Sleepless in Seattle

I’ve been to Seattle countless times, but never to visit Seattle, only to go to SeaTac airport or drive through the I-5 to Oregon. I’ve driven to the suburbs of Seattle for cheap shopping or eating at a restaurant Canada doesn’t have, but now I’ve finally been to Seattle just for Seattle’s sake.

I went there to pick up 3 guys from Iceland who were arriving from Hawaii after a trip around the world. They were met by Conrad, an American-Icelandic tango dancer I met three years ago in San Francisco. I didn’t know him very well, and had only ever danced with him, but I figured the Icelandic connection made us all some sort of family. Conrad lives in Seattle now, and he let all 4 of us stay at his girlfriends place for 2 days after picking the guys up at 6 am from a redeye flight.  The guys also knew an Icelandic couple that lived in Seattle who we stayed with a third night, so after 3 days in Seattle, we managed to do all the sight-seeing things I should have done a long time ago.

We went up the Space Needle, and visited the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum below. The guys shopped at Pike Place market, and we walked up and down Pine street window shopping. We bought some cheap American fashion and an unlocked iphone, as most Icelanders do when visiting the states, and indulged in delicious mexican food and cheap sushi that you would never get your hungry hands on in Reykjavik.

Our first night together was filled with gourmet food and port and a wine tasting session, followed by tango dancing and micro-brewed beers. We had all been traveling for the last 2 months and spent the previous night in transit, but still stayed up as late as we could and then sent Conrad off to Reno on a 7 am flight.

During our stay with Bjossi and Gudrun, the Icelandic couple, we squeezed 3 of us onto a sofa bed. We were almost asleep when an intolerable, screeching siren started sounding and could not figure out what was happening. First, half-dazed, we realized we weren’t dreaming, and that putting the pillow over our ears wasn’t helping. Then we checked all our phones and the electronics in the apartment to figure out what could possibly be making so much noise. After taking out the battery from the fire alarm didn’t work, we realized it was the fire alarm ringing throughout the entire apartment building. We grudgingly went outside and stood around with a hundred others, in their pajamas, wrapped in blankets and holding their pets. After a fire truck and a few firemen finally let us back in, we crawled back into bed without ever knowing if and where there was a fire, and were too tired to really care.

On our last day in Seattle, we drove back to SeaTac airport and picked up my father, who was flying in for my little sisters wedding. We drove my moms convertible, full of Icelanders, back to Vancouver, through the daunting evergreen forests that made us feel very farm from home.

How to Enjoy Seattle in a Day

Seattle is a big, beautiful, port city with a great arts scene, lots of live sports, and of course, excellent coffee. I’ve often driven through Seattle, on my way to Seatac or just driving down the I5, but rarely stop to enjoy the city sights. I had one sunny day in town after my cruise from Alaska disembarked one early Saturday morning and these are my recommendations for seeing the best of Seattle in a day.

pulling out from Pier 66 on an Alaskan bound cruiseship

1. Walk around town by foot. Its not a big city center, and there are tons of shops and cafes along the way to stop and enjoy. Just get a map from any tourist information center or hotel, and wander around the downtown area and Fremont neighbourhood, or if you dont want to think about it, book a walking tour with who offers their signature coffee crawl tour.

2. Stop by Pike Place Market near the waterfront and watch big cruise ships come into Pier 66 if its summer, or to get out of the streets that are probably getting rained on if its winter. The market is full of delicious treasures, a lot of fresh seafood, and claims to be the oldest, continually running farmers market in the USA.

3. Go up the Seattle Space Needle for an amazing view of the city, or to enjoy a glass of wine with a dramatic sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Its almost $20 to go up but its cheaper if you include an entrance to the Pacific Science Center located below. Use your judgement when checking out the shows/ exhibits going on at the Science Center to decide if its worth it. Bodies was a great one.

the Space Needle

I know thats not much, but I’m just suggesting a days worth of activities that would probably satisfy for the Seattle Experience. If you have more time, by all means take a day just to each of the above!