Sunday, August 22, 2010
Seamless in Seattle
Last week, Mr. Wonderful and I set out to explore two hotspots in the Pacific Northwest. When we discovered that Mr. W had never been to Seattle and I'd never been to Vancouver, BC (or Canada at all for that matter) we knew we needed to plan a trip.
My goodness, what beautiful cities they both were.
During my trip to Seattle 7 or 8 years ago, I stayed with friends and didn't really stop to appreciate the full lay of the land. The thing that struck me about the city this time (and Vancouver too, actually) was just how well-thought and cohesive everything was. You can walk everywhere. There's art everywhere. And beautiful architecture. There's public transportation and coffeeshops and interesting boutiques on every block. It's convenient. And it's amazingly clean.
On the Seattle Underground Tour, we learned that the city wasn't always like this. Apparently the founders of Seattle initially built everything on top of sawdust from the local mill, causing it all to sink after while. They made a few more attempts—at one point elevating the streets above the shops and sidewalks, so people had to climb up and down ladders to switch levels—but failed until they finally made a vow to "do it all the right way." And do right they did.
In addition to the general chicness of the city, Mr. W and I got to have dinner with the eternally hilarious, charming and chic Miss Sizzle and her Mr. Darcy. We went to a great wine bar/restaurant called The Purple Cafe, filling our tummies with cheese and pork medallions and beef tenderloin and chocolate. That Sizzle has great taste! What a fun night.
When we drove to Vancouver Saturday morning, I was again blown away by just how consistent and well planned the cityscape was. LA isn't like that. It's patch-worky and mixed up; there are trash and hoodlums on the streets, with pockets of greatness tucked between freeways and strip malls. Don't get me wrong: I love LA. I love its mini-metropolises and its suburbs. I love downtown and Hollywood and Pasadena. It would just be really cool if everything felt like it was designed with a plan in mind. Like it all went together. Like it was meant to have people traveling its streets (not in bumper-to-bumper traffic).
Even the food in Vancouver was impressively orchestrated. We went to a sushi-esque restaurant and they delivered a full forest-like set piece to our table with our sashimi attached. That takes some brain power and nimble fingers. By the way, the fish was fantastic. I had my first few mussels there. Wow. Seriously delicious.
At various points, Mr. W and I both said to each other, "I could probably live here." He's lived in Vancouver before, so it wasn't a huge stretch. And I think the gorgeous weather probably influenced our opinions quite a bit.
But as much as I loved both of our stops, I felt a sense of relief when we returned back to the stifling streets of Burbank this afternoon. They may be lined with bits of litter and big commercial retail chains, but they lead the way home.