Sunday, August 29, 2021

Weekending in Seattle

View from the Balcony
I tend to celebrate my birthday by not being around. Often the Lovely Bride and I decamp for some hotel, like the Salish Lodge or Alderbrook, where we get massages and I can sit in a comfortable chair and read. I've spent previous birthdays kayaking on the Bellevue Slough and riding in a zeppelin over Everett. This year, the usual haunts were already sewn up before we could make reservations, and I did not want to travel far. 

And so we chose the Edgewater in downtown Seattle. The Edgewater is a luxury shoreline hotel built over the water before they stopped letting people do that, and the Beatles once stayed there once, which they don't let anyone forget. The interior has been redone a couple times, the most recent in 1990 or so, and has a PNW/Frank Lloyd Wright/Rock and Roll vibe to it. The rooms were large, comfortable, and most importantly for our case, had balconies overlooking the Sound which were perfect for reading books, drinking wine, and watching the sun go down.

The first night out we walked to Ohana, a favorite sushi spot in Belltown (an area north of downtown Seattle, which they are trying to rebrand as "Uptown"). Walking was the exercise of the weekend, even though it meant challenging a particularly steep hill on Wall Street. The food was great, the drinks were strong, and we ended up getting back to the hotel in time to watch the sun drop down in a cloudy sky.

Sudden neighbor
Then, in the early hours of next morning, the cruise ship arrived. The Edgewater is right next to the Port of Seattle pier, where the cruise ships dock, and in the morning our window had a nice view of the Celebrity Millenium, registered in Valletta, Malta, which had snuck in around 5 AM. Despite its sudden arrival, we breakfasted and headed for the aquarium, a short walk south.

The Seattle Aquarium is very nice, but always had a vibe of "work in progress" to me, set up within a renovated warehouse on the docks. It keeps that vibe, since it is currently working on a "ocean pavilion" across the street in the shadow of the Pike Place Market's parking structure. High points were moon jellies, a particularly cranky-looking octopus, harbor seals, and sea otters (the latter in the midst of second breakfast, dining on crabs). Everyone was masked, but there was an onslaught of children, which made me feel a little uncomfortable.

For lunch walked over to Place Pigalle, in the aforementioned Pike Place market. Place Pigelle is a small restaurant down a hallway right next to where they throw the fish. Light meal of mussels and soup (French onion in my case). Good view of the Sound, and we were serenaded by an accordion and violinist in the courtyard below. I went down to tip them and found that the musicians were wearing full cat-headed masks.So, yeah, Seattle.

View of the city, without cruise ship

Afternoon was the SAM - Seattle Art Museum, which was hosting an Monet exhibit of his work at Etretat.  Etretat is a fishing village on the English Channel that in Monet's time was becoming a tourist destination. Monet (pre-Lillies) was seeking to rekindle his vision, and went to the village to paint the landmark cliffs in ways different than all the other artists of the times were painting them.

As an exhibit I really liked this a lot, primarily because it got really down into the details with the process of painting of the "open air" school. This involved such things as where Monet got his canvases, and the importance of the recent invention of tubes of pigment from America that gave the Impressionists the ability to take their work on the road. The works themselves were small for the space they provided - usually such shows are jam-packed, but this one had a lot of bare walls and creative use of empty space. That's OK, because it gave them the chance to really get into the bits and pieces of the creation of art, how it fit into Monet's life at that moment, what other artists were doing, and his technique and technology. I enjoyed it tremendously.

The Lovely Bride
The SAM was also masked and generally less crowded. Many of the galleries were closed and empty at this stage, and the Monet was the major draw. Still, after surveying the area, the Lovely B and made the long trudge back to the hotel, and sat on the back porch as the huge cruise ship undocked and was gone before 5 PM. We had a very pricey, very good dinner at the hotel's restaraunt, repaired to our dockside porch to the finish the wine and watched the sun go down.

And the next morning there was a NEW cruise ship parked outside our window, but we breakfasted, stopped for the groceries at Pike Place (also seriously masked up, but crowded) for smoked salmon, crab, and bread.

And so we return. It was a good weekend, and I got a bit of reading done. And that's how I spent my 64th birthday.

More later,