Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sleepless... So Let's Blog About Seattle!

“She was back in western Washington state, where rain was so prevalent that a day of sunshine was the lead story on the local news.”  -- Susan Mallery, Barefoot Season

As much as I like to travel, Seattle never seemed to come up in my plans. I lived in hot, cloudy, rainy Houston back when I was in my traveling prime... why would I want to travel to cold, cloudy, rainy Seattle? That said... it was somewhere I had always wanted to visit. It just never came up. This changed in the winter of 2011 when my very good friend EP invited me to go with him for a weekend getaway! He had found an amazing deal online, and I would have been a fool to say no :) Sadly, EP's father passed away shortly before our trip and he understandably didn't go. I almost canceled myself, but I figured... when would I go again? So off I went for a quick trip to Seattle. No plans. No hotel. Just me.

Seattle was everything I expected it to be and nothing I expected it to be all at once. Yes, it was cold(ish), cloudy, and drizzly. But the rain here was nothing compared to the rain in Houston! I was warned of the infamous Seattle freeze... but people were surprisingly warm, friendly, and helpful. Having zero plans, I asked the hotel concierge (thank you, Hotwire!) for a recommendation on my first day. I was pleasantly surprised when he directed me towards the Olympic Sculpture Park on the north end of the seawall. I took a TON of pictures here (including the picture above of yours truly), but I will spare you those. Instead, I thought it would be fun to point out a fun fact I discovered while visiting this side of town. 

Just south of the park lies the Pier 70. This is the most northern pier on the Central Waterfront, and was home to The Real World's cast in season 7. The Real World had to get special permissions and make certain accommodations to allow the cast to reside there - residential development is actually prohibited on the harbor front, so they were only permitted to use it if they classified it as a 24 hour film set (which it technically was). It looks nothing like it did on the show, and I wouldn't have recognized it had my waitress at Waterfront Seafood Grill (now AQUA by El Guacho) not clued me in. The Real World: Seattle was famous for several things, but is most infamous for the slap heard around the world - when Stephen slapped Irene as she left the roommates (and the show) due to complications from Lyme disease. I won't embed the video, but if you're curious you can watch it here (note that the slap occurred roughly near where I was standing for this picture, and Irene's poor teddy bear met his fate in the water pictured above). 

Having had no car, I was limited in my tour of Seattle to areas I could walk to or take a short cab ride to/from. Since I wasn't terribly far, I decided to make my way next to the Space Needle. The Seattle Space Needle isn't the tallest building in Seattle, nor is it the oldest... but it's certainly the most famous attraction in town. I originally didn't care to visit it (I had many other sights I wanted to see, and only had a weekend to do it), but I eventually succumbed to the allure of the beautiful tower. I had to see it! The tower itself is stunning, and sits in beautiful and culturally interesting Seattle Center - site of the 1962 World's Fair. The views below are cool enough...

But the view from the top is AMAZING! I got to the top just before dusk and stayed until just after nightfall. Luckily, I had a good camera with me to capture the amazing view! Seattle is such a beautiful city and what better way to see it than from the top of the Space Needle : )

That evening, I met some friends from New Mexico that now live in Seattle for dinner. Oh, how I wish I could remember the name of where we went! It was fantastic! (Shameless plug: My friend has a terrific food blog based mostly in Seattle - check her out if you ever want honest reviews with great pictures! We then headed down to Post Alley where we tossed back a pint at haunted Kells Irish Pub! They also took me to see the famous (infamous?) Market Theater Gum Wall. Sadly (or not), I don't chew gum so I couldn't partake in adding to this display (although someone kindly added a bubble gum "B" on the window there... so weird). 

The next morning was my last in the Emerald City, so I woke up early and headed directly to Pike Place Market to do some shopping and grab a cuppa joe. Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously running outdoor markets in the United States. It's home to a number of local farmers's shops/stands, merchants, craftsmen, and the famous Pike Place Fish Market - home of the flying fish! (Warning - they are mighty proud of their fish! I'm sure it's great, but it was way pricier than on the gulf coast. I was so surprised!) Pike Place Market is a wonderful place to spend a morning. I loved the sights, the street entertainers, and the conversations with locals and tourists alike.

Now, I love me some coffee and I know there are probably better coffee joints in Seattle than Starbucks... but how can you not go to the "Original" Starbucks while you're at Pike Place? (Note: Soooo... not the original Starbucks, but close enough. The original was actually a couple of blocks away on Washington Ave, but that building was razed so I guess the Starbucks guys figure this is close enough). To my knowledge, the Original Starbucks is the only place that still has the original logos and furnishings and is the only place you can buy merchandise with the same. Of course, I had to buy my very own Original Starbucks mug, which I'm drinking tea from as I'm typing this post! Haha!

I ended my trip with a short jaunt on the Seattle-Winslow ferry to Bainbridge Island. As a longtime fan of Grey's Anatomy, I always loved the scenes that they did on the ferries. Hey, I'm a desert kid... ferries are cool and unusual to people like me! And it was a steal of a deal - a really inexpensive way to see the entire Seattle skyline while visiting an outlying community sans car. (Another note: I've made it a habit to always look for interesting ferries in cities I visit since living in Houston. They're a great way to explore! Best one to date? The NYC-Staten Island Ferry. Easily the cheapest and easiest way to see the Statue of Liberty! Ha!). But as with all good trips, they eventually come to an end and I left the ferry back on the Seattle side of the Puget Sound and headed directly to the airport. This trip completely changed my mind about Seattle, and it quickly became one of my favorite cities! I can't wait to go back again :)

I have more pictures from my second, more recent trip to the Emerald City, but I figure this post is probably long enough! So with that, I bid you a temporary adieu... Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Until next time...

--- Becks

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