One of the great joys of having friends and family visit is having the opportunity to show off what a truly great city we live in. Unfortunately, one of the great pains of having friends and family visit in the summer is that the city is frickin’ up to it’s proverbial neck in tourists. Every day, cruise ship after cruise ship disgorges hundreds upon thousands of tourists who, while great for the city and local business coffers, tend to make local travel around the city a royal pain. Normally we tend to stay away from the tourist spots during this time of plenty, but when family is in town you have to bite the bullet. So with a 30-30 round firmly lodged in my molars, we took the boys down to the waterfront for a trip to the aquarium, the Market, and then lunch at The Crab Pot.
First up, the aquarium. I won’t even go into the mess that was traffic on Alaskan Way. One of the cruise ships was loading, and the snarl was unreal. After a bit of honking, praying and general good-hearted cussing, I managed to get to the parking garage. I pulled off a miracle, pulling into a space designed for a grocery cart, and we headed to the aquarium. For those who have not yet gone to the Seattle Aquarium, I really do recommend it. It’s a wonderful place to lose yourself for a couple of hours. The local divas of the aquarium, the sea otters, were as entertaining as always. We caught them napping on their backs, lazily floating around like old men at a pool party. One even held on to what looked to be a small frisbee, apparently dreaming of younger days at the beach with his buddies and cases of Bud Light.
As much as I enjoy it, the aquarium does mess with me a bit in one respect. It’s a little odd to be walking about, seeing fish and marine mammals locked in man-made enclosures, when there are some of the same animals roaming free right outside. Ah well, again, the Yin Yang of zoos and aquariums.
After seeing all those wonderful sea creatures, it was time to gnaw on a few. We headed over to that bastion of tourist seafood dining experiences, The Crap Pot, along with what seemed to be the entire population of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Okay, you caught me, I mean The Crab Pot, sorry. Here’s the thing. I’m totally, 100% spoiled by the fresh seafood we get here. I love going down to Central Market and getting fresh halibut. I’m completely blown away by Dungeness crab that just hours before was at the bottom of the Sound wondering why there was a cage around his dinner. I’ve become a seafood snob, and I’m totally fine with that. So it was with some reservations that I agreed to go to Pot. We got 4 of the Alaskan combos. King, Snow and Dungeness crab, sausage, corn, potatoes, mussels, clams and shrimp. Beth and the boys loved it. For me though, ugh. First off, what is with the frickin explosion of paprika over everything? I mean look at those pieces of corn, and that was some of the lighter bits. I still have stained fingers. The crab was okay, but the Dungeness tasted like it was frozen, a crime given the time of year. The mussels were very good, I’ll give the place that. All in all though, there are much better, and less expensive places in Seattle to experience our kick ass seafood. Enough said.
Next up was a walk up to Pike Place Market. Beth wanted the boys to see the fish tossing, and despite the crowds, I’m glad we did. This is another place that in the off season is a great place to spend a day. During the middle of cruise ship hell, it’s…well, hell. Typical snippets of conversations: “Honey, did you see that guy throw fish? I thought they only did that on TV!” , “See, this is the place where Anthony Bourdain comes. I wonder if he’s around?” , “Don’t look at the street people kids, you’ll only encourage them” , “Can we go back to the ship now? This place smells like pee” , and my personal favorite, “Can you tell me the restaurant where Sally faked her orgasm?” Seems some folks confuse Sleepless in Seattle with When Harry Met Sally. Silly tourists. Still, through it all, the Market was a joy. I’ve seen worse crowds, and the boys seemed to like it. We walked on through the street venders and stopped at the park for a bit. One plus I feel I need to point out. We were only approached by one person looking for a handout, and he was very cordial about it. He asked once, then moved on through the crowd. There are times, especially on as nice a day as yesterday was, that the panhandler to visitor ration is almost 1:1. Either the bounty was elsewhere this day, or the increased police patrols are working. After listening to a guitar player/singer mimic Alpha Blondy for a bit, I dropped a five in his cup, and we headed back to the car. I’ve said this before, but please, if you stop and enjoy a busker’s performance, give a little. They really do earn their money.
Even after fighting I-5 traffic at 4 pm on a Friday, I can say it was a day well spent. As Marc said heading back to the car, “You’re right Dad, Seattle is pretty cool.” Could not have said it better myself.