We started our road trip with Seattle, on the North West coast of the US. We landed late on Saturday night, and went right away to our Bnb located in the west of the city, in the quiet neighborhood of Magnolia. The ride in cab was so long that I first thought that we didn’t realize how spread the city was… At first sight and at night I always have a hard time finding the cities attractive. Fortunately, the public transportation are well done there, and we walked a lot to discover Seattle. We liked it! it’s very relaxed, and lively at the same time, the neighborhoods have strong identities, the sea is everywhere, and the mountains are close enough…
Day 1: being like tourists
Sunday. Early riser, we took the bus and decided to follow religiously all the attractions that friends and books recommended (Top 10 Seattle).
- Pike Place Market. I was skeptical when I was told that the biggest attraction in Seattle was… a farmers market. But after visiting it, like everybody, I loved it. Many stands here: fish mostly, but also flowers, fruits, veggies… Markets are a common thing in France, but we don’t have one like that in Boston. We had a huge salmon skewer and each bite was a delight… Outside of the market, the first Starbucks – the coffee shop was created in Seattle in 1971. The line was huge and people were taking pictures of themselves with theirs cups in hands. We were just watching them while eating our salmon.
- Ferry to Bainbridge. A cruise on the bay seemed a good idea to discover the city. We chose the cheap option: the public ferry to Bainbridge (7,50 $ round trip a person). Bainbridge is an island where Seattleites have their summer residence. It’s covered with trees, like perfect Christmas trees. It looks like Canada, as far as I can picture it, cause I’ve never been there actually. On the background we saw the Mount Rainier, a volcano which is actually at more than 80 miles from here (130 km), but we can see it perfectly (well, almost): it seems huge! We had planned to go there a few days later.
- Pioneer Square. Coming out of the ferry, we didn’t really know where to go, but looking at the map, Pioneer square seemed close by. It’s a historic neighborhood with a lot of redstones buildings. Charming but very quiet, but, well it was Sunday.
- Time for a snack! We stopped at Top Pot Doughnuts. Great donuts and cool feeling in this coffee shop: stylish (tons of books in shelves on the walls), and a bit cold at the same time (tiles on the floor, iron stairs). A group a 30 year old girls were knitting. I perfectly pictured myself coming here every day, trying a new donut flavor. Through the window, we saw the monorail flying above our head: it’s a aerial metro which looks like the future as we thought it would have been in the 60’s.
We saw this truck outside of the coffee shop: Washington is one of the 2 states (with Colorado) where cannabis is legal for medical and personal use. And boom, right after that we saw a huge pink elephant.
- Seattle Center. We kept walking – the city is totally “walkable”, at least in downtown – and arrived at the Seattle Center, where there’s many attractions and museums, and the famous Space Needle, symbol of Seattle, a rest of the 1962 World’s Fair. We didn’t go up because I wanted to go to the EMP museum (Experience Music Project). A great museum: awesome space, very diverse exhibitions on pop culture and music – horror movies, Nirvana – the band is from Seattle- outfits of pop stars. I had a cool afternoon there (ticket: 20 $).
- Sunset. End of the day in front of the bay, in front of the Olympic mountains. The bay was in fire so to say, and the show was unique. Then we spent the night in a cocktail bar eating tapas (bar: Tini Bigs). On TV, we watched Miley Cyrus getting weird. The bartender was ashamed for America (no need to be, we didn’t care) and switched for tennis.
Day 2: wandering anywhere
Monday. From our quiet Magnolia neighborhood, we walked right in front of us and crossed through Queen Ann, rich and quiet too. Seattle looks like San Francisco in some ways: many hills to climb to! Leaving Queen Ann, we arrived to Fremont, and the sign told us that we were at the center of the universe.
- Street Art in Fremont: a nice bascule bridge prevented us to cross over, and we looked at a big sail moving on the river.
- Ballard: this neighborhood has all the hipsters stigmata: fixie bikes, coffee shops (fair trade), local brewery (what else), beards and lumberjack vests. There’s also many restaurants and that’s perfect for a lunch time.
Two places to go:
- A bookstore: Secret Garden Books, 2214 NW Market St. I asked for a fun book to read, an easy reading for vacation, and I got Where’d you go Bernadette. I liked it, though Seattle is mistreated in it!
- A restaurant: Stoneburner, 5214 Ballard Av. – nice ambiance in a mix of Parisian brasserie and American booths, awesome Italian food (at first, we wanted to go to an oyster bar, The Walrus and The Carpenter, 4743 Ballard Av., but it was closed for lunch).
- The locks in Ballard: it’s another side of this neighborhood, close to the sea. A botanic park and a whole system of locks, where big boats and sails go through. There’s also a salmon “road” so to say (and we’ll see many of these during the rest of the trip). Fascinating place.
- Discovery park: it was almost 5pm, it started to rain but we were ready for this weather – 18 months in New England prepared us for any kind of weather. Discovery Park is a huge park, very green. We walked for 30 minutes before arriving to a beach where there was a lot of wood and a tiny and cute lighthouse.
We came back home and went to a Irish pub in our neighborhood. Some people were working there on their laptops, it’s funny cause in Boston most of the people have Mac, and boom, in Seattle, the city of Microsoft, and you can see it!
Seattle was a great stop: it’s the only big city that we will cross in 15 days. Next step: Olympic National Park, old forest, solitary beaches, mountains…