Seattle the city of rain, Tom Hanks rom-coms and coffee. Well of the three I only sampled the latter. To my great fortunate there was a bit of a mini-heat wave occuring in the city of restless dreams and to my greater fortunate I did not meet Meg Ryan up the Space Needle (how I despise that actress).
My journey truely began on the train when I met possibly the smallest person without a medical condition called Dennis. He was a young, miniture Costa Rican chap who was on the way to meet a friend in Seattle. He had been in Portland visiting his step-brother and now was continuing up the coast much like myself. We had a wonderful chat for about 3 hours and after it was over we had arranged to meet the next day to do some touristy things. And that we did.
We climbed the space needle, walked along the monorail track (well along side obviously we were not death seekers) and in the evening ended up trawling the nightlife of Seattle and ended up seeing a very enthusiastic drag queen show. It was all great fun lubricated by some very cheap lager.
Now this may surprise some of you, scratch that, all of you, but despite my fondness for the ale I haven't been indulging in that much of late. When I was in Brisbane with Maggie, Duncan being the wine connseuseur that he is, I did ingest a few fine grapes, but apart from that my alcohol intake had been much reduced (and all the better for it). However, drinking vast quantities of 'bud light' (if you didn't know my new companion was homosexual, you now do) certainly took its toll on me the next morning. I was physically incapable of getting out of bed until midday. I was fortunate that the bunk beds in my hostel were unique as they were completely surrounded with little green curtains for privacy and as such my new dorm mates were not subjected to the vision that was the hungover me. When I did finally emerge I did not feel at all well and I have to be honest and say it wasn't until about 9pm that evening that I finally began to feel altogether myself again. Surfice to say, it was not a productive day.
Unfortunately due to my incapacity I was unable to meet up with the lovely tiny Dennis again and he departed back to Costa Rica, but there was a fond exchange of emails and for those of you with facebook, he has posted some pictures if you would like a look (also you can see my do-it-yourself haircut).
The good weather continued so I got out my guidebook and dedicately went out and saw the sites of Seattle. On first impression I wasn't too impressed with the city with its multitude of Starbucks coffee shops (literally one on every street) and numerous homeless crazy people. However, it warmed on me over the next few days especially when I found a park adjacent to a cemetery. Now for most people I'm sure this isn't much of an attraction, but when I was at home mum and I would frequently visit various cemeteries in the surrounding towns as they are curious and interesting places. It isn't a macbre thing, more a interest in history I suppose. This vast one in Seattle surprised me greatly in the number of Scottish names present as I wasn't aware it has many ties to the mother country, but there you go.
Anyway, enough of idle tourism. I would like to tell you about a hostel quirk and about one of the most curious conversations I've had in a while. In most independent hostels, that is not official Youth Hostel Association ones which are carefuly regulated, but the individual ones, I have noticed a recurrence of a certain character who I have named the "Creepy Man'. In most independent hostels, they will allow you to stay rent free if you work there and this results in a large number of semi-permanent residents who don't have any money as they are not paid, but are very familiar with the hostel. There is also usually a 'Creepy Guy' in situ. This is usually a chap in his mid-thirties (who really in my mind shouldn't be dossing in a hostel) who is very comfortable in the hostel surround. You notice the other hostel workers keep their berth from him and he seems to be present in the communal areas regardless of time of day. He is always chatting up some solo female traveller saying such things as 'yeah I've been everywhere in the world' and 'I could show you around *insert city name*' and 'yeah I used to be a bass player for Pearl Jam'. As soon as the solo female traveller shows any independent thought or questions this guy or gets company esp if it a male compnaion, the 'Creepy Guy' will scurry off in the corner and linger for new prey.
Now I sure you have an impression of the type of fellow I'm describing and as you can imagine I dislike such chaps. Despite being a delicate flower, I can smell a slimey chat up line from 20 paces and it impresses me not laddie. Now in Seattle we had one such 'Creepy guy' and in the 4 days I was there I was able to avoid him until my last night. I was in the kitchen cooking when I realised he was behind me chatting to some gullible American girl. I knew it was him as he had the most curious accent. It sounded like he was an American doing a English accent very badly and as such it was quite a distinctive voice. He was telling this girl about 'all the books' he had read and that "War and Peace" was his favourite novel (laugh laugh, cough cough), but then she departed. You could almost feel his eyes scanning the hostel looking for a female alone. Alas, me standing over my little pot cooking my noodles was the nearest victim. Then a most bizarre conversation took place. I will describe like a play for the drama. What I say will be in italics. Stage directions are in bold.
Creepy guy walks over to cooking girl
He points at the girl who is intently staring at her cooking pot.
A hush descends. He looks puzzled. This suggests to the girl that he is not English as he says he is. On the whole English people know Inverness. Suddenly the Creepy Guy begins to talk again. His words are spoken quickly.
Scottish people are nice. I knew some Scottish people who were in this hostel. Actually they were arseholes. They were Man U fans and I like City. We were, like, at the pub and I said 'hey no need to get nasty about it, but hey I will then'.
The cooking girl looks alarmed and puzzled on hearing this bizarre incoherent speech.
He continues after a brief pause.
How do you like America?
Americans are nice. Seattle is nice. The people are nice. Mostly.
Attempting to make conversation the cooking girl says
There are lots of homeless people
Yeah that's America for you
I think its to do with the lack of a public health service. No safety net for the mentally ill
(girl looks thoughtfully at her well realised statement)
Yeah. Homeless people. They are alright. They do their thing. I let them. In their corners. They stand outside the hostel, I don't mind. They do their stuff. It's okay
Creepy guy suddenly walks off, leaving the cooking girl with her pot. She is puzzled, but relieved. Scene ends.
In the immortal words of Jim Morrison - People are strange.