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Not Sleepless in Seattle

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

I don’t know why Seattle has that gloomy weather reputation — the last time I visited it was sunny for all three days! I was lucky because this is a city that averages 127 sunny days a

The iconic Seattle Space needle built for the 1962 World's Fair.

The iconic Seattle Space needle built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

year. Evidently, the summer offers the best chance for sunshine. But enough about the weather. I’d plan another visit to Seattle even if I was guaranteed clouds and rain. It is a great place to shop, eat and sight-see.

I never got far from downtown on my last trip. Even the most dedicated shopper can’t make it to the 1,000-plus large and small retailers in the downtown area. Walk any direction and you’ll run into a store you love. OK, I’ll admit I did spend a large chunk of time (and paycheck) at my favorite department store, Nordstrom. It is hard to imagine they started in 1901 as a Seattle shoe store when you see their multi-level flagship store today.

After all that shopping, I went in search of a jolt of java. Seattle is a town known for its coffee houses and local roasters. Another Seattle success story is Starbucks, which started in 1971 as a single store in Pike Place Market. Since I can get my Starbucks fix anywhere in the world now, I was looking for a more local coffeehouse. I settled on Caffe Ladro which has three locations downtown. Caffe Ladro buys its beans directly from farmers and roasts them not far from where I was sipping my latte in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. I don’t think I could have made a wrong choice anywhere in the whole town. Coffee is to Seattle as cherries are to Michigan, ubiquitous and delicious.

The courtyard of the Inn at the Market

The courtyard of the Inn at the Market

There are many hotels in downtown Seattle — all the big chains and then a range of boutique hotels. I stayed at the Sheraton this time but when I go for my next visit, I’ll stay at the Inn at the Market, the only hotel in the famous Pike Place Market. It’s a charming small hotel, with 76 rooms and water views from many rooms. I can vouch for its rooftop deck with its extraordinary panoramic view of Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay. I enjoyed a glass of a wonderful Washington State pinot noir wine and local artisanal cheeses, watching the boats cross Puget Sound. As you recall, it was a sunny day and perfect for sitting out, sipping and nibbling.

One of my most favorite places in Seattle is Pike Place Market, the center of the universe for food. Since 1907, the market has been home to a huge year-round farmers market – some nine acres in all. Bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops and specialty food stores join an intriguing craft market and 200 other small shops. I could have spent the entire three days in the market, shopping or eating at the 80 restaurants.

Since I had only a couple of hours, I settled for looking longingly at all the fresh fish

So much seafood at Pike's Place Market.

So much seafood at Pike’s Place Market.

and produce I couldn’t stuff in my suitcase and stopped instead at Radiator Whiskey to drown my sorrows. It’s a whiskey and cocktail bar for meat lovers. I skipped the signature half of a roasted pig’s head and settled for an old-fashioned beef brisket to go with my signature cocktail, The Piledriver. The name comes from the fact that you should really only have one of these drinks with a heavy shot of Buffalo Trace bourbon, Aperol, lemon, mint and house rhubarb bitters. I didn’t push my luck.

I also stopped by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to pick up some tasty souvenirs. The cool thing about this store is that I got to watch the cheese makers at work while eating some very tasty mac and cheese. I had to grab a couple of triangles of Flagship, Beecher’s signature cheese. The taste is hard to describe. It’s a cow’s-milk cheese with a nutty flavor. So much cheese, so little time.

That sentiment could be applied to my entire Seattle visit — so much to see and never enough time.

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