SEATTLE, DAY 3: NOV 1, 2015 (SUN). University District/Ballard/Space Needle/Ayron Jones & The Way




I went to the north side of Seattle on the third day. My first destination was University District, where the huge campus of the University of Washington was located. I got off 36 bus at International District Station to make a connection. My next bus was either 71, 72 or 73 bus, but I could find their bus stop on the streets no matter how much I looked for. Both OneBusAway, Seattle’s most popular bus location app, and Google Map indicated I was on the right point. I finally found out both indicated “Bay A, North Bound”. Northbound…meaning underground Sound Transit Light Rail station? I went downstairs. Yes, I found Bay A and bus stop of 71-73. Both light rail and buses stopped on same platforms and ran on the same tunnel. That made possible by the flat paved surface with buried rails and low floors of both buses and trains. That was such a brilliant idea. Car traffic worry free! Both buses and trains would be able to move smoother than outside streets (although there was conjunction on rush hours). The tunnel, so-called “Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel”, ran in downtown and had several stations.

I rode on 72 Express bus to University District. The bus went up to the surface and ran on the highway after Convention Center Station. The view was pretty on both sides. The left side was the Lake Union, and the right side was visibly affluent area of Montlake, with many gorgeous houses along the hills with beautiful falls foliage. I wanted to go to the area on a later day.

Lake Union from I-5 toward University District

Why did I visit the University of Washington? Probably it’s the same reason why tourists visit Harvard or MIT when they go to Boston. It was a high academic university in Pacific Northwest, as well as shopping area targeting students. I found many popular University District restaurants at Yelp. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that much hungry, so I just enjoyed the walking around the neighborhood. Walked on campus a little bit, then walked along University Way to 55th Street then return south on Brooklyn Ave to 45th Street. What I surprised was there were many Asian restaurants, especially Thai, Vietnam, and Korean. If you’re Asian food lover, I think you won’t get trouble to find a favorite one. Maybe because it was Sunday afternoon, the neighborhood was a little quiet although many students were passing by.

University District


I rode on 44 bus for about 30 minutes from 45th Street, then arrived in Ballard neighborhood after crossing quiet Wallingford Neighborhood. I had Sammies (thick brunch biscuit with egg, breakfast meat, and salad inside) in my mind for brunch, but I was a little late. Instead, I took a late lunch at Northern Thai (Isan) Restaurant, Pestle Rock. Although the restaurant was popular with 4.5 stars on Yelp, the restaurant was almost empty when I went there. Maybe it was because late Sunday afternoon. I chose “Gai Phad Prick Gang”. According to the restaurant website, it was “Draper Valley chicken stir-fried with house made chili paste, peppercorn, krachai root, fresh chili, Thai eggplant, green beans” (Draper Valley is located about 1.5 hours north from Seattle).

The food was brilliantly delicious. I would hardly be able to find in New York City, either. Local produced fresh chicken was delicious, but the best part of that dish was the melody of fresh vegetables with chili sauce. The food was really spicy as I sweat a lot, but I didn’t feel the fire and rather felt some fresh breeze on my tongue. There aren’t many vegetables makes to feel fresh inside of mouth at casual restaurants. Especially tiny balls of Thai eggplant added an accent to the meal, and worked spicy food milder and fresher inside of the mouth. Chili paste increased the best part of each vegetable’s taste. The food wasn’t Americanized, but going on their bold Isan way. It was one of most delicious Thai food I’d ever eaten.

Delicious “Gai Phad Prick Gang” at Pestle Rock

The interior and dishware were good and old time authentic Thai theme. Big classic glass bottle of water and silver cups gave me the inspiration of classic Southeast Asian style. Interior used woods and brown bricks effectively, and thick wooden benches and big clock created more classic atmosphere. I don’t think we can find those style restaurants in Isan, but they were all warmly welcoming setting. Service of my waiter was pretty good also.

Interior and dishware at Pestle Rock

ADDRESS: 2305 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107
TEL: 206-466-6671


Ballard neighborhood

I had almost no information about Ballard Neighborhood when I went there. I didn’t read the guidebook, and I didn’t find much information about the area on the internet. The only info I had was about several high rated restaurants there. My thought was the area where restaurants gather would usually have rich or diverse culture because that was where people gathered. That was why I was interested in Ballard. I took a walk in the area after lunch. I saw pretty houses and yacht marina on Shilshole Avenue, then when I entered to a small street named Ballard Avenue…boom! The street was full of stores with innovated interior remodels. None of the brick buildings were new. I assumed many of them were old warehouses before. All stores completely renovated the interior, but it wasn’t just renovation. Interiors were polished, but not too much contemporary or fancy. They used the best part of old bricks walls with new but classic look woods and made warm, very cozy settings like living rooms. I couldn’t believe they were commercial business properties and all shoppers were welcome to entering! Probably the best example was the picture below. The combination of dark wooden ceiling and light wooden floor, brick wall, the combo of white walls and big mirrors, warm yellow color lighting from both spotlight and bulbs effectively arranged…it was gym! Working out in cozy, living room alike situation would make mind rich as well…I think.

Olympic Athletic Gym

Below is the Seattle-based barber shop also has stores in Los Angeles, Portland, and New York. I want to get haircut in that kind of quiet, cozy, yet handsome barber shop but how much is it to just get haircut?? It might just be coincident, but all barbers were the young females in fashionable dresses.

Rudy’s Barbershop

Garage-renovated pizzeria.

Ballard Pizza Company

This is a fashion school.

New York Fashion Academy

As an old architecture lover, I was so excited to see those beautiful stores. It was a short street, but I spent almost an hour on walking on both side. The area was a good discovery, and one of the best area in Seattle for me.

There was a live house named “Tractor Tavern” on Ballard Avenue and promoted upcoming local indie band on a large TV inside of show window. Their name was “Ayron Jones and The Way” based in Seattle (Ayron Jones is the vocal/guitar). There was no sound, but their charisma on screen was enough to catch my attention while walking and made me think their music should be good.

Ayron Jones and The Way

Thanks god for technology era, I pulled up my iPhone from jeans and searched the band’s name on YouTube right outside of the club. That had exactly same video. The dark melody of “Boys From Puget Sound” with angry lyric reminded me of grunge music, but with full of raw cutting edge guitar riffs. The sound was more heavy metal for me. Here was the video I watched on the street.

I kept searching YouTube in the cold outside (lol), and I also found another good live performance, “My Love Remains”. The sound made the power ballad more emotional.

I wish I could see their live at  the club on late November, but I would have already returned to New York. I would be in Portland when they had a show in Olympia, WA on that weekend. Instead, I bought their album by iTunes within the same day. Their music is unique and original. I think their music is influenced by two of classic Seattle rock, Jimi Hendrix and grunge, in addition to relatively current hip-hop. Their album, “Dream”, is still my heavy rotation. The band got a new fan from East Coast on the street.

ADDRESS: 5213 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle, WA 98107

TEL: 206-789-3599




I didn’t decide what I would do for the night, but the sky was totally clear by the time I left Ballard in the evening. I decided to go to Space Needle. It was just on the bus route to downtown. I’d already known the weather would change quickly in Seattle around the season, I didn’t know when the next clear night would be if I missed it. I got off D bus then walked to famous Seattle landmark. The parking next to Wells Fargo Bank on Denny Way (2800 3rd Ave) was a perfect photo spot.

Space Needle from Wells Fargo parking area

I am not actually much an observatory fan. I’d rather enjoy in the ground than above, and observatory fee is usually high. That’s why I haven’t been in the Prudential Center in Boston or Sky Deck in Chicago yet. But I wanted to go to Space Needle because it was the symbol of Seattle, plus an interesting architecture. Even 53 years old, Space Needle still looked futuristic.


$23 admission inclusive of tax wasn’t bad for an observatory. My surprises started before riding on an elevator. There was a souvenir photo shoot before elevator area. Usually, the photo would be ripped off the price, but it was free at Space Needle!

The elevator was set on the outside, not inside of the building. People could enjoy the view from the elevator. I just wondered how visitors would do if the elevator was broken.

Space Needle elevator

Observatory had both outside and inside viewing areas. There was a self-service photo camera with a strong flush in outside viewing area, and it was also free! Just scan ticket barcode into a booth under the camera in outside viewing area, then scan barcode again at a large monitor at inside viewing area. All photo appeared on the monitor. You can send photos to your e-mail address or share at social media such as Facebook.

Taken by self-service camera outside viewing area

Space Needle was very nice. It entertained visitors as much as possible. Free souvenir photo was one. There were plenty of seating areas where visitors could enjoy the view or post about their excitement on social media while sitting down. Casual cocktail/snack counter had a reasonably priced menu. Large wall display showed fun facts about the observatory. Interior was the cozy atmosphere to make visitors relaxed. Most of all, Seattle night view was beautiful! Because Space Needle was located on the north of the downtown area, the only south side was the viewpoint, but it was spectacular. Outside was very windy and cold, but I was attracted to the downtown night view. I stayed there for more than an hour, and I didn’t get bored. There were a moderate number of tourists considering off-peak Sunday night, and they all seemed like they enjoyed.

Fun facts about Space Needle on a large display

The elevator to downstairs stopped over at a restaurant just below observatory. A pianist was playing upbeat jazz number when the door was opened, and it was exactly what I was feeling. I had a great experience.


Seattle Center Monorail

Another famous Seattle Center Monorail was the easiest way to downtown. The fare was $2.25 by cash only, and ORCA wasn’t accepted. The 53 years old, 4-car monorail was a classic yet futuristic figure as well, although moving sound couldn’t hide old and loud. The trains were maintained very clean.

Only my concern was the situation of the monorail wasn’t easy. There were only 3 people including me to downtown and none on returning. Still, the trains were running almost every 10 minuted even on slow Sunday night. It might be convenient on rush hour, but the area around Space Needle wasn’t high-density residential area and there were many other transportation alternatives. Because that monorail also required both operator and conductor, not automatic like modern monorails, I didn’t think it was cost effective. Plus trains were old. They were just my thoughts. Although I think the situation isn’t same with Space Needle, I hope another Seattle symbol will last long.