Today’s the day that Carmella returns from her transatlantic trip on the Norwegian Breakaway, the trip we were going to do together (before work needed more hours). We planned on flying back to Seattle, WA, and then heading to our respective cities, but instead we’re going to have a 24-hour rendezvous.
Rather than taking a plane or train, I’m trying the BoltBus, which promises Wi-Fi and electrical power to each seat. That way I can get some online time in whilst traveling.
It’s early in the morning, and I’m up with the sun to take the MAX from home to downtown Portland, where I’ll catch the bus. At this hour the passengers are lethargic, at best, and some are still sleeping. It’s a quiet ride.
On the few blocks of walking between the MAX station and the bus I come across a block of animal sculpture. The one which tickles my fancy the most is this family of bears, with the cubs playing while mother bear pulls a salmon from the stream.
Seattle boasts some more avant garde art pieces as well, like these plant-like lights.
Before long I come across the BoltBus, with a handful of passengers clamoring aboard.
The bus is serviceable, no frills, but as advertised. The AC outlets don’t do a great job of holding plugs, and the seats are uncomfortable in new and unique ways, but it’s only three hours for a cheap fare, so there it is. It’ll do.
The upload is 96 times faster with my phone than the bus’ Wi-Fi, the download is 29 times faster. All the tests were run within a few minutes of each other, on one stretch of road, to minimize variability in the environment.
The cellular performance is all over the place, which confuses me a bit, but as I’m just trying to get a general feeling for their relative speeds it doesn’t bother me much. If I wasn’t so tired I probably would have re-run the tests in a different place on the trip, perhaps closer to a big town.
Note: I’m testing with a Google Pixel 2 XL on an unmetered T-Mobile plan.
The trip is over, and I’m in downtown Seattle, in Chinatown. There’s dragons on the telephone poles, guarding the borders of the International District.
I’m going to race Carmella to the SeaTac arrivals building: she’s still airborne and I’m on the King County Metro Transit “Link” light rail system.
We connect on the sky-bridge between the Link and the arrivals building. She’s jet-lagged in addition to tired from being tense about flying. I turn around and lead her back the way I came, taking the Link downtown, towards our hotel.
The Grand Hyatt Seattle does us well: our corner suite is very comfortable, cozy, well-appointed in a minimally luxurious way, with a nice view of the urban ‘scape.
The bathroom is wonderful, hitting all the notes of a great space for a bath or shower, with a nicely-proportioned sink area. It’s got a good feeling to it, neither too bare nor overdone. Good job, designer.
We walk the few blocks to the Pike Place Market, a tourist mecca with some nice foodie attractions. We take a hasty selfie; it amuses me to have evidence of us at well-known places, and these selfies make searching the photostream that much easier (for places I want to recommend to others).
What about the hat? Carmella picked it up for me in Country Cork, Ireland, last week. I’ve never owned an Irish tweed flat cap, which makes getting one in a color I love just that much better. I’m pretty sure she’s pointing at the cap, although I concede it might’ve been the market signage.
Carmella loves the tourist shopping, so we dive deep! My favorite finds of the afternoon are these Archie McPhee mints:
- middle child mints – put them in your pocket and forget about them
- narcissist mints – all about you
- grump mints – makes complaining even easier
Our foodie high point comes as we stumble across The Crumpet Shop. We arrive as they’re closing, and running out of crumpets, so we’re offered “employee crumpets”, the less beautiful crumpets that they don’t sell to customers. We’re ecstatic, we came for the taste, not the look of the crumpets. Our choice of toppings: the maple butter.
It’s amazing! The crumpet is both soft and crunchy, the maple butter is sweet and flavorful. Win!
The shop’s staff are superb: friendly and enthusiastic about their products, their quality, their provenance. As the customers slowly filter out we chat about all the things, have a chance to try their tasty chai, and make plans to return someday for their savory crumpets.
We’re re-energized, and spend more time shopping the trinkets and the foodie items. There’s fresh fish that makes we wish we had a grill, and many cooked items that becon for tasting.
We walk until we can’t, then it’s back to the hotel. I want to take a moment to call out the excellent design of the bathtub faucet. Usually they’re placed to poke out of one side, making it uncomfortable or impossible for two people to sit facing one-another. This faucet lays flat and is off-center, making it a much better solution.
The next day we return to the scene of the shopping and do some more. I’m amused by this adaptation of Star Wars as a Shakespearean play.
These coffee mugs would look great around the office.
Earrings; you can’t have too many.
Now it’s time for the good stuff, the foods. We spot a long line, a really long line, so I queue while Carmella judges the attraction. It turns out to be Piroshky, Piroshky Bakery, which has over 5000 reviews, many glowing. The two savory flavors we want are sold out — it is late in the day, after all — but the ones we get instead are very good.
We get a dessert piroshky called “Oscar’s Star“, a pastry topped with chocolate, sweet cream cheese, and sprinkled with hazelnuts. It’s really tasty, and I’m not usually much impressed with sweets. Also, I love this photo.
I think Carmella’s favorite find of the trip was this Daily Mood flipchart. It won out over a butterfly umbrella that changes color when wet.
I take Carmella to SeaTac and head back downtown to the BoltBus. Across the street from the bus are these two lights, which, to me at least, look nothing more than Daleks. That has to be deliberate, right?
As I’m about to board the BoltBus out of Seattle I post this selfie to Facebook. Why do I mention such a mundane thing? Because of what happens next…
…a friend — who works for the transit system — posts this reply, an image entitled “Suspicious character sighted at the Sea-Tac rail station”. From the photo taken outside, and the approximate time it would take me to walk from the nearest station to the bus stop, he was able to scour the transit’s video surveillance feeds and find me.
He found another image, which he posted with the title “Waving to unseen accomplice”. When I explained that it was Carmella to whom I was waving, he went back to the feeds and found us entering the station with her suitcases…
…exiting at the SeaTac station…
…and us purposefully striding towards the departure gates. How amazingly cool is that? It turns out that big brother is watching, but luckily he’s a friend.
So ends our 24 hours in Seattle. Carmella arrived safely back in Edmonton. I made it to the Bolt Bus with moments to spare, and back to Portland without incident (or electrical power to my seat, but I solved that deficiency by trying to nap).
Thanks for coming along. Until next time…