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On a recent vacation to New Mexico and Colorado, my traveling companion was recovering from a cold. No fever, no debilitating exhaustion, but the lingering cough and sore muscles threatened to put a damper on our visit, which was scheduled to include a three-day camping trip in the San Juan Wilderness. Rugged mountain man that he is, he persevered, we had a fantastic time, and somehow I avoided catching the same illness…
Until a couple of weeks later, when we were back at home. While I spent the first day or two recuperating in bed, by the third day my throat was a bit sore but I had enough energy (and cabin fever) to force myself out and into the world. It occurred to me, then, that Seattle might be an ideal place to explore while you’re sick. Of course, I don’t expect anyone to seek out a cold just for an excuse to see a different side of the city, but it’s inevitable that eventually you might take a trip when you’re not feeling your best. And what are you going to do then, huh? Stay in your hotel room and sleep?! No way! Read on for some great suggestions of what to do in Seattle when you’re feelin’ a bit run-down.
Back when I was a regular at good ol' Magruder Elementary School, my mom used to make me her specialty on the days I stayed home sick: toast with butter and jam. While this hit just the spot for my fourth-grade self, let's not forget that you are on vacation in beautiful Seattle! Why not opt for a gilded-lily spin on toast with a Classic Liege waffle from Sweet Iron Waffles? Simple, satisfying, and not too filling: because you gotta eat breakfast but let's face it, your appetite's not what it should be.
Leave your tour of Pike Place Market for another day; the crowd's going to overwhelm and you definitely don't want to sneeze on the beautiful bunches of kale and apples on display. Instead, head to the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library. Designed by uber-architect Rem Koolhaas, this flagship library is divided into "five platforms, each a programmatic cluster that is architecturally defined and equipped for maximum, dedicated performance." Despite what some critics have argued (namely that the library is too industrial, too design-y), there are indeed some comfy (if not cozy) areas on the 10th floor, just right for settling in with a good book. Grab one on your way up: just get off on the 6th, 7th 8th or 9th floor and wander.
When you start to feel your tummy rumbling for something healthful and sustaining, head up to the north end of Capitol Hill and take your lunch at Volunteer Park Cafe. Tucked into a residential corner not far from Volunteer Park, this homey and tastefully-styled spot will take care of you with local, seasonal salads and sandwiches. But for today, it’s the soup you need to focus on here. Warming, thyme-spiced broth with carrots and celery, the chicken is hearty and the matzoh-balls are just like those my mom made (reserved for Passover, though I wish she had made them when I was sick!). How did they know?? If the sun comes out, it will find you here and send health-restoring Vitamin D your way.
You've still got to get out and explore, though, right? Pay a visit to the Japanese Garden in the Washington Park Arboretum. Admission is only $6, and as you wander your mind and body may start to feel at ease watching ducks and turtles lounge languidly by the pond in the center. If your legs start to feel ache-y, you can take a load off on a perfectly landscaped bench and listen to the Japanese Garden Podcast that you downloaded earlier.
By the time you're finished here, it probably feels like it's been a long day already. Find your way to the International District ("ID"), but check out the ID Post Office on a day when you have more stamina. For now just make a bee-line to one of the many Chinese apothecaries that offer myriad remedies for what ails you, such as New An Dong. This and others are located in tiny storefronts south of S Jackson St, between 5th Ave S and 8th Ave S, in the area known as Chinatown.
Once you've stocked up on exactly what the experts recommend, finish off your day with a huge bowl of Szechuan hot pot at Sichuanese Cuisine. Let your server know whether you prefer the mild or the spicy broth (go for spicy to really cleanse your sinuses), and which meats (or tofu) you prefer, then have at it. Hot pot is best enjoyed with a group so that you can do a lot of damage to the copious ingredients that show up on your table, but even with just two people, you'll leave very satisfied and ready for a brighter tomorrow.
Please note: the activities recommended here are really just for when you're beginning to feel sick or are already on the road to recovery. When you're in the thick of a cold or the flu, you probably should just follow your grandma's advice to stay in bed and rest. That's what the Four Seasons is for. Enjoy!