I am a huge music nerd. Before I started working in television three years ago, I worked in music for almost a decade. Music has been an integral part of my life and always will be. I literally listen to everything. Mozart, Kanye West, Lady Antebellum, Katy Perry, Radiohead, Pearl Jam. I suppose if pressed, rock n roll is my genre of choice and my tied-for-favorite-bands would be Radiohead and Pearl Jam. It never really occurred to me to travel for a concert until my best girlfriends and I were planning a trip to Seattle to see Pearl Jam. I had seen Pearl Jam a few times by that point, but seeing them in a place I had never been to and SEATTLE, of all places, seemed like a fantastic idea. It’s like Mecca for 90s music “grunge” nerds like myself. You’ll find travel + music to be a very common theme for this blog. Pretty much the first thing I do, when traveling to a new place, is Google “music landmarks in ___.” So naturally, Seattle was going to be a special trip not only because of the band we were going to see, but because of the ghosts we would visit there as well.
FLYING. I was actually a bit nervous about the flight because at the time it would be the longest flight I had been on; 6 hours. I fly well, but I don’t travel well. My anxiety comes from getting to the airport, getting through security and getting to my gate. Once I am on the plane, I am ready to relax and forget about life at 40,000 feet. We lucked out and got flights on Delta for $185 roundtrip. Because we kept an eye on deals and costs and bought at the right time.
- Travel tip: As SOON as you know where you want to go, visit a site like Kayak and create a travel alert for the flight you want; dates, times, airports. Ideally, you’d rather spend as little on your travel as possible but keep in mind there is a point at which the flight cost just won’t change and you’ll need to pull the trigger. If you wait until the week before you leave, you are going to pay a shit ton of money and have no one to blame but yourself. Once you see the flight you want, go to the website of the airline to book; do not book through third party sites. If anything goes wrong, you will have to call said third party site to make changes or rebook and not the airline which can get complicated and annoying. If the airline gives you the option to signup for a frequent flyer program, do it. The more often you fly the more miles you accumulate and the more free shit you can get down the road! Make your travel work for you, so you can travel more. We literally lucked out on our flights, sometimes it just happens that way. Other times I’ve stalked flights for a month before buying to be sure I was getting the best deal. No secret formula, just pay attention.
HOTEL. For my friends and I, the hotel was an absolute no-brainer. Back in the 60s and 70s there was one hotel that most musicians and bands stayed in when they played Seattle. The Edgewater Inn (now just called The Edgewater). Since we were there to see a band and the hotel has some seriously infamous stories attached to it because of bands (Google; ‘Led Zeppelin, Edgewater, shark’ and see what comes up, but beware not for the faint at heart), we thought it would be the perfect choice. The room was spacious, the bathroom was clean and we could see the Space needle from our window! The hotel is a bit off the beaten path, because it is actually on the water (thus, Edgewater), but it was close enough to walk to almost anywhere we wanted to go. There were a couple neighborhoods that were further away, so we just took the bus. Staff was friendly and accommodating and we were there just before Christmas so the whole place was decorated and just looked magical. Note: If you decide to stay at The Edgewater, I also suggest walking around each floor as you’ll find plaques to commemorate rooms where certain musicians/bands stayed.
- Travel tip: When you’re ready to look for hotels, sign up for a Hotels.com account. The more often you book with their site, you accrue free nights. It is an amazing benefit and they have LOADS of options in all price ranges. Once you find a hotel(s) you like, look it up on Trip Advisor before you book. Also, free cancellation should be your default hotel booking option, even if it’s a little more expensive. In case something happens, it’s better to pay a little more from the start than to get screwed if you have to cancel.
TRANSPORTATION. Luckily, among my group of rad best friends, one had lived there for a number of years in the 90s so she had a feel for the land. Knowing that, we weren’t as intimidated using public transportation. We did a lot of walking. Only to those neighborhoods that were a bit too far out did we brave the bus and it wasn’t that bad.
- Travel tip: If you’re going to use public transportation, do a bit of research before you get there. Downloads apps, put a couple taxi companies in your phone and of course there’s always Uber. Even if you are renting a vehicle, I encourage you to walk. You will see so much more of the city you’re in, if you just walk. Get lost. You’re on vacation, live a little.
SITES. Space Needle. Fish throwing at Public Market. Fremont Troll. Chewing Gum Wall! MoPOP Museum (formerly EMP). There were SO many things to see. Lists were made and sites were planned to make the trip easier. However, when I am on vacation I am not a huge fan of being scheduled. I’m in a new place, on vacation, I want to enjoy and find things as opposed to scheduling every minute of my trip (though sometimes, in order to see everything you want, you just might have to suck it up…like I did on my London trip which I will talk about in another post). Sometimes the best places to go are found by accident. We walked the Public Market which is HUGE. Watched the (cute) dudes throw some fish. Found a Zoltar type automated fortune teller (I still have my fortune). Walked through rows of food, crafts, records, comics, beer, candy, everything. We walked the streets finding boutiques, mom+pop coffee shops (Seattlites are very serious about their coffee and not just Starbucks), Elliott Bay Book Company (seriously one of the most amazing bookstores I have ever been in) and so many thrift stores (I bought a flannel shirt, because Seattle). Like many cities, each neighborhood brings something unique to the vibe, so we explored as much as time allowed.
On our last day in the city, we rented a car and did a little out of the city sightseeing. A lot of research was done on four locations, because we needed addresses and a plan. Picked the location furthest out and worked our way back to the city. What was so important to see, you ask?
- Rock legend, Jimi Hendrix, was from Seattle. He happens to buried in a small town about 20 minutes outside of Seattle called Renton. His grave wasn’t exactly the easiest to find as the Greenwood Memorial Park is pretty big, but there is a mausoleum and a sundial that sits in front. It was bigger than I thought it would be, and pretty rad seeing things people left behind; mostly guitar picks. There really isn’t much to do at a grave site, but I have to say it was cool just being there.
- Nirvana was one of the most influential bands from the grunge era. Though not from Seattle, as most people know Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love lived in a house in a Seattle neighborhood called Central District. The house is now inhabited by a family and the greenhouse he died in has been taken down, but next to the house is a little park where a bench sits that has become an ad hoc memorial for fans. We took pictures on the bench, I etched my name (Penny Lane) on the bench and just took a moment. Again, not much to do there, but being that close to a ghost made me feel something. I can’t explain it.
- I absolutely LOVE the movie Singles which was filmed in Seattle, so finding the address wasn’t difficult at all. The Coryell Court 1820 E. Thomas Ave on the corner of 19th and E. Thomas Ave in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I think there may have been a sign somewhere that asked people to be respectful and quiet since there are actual people living there, but a few pics on the steps didn’t seem to be a big deal. “Where’s Cliff?” definitely became our hashtag for the rest of the trip!
- Non-descript condo building where Layne Staley, lead singer of Alice in Chains, lived and died. Such a random thing to see, I know, but when you lionize the members of certain bands, it’s just something you have to see. No signs, no mention he was ever there and that actually made me a little sad. But hands down one of the best voices in rock n roll, to date. So we felt the need to pay homage.
- Travel tip: If you were never able to go back to this particular place, what would you absolutely need to see? PRIORITIZE. Depending on how long your list is and how much time you have, you might have to cut things from your list.
FOOD / DRINK. I will be honest. I am the WORST when it comes to remembering and noting the places I eat and drink. I love food, don’t get me wrong, but I am not what one would call a foodie. So I hate to say that I don’t remember all the places we ate and I didn’t write any of them down (which will be changing moving forward!). But here is what I do remember:
- Mama’s Cantina; I LOVE Mexican food. I would eat a burrito everyday if it wouldn’t make me fat. While on vacation I tend to let my (already lax) eating habits go with the wind. Our first taste (literally) of Seattle on the night we got there was a small little Mexican cantina with PBR pounders for $2. TWO DOLLARS. The burrito was enormous, delicious and cheap. Sometimes I forget what it’s like to eat and drink outside of New York City.
- Local Color; great little cafe where we stopped to get a coffee (that wasn’t Starbucks) and a little breakfast. Everyone in this city is insufferably nice. Which, I have to admit, made me like it more.
- Purple Cafe & Wine Bar; there were a fair number of us that traveled to Seattle for this show so it was decided that we’d all meet up and have a nice dinner together. I’m a huge fan of any restaurant that has “wine bar” in the name, so this was aces in my book. Aside from a varied menu, they do wine flights. AMAZING!
- Beecher’s Handmade Cheese; no explanation needed here. Cheese.
- The Innkeeper; a little post show booze and it was close to the hotel so it was an excellent choice.
THE SHOW. As most of my friends on Facebook know, I countdown to Christmas just after Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday and I make a big deal about it. December 2013, I was counting down to something other than Christmas. My trip to Seattle to see Pearl Jam. To quote one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous, “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much it hurts.” People just don’t get it. If you have a favorite band (regardless of who it is) you know that being in a room with them and their music is as close to heaven as you get on earth. The sound. The vibe. The community. The energy. Everything about seeing that band makes you feel like you and the 17,000 people you’re with are part of a club no one else is. You leave the arena buzzing, talking a mile a minute to your friends, high-fiving new friends you just met, hoarse from singing, screaming, cheering, experiencing the same high. It is a feeling like no other. Add to all that, seeing this band in a place they call home and it was euphoria. I could write 1,000 more words on the feeling alone, but if you’ve never felt it, the description will be lost on you. Seeing this band, in this city, was everything. And it is a feeling I will never forget.
Time of year visited: December
Hotel: The Edgewater
Duration of Stay: 5 nights
Purpose: Pearl Jam @ Key Arena