Sea-Tac

November 16, 2006 at 1:36 AM | Art, Food, Site/Personal | No Comments

I had about an hour or so to kill during my layover in Seattle on my way back from Alaska. I’d been to the Seattle-Tacoma International airport (known as “Sea-Tac”) before, but the last time that I was there (just a little over a week prior), I only had enough time to get to my departure gate. And plus it was late and all of the shops were closed/closing down. All that I got to see were gates, the same old newsstands, and empty eateries. My return trip, however, gave me an opportunity to see a little more.

The chance to explore an airport is something that I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, if its an airport that you’ve never been to, with lots to see, and you’ve got some time to kill, sure, it’s a fantastic time to check things out. On the other hand, if there’s too much time between flights or the airport has little/nothing to see, it can be sheer torture (ie. Manila International Airport). Plus, things in airports tend to be on the expensive side. Like when I was at Chicago O’Hare, I looked over a McDonald’s menu (there were McDonald’s everywhere), thinking that prices for fast food chains would be standardized. Not the case. Everything on there was a multitude more expensive than any McDonald’s on the outside. The Dollar Menu was nowhere to be found.

So back to Seattle. Apart from California, I’ve never really spent a lot of time on the west coast. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure if Seattle is considered west coast because its kind of northwest… I dunno. Anyways, Seattle certainly looks like a fascinating city from above the night skies. It wasn’t a big perfect grid of orange lights like Chicago; and it most certainly wasn’t a big black abyss like Kansas City. No, it was filled with different colored lights in an array of different shapes, curving along contours. It looked alive. But since this was the summation of all my interaction with the city of Seattle outside of the airport–that is, through airplane windows, I won’t even attempt to write about the city. But I will say that it has piqued my curiosity.

No, instead, I will say what I can about the hour or so that I spent in the airport, waiting for my flight to Denver. Wait, I lied. I really need to start from the departure gate in Alaska, which is where I was flying into Seattle from. There was about half an hour before the plane boarded and I was sitting at the packed gate, just waiting. Seats were scarce and I found myself sitting next to this woman who was sleeping, kind of sprawled over across 2 seats. I mean there were plenty of open seats, but they were seats right next to people or between people. Or they were handicap seats. You can’t sit next to a stranger and be comfortable. You have got to have a buffer seat or two, like at a movie theater. The seat that I had settled for was not great, because I was sitting directly next to some stranger, but at least that stranger was asleep, so it made it easier to bear. On the other side of me was an empty handicap seat. Waiting, just waiting. They say you should get to the airport at least an hour before your flight (even more for international flights), and I always try to do just that. But waiting for a plane to start boarding is so excruciating. I put my hands in my pockets, stared at my shoes.

This was when this girl with a backpack and a pillow (a full-size pillow, not one of those inflatable U-shaped flight pillows) came up to where I was sitting and eyed the open seat to my left. There was a moment of hesitation as she realized that it was marked handicap and looked around the room for a different seat with buffers, but with no such luck. Silly girl, if there had been one, I would have gotten it. She turned around, sat down, looked at me and smiled.

“Hey… you’re not handicapped.”

We talked right up until we got on the plane. Her name was Amanda and it sounded to me like this was the first time that she had ever flown before, because she had all these questions, but she insisted that she had once flown to California. It almost seemed like she was running away, but I didn’t want to pry. Before I knew it, it was time to start boarding. I sat like 20 rows back from her so I didn’t get to talk to her after we got on the plane.

When the plane arrived in Seattle, I thought that I might run into her during my layover, but she was going to a completely different gate, different airline. I didn’t see her again.

I found my departure gate on the flight board and proceeded to the gate, taking note of anything interesting along the way. I checked the time and determined that I had approximately one hour to wander. That’s how I always roll. Go to the gate and branch out from there… because I don’t want to have to find my gate after wandering about the airport, and then realizing that the flight is about to leave.

I found myself in this sort of junction where shopping and dining came together. It was super busy for being something like 6 in the morning. I came across this place called Ivan’s Fish Bar. I remember my brother personally recommending that I try the fish taco at the Seattle airport. But was it at Ivan’s? It sounded familiar. But there was no fish taco on the menu. I looked across the way and saw Anthony’s Fish Bar. That also sounded familiar. I thought that it was funny that there were these two competing fish bar establishments all within the general vicinity. But then again, there were a lot of other things there, too. There’s “Explore Puget Sound” which appears to be some kind of a flight/marine life gift store. The Discovery Channel Store. 2 coffee places (Starbuck’s is there, not surprisingly). Book stores. All kinds of food. Clothing stores… And this fantastic shop called “Fireworks” (their slogan was “Celebrating Art In Life”) that sold the neatest design/art items–creative salt and pepper shakers, piggy banks (I love pigs), children’s books, useless little trinkets that just strike up your imagination and fancy. You totally just want to buy everything up. And they played the coolest music! I loved the atmosphere in there. It is literally my new favorite store. In Seattle.

I looked at the time, I had time to stop by Anthony’s fish bar, grab a fish taco. Prior to my trip to Alaska, I had never ever had a fish taco. It’s not that I don’t like fish. And it’s not because I don’t like tacos. It’s because its name, unfortunately, is slang for something… else. Something quite revolting. But my brother went and got some fresh rockfish, grilled it up, and made fish tacos for dinner one night. They were good and I feel silly for never giving them a try. Anyways, it turns out that my brother’s inspiration for the fish tacos came from the fish tacos served at Anthony’s Fish Bar, in Seattle airport. And thus the reason for the recommendation.

So it was like 6:45AM and I ordered a fish taco, despite not knowing what meal it would be for me. It was way too early for breakfast, but way too late for a midnight snack… and the truth is, I had eaten a pretty large dinner in Alaska. I wasn’t the slightest bit hungry, but I ordered the Alaskan rockfish taco anyway… who knows when I would find myself in Seattle next? It seemed ironic that I was ordering this Alaskan fish, after having come from there, but yeah… that taco was amazing. It had this mango salsa all up in it that was just so fucking delicious. It came with chips and salsa, but I didn’t care much for the chips. They were too hard. I think my brother warned me about that, actually.

I finished my taco, took another short walk around the area shops, and then returned to my gate for departure.

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