Monday, November 3, 2014

Seattle Day 1

Seattle Day 1
The Panama Hotel - Pike Place Market at Night

Once the car was dropped off at the airport, it was time to find the light rail so I could check in to the Panama Hotel and drop my bags off and explore the city of Seattle.

Now After using  the light rail for a few days I got the hunch that paying for the privilege of traveling aboard its clean, easily accessible and the nifty mode of travel that it is, is done so mainly on the honor system, but I digress. It wasn't hard to find and it was only a few stops until I reached the International District/Chinatown stop; the location of my hotel.

Did I mention though that while only a few short blocks from the light rail station, it's up a rather large hill? Well it is. And then of course there was the matter of going up two flights of stairs at the Panama Hotel to check in.

After going up those stairs I waited a couple of minutes and then I was greeted and helped by a very flustered, but friendly staff member who started my check-in process, which is done entirely by hand with no computers (and yes that means taking down credit card information by hand and making photo copies of licenses and such for records and security). While I was a little concerned, I didn't mind that part so much since the Panama Hotel is a historic landmark and at one point in history the hotel was a way station for Japanese American citizens (this particular section of the International District was once known as Japantown) who were egregiously placed in internment camps during World War II. In fact one of the things that the Panama Hotel is known for is that when the hotel was purchased and reopened, the owner found the belongings from many  of the families who used the hotel as storage for their belongings until they could return home from the camps. Suitcases, art work and other memorabilia were simply frozen in time, waiting for their owners, many of which never came back to claim them.

Now back to the check-in process, when I arrived unfortunately the rooms were not cleaned and ready for a new occupant, but I got to look at the available rooms and make my selection. I was given a key, left my bags in the room and went out to explore a bit, grab some dinner and hop on a night ghost tour of the Pike Place Market.

The Panama Hotel is more so in the style of a hostel/old style European accommodation with a shared bathroom facility for the floor. Each room comes with a sink though for your basic needs.

Deciding to stretch my legs I went for a walk and as I found my way towards grub and the Pike Place Market I noticed there were lots homeless folk walking/chilling/sleeping about, especially in the Pioneer Square area. In fact just Google homeless in Seattle and you'll receive thousands of hits about the issue and what you can do to help

Eventually or rather accidentally I found the famed Pike Place market at a time when the crowds were long gone, leaving the market to look more like a ghost town than a top tourist attraction, which was quite enjoyable when juxtaposed to the madness I would later witness in my trip. I walked up and down a bit exploring and snapping photos before I decided on a place to eat.

I ended up having a tasty and affordable meal with a view and a cold glass of Naughty Nellie beer at Lowell's.

Before venturing off to start my night ghost tour of the famed Seattle market, I made a stop off at the more infamous and sticky landmark that is the Gum Wall, which is exactly what it sounds like, a wall covered in gum. And although I myself am not a fan of chewing gum, I commandeered a few pieces from a family member from home, brought it out, chewed it well and stuck it on the wall to make my colorful and minty mark.

After a little sight seeing and well another glass of delicious and refreshing Naughty Nellie Pike Place beer, it was time for my Ghost Alley Espresso Night Market Ghost Tour. I would also like to preface this by saying how incredibly nice the staff of both Ghost Alley Espresso and the folks who run the tour are. The barista who served me a yumtastic salted nut latte actually remembered me two days later when I inadvertently stopped by her stall at the market to shop. I also ended up having an online ticket purchasing issue, which I was helped out with at the cafe and on the tour I went.

Along the way you get to hear some fun ghost stories and a whole bunch of neat history that surrounds the market and the early story of Seattle. One story in particular that was fun concerned an infamous woman by the name of Nellie (the namesake of the Pike Place Brewery's Naughty Nellie beer) and her gentleman callers. I highly suggest taking this fun and informative tour if you can, not only do you get to learn about the seedier side of Seattle and the markets long history, but the fun ghost stories and the ambiance of an empty market make it complete.

When all was said and done and my camera's memory card was nearly full from Pike Place Market night shots, I hailed a cab back to the Panama Hotel and delightfully collapsed into bed.

Next up, Day 2 in Seattle

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