A few days in Seattle

For the last leg of my West Cost tour, I spent a few days in Seattle. The city felt like the average of Portland and San Francisco both culturally and economically. It had high rises down town, but as you moved further away from the city center, there were detached single family homes and numerous parks still within the city. There was more of the cosmopolitan attitude I'm used to, but people were generally friendlier than East Coast urbanites. I felt like I only reached the tip of the iceberg exploring Seattle and I wish I had another week to explore.

While in Washington I stayed with family in Olympia, the state's capital and a charming little town on the water. It's located about forty miles south of Seattle, but with traffic (the worst part of the area) it could take as much as two hours to get into the city. Yikes! People love their cars out there and public transportation didn't seem particularly wide spread. Day one in Seattle I hit up the famed Pike Place Market. I didn't see any flying fish, but there were a lot of unique stands selling locally made produce and goods, as well as touristy spots selling mass produced Seattle paraphernalia. It reminded me of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, crowds included.

Across the street from the market was the original Starbucks and Beecher's, a shop producing cheese right there in the city. As a cheese lover, I had to venture in. Their Flagship cheese was my favorite (nutty and salty, but creamy; Martha Stewart makes an amazing cheese sauce with it) and I grabbed a braided pretzel topped with herbs and the cheese for lunch. It was so yummy. Then we continued walking through the surrounding areas. The city was clean with more police presence and far fewer homeless than the other cities on my trip.

We checked out a few neighborhoods of interest based on what I had read online. The area surrounding the University of Washington, Ravenna, Wallingford, and Green Lake were all favorites. Can you imagine a lake within a city?! I couldn't until I saw it. I mentioned it before, but I was really surprised at how many single family houses there were as opposed to the row homes I'm used to in Philadelphia. Of course there were the sketchy blocks like any city, but overall everywhere felt safe. 

Day two was spent exploring Olympia and catching up on sleep. I was most intrigued by the quotes embedded in the side walks as seen on last week's Quotes to Consider. There were large ships on the water loading timber and groups of kayakers exploring. It was quiet and peaceful, which is just what I needed. 

My third and final day was spent closer to Seattle. After years of reading about how Redmond, WA was the best town in the US to raise a family, I had to check it out. It was so perfect it was almost eerie. There were a series of identical buildings about ten floors high that housed condos on the upper floors and everything you could possibly need on the bottom floors including restaurants, shops, grocery stores, schools, doctors offices, and play spaces. The central core of buildings was surrounded by a park and a train stop. On the day we visited, there was an arts festival going on in the town center, which of course made me adore the place more. Planned communities like this have their pros and cons, but this one was very well executed. I guess that is what happens when a town is built to cater to Microsoft and Amazon employees.  

The second stop was the Space Needle for photo ops. In the area it was located, the Space Needle was probably the least interesting thing. There was a children's museum and theatre, a giant fountain choreographed to music, a theatre for ballet and opera, an open field for festivals, and The Armoury, which housed about a dozen cafes. It really made me wish Merle was with me to enjoy all the activities for children. Afterwards we took the monorail downtown to pick up a few last minute souvenirs and elephant garlic (garlic the size of a head of broccoli). I was exhausted from the week's adventures, but I was still sad to leave Seattle and the West Coast.

You can read more about my other stops, including San Francisco, Portland, and Ruby Beach in recent blog posts. 

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