seattle // day 2

Our day begins at the Café Ladro in Capitol Hill. I have the breakfast cookie, which tastes like a Clif Bar (warning: it’s very chewy!). The coffee has been consistently good so far, and the brew at Café Ladro is not exception.

We then head out to Volunteer Park, just a few blocks away, in the hopes that the Asian Art Museum will be open. When we realize it’s not, we decide to visit the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which, even if you’ve no interest in plants, will at least keep you warm. Our favorite part of the greenhouse is the cactus room. No surprise there. It contains many succulents, cacti and other trendy plants. Volunteer Park seems like a nice place to stroll through in general, as well as to spot locals playing with their kids and walking their dogs.

A ten-minute drive takes us to
Fremont, a quirky neighborhood sometimes referred to as “The People’s Republic of Fremont” or “The Artists’ Republic of Fremont”. Here, inside jokes amongst locals abound, and it’s difficult for us to grasp when they’re serious or not. For instance, Fremont hosts a statue of Lenin that was supposedly brought over to Seattle from Slovakia after the fall of the USSR by a Fremont art lover. Walking around the neighborhood, you’ll also spot the Fremont Rocket, as well as an outdoor sculpture called Waiting for the Interurban (amongst many others).

Even more famous perhaps is the Fremont Troll, a 5-meter tall sculpture of a troll that can be found under the Aurora Bridge. Fremont takes its quirkiness so seriously that, in 2005, it even renamed the street running under the bridge Troll Avenue. Oh yes, and there’s the “Center of the Universe” sign, which apparently exists because Fremont residents have been referring to their neighborhood as the “Center of the Universe” since the 1970’s.

Much like Grand Marketplace in Portland, the Fremont Vintage Mall consists in a group of vendors selling vintage and antique goods. There are some really neat prints, vintage vocabulary cards and postcards, and even stickers! At the center there’s also a nice selection of vinyl records. After the Fremont Vintage Mall, the parents check out Jive Time Records, while Olympe and I wander through many racks of great vintage clothes. I wish I had gone shopping for a prom dress there! We all go to Warby Parker, which I’d never heard of before but will definitely get my next pair of glasses from.

We have a quick lunch at Homegrown, a sustainable sandwich shop that sells only organic, local and seasonal products. It even has its own farm! Highlights include the Turkey, Bacon + Avocado ($12) sandwich, and the Hummus + roasted red peppers ($8) sandwich. The tomato bisque is also worth trying.

Gas Works Park, which is only a minute away by car, is considered by some to be the strangest park in the world. Not too surprising, given everything we’ve seen so far today. Located on a former gasification plant, Gas Works Park still features a few impressive plant structures. There’s a pleasant view of Lake Union, and for fans of Sleepless in Seattle, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of some of the film’s iconic houseboats (though we’re not certain they’re exactly the same ones).

We drive down to Queen Anne, a more residential area filled with cute homes. Because it’s new year’s day, most shops are closed. We decide to sit at Storyville Coffee Company, a cozy café on the corner of Queen Anne Avenue and Boston Street. While Mom and Dad enjoy their coffee, we all attempt to understand how to play Irk, the board game available on many of the tables. I have a hard time discerning how Irk is different from Sorry!, but it’s fun anyhow.

Dad and Olympe return to the hotel to get some rest. Meanwhile, Mom and I visit the Seattle Art Museum. The museum is open until 9pm on Thursdays, and admission is by donation. There’s a nice collection of contemporary art pieces, as well as aboriginal art, an immersive ceramic room and a few Nick Caves!