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.


LesleyG said...

I love Vancouver. I've always called it the New York of the West. Great there. And Seattle, too, but that's especially so if you get to hang with Ms. Sizzle!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Awww, what a great weekend away. I love Seattle and Vancouver. Plus, you got to see Sizzle!!!! I spent a summer in Seattle and have family in Vancouver. Minus the rain, I could live in either city ... in a heartbeat!

Sizzle said...

I am SO GLAD we got to hang out! It was a treat to spend time with you and Mr. W. Seattle (and Vancouver) are awesome cities. I'm happy to hear you approve. Come back any time for more wine and hanging out. ;-)

GeekHiker said...

Well, you know my feelings about Vancouver from February. Funnily enough, I saw enough of the city to see the warts (homeless, traffic issues, etc.) in spite of the Olympic Organizers attempts to hide it all. Nevertheless, a fantastic place.

As for L.A., take a look at a history of the Southern California area. There's good reasons why L.A. grew the way that it did, and why its downtown is so far from its port...

blakspring said...

i LOVE seattle. if it wasn't for the rain (and how badly my mood gets affected by it, not to mention my already-low blood pressure getting even lower)i could soooo live there.
vancouver was really nice too. you are so good about posting pictures so fast. i still havent posted mine and it's been 4 weeks. although there were so many homeless folks, especially around Gastown, that ron russo started calling it Bumtown.