Seattle, the Emerald City
After packing my life in 2 suitcases I am in Seattle, the emerald city! It’s called like this because everything is green due to a lot, lot, lot of rain! The weather changes quickly as well, as I’ve to realise during my stay here, it goes from sunny to cloudy to rainy to windy in a few minutes. The whole atmosphere of the city changes with the weather, people leaving the streets when it’s raining, and filling them when the sun comes back out.
Seattle isn’t only a green city, it’s also the coffee. The first Starbucks was opened in Seattle, in the Pike Place Market. It’s also the Microsoft city. Bill Gates made his first computers in his parents’ garage in Seattle. It’s the city where Boeing, Amazon and Nordstrom started. All those companies are contributing to Seattle’s wealth and employment. But in spite of that the number of homeless people on the streets of the city is huge. They represent the majority of the people on the city, which can scare at first (and it shocked me!) but they are not dangerous. Actually the city is very safe.
What is There to Do in Seattle, You’ll Ask Me?
The first and only advice I would give you if you ever visit Seattle: Take comfortable shoes! Seattle was built on hills, like San Francisco, which means you’ll constantly be going up and down its streets. It can sometimes seems like climbing hills, which is good exercise… Believe me, my ass still hurts!
As Seattle is not a very touristic city people don’t really know what there is to do and see. I stayed there 3 days and here is what I did:
The First Day: Pioneer Square, the Waterfront, Pike Place Market and the Olympic Sculpture Park
The first day I started with Pioneer Square, the first place where the Colons settled down in the 1850’s. On Pioneer Square you can find a totem pole stolen from the Native American tribe Tlinglits by Seattle tradesmen travelling in Alaska in 1891. These totem poles were sculpted to commemorate important events in Native American tribes from the Northwest. A raven, the family symbol, is carved at the top of the pole. Their belief was that the raven could do anything, knew everything, and was everywhere all the time.
I then continued by climbing the beautiful street of Seattle to the Public Library, a strange vessel designed by architect Rem Koolhaas and opened to the public in 2004. While visiting the library I randomly opened one drawer categorizing books by subject. This particular drawer contained the categories about Belgium, British-Columbia and Brazil… If that’s not faith, what is?!
I then went to the pleasant Waterfront. The big wheel on the pier and the wooden aquarium are great activities to do with children. I arrived at the Pike Place Market, this very animated public market, the attraction of the city. It’s full of people, locals as well as tourists looking for good products or to grab a bite made of products fresh from the day. There I met Rachel the Pig, the market’s mascot, who’s been “bringing the bacon” to raise money for the poor community from the neighborhood.
Then I headed to the Olympic Sculpture Park with its sculptures spread along a path going down to the waterfront. A beautiful Calder mobile is welcoming us with the sea as background. When turning around it you can see the Space Needle, the icon of Seattle, confronting it.
At night I ate in a very nice Japanese restaurant, the Maneki, just next to my hostel in the International District. There I met a man who’s been eating there since 1957… Needless to say he’s a regular! I forgot how Americans are easy to talk to, it’s really nice.
The Second Day: a tour with the hostel, the first Starbucks and the Ballard Locks
The next day I attended a guided tour organized by the hostel, and Sean explained us all about the History of Seattle. We passed Century Link Field. I learned that the SeaHawks, the city’s team, lost the Super Bowl last year, which was a real drama for the whole city… For those who might not know, the Super Bowl is football (that is, American football!) (I didn’t know that so that’s why I am pointing it out). We then went to the first Starbucks in Pike Place Market. The line to go in was so long, more than one hour! I made a friend, Kacy from Philapelphia. We spent the rest of the day together and went to the Ballard Locks in the North of Seattle. These impressive locks with a fish ladder as well, where the salmon go up to join the rivers where they spawn. We were lucky to see one fish, even though it wasn’t the season anymore.
Afterwards we came back to downtown Seattle and walked around until sunset. The weather changed a lot during the day, but ended with a beautiful sunset.
The third and last day: Fremont market, the ferry to Bainsbridge Island and the Panoramic View at the Columbia Center
The next day we headed to the Fremont Sunday Market, also in the North of Seattle. This flea market is held every Sunday, and is great. We spent a couple of hours there and then took the ferry to Bainsbridge Island. It started to rain during the trip and it rained for the rest of the day. The view from the boat was still very beautiful, and it was great to be on the water. I highly recommend doing this activity
We ended up at Starbucks wanting to get away from the heavy rain. After getting warmer and drier we went to the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, the highest building in Seattle. The sun was already setting when we got there, and the city was slowly lighting up. It was a great show to watch. We ended our day with another Japanese restaurant, Tsukushinbo… Delicious!
Here is my itinerary for the three days.
My Seattle adventure is ending, and tomorrow another begins: my new life in Vancouver!