Yay! It’s my birthday! Not just a normal birthday either, my golden birthday. Most people get their golden birthday much earlier than this but because my parents are inconsiderate, poor at maths, or both, I was born on the 31st and had to wait all these years. I’d spent the last week being reminded constantly that Dave had no birthday present for me and that he felt bad, so wasn’t expecting much from today, but he did bring me breakfast in bed and let me have a lie in so that was nice.
Since quite a lot of our trip so far had consisted of failing to see high up things because of fog, we decided to make the most of the weather (which was only very slightly overcast) and head straight for the Space Needle. Our Airbnb apartment is in an excellent location, and it was only about a 10 minute walk to our destination, though beware – Seattle is basically as hilly as San Francisco in parts.
The link for the ticket prices on the Space Needle website was broken depending on which page you followed it from, and when we finally did find the prices (which vary depending on time of day) it gave us no information on which prices applied at which time, so we gave up and decided to just buy them in person. Not the most reassuring web presence from such a big tourist destination, but we’ve noticed that about a lot of similar destinations in the USA; we’d had similar trouble finding information about things in Vegas online. Anyway the tickets were a couple of dollars more expensive in person, but at least the ticket booth was fully functional and the nice lady dealing with us at no point threw a 404.
With tickets purchased we were ushered through an unnecessarily long corridor for our scheduled “launch”. On the way, an enforced photo opportunity which promised us a free copy of our photo with our choice of Space Needle-themed backgrounds. That’s right, they take a photo of you at the Space Needle, but in front of a screen, and then digitally add the Space Needle in the background. Not redundant at all.
We made it to the elevator and were almost first in, resulting in being pushed to the back and squashed among as many humans as they could possibly fit in the space plus a couple more and our tour guide. Since the journey to the top is only about 40 seconds long I’m not entirely sure we needed a tour guide, left to our own devices we probably wouldn’t have resorted to cannibalism in that time, but who knows. The front doors of the elevator are glass so you get a nice view on the way up, at least if you’re not squished all the way at the back, and then suddenly the doors open and the mass of humanity spills out and heads immediately for all the best spots on the viewing platform.
Dave was surprisingly excited about this whole Space Needle thing, and we went round the platform twice taking a ton of photos and trying to identify where our apartment building was. Ever since our trip to Meteor Crater, when it became clear our expressions in photos weren’t communicating the scientific awe we felt, we’d been doing this thing called “science face”. Being on top of the Space Needle, looking across the city, with the ever-present Mount Rainier floating weirdly in the background, was the perfect opportunity for some science face action.
We grabbed an expensive bite of sub-par food from the cafe, became increasingly frustrated at the could-be-cool-if-they-put-any-thought-into-it photo wall consisting of user-generated photos taken of and from the Space Needle, and decided it was time to leave.
I am maybe a little harsh on the Space Needle experience. It was fun enough being up high and spotting all the landmarks we knew (curse you, CenturyLink Field!) and there were some cool additions like the automated cameras that would take a perfectly-angled pic of you at the push of a button, but the whole experience was soured slightly for me by the alarming discovery that my Ingress wasn’t working. We couldn’t tell if I’d been banned, or what, but it meant Dave could happily hack away at the surrounding portals and all I could do was remain in the real world looking at actual scenery. Bah, humbug!
Thankfully we soon discovered that the problem was with my phone, not my Ingress account, so we gathered up Dave’s tablet from the apartment and set off to complete a mission based in the park that was 5 minutes from our front door. The Olympic Sculpture Park is really lovely, full of interesting sculptures and art (hence the name, I suppose) including these little fellas who became my favourite and most heavily defended Ingress portal.
There are two fountains, in this photo you can see the son uncovered and reaching for his still-hidden father, but at indeterminate intervals it changes over and the father is uncovered and reaching for his son. We never did manage to spot the transition, when both of them were uncovered and “find” each other, but it was a good portal nontheless. The weather was turning lovely and the park was full of seating, from random red chairs strewn about on a lawn to weird art benches shaped like eyes (also a portal, get in!), so we spent a good while enjoying the park with no real aim in mind. It’s worth noting that playing Ingress does make you look like a lost and clueless person, to the point where a kindly lady stopped us and asked if we needed directions somewhere. Oops.
Afterwards, we followed a trail of portals that led us down the waterfront. There was a huge cruise ship getting ready to depart, lots of outdoor-seating cafes, and it was just generally lovely down there. We obviously looked like complete idiots wandering around staring at our phones, often stopping to say things like “we can take this one!” and backtracking randomly to hit portals we’d missed out the first time, but whatever we were having lots of fun.
We made our way up from the waterfront to the supposedly famous “Pike Place Market”, which Dave enjoyed but was mostly full of neon t-shirts, dead fish and pickpockets, and came out of the other side clutching a prize of freshly made mini cinnamon donuts. Nom. It was getting on for late afternoon by this point so we headed back, made a quick stop at a yarn shop (I didn’t buy anything this time, Portland blew our yarn budget anyway), and had our customary couple of hours sitting about in the apartment watching TV and having bubblebaths.
Since it was my birthday, we wanted to go out and eat somewhere nice. Usually the best bet is to find an Italian place, since they’re posh enough to feel special and have plenty of variety for Dave, but also have tons of dishes made up of nothing but pasta and cheese so they’re perfect for me too. Sadly, so far on this trip our efforts to find an Italian had been thwarted by the fact that somehow none of them seemed to have the usual vegetarian options. Seriously, at so many of these places there’s literally nothing veggie on the menu at all, it’s bizarre. After checking basically every restaurant in a mile radius we found an Italian that not only had something vegetarian, but an actual range, and headed there.
We’re happy to report that La Vita E Bella was lovely, the penne with pesto was omgyum, and it was the perfect find for my birthday night. After food we headed back to the apartment to finish celebrating privately (nudge nudge, wink wink), and just like that I was officially 31.