It was a hot and sunny Thursday morning when I got off the plane at the Sea-Tac airport. I had never been to the Pacific Northwest before, and I knew absolutely nothing about Seattle, besides that it’s supposedly a ”music city”. My main goals for this trip was to 1) travel solo and 2) explore Portland, but Seattle had the cheapest flights so I figured I might as well explore that city too. When I asked a friend about what area I should stay in, she immediately shouted ”Capitol Hill!”, so Cap Hill it was.
When I got off the light rail and started walking towards my airbnb, I couldn’t really understand what it was about this particular part of town that was so good. Looked pretty rough and worn down to me. I passed a community college, a gas station, a supermarket and a depressive park with dry, brown grass. Though I could see Pride flags literally everywhere, so the people here must be kind and cool, I thought.
To get to my airbnb I had to walk up up up towards the hilltop and the residential area there. When the dot on my Google maps told me I had arrived, I found myself looking up onto a very rugged and old two-storey house, hiding amongst huge chestnut trees. Following the instructions I had received in the mail, I got inside, found my room and collapsed on the bed. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I had to stay awake until the evening to adjust to the time difference. To be honest, that first day I felt very small, frail and alone. What was I doing alone in a crappy looking house in a run-down neighborhood where I didn’t know a single soul? I had left all the familiarity and safety behind.
But leaving familiarity and comfort behind was also the point of this trip. So that I could explore what happens inside of me when I don’t have access to my usual routines, my home, my friends, my things or even mobile data. I needed to start thinking in new patterns, but I knew that this would never happen unless I changed the scenery. You don’t necessarily have to travel across the world to achieve this, but the feeling of being really really far away from home still did something to my brain. When I was out and about exploring the city, my family and friends where sound asleep in their beds at home. It’s as if my life and their life was happening in different dimensions.
I could play with the idea of being someone else. Acting different than I would at home, living a different life. Whenever I travel I always prefer to try see the place from the locals’ perspective, rather than signing up for all the tourist attractions. And this trip did indeed feel more like moving to a new place and trying to make it yours, rather than a holiday.
Sleep deprivation didn’t exactly boost my courage, but I knew I only needed a couple of days to adjust to this new place to feel safe here. That first day I hardly remember what I did. I probably went to the supermarket and I also went for a luxurious lunch at Plum bistro, which I unfortunately couldn’t enjoy much cause I was too tired and confused. Though the memory of perfectly cream-like oyster mushrooms sautéed in coconut oil was etched into my mind. Also – glancing at my neighbor’s massive platter of cashew cheesy kale chips.
Oh, and I had some pretty amazing vegan cherry ice cream at Molly Moon!
The next day was better. I had slept for 10 hours, learnt that there was a block party going on in the area where several of my favorite bands where gonna play, and realized that I was only two or three blocks away from virtually every single place I had star-marked on my offline Google map.
In the morning I decided to head out for coffee at Oddfellows. I brought my notebook and was ready to do some deep self-work! That’s what this trip was all about, after all. The café was large, industrial and airy, and the acoustics were horrible. I had to wear headphones and listen to music all the time in order to focus. But the coffee on the other hand was excellent! At the counter I asked what vegan milk they had, and the barista offered me four (!) different choices. At home I’m used to having one, or possibly two, options (soy, oat). I settled for an almond latte, that came in the cutest little mint green cup.
When the staff started giving me the evil eye for taking up space for too long without ordering food, I dove into Elliot Bay Books which is right next door. Here old, squeaky wooden floors accompany large, industrial windows and books in all possible categories. Inside there’s a smaller, more work-friendly, version of the Oddfellows café (I realized later). I completely fell in love with the atmosphere of this bookshop, and I went back many times during my time in Seattle. On this first visit I picked up a book I’ve been looking for in Sweden for a long time – Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I finished this book during my stay and, as if it was meant-to-be, it touched on many of the issues I’m struggling with myself right now. Making peace with your body, joining hands as allies (with your body) and learning to love fully and raw, with all the pain that comes with it.
After a half day at the café and bookshop, I headed back home to get ready for the block party.
To be honest I was quite nervous to go to the block party alone. I’m so used to always bringing friends for concerts and parties etc. and not at all comfortable talking to strangers. Though on this trip I wanted to challenge myself. So I bought a ticket and headed into the festival area some time in the early evening. At first it was kinda weird. I bought a drink and found a corner from where I could stand and half-heartedly listen to one of the early bands play. Eventually I worked up the courage to speak to a couple of girls next to me, and before I knew it, their friend joined us and convinced me to tag along to Mommy Long Legs, a rrriot girl punk band that was playing in the cellar at one of the clubs in the area. And later, when Austra was playing, I met a group of fierce ladies in the audience that I hung out with during the rest of the evening. I guess it only takes that first ”hello” to suddenly find yourself with a whole bunch of new friends :-)
The rest of the weekend flashed by in rapid speed. On Saturday I woke up early (bc jet lag) and saw it as my chance to see Pike Place Market before it got jam-packed. I bought rainier cherries at the market and coffee at a hip hole-in-the-wall kinda coffee shop whose name I don’t remember but it was *awesome* and headed down to the water. I thought I’d find some green there to sit on and relax, read, write etc. buuut it was mostly highways and concrete… Not the most splendid waterfront (though I was later recommended to go further north along the water to the sculpture park, which was way nicer!).
In the evening I met up with Ida, a friend from Stockholm that I completely forgot lives in Seattle (lucky she wrote me on Facebook!). She and her girlfriend Rebecca drove me around town to see all the beautiful viewpoints, and we stopped for cocktails and vegan food at No Bones in Fremont. I had some pretty amazing fried avocado tacos <3
On Sunday I was completely wiped out by all the activities and new impressions. I hadn’t taken enough time to wind down and process everything. So I spent most of the day at a nearby park (Volunteer Park, not the one pictured above) with a spectacular view over the city, meditating, writing and listening to sentimental songs hehe. I felt kinda homesick and moody, as I often do when I’m overwhelmed. Traveling alone with all the changes, new people and fresh perspectives can be pretty challenging for a highly sensitive person like myself. I found it helpful to not plan too much but take one day at a time. Some days, like this Sunday, I just wasn’t up for any exploring. I needed a day that felt like any other day at home.
The following Tuesday I hopped on a train to Portland (which I will blog about later), but about a week later I returned to Seattle. Hope you’re up for some more reading cause I have loads to tell you about those days as well!
The reason I went back to Seattle was because I had seen on Facebook that one of my favorite bands were gonna play a semi-secret show at Chop Suey in Cap Hill. The concert was free, but it was first come first serve. So at 4pm I headed there and joined the crowd outside the club. There was already a long line, but I was a bit stressed and kinda confused so I didn’t realize it until I had already claimed a spot at the front… ah well. I did travel from the other side of the earth to see this band, after all. There was just no way I was gonna miss them!
I noticed that everyone around me wore blue wristbands. For a moment I got seriously stressed, ”Oh no! What if I was supposed to collect one of these wristbands when I arrived? What if I can’t get in to the show now?”. I asked the guy behind me: ”Ummm, sorry but, what are these blue wristbands for?”. He replied ”Oh, apparently they’re having some sort of meet & greet with the band for the first 20 to arrive, so that’s what the bands are for”. Meet & greet? I surely ended up amongst the nerdiest of nerdy War on Drugs fans <3 Can’t believe I was so lucky to time this concert to the very few days I was in Seattle! I wasn’t among the first 20 though, but I’ve never been that kind of fan anyway so it was ok.
Since I was standing there alone in the line I had nothing to do but to listen to people’s conversations. I accidentally overheard that the guy with the blue wristband and his friend were discussing where the band was from and why they played this tiny show here in Seattle. ”Are they from here?”, ”I don’t know man, maybe??”, ”Yeah probably, why would they play here if they weren’t?”. Since I’m such a know-it-all and can’t keep my mouth shut, I had to point out that they’re actually from Philly. ”Oh, okay…”.
After a little while, I could hear the band sound-checking from inside. And holy wow! It sounded so good. So crisp and clear. One of the guards came out and asked if he should open the door so we could hear better. Um yes please! Right next to me stood a group of happy and chatty people who I secretly wanted to talk to, but I was too shy to actually introduce myself. Instead I commented something about the sound-check, and probably asked a silly question or two. Eventually one of them came up to me and introduced himself as Franz, and his friend as Staci. My haphazard attempts to join their conversation had paid off :-)
So, now I didn’t have to be all bored by myself but could voice all my excitement and nerdiness to this group of newfound (and equally nerdy) friends. Somewhere around here the guy with the blue wristband tapped my shoulder. ”Hey… Look, you obviously seem like a big fan of this band. Do you want my wristband? I really don’t need to meet the band. I think I’m just gonna stick around with my friend here instead”. ”REALLY???! You sure?? THANK YOU!!!”. Omg KARMA! The universe must really like me right now, I thought.
So not only did I get to see one of my favorite bands live in a tiny and intimate setting that would’ve never been possible in Sweden, I also got to MEET THEM and pose in a photograph with them (?!). Easily the strangest thing I’ve done (see what I did there, war on drugs fans out there? 😉). Not to mention – I got to meet new friends for life (hopefully).
For the rest of the evening I hung out with Franz and Staci, eating German-ish food and drinking beers. Looking up future tour dates because *want more*.
After that evening, I felt ready to go home. By that time I had been in the US for over two weeks (one week in Portland too, remember?). But I still had a couple of days left to go. Seattle was HOT, and being a true northerner I wasn’t used to the heat. My brain slowed down, my wristwatch stopped and even my nail-polish clogged up. I spent most of my time in the shade in parks, writing in my journal and drinking copious amounts of ice tea. One evening another newfound friend, Nicole, brought me to the Art walk around Pioneer Square (loved it! I got so inspired to pick up painting again!) and another evening I made pasta salad for Ida & Rebecca that we enjoyed by the water.
The very last evening I went out for drinks again with Franz, who wanted to show me his neighborhood Ballard. This was pretty far from where I lived and I had to take two busses for over an hour to get there, but omg I loved that area! So many cosy bars and cafés and old houses and a much more chill vibe than in Cap Hill. The clientele was probably a little bit older I would say. If I ever go back to Seattle I would love to explore this area further!
We had some seriously rad herbal & adaptogene infused (!) cocktails at Percy’s & Co and then cheap drinks at a local dive bar, for good measure 😉 Sharing ghost stories and talking about sensitivity. I love when people you meet turn out to be totally different than you first thought, and that you can connect with someone who live a completely different life than yours in a different place. I know the culture in Sweden and the US are at least somewhat similar, but I still find this fascinating. I’m lucky to have found this dear friend in the PNW that I can come back and visit. Something that lasts beyond this trip.
Next time I’ll share my Portland adventures, as well as write a bit more on what happened within me during this trip. Changing the scenery and spending all this time away from my ”normal life” has helped me come to some important insights both personally and in my business.
Tell me about your summer! What have you been up to? Have you had any chance to reflect on what’s been and think about how you wanna move forward in your life this autumn?
Last thing – This vegan salted caramel & ash ice cream from Frankie & Jo’s tho! <3 I went back several times because seriously guys, they have THE best vegan ice cream I’ve ever had!! + major bonus points for gluten-free cones *heaven*.
Other things I loved in Seattle:
Ps. If you like this post it would mean a lot to me if you wanted to leave a comment or hit the hearth button. That way I know what content you love and wanna see more of :-)16