Ah, Seattle. The best continuous calf workout of my life. Seriously, they hurt pretty much the entire time I was there because of all the walking I did. And the hills.
Saturday afternoon I just wandered around the city going to places like Pike Place Market and just generally getting a feel for things. But I crashed by 7:45 since I’d been awake for 19 hours.
Sunday I went to the EMP Museum (f.k.a. the Experience Music Project), which was one of my main attractions in Seattle. I was beyond excited to find out that there was a Star Wars costume exhibit that was having its world premiere there (shoutout to the Smithsonian!), and I geeked out during the entire walkthrough. I had always loved Padme’s clothes and could have stared at her outfits all day. But there were yet other interesting permanent exhibits at the EMP, such as the fantastic Fantasy exhibit, which features outfits and props from Game of Thrones, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies, and more. The exhibit talks about the different character archetypes in fantasy stories (The Fool, The Maiden Warrior, etc.) and you can take a quiz to determine which one you are. The Infinite Worlds sci-fi exhibit was cool, although I was personally disappointed that there were only two props from Doctor Who, a show that’s been on for over 50 years. But there were a lot of other things to check out, like outfits and props from Terminator, Alien, and the more recent iteration of Battlestar Galactica. There was also a whole exhibit on Nirvana, which I feel like as a music nerd I should have found more interesting, but the grunge movement happened when I was too young to understand or appreciate it. Maybe you had to be there? There’s the Sound Lab, where you can attempt to make music with a number of different instruments, and you can even record a song or video and take it with you! The ultimate souvenir, right?
After leaving the EMP, I found my way back to Pike Place and bought souvenirs at the original Starbucks, which itself is not much to see–they offer a lot of memorabilia and coffee drinks and that’s about it. It might be a little disappointing if you want the full “Starbucks experience” after you’ve been standing in line for about half an hour. I also found the amazing Seattle Public Library Central branch downtown–in looking it up to write this post, I just found out there were tours of it, and I wish I had known that while I was there! It’s a curious architectural marvel of oddly-angled glass and metal.
That evening, I hung out with a friend and former roommate who last year moved to the Seattle area, and we drove to West Seattle since the skies had cleared a little and the views out that way were really good. But we found that the views weren’t quite up to what he’d hoped, and also that everything in West Seattle closes by 8 p.m. on Sundays, so we went to Taqueria el Rinconsito, a local Mexican chain. The tacos were tiny, but they did not skimp on flavor.
Memorial Day was overcast and I had my friend drop me off at Boeing’s Museum of Flight, which is an excellent way of spending a bad weather day. It reminded me a lot of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center out near Dulles Airport. There’s a lot to see, and if you’re an aviation nerd, it’s a must-see. You can explore a plane that used to be Air Force One, a Concorde, and one of the 787 Dreamliners! There were lots of fun flight-themed finds in the museum gift shop too, and I could have easily spent even more money than I did. After I had finished exploring the museum, I caught a bus up the street to Georgetown, a part of town that requires a wander before you realize it has a record and comics shop and lots of great bars and restaurants like the excellent Fonda la Catrina (the mole sauce is amazing!), where I saw the staff from The Hangar Cafe, where I’d had fabulous breakfasts two days in a row. There’s even a bar with old arcade games in it! (Apparently that’s a thing now. I’ve heard about them in other cities too.)
On Tuesday, my last full day in Seattle, the weather cleared some early in the morning, so I got an early start and was one of the first people to go to Columbia Tower Sky View Observatory that day. It’s both cheaper and taller than the Space Needle (which I didn’t think looked that impressive in person), and it does have pretty sweet views.
I also took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, which is very picturesque and quiet, with a lot to offer. There’s an art museum, a walking trail, boutique shops, restaurants and bars, and wine tasting rooms and distilleries. It would easy to fill at least one day here!
My friend came by that night to pick me up and we went to dinner at Ezell’s Chicken, which was indeed tasty, and I got a glimpse of the views from his apartment parking lot. This picture doesn’t even compare to his.
The next morning, my friend picked me up again and we ventured into the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle, which was super cute–my friend said he would even considering living there. Not as industrial looking as Georgetown, with yet more shops, cafes, restaurants and bars lining the streets. The buildings were more attractive, and the area had a lot to offer. We were able to have a leisurely breakfast before driving around Seattle a little more. We drove by a waterfall garden park right in the middle of downtown–I wish we’d had time to check it out, but I had a Portland-bound train to catch.
Seattle felt like a missed opportunity since the weather was less than ideal for views. I didn’t do much outdoorsy stuff in terms of going to parks or seeing views (shoutout to Chris at the Chocolate Box for giving me all these suggestions though). Downtown Seattle to me felt like pretty much any other downtown area, but the neighborhoods were what made it for me. I’d go back. What did I think of Portland, you ask? You’ll just have to read on!