Last weekend, the Krass family converged in Seattle – Jeff and me from Portland, Rob and Amy from Chicago, and Bob and Chris from Fountain Hills, Ariz. The visit marked the first time we were all together since Christmas, plus it spurred a milestone for Jeff and me: It was the first time we traveled via the Amtrak Cascades train along the coast.
The train ride rocked. Unlike the slower-than-driving, constantly-delayed Amtrak routes that zigzag across Michigan and surrounding states, the Portland-to-Seattle route glides from city to city in less than four hours, offers beautiful views along the way, and costs less (as long as you book >14 days in advance) than gas and parking for a car commute. The train features a dining car, bar car, free wifi, and much cushier chairs in coach than you’d find on an airplane these days. Totally enjoyable.
We met the others at 4:30 p.m. at our home base for the weekend, the Renaissance Seattle Marriott, and got the party started right away. We grabbed drinks at the mod Suite410 just down the street before discovering one of the coolest areas of Seattle I’ve ever seen: the bustling, slightly hipster neighborhood of Belltown. We stopped for St. George cocktails at Rob Roy – voted one of Esquire‘s Best Bars in America for 2012 – and snagged sushi at Wasabi Bistro across the road before calling it a night.
Saturday = Pike Place Market day. Of course. It’s the one must-see stop for every Seattle visit, even just to remind yourself how ridiculously cheap and amazing the flower vendors are. We bopped around, from Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub to Russian bakery Piroshky Piroshky, from clam chowder stands to The Confectional cheesecake shop, all the way over to President Obama’s favorite Fran’s Chocolates, where Bob bought us girls elegant boxes of smoked salt caramels. Amazeballs. After stuffing ourselves with goodies all morning, we hopped a 35-minute ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, a serene, woodsy, 10-mile-long island in the Puget Sound. We meandered the streets, stopped for lunch at Doc’s Marina Grill, and headed back to the Emerald City. After a dinner at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar – which was decent in the food department but excelled in atmosphere with its soaring wine tower wrapped by a spiral staircase – we crashed again for the night.
Sunday morning = water taxi ride to Salty’s Waterfront Seafood Grill for brunch. (Do you see a pattern here that food and drink provided the majority of our main entertainment?) Best. Brunch. Ever. And since it’s directly across from downtown Seattle on Elliott Bay, it delivers incredible views of the city while you’re noshing on Dungeness crab legs (like Jeff) and chocolate fountain-drenched Oreos (like me). Since our calves ached from the miles of hiking up and down Seattle’s hills, we all decided to relax and catch a movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. Two thumbs up, and that comes from a non-Trekkie. Jeff and I then hustled to catch our train back to Portland, and felt the familiar stab of sadness and homesickness for the Midwest that accompanies every goodbye with our families. At least my box of Fran’s caramels helped chase away the blahs on the train ride home. 🙂