The combination of four hour’s sleep in the last 48 hours, jet-lag and three glasses of wine at dinner had me desperately in need of coffee.
No problem. I am in Seattle – home of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee Shops on every corner, or so I was told.
As I had awakened way before the 6:30 a.m. opening of the restaurant in my hotel, I took to the drizzly streets in search of a cappuccino donned in a raincoat I haven’t worn in over 10 years. After my usually trustworthy Blackberry’s GPS failed repeatedly to find me a nearby Starbucks and I was wondering for over an hour, I finally asked a woman on the street where the closest Starbucks was. Her puzzled look made me nervous. Seriously! This is Seattle.
The kind woman informed me that she didn’t know where a Starbucks was but pointed me in the direction of Uptown Espresso, which was blissfully close. Finally, I was able to obtain my much needed jolt of caffeine.
I am in Seattle to attend the first International Food Blogger Conference but this is also the home of my sister and her family, so I arrived a few days early.
If I have any claim to fame at all it is that I am the sister of award wining novelist Katherine O’Neal (author of historical romance novel that takes place in exotic locales around the world) and sister-in-law of noted film critic and author William Arnold (former critic for the Seattle P.I. and author of Shadowland and China Gate) both of whom are reluctant and reclusive local celebrities. They have lived in Seattle for years and years and yesterday gave me a tour of the city like no other.
We circled the entire city, seeing the usual Seattle sites – the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, The Arboretum, The University of Washington, the Waterfront but along the way they pointed out little spots that are not on any normal tour. Such as the apartment where Kurt Cobain bought his heroin and the headstone marking the grave retail legend John Nordstrom (Bruce and Brandon Lee are buried there too, but for me Nordstrom’s grave was somewhat of a holy grail experience).
There is nothing more fascinating than touring a beautiful city with someone who loves that city and is truly knowledgeable. I got a behind-the-scenes look at this Emerald City that was peppered with lots of comments such as, “That is where so-and-so lives, he was Paul Newman’s best friend…” and, “This recording studio is the birthplace of the alternative music movement that brought us Nirvana and Pearl Jam” and, “Would you like to see Francis Farmer‘s West Seattle home?” As my sister is also a Celiac, tons of gluten-free restaurants and bakeries were pointed out to me along the way.
As we drove up and down hills, around waterfronts and over bridges I also got a history lesson of this fascinating city that has seen its share of boom and bust. From lumber to gold to technology, Seattle has ridden the highs and lows of the major economic cycles in the past century and a half. It is a city that seems to be able to adapt and yet maintain its original charm.
It seems I’ve seen just about everything here in Seattle except a Starbucks.
Where’s the Coffee? – Simply Gluten Free
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