“I have a thing for ferry boats” – Derek Shepherd
Seattle is a place I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. I won’t pretend that Grey’s Anatomy didn’t have something to do with it, but I was determined to see the city and everything it had to offer. It was the first port of call on our week-long city-hopping vacation, something that was sorely needed after our first week in Calgary, which had been jam packed with apartment searching and administrative errands. With 24 hours to spend in Seattle we were ready to make the most of it.
We caught an early morning flight from Calgary and landed around eight in the morning. This gave us a whole day of exploring at our fingertips. We’d booked in to stay at the Green Tortoise hostel which was right opposite Pike Place Market, a popular tourist spot in Seattle. The hostel was cheap, clean and comfortable, with free breakfast on offer, which suited our needs perfectly. After dropping off our bags we ambled out into the sunshine (very atypical Seattle weather) to find some breakfast.
Biscuit Bitch was our first stop on the Seattle express tour. I’d heard about the famous biscuits and gravy in the States, and no it doesn’t mean a digestive dipped in Bisto. They’re more like scones in a creamy sauce, and they sounded completely disgusting. But Google told us this was one of the best breakfast places in Seattle, so we decided to give it a try. I now consider myself a B&G convert; they were bloody delicious. I went for Cheesy Pork 'n' Bitch which was topped with cheese and bacon bits and honestly, I’m practically drooling over the laptop just thinking about it. The woman behind the counter who served me also told me I had the ‘best accent ever’ so I rode this high for a good couple of hours.
We took a stroll back down to Pike Place Market to look at the wares on sale and take some photos before looking ahead to the rest of the day. We considered going up the Space Needle, the most striking building in the Seattle skyline, eventually decided against it. It’s akin to going up the Eiffel Tower, you pay to go all the way up the tower but then you can’t see it. If we ever make it back to Seattle, we might change our minds for the panoramic views, but this time we opted for a ferry boat cruise around the harbour, which offered us the chance to see the city from the water and to maybe see some marine wildlife.
The cruise took us around Elliott Bay with excellent views of the city skyline and Puget Sound whilst we were given the history of Seattle by a very enthusiastic tour guide. Whilst I’m usually a complete history nerd, there was something more interesting grabbing my attention – dolphins! A handful of dolphins were feeding out in the bay, and we also got up close and personal with a group of sea lions lazily lounging on some buoys.
After a quick drink on the pier, we worked our way back towards the hostel. We’d recently become obsessed with Broadchurch, so we chilled out for a couple of hours watching a few episodes before heading out for dinner. As much as we had enjoyed the things we’d done so far, Seattle had left us feeling a tad underwhelmed. I’d heard it was a hipster hotspot, with so many cool things to see, but being a Monday, the streets were very quiet. We also noticed a stark contrast between the USA and the UK in the amount of homeless people on the streets, especially surrounding our hostel. They were harmless but as it got dark, we felt quite intimidated.
We consulted a friend of ours who had visited the city the year before, who recommended we take a visit to Capitol Hill, Seattle’s LGBTQ neighbourhood, which had a wider array of bars and restaurants. We decided to give it a go after a stop at the world-famous Gum Wall, which was equal parts gross and captivating. With a faint whiff of mint in the air, we posed for photos in front of thousands of pieces of discarded gum (I can’t believe we find joy in things like this either) before going in search of dinner. Capitol Hill was instantly livelier than the area surrounding our hostel, but to be honest we were too exhausted to try and make the most of it. We stumbled across a place called Poquitos which turned out to be the first of many Mexican eateries we would visit over the next week. We loved the atmosphere of the place and we settled into a booth with some cocktails to celebrate the start of our vacation. If you ever pay a visit, try the shrimp ceviche!
We turned in early that night and woke up bright and early to visit the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room. I’m not sure what we were expecting, something like the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam maybe? In fact, the Starbucks Roastery is a café, gift shop and bakery rolled into one, with the coffee roasting going on right in front of your eyes. Here you can try different coffees made from beans around the world that you can’t get at any other Starbucks on earth, for the time being at least. We found ourselves a cosy corner and sampled some new coffees and watched the masters at work, before leaving to our final destination in Seattle – King Street Amtrak Station.
We were due to catch an Amtrak train to Portland in the afternoon, to break up the time spent waiting around airports, so we grabbed some sandwiches from a deli and went on our way.
Overall, Seattle had a few choice experiences to offer, but having hyped it up for so many years, it was slightly disappointing to not fall in love with the place. We’re not sure if we’ll return anytime soon, but at least it’s one more city ticked off our list.
Stay tuned for our next post all about our adventures in Portland and beyond - featuring more pictures of Nikki for a change!