Monday, 12 April 2004
It is a lovely place. I just spent the weekend there with Deanna -- we went to visit yet another Adelaideian, Tamsin. I had heard from a friend that the Panama Hotel was a good central locale (the International District), so I booked a room there for a couple of nights.
We arrived after driving through peak hour on the 5, entering the US of A smoothly, as a result of being attended to by my buddy in the little room at the Peace Arch. He accidentally stamped me allowed into the country for 6 months instead of the normal 3 because we were enjoying such animated conversation.
It being her first visit, Dee began to become excited about the BIG America. As we drove into Seattle -- that sparkly view you come to when you first see downtown -- I must admit I felt a fondness for the place. I was pleased I managed to take the exit near where we needed to go. Saw Ichiban on the corner and knew we had the right place.
The Panama is a lovely old building. You climb a long flight of stairs where you find the hotel person sitting at the top at a very small desk, outside the original office, complete with sliding glass door.
When I had phoned to make my reservation, I spoke to the same man twice, who took my reservation in the names of Rites, and Jeorge Oatis, so needless to say the hotel person on duty wasn't sure. He asked me how much I was quoted for the room... After a moment's hesitation about entering possible negotation phase by revealing my hand, I told him. Anyhoo, after a quick tour, we picked the one i'd reserved.
As hotels go, the Panama's a little light on for amenities... there was a sink in the room, some very short beds with peacocks on the linen, some antique pieces, and a very old television. We had to scrape a barrel for a couple of towels. Hotel Person said he'd bring us a table lamp. He wasn't sure what was in our room, because he hadn't been in for a while.
We settled ourselves, and then left to meet Tamsin. We went to a bar, where a man sauntered up to the table and said "I like looking at pretty things, etc" and then returned to his drink. We thought he might have been the father of Jimmy Somethingorother, the Hammond King, who was playing that night. Tamsin suggested we go to see Hells Belles (an all-female AC/DC tribute band), so we headed for the venue, only to be refused at the busy door because T and I couldn't provide our passports as proof of age. After being pleasantly surprised, I was amused by the silliness of this, given my current age, but also given the fact that we were 3 Australian girls keen for a ripper noight! After giving up and going to find some dinner, we hatched a plan to return later and perform our own version of Thunderstruck to convince the door man that we should really be in there. That particular plan never got off the ground.
The next day was beautiful, so we filled it with classic Seattle activities. Brunch in the morning sun, Discovery Park in the gorgeous suburb of Magnolia, then a drive to Alki, where every man, lady, boy, girl, dog, motorbike, rollerblader, poser, fancy car, teenager, couple and tourist in Seattle seemed to be. After driving bumper to bumper we found a dream park and had pizza, where we were informed by our waitress that our accents were glorious. Then I hooked up with a new old friend, with whom I found the nicest spot in town, enjoying a margarita on the edge of Lake Union in the setting sun. I was a little rosy at this stage, and not just from the drink.
After Goodbye Lenin! that nice American lady dropped me back at the Panama. There was a different Hotel Person at the top of the stairs, and a collection of African fishermen in the lounge, two of whom craned their necks to watch me walk up the stairs. That was the first time i've been looked at like that.
I feel asleep to the sounds of the city at night and awoke to them in the morning, with that little chainy latch thing across the door.
Yet another lovely day, and after seeing eggs be laid for a neighbourhood kiddy easter egg hunt (where I thought the layer was being way too soft with the placement, until I discovered the kiddies were 5 or so), I was taken on a less crowded, more personal tour of Alki. It isn't difficult to sit on the edge of the boardwalk, take in the gobsmacking scene and watch the people and dogs go by.
Then I pfaffed (sp?) about a bit, read that big fat paper we know and love, and met up with Dee and Tamsin again. We had a quick meal, then Dee and I headed north.
We got to the now familiar, and surprisingly popular recreation spot, the Peace Arch, where by the signs we could tell that we were stationary approximately 1/2 a mile from the gate. I was wondering about whether to crack a joke with the lady or man at the border box about the deep vein thrombosis I contracted whilst waiting in the queue. I decided against this.
There were no nerves. We got our burps out of the way and hid the Hershey's we'd purchased from America... Three or four superficial questions and BAM! - we were moving again.
I took a turnoff that was a bit premature, so we explored southern Vankie's outskirts on the way home.
Now we're back, and it's off to the week tomorrow.