I’ve been very fortunate to spend a lot of time visiting different places. To say I have wanderlust would be a mild understatement. Almost every day I’m checking flight prices, trying to figure out what new and exotic location I will go next. All of my spare change goes to adventures (on the upcoming shortlist is Turkey and Russia). I’ll stay in hostels, eat cheap food, travel with my handy-dandy Osprey Porter backpack full of only the clothes I need to get by.
Last December, I decided it was time for another adventure. Yes, I had just been to Poland over Thanksgiving. But one can never start planning too soon for the next trip.
I’ve had a vague idea of what Seattle was like for years. A cloudy place by the sea, at one of the most north-western points of the US, I wasn’t sure if it was a place that really attracted for me. I like sunshine and spring days. A friend of mine moved out there for grad school in 2010, and she had been asking for years for me to visit.
With work’s big conference in the first week of March, I knew I would need a major mental break. I booked a five day trip to Seattle, hoping to find out what this place was all about.
I’m in love. Seattle you have stolen my heart.
I know I was lucky. We had misty and rainy weather my first few days, but Sunday and Monday were sunny and warm. The skies were just clear enough to see Mount Ranier in the distance. I may just have seen every neighborhood Seattle has to offer, thanks to my friend and tour guide Teresa Brown. Each has it’s own vibe and feel. The city is mellow and laid back, a perfect contrast to the constant bustle that is New York City. Even Brooklyn, my borough paradise and escape, can be overwhelmingly fast paced at times.
After arriving on Thursday morning, pushing through exhaustion from an early wake up and long flight time, I made my way onto the Link Light Rail (Seattle’s form of train transit) and two busses into the University District. Public transit was easy enough to figure out; once you know one city, other cities are relatively easy to navigate (plus, Google Maps transit directions… let’s be real). I arrived on campus for the University of Washington and was immediately in awe.
The campus is beautiful. It has the feel of Oxford University, while being next to the Sound and overlooking Mount Ranier. Sprawling grassy knolls fill the crevices between elaborate stone buildings. No building is more impressive than the Suzzallo Library. It’s been my life’s mission to stand in the historic reading room and twirl amongst the books (well, since 2010 anyway). Being in the actual reading room far outweighs looking at a single picture.
My alma mater, Michigan State University, has a pretty campus. But the University of Washington blows it out of the water.
Teresa lives on Bainbridge Island; while geographically it’s rather large and home to around 18,000 people, it has a spacious and almost small town feel. Her spacious studio apartment, above the garage of a family home, overlooks the shore, Seattle skyline, and mountain ranges. The roads are windy and the downtown is quaint. No chain outlets are found, just shops purveying local art and fresh seafood. Tiny bakeries open in the early hours, as the residents arrive ready to be filled with famous Seattle coffee. There truly is such thing as latte art.
Over the weekend, we spent time in various coffee shops and eateries. Dinner at Bizarro, coffee from Lighthouse Roasters in Fremont, chocolate from Theo’s, bubble tea with chocolate pudding instead of bubbles, and more. I painstakingly checked into every shop, restaurant, and historical space in order to best document my journey. I took photos and will soon match this data up in order to best recap and offer advice to future Seattle visitors.
We even had the chance to go to a professional soccer game, a first for the both of us. The Seattle Sounders versus the Portland Timbers; a rivalry to beat all rivalries (well, at least as far as American professional soccer goes). Teresa and I met up with another friend from Tacoma, and we watched Seattle score at 13 minutes… followed by a Portland score in the last 30 seconds. I’ve never been much of a professional sports watcher, but this game really kept my attention.
On my last full day, Teresa and I took a little day trip to Port Townsend, the former customs checkpoint for entering the Sound towards Seattle and Tacoma. The city was quaint and historical, with a small museum highlighting its history. The ship docks gave a majestic view of the ocean and mountain ranges. We stopped for brothy clam chowder at Hudson Point Cafe, where the clams came in the shell and the soup was served with bread made right down the street. Outstanding.
If I had a few more days, I know just what I would have done: visited Mount Saint Helens and gone through the lava tunnels, climbed Mount Rainier, and had about ten million more lattes. Ok, maybe not ten million. But a girl can dream, right?
Until next time, Seattle. I look forward to being in your cloudy beauty again soon.
Edit: Want to check out the awesome places I visited while in Seattle? Subscribe to my Seattle Must Do List on Foursquare.