Letter from North America – Seattle


As summer sets over the sea, giving way to fall breezes and a glimpse of winter, no matter the time of year Seattle remains the swanky bookend of America, west coast style.  My stay at the boutique inn inside the historical Washington Athletic Club epitomizes Seattle’s lifestyle with the utmost luxury with wellness and fitness in mind.  The first 8 floors or so of the beautifully designed sky scraper are devoted to a state-of-the-art men’s and women’s fitness facilities, spa, pool and three restaurants, while the top floors are devoted to 109 rooms and suites overlooking the skyline or out to Elliott Bay.

After checking in I don a light jacket and head back out to the streets, strolling ever-downwards towards the sea and passing by countless shops, cafes and of course, lots of coffee.  At the bottom of the hill I reach the famous Pike Place Market that looks as vibrant and busy as I imagine it did over a century ago.

A crowd gathers around the infamous ‘fish throw’, a tradition that began years ago as a prank, and I watch as the fishermen toss a massive catch back and forth to one another before finally grabbing out of the air before it crashes into me and the crowd!  Bright colors emanate from each new stand selling local farmer’s fresh produce to seafood, flowers, cookies and every treat imaginable.  After sampling a few delicious delights like corn-on-the-cobb, hot apple cider, cheese and strawberries, I continue strolling down the lively seaside street.

While we often associate Seattle with rain, it’s a perfectly sunny day and I take full advantage by exploring this very walkable city.  And while everyone knows the iconic Space Needle, I have my eye on the stunning attraction just next door: the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum.  Featuring masterwork works by renowned artist Dale Chihuly, the museum truly is like a garden showcasing his magnificent glass sculptures that almost look like real flowers, trees, and all kinds of magical creations.  Half inside and half out in the gardens, the museum is a stunning and peaceful break, while still giving me incredible picturesque views of the Space Needle towering above.

Lastly what would my day be without some coffee, so I make my way to the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, unofficially nicknamed the ‘Willy Wonka of Coffee’.  Just nine blocks from the very first store at the Pike Place Market, this tasting room is the largest store in the world, second only to Starbucks’ newest counterpart in New York City.  A coffee connoisseur’s dream, the aroma can be smelt from around the corner and inside it truly looks like a dream.  I sip on a classic cappuccino and watch as the belts and pulleys and levers and all the machines that I don’t quite understand work away in precision to create these masterpieces.

Across the street from Starbucks I spot Terra Plata, one of several adorable cafes, and decide it’s a good time for a walking break.  While there is a chic design and fun bar atmosphere inside, I opt to go upstairs and dine at the rooftop garden.  With a locally brewed beer and a round of locally grown treats I feel like a local here in sunny Seattle where the big city still has a small town heart.



Jeff Sobel


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