Okay, not really a whole day off, but my friend Sally whisked me away after I served breakfast, leaving Tina and Ashley to get ready for the guests checking in later. A perfect Seattle summer day awaited: sunny-ish skies and temps in the 70s (did I mention the main reason we moved from Washington, DC ten years ago was the hot, humid summers?).
Two short blocks from the bed & breakfast, the #5 bus picked us up and made record time (10 minutes or so) down to Aurora and Mercer, where we disembarked near our first destination: the new Chihuly Garden and Glass gallery on the grounds of the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is). Very cool inside and out, offering just enough beautiful glassworks to satisfy, but not too many to overwhelm.
It was enough to make us hungry, though, so we strolled into the Queen Anne neighborhood in search of lunch. In a festive mood, we aptly chose a place oozing New Orleans spirit: Toulouse Petit, named by CNBC as one of the ten best happy hours in the United States. Of course we needed to verify this claim by ordering a Cajun Bloody Mary and a Red Snapper (Bloody Mary with gin not vodka). Best Bloody Mary I’ve had in a long, long time. The spicy dust rimming the glass sealed the deal. The tempting menu made it difficult to narrow down our food order; the waiter had to help. We shared Dungeness crab over fried green tomatoes with a tarragon-chive sauce and a hot Cajun roast beef sandwich with Provolone, caramelized onions, and Mama Lil’s peppers. Out of this world.
We would’ve been totally content hanging at Toulouse Petit the whole afternoon, but we thought it best to burn some calories. Off we trotted to the Olympic Sculpture Park, about a mile or so south. The larger-than-life art is a treat on any day, but this day offered clear sweeping views of Elliot Bay and beyond, and more immediate views of men (oh, and probably some women too) taking a free Zumba class held Saturdays in July.
Our tasty lunch fueled us to go still further – south along the waterfront where we spotted the newest Seattle attraction: the Seattle Great Wheel. Now I’m sorry, but I’m forever going to call it the Seattle Eye, for this huge Ferris wheel with enclosed cars reminds me of the London Eye. Alas, one of us – I won’t say who – wasn’t too keen on riding it, so we enjoyed a refreshing beverage from an indoor perch below. Good timing on our part, as it had started to sprinkle.
Figuring we had had enough fun for an afternoon, we hoofed it up to 3rd Avenue to catch the #5 straight back to 9 Cranes Inn’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Oh wait, on the way to the bus we made a quick stop at the Pike Place Market’s Gum Wall because Sally had never seen it. Would you believe we made it home not only in time to take in the Ballard Seafood Fest but also with room to sample the wares there?