everyone got bored, so we headed over to The Rhino Room, which is a more dancey-like bar space with a strange, offbeat ambiance. I don’t know if it was just a slow day, or if we were there wayyy too early, but we (joined by Eric’s cousins) were almost the only ones there. Cat, Brian and I really didn’t feel like drinking, so after hanging out for a bit, the three of us turned down and walked home.
Sunday, September 21
Sunday started kinda poorly, since Kristy had apparently drunken herself into oblivion, and had to pretty much be carried home and put to bed. Then, Michael, Tri, Jess, Kathy, Ray, and Michael’s cousin proceeded to lock themselves in one of the bedrooms, so they could continue drinking (and by drinking, I mean handle-pulling from a fifth of Ciroc). They were being super loud, particularly Tri and Michael, who were yelling about ‘not being a bitch’ and ‘drink moar’. Brian, Cat, Eric (who joined us to sleep when everyone else came home) and I were in the living room trying to sleep, but it was damn near impossible with all the yelling, hushed though it was. It took Eric getting up to literally yell at them to shut up, and me passively aggressively joining them multiple times to spectate on their chugging “because I couldn’t sleep” to get them to be quiet.
The next morning, because Cat, Brian and I had gotten back so early, we were the only ones who got up all cheery-like in the AM, determined to go out and wander Pike’s Place.
Our first stop was food, obviously. The gang had already gone to Beecher’s on Friday, so we made up for lost time. It’s dang good, more cheesy than most mac&cheeses I’ve ever eaten, and definitely worth a pit stop if you’re already in the area.
We wandered on down the road in search of more food. Along the way we found a shop that had a giant wall of hilarious hot sauces, where we spent way more time than we should have, perusing every bottle:
Then, we joined the always-long queue for Piroshky Piroshky! Who doesn’t love meat, wrapped in puff pastry?? Cat doesn’t, actually, judging from her face in this picture (although she did say that the Salmon Pate Piroshky she got was only okayyy).
Everyone else finally got up and met us at coffee, because you have to drink coffee in what is pretty much the capitol of coffee.
Everyone wanted to get clam chowder, except for Brian and me since we had just eaten mac&cheese and piroshkys, so we headed down to the famous clam chowder place that everyone goes to in Pike’s Place. While everyone else was in line, we goofed around and took pictures of Platform 9 3/4 .. er.. I mean 91 1/2. No wonder Brian couldn’t get in!
Then, we did the obligatory wander down Pike’s Place Farmers Market, where, sipping on fresh made apple cider, we feasted our eyes on all of the merchant’s wares.
And Brian bought me a giant bouquet of flowers, because I always want a giant bouquet of flowers when we’re at Pike’s Place. They’re so cheap (not to mention absolutely gorgeous) you almost HAVE to! I got so many compliments from random passerby 🙂
Our last planned stop was at Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is a Seattle tourist staple. I’d missed it on my first trip to Seattle with my CS friends, and I absolutely love Chihuly’s work in the Bellagio hotel in Vegas, so I was really glad I finally had the opportunity to see the rest of his life’s accomplishments.
It was even more stunning than I had imagined. The museum isn’t very big – if you’re a fast browser, you can probably get through in an hour. But Brian and I are tortoises moving through molasses at museums; our friends are pretty much back in LA before we had seen our fill. The short movie about his process of conceiving, planning, and ultimately creating his masterpieces was intriguing as well, especially since I love watching artisans at work. I wish I’d been able to see his chandeliers dangling above the canals of Venice!
We still had a bit of time to kill before our flights, so we wandered and stumbled upon the Olympic Sculpture Park, which offers a few interactive installations, as well as gorgeous views of Puget Sound and the other surrounding landmarks.
The group flying back to LA actually ended up missing their flight, despite having been dropped off at the train by those of us with rental cars. They had missed the last train that would have gotten them to the airport on time, by mere minutes, and had to camp overnight in the terminal to wait for the next flight with available seats (which wasn’t until 6 or 7am). Those of us returning to SF had booked later flights, so we were comfortably on time.
In retrospect, I kinda wish I hadn’t traveled with such a big group – its incredibly difficult to coordinate the things that everyone wants to do, and everyone’s different traveling styles (wanting to get up early to sightsee vs. wanting to stay out late and get wasted, wanting to make a detailed itinerary vs. wanting to go with the flow) will inevitably cause tension. Not to say I didn’t have fun, because I really did! But honestly I had gotten extremely frustrated as well, which is not something you want to be when on vacation. But it’s a lesson hard learned, and one only learned through experience, so I suppose I’ve learnt it now for next time!