I’m not a big city person. I never have been and I probably never will be for any extended period of time. I enjoy going to visit for a day or two just for the experience, and I always enjoy the hustle and bustle, the never-ending list of things to do and places to go. But my dislike for traffic and crowds of people always end up winning out. I just can’t do it. I know for most people these things are facts of life or not that big of a deal, but after spending the first 18 years of my life in a place where you can usually merge onto the highway without looking because there’s never anyone coming, it’s definitely an issue.
That being said, if I had to pick a city to move to, it would be Seattle.
Now to be fair, I don’t have a lot to compare it to in terms of other cities. I’ve not been to that many and certainly not for an extended period of time. But I spent a decent amount of time in Seattle during college, since it was only an hour and a half away, and I always enjoyed it.
Actually, the first time I went to Seattle was on a band trip in high school. We got invited to perform at a big music conference and then had some time to explore the city. So of course we did the super touristy stuff like going to the top of the Space Needle, touring the Experience Music Project, and taking a boat out to Tillicum Village on Blake Island for dinner and a show. It’s not the kind of thing I’d normally choose, considering my lack of money and dislike of crowds. But it was a fun trip and the view from the Space Needle is beautiful. Especially since it was clear enough to see Mount Rainier out in the distance!
My second trip to Seattle was in college, when a few of us headed down for the day for a friend’s birthday. We spent most of the day at Pike Place Market, a waterfront public market full of quaint little shops. They have everything from souvenirs shops to seafood stands as well as the first ever Starbucks (We stood in line for 30 minutes just to order – and it tasted just like any other Starbucks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Starbucks fan, but that was a long time to wait for a frappuccino.) If you’ve ever watched a teamwork video at job training or a staff meeting or something, you may have seen the guys that are happy and energetic and friendly and toss giant fish around as they fulfill the customer’s order…that would be the market at Pike Place. There’s also an amazing little Greek restaurant there, I can’t remember the name of it but I do remember the flaky pastries with melty cheese oozing out of them. So delicious!
Also Pike Place is Post Alley – AKA the famous gum wall. Overlooking the fact that it’s covered in chewed gum, which is gross, it’s actually pretty neat. I heard a few months ago that they’re going to scrape all the gum off. It may have already happened. It seems kind of a shame, I’m sure it’s been 20 years in the making. Either way, I’m glad I’m not the one who has to scrape off all that old, chewed gum!
Our next destination was Seattle Center, which is home to museums, the Space Needle, and a large park. We spent some time here soaking up the sun, dancing in the fountain, and eating cotton candy.
Next was dinner, and then we ended the day with a stop at Gas Works Park. Gas Works Park is a former oil plant that’s been turned into a small park on the north shore of Lake Union. Some of the old oil tanks still stand and, coupled with dramatic views of downtown Seattle, Gas Works Park is a popular spot for photography. It was also a great place to watch the sunset.
I went to Seattle a third time as well, though I don’t seem to have any photos of it. I know we went to the University District Street Fair, which takes place every year in May. University Way, near the University of Washington, is closed to cars and taken over by vendors and various entertainers. We shopped for handmade items and delicious food and listened to a selection of the local music scene. I also went out to Alki Beach on this trip, which is in West Seattle, but I can’t find my photos of that either. But it’s a long thin strip of waterfront that’s great for walking your dog, going for a jog, or just watching the waves and the sunset.
I also spent time at the University of Washington for track meets, after which we would always stop at Dick’s Drive-In for dinner. Dick’s is a local drive-up hamburger joint that’s been open since the 1950s. There are multiple locations; we always went to the one on NE 45th Street, not far from the university. Dinner at Dick’s is a simple affair; you can order a hamburger, a cheeseburger, special, or a deluxe, fries (one size only), a shake (available in 3 flavors), a soda, or ice cream. Ketchup is $0.05 extra. Very old fashioned still, but service is quick and the food is tasty!
Well, there you have it. A very basic tour of Seattle. Obviously I’ve talked about probably 0.5% of the city, so there’s much much more to do there as well. But hopefully this post convinces you to visit or, if you’ve been there before, to go back and do some more exploring. Seattle is a great city; the people are friendly, the city is clean, there are lots of parks and outdoor spaces, and you’re never more than about 2 blocks from a Starbucks. They’re also a very eco-friendly city; recycling and composting are big out there, which I always appreciate. In fact, I read recently that in 2014, the state of Washington recycled more than they threw away in terms of weight!
So grab a raincoat (just in case), a camera, and some walking shoes, and head off to Seattle for a few days of west coast exploration!