I had the privilege of spending the opening weekend of the 2016 college football season in Seattle to watch the Ash Era officially begin against the 14th ranked Washington Huskies. Seeing as I was the only OnTheBanks contributor to make the journey out west, I figured it would be fun to do a trip report on my time out there. I will keep my thoughts about the on-field product to a minimum and only talk about my experiences around the city over the weekend.
Thursday, September 1st
My plane landed around 5 PM local time and I took an Uber to my Airbnb, threw my bags in the place my friends and I rented and headed out to meet them on University Way at a bar called Shultzy’s. They had been out bar hopping for a couple of hours before I arrived and we all agreed that the atmosphere on University Way was very reminiscent of George Street in New Brunswick. There wasn’t much “action” going on and the area seemed pretty dead but after learning that Washington students didn’t begin classes until September 28th, I knew why it wasn’t more lively. At Schultzy’s I tried a couple of local beers, with Manny’s Pale Ale being my favorite and I highly recommend it to beer snobs. After inhaling some food recommended to me by the locals and our bartender (the cheese fries were amazing), my friends and I headed to our next stop.
We settled in at an Irish bar called Finn MacCool’s where I drank some girly drinks and attempted to watch some college football but unfortunately the thought of turning off the Seahawk’s 4th preseason game ruffled the locals feathers so I had to settle for watching 3rd stringers battle it out in a meaningless game.
At this point I should let everyone reading know that I am a huge fan of chicken wings. I think they’re the best food on the planet and if my waistline would allow it, I would eat them for every single meal.
So I ended up getting another order of wings at Finn MacCool’s and they were easily better than the ones across the street at Schultzy’s, where the bartender told me their wings were the best in town (false). After finishing my food and a couple more fruity drinks we moved onto the next spot on our mini-bar crawl.
Our third and final stop of the night was Earl’s on the Ave which had the best atmosphere of the three bars we visited. My friend and I played some Golden Tee while drinking more beer and eating more wings (these were mediocre) and then our group of three entered the nightly trivia contest where our team the “Scarlet Knights” took 2nd place, good for a $10 gift card! All jet lagged and tired, we rolled out after a couple more beers and concluded our first night in the Emerald City.
Friday, September 2nd
Our fourth friend arrived and we decided to do some sightseeing on our second day so we drank a couple of beers at the apartment and then headed over to one of the biggest tourist traps in the country, the Space Needle. I had already visited the Space Needle when I was much younger and now that I’m all grown up it’s lost most of it’s appeal. After waiting in a couple of lines and shelling out $30 just to go up top I ended up grabbing another Manny’s Pale Ale and taking in all of the views which are pretty breathtaking as you can see Elliot Bay out one side of the needle and the city from another side. After we all finished our beers and taking dozens of pictures, we took the elevator down and headed towards the world famous Pike Place Market.
The market is basically a huge flea market with dozens of food vendors and gift shops scattered throughout. Our first stop was to a specialty cheese store named Beecher’s where I tried their Mac & Cheese and HOLY CRAP was this stuff good. It might have been the best Mac & Cheese I’ve ever had in my entire life. If you’re ever in Seattle you have to try this stuff. After the Mac & Cheese, we went to Pike Place Fish Market to watch the workers throw fish long distance to one another which is probably what the market is most known for. I didn’t try anything from the fish market as I’m not a huge seafood guy so I wandered over to Pike’s Pit BBQ which is way more my speed. I got a “mini” sliced brisket sandwich which was a mountain of meat on a roll with some spicy BBQ sauce. It was one of the better brisket sandwiches I’ve ever had and I highly recommend getting something from here as well if you’re ever in town.
"Worlds best Mac and cheese" pic.twitter.com/LyMmXWQuMJ— T.J. Jurkiewicz (@TJJurkiewicz) September 2, 2016
This is a "small" brisket sandwich pic.twitter.com/0Bq8hqom7s— T.J. Jurkiewicz (@TJJurkiewicz) September 2, 2016
After the market, we decided to go take in a Mariners game as they were home that night playing the Angels. We walked over to the stadium district and settled in at a nice little sports bar called Slugger’s which I loved. Slugger’s is a very narrowly designed bar but it is excellent for watching numerous sporting events at once which is perfect for a football junkie like me. After having a bunch of drinks, we headed over to gorgeous Safeco Field and found our premium seats just 15 rows from the field behind home plate. We watched a great comeback by the Mariners while I drank a few of my all time favorite beers, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. After the game ended, we headed right back to Slugger’s for a couple more drinks and decided to head back and get some rest for game day on Saturday.
18 rows up. Trout show. pic.twitter.com/NGe4GWZE9m— T.J. Jurkiewicz (@TJJurkiewicz) September 3, 2016
Saturday, September 3rd - Game Day
We woke up at 4:30 AM on Saturday, got ready and headed over to meet a few fellow Rutgers fans to hop on a boat we had rented to enjoy a very special event called “Sailgating.” The University of Washington’s Husky Stadium is located directly on the water of Lake Washington so many Husky fans take their boats over to the stadium and tailgate on the water. It’s something I believe that every college football fan should experience once in their lives since it’s so unique and fun. The weather was sort of cold and rainy so it hampered my experience a bit but it was still a blast to sit out on the water, listening to music and drinking with some fellow Rutgers fans while ribbing the Washington fans nearby about how we were going to upset them and this was “our house!” We sailgated for a good four hours and by the time I was done drinking, I was ready to get into the stadium and watch the Ash Era unfold before my very eyes.
The other boats are arriving pic.twitter.com/OLj8qXwMVk— T.J. Jurkiewicz (@TJJurkiewicz) September 3, 2016
5 rows up behind the RU bench. LETS DO THIS! pic.twitter.com/pAMvUJi14l— T.J. Jurkiewicz (@TJJurkiewicz) September 3, 2016
We ended up scoring some really nice seats just five rows from the field on the Rutgers side right next to the official Rutgers section. Filled with liquid courage I was so excited for the season to get underway I almost convinced myself that maybe, just maybe we could beat these guys. And then the game started. I’m not going to get into specifics of the game but I was pretty dejected by halftime and we headed up to this 21+ only section where you’re allowed to drink booze during the game. I wish that they would’ve had whisky because I needed to numb the pain but I settled for a couple of beers before heading down to watch the rest of the game in complete misery.
After the slaughtering, we headed towards some bars but on the way we got stopped by an awesome Washington tailgating group who invited us over for some beers. I ended up shotgunning about half a dozen beers in the little time we spent with this group and we had a blast after experiencing such a horrible game. We left that tailgate and then headed to a bar that I can’t remember the name of to take in all of the college football action that was going on while continuing to drink the sorrows away.
Our last stop of the night was this college bar called The Duchess Tavern where we were treated like royalty by a group of Husky fans. I ended up not paying a dollar in this place despite my pleads to let me buy them some drinks but they weren’t having any of it. If there’s one thing I can say about Washington fans, it’s they are some of the nicest opposing fans I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming across. I think that the entire weekend I had only one negative interaction with a frat bro dressed in striped suspenders who shouted “F**K RUTGERS” to me for no good reason after the game ended but every fanbase has a minority group they are ashamed of. Outside of Suspenders McFraterson, every single Husky fan I came across was very gracious and welcoming and they should be very proud of how they carry themselves as a fan base. After way too many free beers and shots from these Husky fans, we headed back to our apartment dead tired from a long day of constant drinking and just completely crashed until the next morning when it was time for me to leave and head back east.
UW fans have been great. Guy just bought up a round of fireball shots. pic.twitter.com/wOpicuUyhW— T.J. Jurkiewicz (@TJJurkiewicz) September 4, 2016
All in all, aside from the outcome of the game and maybe the weather, I had an absolutely amazing time in Seattle. It exceeded my expectations in every way and I can’t recommend it enough to sports fans to go visit for a weekend at least once in their lives.