I love when my friends from out of the state come to visit. First of all, it is ‘long time no see’ kind of excitement, a lot of giggling, sharing, food tasting, and walking. Second, and just as much enjoyable, I have a perfect excuse to do things that the locals barely do: visit the city’s most known places! Those who live near the ocean will understand me because, against the common belief, they enjoy ‘beach days’ pretty rarely, just as those who live near forests and national parks barely hike the same trails over and over again. I think it is due to the lack of time, the desire to find new attention-grabbing spots, and the need to avoid crowds. I definitely can add one more reason: getting used to seeing the same thing (even a truly fascinating one) makes its charm faint. So every time I go up the Space Needle is really special because I do it so infrequently.
Summing up all the above, I think you can image how excited I was when my long-time friend, also Anna, from a beautiful Colorado state stopped to visit me while traveling to Oregon. We had two days only catch up and explore the city. By the way, it was Anna’s first time in Seattle and she loved it! The combination of sunny weather, picture taking, freshly brewed coffee drinking and a lot of laughing had done its part and a two-day layover ended up too soon.
While planning our exploration walks, I came up with a list of places we had to visit so Anna could more or less proudly say that she saw Seattle.
- We started our first day with a walk through the downtown with its shops, street concerts, and a variety of restaurants. The first stop, of course, was the Pike Place Market. Located seven blocks from the starting point, on the First Street and Pike, the Market was busy and loud. Tourists and locals were navigating through the stands with locally grown vegetables, fruits, buying freshly cut flowers, and tasting homemade preserves. A sizable throng was waiting near the fresh seafood stands for the fishmongers to perform their famous routine of ‘throwing and catching’ fish before wrapping it. Once in a while, the crowd would exclaim in excitement while a front fisherman shouted out a customer’s order and threw the fish to the others standing behind the stand. The whole team of fish sellers would loudly repeat the order and catch the thrown trunk. It may sound strange, but believe me there’s hardly time to blink when the action starts.
- It took us a while to roam through the market (shopping for gifts is an art, you know), but as we were getting hungry, it was time to change the location. The next stop was Seattle Waterfront. We descended to the water and enjoyed a long walk along the wharf. Even though it has been a while now since I moved to the city, I could not disagree with Anna that waterfront makes a huge difference in the overall city view. Salty breeze, piers, boats, and ferries make Seattle a very attractive destination. People enjoy the view, water cruises on Lake Washington and Lake Union, and, obviously, the chance to treat themselves to fresh seafood. It was exactly what Anna did: ordered oyster shots and fish-and-chips that were accompanied with a relaxing water view on the side.
- Tired of walking and taking pictures, we headed back to the downtown passing the Seattle Art Museum (also known as SAM). SAM operates since 1933 and right now offers quite a wide number of exhibitions to choose from including: Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, and R. Crumb. For roughly $20 anybody can enjoy a one-day admission to the Museum’s downtown location. Sadly, we did not have the luxury of time that day, so the only thing we pointed our photo cameras at was Hammering Man, one of a series of sculptures designed by Jonathan Borofsky and built in 1991. It is 48 feet tall and weights 26,000 pounds. The Man became a widely known symbol of SAM.
Our first day of walking through the city ended with dinner and wine, and even more talking. Anna shared her growing excitement about seeing more popular landmarks next day and I felt just as much eager for a new day to start because of the two destinations I had not seen myself in a long time.
- Our second day started with a 20-minute walk to a magnificent Space Needle (yeah, one of the best things about living downtown is a no need to drive a car, it is that easily walkable). We purchased our tickets to the Needle the day before and easily avoided the lines. Last time I went to the top of the Space Needle was three years ago while visiting Seattle as a tourist myself, so this time I was just as much enthusiastic about going 605 feet up as Anna was. While making our way to the elevator (which by the way travels 10 miles per hour!), we educated ourselves on the Needle’s history. Then in less than a minute, the elevator took us all the way up to the Observation Deck and, once again, I appreciated the gorgeous weather we were blessed with: the whole city with its suburbs was right in the palm of my hand! We spent almost an hour walking around the Deck, taking photos, trying to recognize familiar buildings, and learning about the territories around us.
- After the Needle was studied all the way through, we resumed our walk for another 20 minutes to get to the place that can easily be named one of the best viewpoints of the downtown. My very favorite and very touristy is Kerry Park. Fairly short promenade almost exhausted us because of its uphill location. The last few blocks to the destination, I willed myself forward, chastising myself for being out of shape. The Park was not as busy as usually, so we had a chance to admire the scenery of the Needle and the downtown. One of the reasons why I also like Kerry Park is that it is a quiet neighborhood with beautiful homes that I like to call “cookies”. The area’s vegetation is amazing! Every other house can brag about having a magnolia tree blooming next to a palm tree and being surrounded by coniferous trees. Actually, Seattle itself is a very green city. Of course, I was aware of it, but the real appreciation came when my guest from Denver, started taking pictures of the bushes of wild blackberries that were growing untouched on a side of a road. (By the way, the berries were sweet and juicy!)
That exact night I had to say good-bye to my guest and wish her good luck in her further travels. I know that even though being a tourist is always fun, most of the travelers are happy to come back home. Nevertheless, at the moment I dropped Anna off at the airport, I had a feeling she would use a chance to come back for more fun and sightseeing in the Evergreen city of mine in the future.
Considering the limited number of days and life obstacles, we had to skip quite a few marvelous places I had planned to take Anna to. So let me put all of them together on a list and guide you through those stops in my next posts. Cheers!