Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Summer lovin'

On a slightly selfish note, it's a sad day today because our lovely young neighbour is heading back to college. We've been incredibly lucky to have landed next door to such a warm, sweet family (seriously, they're like one of those tight knit TV families you wish you'd been born into), and having a babysitter next door - who our girls adore - over the summer has been more than convenient for J and I.

While it's been fun to explore our new city with the kids these past few months, it's been important that J and I got to have the occasional night out together - especially considering we spent around three months apart before the Big Move North. Let's face it, an evening out at a restaurant is far more relaxing without bored, fussy-eating youngsters in tow.

On a couple of the date nights, we've stayed more locally and squeezed in a movie as well, but the most fun nights we've had were the ones where we headed across to the inner city areas of Seattle. The inner city (of most cities we've lived in) is pretty much where J and I have hung out and felt most comfortable before the kids came along. Every now and then, it's fun to get back to that essence of a city.

On one of our first date nights in Seattle, we headed to the Capitol Hill district (I think - I'm still getting my bearings) and started off at a micro-brewery. I don't really dig beer in general - I wish I did - but to sit down and have a drink as the early evening summer sun streamed in, minus kids? How civilised.

That same July evening was my first time in that area so with the low sun, long shadows and urban structures, I was in Instagram heaven.

After the micro-brewery, we ate at a nearby gastro pub. When we first walked in, I was struck by how untattooed I was compared to the staff, who all shared a healthy collection of ink between them. We were seated on the loft level, and with the green view out the windows, I fancied myself in some kind of groovy New York/Brooklyn place. I prepared myself for some kind of I'm-cooler-than-you attitude from the staff but instead we received the friendliest, most genuine service I think I've had here yet. Oh, and the food and cocktails were perfect.

We walked off the dinner with a stroll around the neighbourhood, and were more than happy when we stumbled across a vast bookstore. Back in the day - pre kids - a typical night out for the two of us involved dinner and happy book-browsing in whichever bookstore happened to be on the way to whichever cinema we were on our way to. It was fabulous to have a taste of that again and - despite my fairly slower than slow track record these days with books, and the fact I had three library books out on loan (a tad ambitious, I realise), I walked out of the Elliot Bay Book Company as the proud owner of two more books. I'm on to the last library book now, so I might actually get to start one of these books soon. Crazier things have happened.

Another spot we found ourselves at was a bar named Unicorn. The decor was pretty crazy - in a good way - and despite its distinctive appearance, it was only halfway through my drink that I realised it was the same bar that was used in the video for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop". Extra hipster points there, right?

On a more recent date night, we decided to spend it in Ballard. J had recently gone on a bike trail with a friend, which finished there and he was keen to show the area to me. As we drove there, we took the 'scenic' route along the north side of Lake Union. Neither of us had been to Gas Works Park before and as we drove past, we impulsively pulled over to grab the last rays of sunshine, as well as a stunning view of Seattle's skyline. In fact, we were so taken with this park that we went back only two days later - but with the girls too.

First stop in Ballard was another micro-brewery - one which caters to cyclists, and J had been to the previous weekend with his friend. You know you're in a Seattle bar when the toilets have signs like the one below on the toilet wall.

Our main meal, though, was at a sushi and cocktail bar a few blocks further along. I can't remember the last time I had such mind-blowing sushi (it's been way too long) and my taste buds were dancing. The ginger cosmopolitan didn't hurt either.

Of course, that meal also had to be walked off so we strolled through part of Ballard. Even though it was dark, and I only saw a small part of it, I fell in love with that area. Oh. My. God. The Scandinavian history alone was enough to pull me in. In another life, with a double income and no responsibilities, that is where I would live (assuming I was still in Seattle...) The perfect end to the night was finding a gelato bar that also served espresso and cannoli. Fresh cannoli - bliss!  I haven't had that since we lived in Sydney, where our last neighbourhood (Leichhardt) was known as Little Italy. I am already trying to think of a excuses for a weekend visit to Ballard so I can see if it's as impressive and seductive in daylight.

For now, there's the matter of finding a sweet, reliable babysitter that the girls will adore - I hope we don't have to wait too long for another date night, but I have a feeling that I'll have to tuck these memories into my reserve tank for now...

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