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Coast Starlight - Touring Seattle _A

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

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent

Comments are appreciated


    "Portland 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 travelers.

    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 station.

    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. Lola breakfast- 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 favorite breakfast- 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. 

For 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 photos.


Public art.


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 building.  


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.


Thanks for reading.

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Text and Photos by Author, Robin Bowers

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments appreciated at ....