Tuesday, August 24, 2010

manic monday

Monday was our last full day in Seattle, and it was also one of our busiest.  For breakfast, we headed to Top Pot Doughnuts' downtown location for some "hand-forged" doughnuts.  It's a nice airy shop with lots of seating and cool bookshelves.

I've had two specific doughnut (donut?) cravings the last few years: the cherry-glazed doughnuts that we used to get at Dawn Donuts in Lansing when I was a kid (before it closed) and the plain cake doughnuts that I've gotten more recently at Uncle John's Cider Mill in St. Johns, MI.  With the exception of the occasional creatively-flavored doughnut at Dynamo Donuts, I really don't eat many of them at home in SF.  Probably a good thing.  Something about the normal doughnut store that I pass on the walk to Noe Valley just doesn't appeal to me—too greasy, I think.
Anyway, all of this is to say that Top Pot was a good opportunity to satisfy that craving for a good, classic doughnut.  Since they didn't have cherry ones, I went for the plain old fashioned.  I'm not sure what the difference is between the "old fashioned" and a plain circular cake doughnut, but the old fashioned ones are more aesthetically interesting.  I got a mocha to go with it, and it was the perfect combination.  The doughnut was fresh and cakey, with a slightly crisp exterior, and it had just enough sugar to stand up to the mocha without being too sweet.
Steve got an apple fritter.  It was good, but it wasn't going to win any beauty contests.  (Steve probably wouldn't either, but he does just fine.)
The walk to Top Pot was the one time during the trip when I wished I had brought my umbrella.  Since I hadn't used it much up to that point, I figured I'd be fine without it.  It was only kind of borderline raining, but by time we got to the doughnut shop, my hair was sticking to my face a little and my white jacket was smudged with black from the strap of my camera bag.  Thankfully, it had stopped drizzling by the time we finished our breakfast, so we didn't have to walk back in the rain too.
The game plan for mid-morning and lunch was to do Pike Place Market.  We were staying so close, and we had spent some of Saturday morning there, but we didn't really feel like we had fully explored the place yet.  Plus, we hadn't actually found the gum wall on Saturday morning.  We had narrowed it down to a specific section of Post Alley, however, so it was pretty easy to find on Monday morning.
The gum wall is just what it sounds like: a wall with gum.  You can see that it's right outside Market Theatre, so it was most likely started by people waiting in line there.  From humble beginnings, it's become a popular—and disgusting—tourist stop.  We weren't the only ones there taking pictures, even on a weekday.
We also had to find the home of the famous flying fish.  We gathered that said place was Pike Place Fish, mostly because we caught sight of one in the air.  There was a small crowd watching, but no more fish flew.  They only throw them if someone actually orders one, and tourists don't buy too many whole fish.  They don't travel very well.
We walked around the main level of the main building next, which we had mostly missed on Saturday.  There were plenty of flowers and fruit to go with all the seafood.  On the side of the main building and outside, there were also several vendors selling craft-type items.
Heading toward lunch, we passed the "original" Starbucks.  (The original moved to this location in 1976, after 5 years at a different spot about a block away.)  We definitely didn't get coffee there, since we had better places on our list.  I wasn't planning on taking pictures of it either, but there was this trio playing outside.  Because they were so awesome, I made an exception.
First on my lunch list was Beecher's for some of their macaroni & cheese.  It uses their Flagship cheddar and "Just Jack" cheese, and most people seem to like it.  We got a 16oz. container to share.  It was quite good, but I didn't think it was the "World's Best" as they claimed.  It's got nothing on Thomas Keller's macaroni gratin from the Bouchon Cookbook.
I was thinking that we'd share some mac & cheese and still be hungry for something else.  So we'd go get some chowder or some dessert from one of the other places at the market.  That didn't happen.  We were full enough from just the pasta.  That's the downside of going on vacations that have such an emphasis on food: you're never hungry enough to eat everything you want to try.
Instead of more eating at Pike Place, we left for some sightseeing at Seattle Center.  We made the very wise decision of taking the monorail there, since it was only a few blocks to the Westlake end, and it saved us about a mile of extra walking.  (It was wise, because I spent half of the Seattle trip with tired and aching feet from all the walking we were doing.)
Riding the monorail meant that we got to Seattle Center pretty quickly, and I got a few extra pictures in.  It was also cool to "experience" the Experience Music Project building by riding through a tunnel in it.
When we got off the train, we were next to the EMP building, near the foot of the Space Needle.  Cue obligatory Space Needle picture.

We didn't bother going up.  Steve doesn't like heights, and I've heard that it's overrated for the amount of money you have to pay.  I was happy to stay at the bottom and take pictures of the thing.  If we had had more time in town, I might have tried to go to the Columbia Center, which has a much cheaper viewing deck.  From there, one can take pictures with the Space Needle actually in the shot.
There were plenty of pictures to be taken from the ground anyway.  The little amusement park there looked mostly closed, but I was glad to get a chance to take some artsy-vintage-type shots of the rides.
long line of cars & carousel (not up on flickr)
Fun, huh?
Once I was done dragging Steve around that area, we walked around the Experience Music Project building a little.  No, we didn't go in; we just walked around the building.  It's a Frank Gehry design, so the outside itself is pretty awesome.
Inside, there's the music museum and the science fiction museum.  Those probably would have been pretty interesting, but we had limited time and other places to be.  The Queen Anne neighborhood awaited us.

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