Monday, November 15, 2004

Free Hot Cocoa!

Last Saturday, our 8:30 a.m. hotel wake-up call brought us out of our slumber and I happily went to the door to pick up our free pot of hot cocoa. This was one of my favorite parts of our stay. Who doesn't love hot cocoa, especially free hot cocoa? We took quick showers and hit the streets to start our day.

We headed northwest to Pike Place, the open air market where fishmongers and fruit vendors are set up alongside purveyors of flowers, honey, and other delicacies. There are also restaurants, one of which lured us in with the offer of a pancake and two eggs for just three bucks. What a deal! We headed into the No Boundaries Cafe and found it staffed by a very sweet Turkish husband and wife team. Breakfast, though small, was filling and delicious.

Afterwards, we ambled back to Pioneer Square to catch the Underground Tour. The tour was the brainchild of Bill Spiedel, a Seattle journalist who organized the tours to fight the proposed demolition of Pioneer Square in the mid-1960's. Tour guides provide tongue-in-cheek commentary on the history of Seattle, with fun facts about exploding toilets, the Great Fire of 1889, and how hookers helped fund the city's infrastructure. I thought seeing the hidden underbelly of Seattle would be really exciting, but it was just sort of dank and damp, like an old dirty basement. However, hearing the stories of Seattle's past was totally cool (we're geeks and we know it), so we found it worth our time.

We walked back to Pike Place for lunch; we'd seen a small restaurant, Pike Place Chowder, that sounded perfect, given the weather. We had the four-chowder sampler, with two servings of New England clam chowder, a crab and shrimp clear chowder, and a Southwestern chicken and corn chowder. Even though the surly counter boy with the fauxhawk nearly earned a smack from me for thinking he was too cool to take customer orders, the chowders were utterly amazing. Mmmmmm, chowder...

We then did our best to make it to the Space Needle, but the monorail was broken and the bus only took exact change, thwarting our efforts. Instead, we made do with watching an anti-war, anti-Bush demonstration while chatting with a guy carrying a squirrel on his shoulders. He told us about how he worked for some animal group that helps wounded animals, so we gave him four bucks in exchange for letting us pet the squirrel and take a picture. (That sounds really filthy, but it wasn't like that, I swear.)

After our failed venture to the Space Needle, we thought we'd try to take a ferry out on the Sound. Unfortunately, we were too late for anything but a dinner cruise ($75 a person) so we trudged up the street bitterly, complaining about being tired and missing the boat, so to speak. We decided to try our luck at getting dessert and at that, we were wildly successful. We stopped at Bottega Italiana on First Avenue and had the most incredible gelato ever. Future Mr. Cityelf had banana and pineapple; I had Nutella and chocolate. I am gelato-crazed at this point but haven't yet found any as good as Bottega Italiana's here in Los Angeles.

We were about ready to call it a day, so we went back into Pike Place and bought honey and chocolate covered cherries to bring home. We trekked back to the Madison Renaissance to watch a movie in our room (The Terminal, which sucked) and ate dinner at the restaurant at the top of the hotel. So we ended a very full day with very full bellies and can share with you that Seattle is an excellent city for walking and eating. (Especially eating.)

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