On our latest trek, Courtney and I made our way up to Vancouver and Seattle for a week. Neither of us had been to either city before, so it goes without saying that we were just a bit excited. Especially since we've only heard amazing things about both cities. We started the trip in Vancouver and then made our way into Seattle, but I wanted to cover Seattle first because there might be two entries on Vancouver. Emphasis on "might". I will preface this entry by stating that Seattle is such a vibrant city. Amazing architecture, food, and culture at every corner, not an exaggeration. It turned out to be one of the few places we have visited that we realistically could see ourselves living in. So without further ado, here are some of the highlights of our time in Seattle.
Like I said before, we started our trip in Vancouver, but we flew into Seattle from Austin. We got an amazing deal on the flight, so it just made sense to fly into Seattle over Vancouver (always sign up for as many email lists regarding flight deals as you can). We picked up our Subaru Forrester and made the two hour and forty-five minute drive (including border stop time) north. We made a little detour about an hour north of Seattle at Deception Pass State Park (pics above). So, technically the park isn't in Seattle, but I wanted to include some pictures from our stop there. It seems close enough to me. The park is located on Fidalgo Island and includes the typical offerings of a state park. If we had more time, we would've liked to drive Whidbey Island from the south to Fidalgo. There is a ferry that allows you access to the island from the town of Mukilteo, which is fairly close to Seattle. The area around Deception Pass was beautiful. I'm sure the drive through Whidbey all the way up to Fidalgo would have been a sight. Maybe next time.
After a few days in Vancouver, we made our way back into the states. We again had an excellent AirBnb experience. An amazingly designed house in the Madrona neighborhood. It was close to everything we did in Seattle, making it convenient to get around. We were in a short driving distance to great restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. Our favorite restaurant was Oddfellow's Cafe+Bar. We ate breakfast there twice, in fact. Another favorite of ours in the same neighborhood was Molly Moon's Ice Cream. I highly recommend the strawberry balsamic vinaigrette ice cream there. Our first afternoon was spent exploring Pioneer Square and the area around the Seattle Center. Seattle Center is one of the most tourist heavy areas in the city. The Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the EMP Museum are just a few of this sights in this area. In fact, my favorite part of this area was the Chiuly Garden and Glass exhibit. The exhibit opened in 2012 and houses some of Dale Chihuly's finest pieces. We chose to go just before 6:00 pm. We wanted to make sure that we saw the exhibit at nightfall when the atrium and garden area would be illuminated. If you're visiting the Seattle Center, I definitely recommend stopping by the exhibit, especially in the evening.
The following day we took a visit to North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls. The reason for making the short forty minute drive was to visit the original inspiration for the Double R Diner of Twin Peaks, Twede's Cafe. For those of you not familiar with Twin Peaks, it was an excellent series that ran for only two seasons in the early 90's. It was created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. It's been a favorite of mine for years and Courtney recently got into the show a few years ago too. As pretty big fans we felt it was necessary to visit. Snoqualmie Falls is also the inspiration for the Great Northern hotel in the show. Just for the record, the cherry pie at Twede's Cafe was legit. Coffee was okay, but definitely try the cherry pie. The food was pretty standard diner breakfast fare, nothing to get too excited over, but decent enough. Also, the show is coming back to Showtime in 2017, in case you were wondering.
After our morning in North Bend, we headed back to Seattle to visit Pike's Place Market. Again, this was another tourist heavy area, but if you've never been, how could you not spend some time there? There are tons of opportunities for street photographers here. So much going on. From the interaction between the sellers and shoppers to the street buskers, a lot of opportunities to get some excellent street shots. We didn't spend too much time here, but we did buy some fish from the famous Pike's Place Fish Market and some other local goods. For first time visitors to Seattle this is a must stop. Like I said, we didn't spend that much time there, but I think it's a must if you've never been. I wish we could have spent a little more time here just to try and get more photos. Street photography is one of my emerging areas of interest and I would like to improve on it. A place like Pike's Place is perfect for such shots. Immediately below are two of my favorite shots of some street performers.
Of course, there has to be a little blurb about coffee when you're talking about Seattle. After all, it is the home of Starbucks. There is a lot more to coffee in Seattle though, and we wish we had more time to stop off at some of the local roasters. We did stop off at Stumptown and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. We were already familiar with Stumptown, as we had visited their main roasting plant in Portland, OR a few years ago, but we love their coffee so much we wanted to stop by again. The next place we stopped off at was the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. Before I go any further, I just want to say that I am definitely not a coffee snob. I don't really care about complex flavors or any of that, but I can definitely tell the difference between a finely roasted bean and Folgers. With that being said, I wasn't expecting much out of the Starbucks Reserve, but I was pleasantly surprised. We sampled a couple of roasts and I ordered a cup of a different roast for myself while Courtney ordered an Americano. Each coffee I tried had a different and unique flavor to it. The baristas were extremely friendly and helpful, giving us some education on the subject matter. I would definitely say stop here for a cup of coffee or coffee flight, especially if you're a fan of all things Starbucks. They open early and stay open fairly late, so it would be easy to squeeze a stop in. Starbucks has no other store like this anywhere. The equipment they use is completely different from that in any store and the roasts are unique to the store as well. I'm not the biggest Starbucks fan, so if I can thoroughly enjoy this place, I'm sure lots of people will. I must almost note that it was a beautiful space.
A couple of other places that I want to mention before I conclude this entry are the University of Washington campus and the Seattle Public Library. We decided to stop by the University of Washington and see if the Cherry Blossoms were in bloom. Courtney did some research and found out that the campus' main quad is famous for its cherry blossoms when in bloom. Luckily for us, they were. We were able to get some beautiful shots, but like most shots of natural beauty, the photographs didn't really do it justice. It's just one of those things you have to see in person. The campus itself was very beautiful. The buildings were old and had a charm that new and modern buildings just don't have. We enjoyed walking around the campus wondering if we could pass as freshman. Probably not. That same day we also stopped off at the Seattle Public library. This place is an amazing work of architecture. Lots of interesting spaces inside as well. Luckily they have a garage that you can park in that is relatively cheap, especially if you're planning on only being there a couple of hours at most. By the way, parking in Seattle was a little rough, but not nearly as rough as it was in Vancouver, which I'll probably highlight in the next blog entry.
As I stated earlier in this entry, Seattle was such an awesome city. We had a blast here and we probably will make it a repeat destination. Everything about the city is truly unique. It has it's own vibe that greatly differs from a Chicago or New York. Maybe we just went at a good time, but everyone seemed really nice too. I always expect people to be a little crabby when we visit big cities, don't ask me why. Again, maybe we just went at a good time or maybe the people we encountered were just laid back and cool, who knows. I do know that people definitely seemed more friendly on the roads then they do here in Austin. There were at least five times while I drove around in downtown Seattle that I screwed something up, either by making a wrong turn or getting in the wrong lane, but to my surprise no honking or tailgating. I'm just used to that here in Austin. Coming soon to the blog, Vancouver! Below are a few more pics from the trip.