During the beginning of spring, towards the end of March, we decided to take a four-day vacation. We wanted a city break, and went down our list of cities we wanted to visit within the US and landed on Seattle. We had seen a lot about the place to want to visit it, the grunge rock scene, greenery all around, the volcanic ranges, Puget sound, Boeing, Microsoft and the EMP – where Hendrix is almost revered like god. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t go “huh? Seattle?? Whyyyy?”. It baffled everyone that instead of going to California or Alaska we landed on Seattle! Our reasoning was simple, Alaska would be too much time spent on travel(think 12 hrs from NYC) and we need more days for California(there are friends and relatives in every corner of the state which would hardly give us any time to see California).
Seattle had the best of both worlds in my mind – the greenery, the ice capped mountains, vineyards and wineries, a beautiful bay abundant with wildlife, fresh food, eclectic little cafes….i could truly keep going. It did not disappoint, in fact it was a revelation. At the end of four days it left us wondering why we weren’t moving to Seattle. Everyone scared us about the incessant rain – which is a rather sad excuse for two reasons. One, Seattle does not receive more rain than the rest of the country, it just receives it across nine months – so it always seems like its raining in Seattle. Two, i love rain – it makes everything look fresh, colorful and dull but with the depth of lights on a dimmer. Besides, which other big city can offer you a salmon run within city limits? Or an orca whale watching trip within an hour’s ride?
I am a foodie and if you saw me, you wouldn’t disagree. Fresh produce, the smell of fresh bread or seafood, or the aroma of a stew can make me want to do cartwheels. So, one of the first places we hit up was Pike Place Market, if you can skip past the touristy fish monger(who throws around the seafood every half hour) and allow yourself to get lost in every little alley in and around it, you get a chance to experience freshness like never before. However, before i left for Seattle I did get in touch with a food blogger(http://delishhh.com/?p=509) from Seattle on places I MUST eat at, and she was incredibly sweet enough to oblige. An insider’s track, especially one who takes what they say seriously, helps. If you want to travel, in a city, blogs are a fantastic way to get an idea about what the locals like most. Make friends with your hotel concierge and stress to them that you want to go to non-touristy places, ask them where they head off to for an after-work drink or for dinner – more often than not they will tell you and these are places that are not on the city tourism map.
Lao Tzu said, ” A great traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving”. I tend to slightly disagree, I hate the regret I will have if I didn’t see the “sights” of the city. With just four days and no promise of when we will be back, every moment counts for me. I might be wrong in my approach according to Lao, but I have never regretted missing out on something on any trip. I research, yes you heard me right, I research trips. Thanks to the internet, there are millions of ways of finding what you want. I look at the city’s tourism website as a jumping off point,lonely planet, move onto blogs of travel shows, travel blogs, foodie blogs from the city, and finally Flickr. If anyone is wondering why Flickr, let me tell you why – search for pictures of the city and check their info, more often than not photographers post where they took the shot. If not for Flickr, I would never have known about places like Kerry Park.
On the flip side, there are times when we found ourselves generally driving around the streets surrounding Kerry Park and the Queen Anne neighborhood, and found ourselves at a quaint piano bar. Those drives introduced to us some exquisitely built homes in a modern contemporary style of architecture, which seems rather unique to the west coast. Whilst driving back to the city from Snoqualmie Falls, we found ourselves lost again due to road work and a failed GPS. After navigating ourselves to a point where we could recalibrate the GPS, we were right outside the Zen Garden.
I guess my point is, plan but if you do get lost don’t fret, just enjoy it. Your on vacation, what have you got to lose?
Please do click on the pictures to see them enlarged.