Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Seattle: outdoors

May 7, 2013
One of the most exciting parts of moving to San Francisco for me was the opportunity to explore the western half of the country. While Ben had visited 44 of the 50 states, I had only been west of the Mississippi three times: to Texas when I was 6 months old, to San Diego when I was 6 and had the chicken pox and to San Francisco when I was 10. Last month Ben was going to Seattle for work (his company headquarters are there) and I decided to tag along and see Washington state for the first time. (For anyone keeping track, I've now made it to Nevada and Washington. Soon I'll be able to add Oregon to the list — more on that later.)

With Ben at work, I had three days to explore on my own. The first day the rain mercifully held off and I was able to spend most of the day outdoors exploring the waterfront, Pike's Place and the Space Needle.

Seattle was a fun city to photograph

The newest addition to the waterfront, built in 2012.

Pike's Place sign from the back. 
Pike's Place is Seattle's famous public market, chock full of produce vendors, eclectic shops and fishmongers. I took a pleasant stroll through on our first day in town, stopped to enjoy some chocolate-covered cherries and returned the next day for chicken udon and sanctuary from the rain. But when Ben and I went on Saturday, the crowd was so unpleasant that we only stayed long enough to inspect some fresh salmon.
It's been a long time since I traveled by myself. In Argentina, Ben and I never split up while traveling (we did while in Buenos Aires, but we considered that our home). After I'd walked the waterfront and explored Pike's Place, I wasn't sure what to do. If Ben had been there, I might have spent more time tasting the free food at Pike's Place, but that wasn't nearly as much fun without someone to share it with. Instead, I decided to wander aimlessly.

Not far from Pike's Place, I found a plaza with olive oil and wine tastings. I cook with olive and vinegar basically every day but I've never really understood the fuss over fancy olive oil. Indeed, when I first tried the olive oils at the tasting, it was no more exciting than if I had poured myself little bowls of olive oil at home. Fortunately I asked for help and discovered the store's real secret: their olive oils and balsamic vinegars are infused with all sorts of flavors. Garlic, tangerine, blood orange, herbs de provence, lime, cinnamon pear and so on. The secret is in how you pair the two. I brought Ben back on Saturday and we brought home a garlic olive oil, an herbs de provence olive oil and a tangerine balsamic.

Inspired by my success at the olive oil tasting, I decided to give the wine tasting across the way a chance. I figured I could learn more about Washington wines, about which I know little. In Sonoma, a wine tasting costs between $5-$15 and usually buys you five one-ounce pours (though some places are more generous). You're often in and out in about 20 minutes. At this Seattle winery, each pour was at least two and maybe three ounces. The other patrons were basically treating the winery as a bar, sitting for at least an hour chatting with friends. Not wanting to get drunk at a wine tasting (tasting!) by myself, I sipped slowly and enjoyed my book. The wine wasn't that good and the pourer wasn't interested in chatting, but it just reminded me of the number one rule of traveling alone: never go anywhere without a good book (in this case, "The Orphan Master's Son").

Wine tasting behind me, I continued my aimless wandering which eventually landed me at the Space Needle.

The Space Needle and the Experimental Music Project, designed by Frank Gehry.
Built for the World's Fair in 1962, the Space Needle was the highest structure in Seattle at the time at 605 feet. The current tallest building, the Columbia Center, measures 937 feet. Having checked off several major attractions, I headed back to our gloriously comfortable hotel.

Seattle sunset, captured by Ben.
Walking around Seattle, it's hard to miss the preponderance of public art. I didn't photograph nearly all of what we saw, but here are a few pieces.
- Steph

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