Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle, WA and back.
A long distance overnight train trip and staying several
nights in a nice hotel in a leading city's downtown.
First Day in Seattle
Friday November 15, 2019
Sunrise in Seattle, finding a great breakfast place.
Text and Photos by Robin Bowers
author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed
without the author's consent
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in twenty minutes" was the shout that aroused me from a deep
sleep. My goodness, it is still dark out but we knew the reason
for this early call. We were to gather our belongings, leave the
train, walk to and into the station and then on to the bus bays
on the other side of the station. After coming to a stop at the
station, everyone was rushing about gathering our things. Roger
helped Grandma with her luggage and getting off the train and as
this was her destination she was at her stop. Russell and I were
the only ones on the lower level continuing on to Seattle,
making us the only ones to ride from end to end tho not all the
way on rails. As Russell was gathering our belongings, he forgot
something in the roomette and it was left behind.
As we left the train, we were
meet with a Portland shower. Water in our hair with sleep in our
eyes, we had to walk the whole length of the train and at the
last coach car we could turn and walk into the station. Inside
the station, the Amtrak agent directed us to the buses. The
shower continued as we loaded the bags in the bottom and boarded
the bus. It was an orderly but sleepy loading with all of us
trying to find a seat. Shortly the Amtrak agent announced this
bus was going to Seattle non-stop and then apologized profusely
for our delays and inconvenience. She and several others said we
all should call Customer Relations and tell them your
experience. She then passed out water and snack packs. She left
the bus, the door closed then darkness enveloped the weary
After leaving a downtown of offices and
factories, it was across the Willamette River minutes later and
then shortly crossing the Columbia River and into Washington
State. The rain continued while the traffic was starting to pick
up in the darkness going northbound on Interstate 5. Next and
last stop Seattle.
I was able to get a few naps in before day
break which was near Tacoma when I saw the dark sky and clouds.
Welcome to the rainy Northwest. The traffic was becoming the
morning rush hour commute and a mirror image on traffic on I-5
in Southern California. We could see the two stadiums from the
freeway so the station was near. The driver was adroit in
getting the big bus through the narrow downtown streets. We
unloaded the bus quickly and then we were standing on Seattle
ground at 9am, just 12 hours late. But we were safe and sound
and excited to see the city.
Passenger loading and unloading zone in front of railroad
After collecting ourselves
and our baggage, the next task was to get a taxi and a ride to
the Warwick Hotel. With several groups waiting for a ride and
no taxis is sight, Russell called for a cab. He said the
dispatcher was in India and wanted the street address of our
location. We had only been in town a couple of minutes and had
no answer. Can't you just tell the driver there is a pick-up
at the train station would be enough information. While he was
talking overseas to get a local ride here in Seattle, I
wandered off to take some photos of the station.
Century Link Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks football team.
Closeness is great for riding the train to the game.
Passengers waiting for rides and meetups.
Inside King Street Station.
When I was last here in Seattle, the station was undergoing a
refurbishing and upgrading so was unable to view inside. Boy, I am
sure glad that they decided not to tear down this glorious,
artistic example of architecture and craftsmanship.
I rejoined Russell outside
at the taxi stand to wait for our cab, during which we saw a
variety of buses and cars picking up and dropping off with
everyone asking, "Is that your car or mine?" Soon we connected
with our driver and then were on our way to the hotel. The
streets were still packed with morning rush traffic. Our driver
was also very adroit getting around traffic and jams. Sometimes
it seemed he was making three lanes out of two. Russell said he
was having flashbacks to our taxi ride in San Francisco in
January 1984. We were staying at the Drake and were going to The
Vatican Collections at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.
The taxi pick us up at the hotel and we told the driver our
destination and that we had a timed admission ticket. He said no
problem and gave us an "E ticket" ride. He squeezed between cars
and at times, it seemed like he was going over the roof tops. It
was almost like being in a demolition derby, but we arrived in
time to make entry. And it was an amazing presentation and
collection. This morning our driver delivered us to the front
door of the Warwick with no harm less a raised heart beat.
Upon entering the Warwick, we were greeted by
the friendly and welcoming staff, with the bellman offering to
check our luggage till our room was ready. As we were checking
in at the front desk we relayed our stinking story causing our
delay and lateness. Seems we made the local news and the staff
were somewhat aware of our story. The helpful clerk checking us
in notice I had stayed before and the room that I had. His
comment was: "You stayed in the mac daddy suite." Why yes I did
thank you very much, in the penthouse on the top nineteenth
floor but I was alone with no one too share this good fortune.
He also said our room today was not ready which we understood
completely. Russell and I went and sat in the lobby to decide on
our next move while we waited for the room to be ready. As it
was still morning and a while since we last eat, breakfast was
our next task. With a recommendation from staff we had a name of
a place at Pike Place Market to try for breakfast and Russell
thought he was able to walk the few blocks to the market.
Leaving the hotel we walked down Lenora
Street toward the water and Third Avenue, at which we turned
left and walk to Virginia Street where we went right and again
headed to the bay. Virginia Street has a hill to climb on the
way to the market. As we neared the crest of hill on the
sidewalk, the wind became a cold gale blowing in our faces. We
turned to each other and made a decision that we had had enough
of this walking in the wind and instead opt for plan B. This
turned out to be a very fortuitous decision for us. Reversing
our direction, we walked back down Virginia passing Third and
stopping at Virginia and Fourth where we spotting a restaurant
at the corner.
After reaching the building, we saw the menu
posted outside. While reading it, several people stopped to say:
"Good Choice," or "You'll enjoy the food" or "Great experience."
With that it was why not, let's give it a try. "Lola" is listed
as New Greek, Casual Dining. The meal was excellent and food
exceptionally tasty, as expected to be after we learned the
owner was three star chef. Russell chose two eggs, house
made pork-maple sausage
with a bowl of fruit to feed his
needs and the waiter brought a cold glass for his Starbucks
canned cold coffee. For me the Lola Breakfast got my attention.
two eggs, choice of pork-maple
sausage or smoked bacon, smashed garlic fried potatoes(unique
but enjoyable), toast. For my next visit it will be Tom’s
Mediterranean octopus, potatoes,
yams, bacon, radicchio, feta yogurt, soft poached egg, toast.
Renowned chef and author
Tom Douglas’ Lola restaurant is a staple of Seattle’s dining
scene. Lola features the classic produce of the Pacific
Northwest mingled with cooking styles of Greece; the menu
offers modern Mediterranean and North African riffs on local
ingredients such as Anderson Valley lamb, Penn Cove shellfish
and wild Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.
more on Lola, click here
As we were finishing our
repast, a couple were now seated at the other end of our
banquette and after introductions we related our train trip.
Needless to say, several poop jokes and stories were told.
After that we departed with smiles on our faces very happy
with our meal selection and ready to face the rest of the
day. Our hotel was now at the end of the block on Fourth
Ave. We crossed the street to see the view from that side
and walked to the hotel. At the corner across from the hotel
is a small, hideaway park where we stopped for a rest. I
then walked to the other end of the block to take some
Space Needle not far from hotel.
Russell soaking in the cold, fresh air.
By now it was one in the
afternoon so we decided to finish waiting in the lobby for the
room to be ready. After crossing the street and entering the
hotel, we sat in the lobby a short time when the clerk who help
us earlier approached and said that he had several rooms
available and it was our choice. Once decided, we received our
room card and found our room 1011. We had a room on the Space
Needle side of the hotel although the view is mostly blocked by
a new building built since the last visit. Maybe next time I'll
get a room on the other side for a different view. After
checking everything out then it was time to unpack the luggage
and stow everything in the dressers, living out of the suitcase
gets old fast so getting things out of the dresser feels better.
Russell telling Mom that we are in our room, fine and doing good.
View from our room west to Elliott Bay.
Across Lenora St. is the Cinerama theater, owned and saved by late
Paul Allen. Thank you Paul and a great place to watch movies. I
saw James Bond's "Skyfall" here.
View up to Lenora to Fifth
Avenue. Building on left was just starting being built with the
foundation going in on my last visit. Before daybreak the noisy
racket would start. The cement mixers were lined up the block
ready to deliver their product. They would pull up, empty their
load into a big bucket that then would be hoisted by a crane to
be delivered anywhere on site where needed. Repeat truck after
truck, hour after hour, day after day and then you have a new
View from our room. Building was not there seven years ago. Darn!
With the telephoto lens.
As day turned into night, our
talk turned to food and dinner. It having been a long day, from
dark to dark, simple and quick was the target. Pizza. We grabbed
our coats and headed downstairs with a stop at the front desk to
ask for information about local pizza shops. The helpful clerks
said that there only a few shops close by but one was a block
and half away and easy walk. Plus one of the best in the city. I
also inquired as to who was the most popular shop in delivers to
hotel. He gave me a flyer of one the popular stores. We left for
our walk to the pizza shop. As it was located on Virginia St, we
retraced our steps form early in the morning. Walking along
Fourth Ave we passed Lola with a room full of happy dinners. At
Virginia St. we turned and headed back up the hill again
stopping about half way from the crest at "Serious Pie." If your
waiting area has spilled out onto a small crowd on the sidewalk
is sign a good food then this place has great pizza.
Due to the limited menu not
striking any interest, plus the wait and the busyness, the
activity plus Friday night party goers, we decided just to
have pizza delivered to our room and eat a quiet meal in the
room. Walking back to hotel, I said let's stop at the CVS on
the corner and get some sodas for a cocktail with dinner.
Russell said we needed to also pick-up a bottle of rum. Why?
What happen to the bottle we had on the train for drinks in
our room? Well he replied: "When I moved across the aisle to
the other room, I put the bottle in the bedding on the upper
bunk but in the excitement of the morning of leaving the train
in Portland I forgot about getting it." Roger will get a good
tip when he changes the sheets. So we happily walked out of
CVS with our rum and cola and across the street and into the
hotel lobby. Its good to have a nice store across the corner
from the hotel. Great location for a hotel. Back in the room
Russell called for our pizza from the number on the flyer from
the front desk. After hanging up, he said he forgot to find
out if was a deep dish pie. He called back and asked to change
to order. Unfortunately no change allowed because the order
already went to the kitchen. After finishing talking, he said
she must not be near the kitchen and thought she was overseas
but the kitchen was local. However the pie arrived as
promised. We enjoyed quiet dinner and then soon it was time to
rest our heads. Tomorrow I'll awaken one year older.