Seattle, the gateway to the gold rush, is a beautiful city on the northwest corner of mainland United States. It is a seaport situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of Canada – US border. Elliot Bay provides a natural safe harbor for the city. The weather is the spoil sport to this panoramic city with a rain festival running from January 1st to December 31st.
Seattle’s founders settled in Pioneer Square in 1852. The early structures in the neighborhood were mostly wooden, and nearly all burned in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. The city was rebuilt and one of the best ways to relive it, is by taking the Underground Tour. We grabbed a quick lunch at Virginia Inn and then joined the explorers a level below current day Seattle. The tour is 90 minutes long, but at the end you learn all the hidden underground stories of Seattle’s early days. The skylights on the road was especially enlightening. From one tour to another, we jumped onboard the Ride the Ducks tour from Westlake Point but not before grabbing some hot chocolate and walnut filled chocolates from the Chocolate Factory. We had never done a Duck tour, and it was one of the funniest. Led by Captain Justin Credible, we toured the different districts of Seattle and also spent 30 minutes on Lake Union, reliving Sleepless in Seattle through Tom Hanks’ house on the Pier.
A precious hour to relax back in our hotel, and then we met with friends for dinner at the Wasabi Bistro, probably the best sushi we have had. Belltown is a great neighborhood that comes alive after 9pm. Dinner was followed by drinks at Ventana, and at 2:30 am, with the bar shutting down, after a few screwdrivers, and after hours of catching up with friends from 5th grade, high school and college we headed back to our hotel.
Day 2: Reserved Hike Let it never be said that we waste a minute of our vacation just chilling. It isn’t a vacation if we don’t pack it with things to do, so we got up early, took the ferry from Pier 52 and headed to Baindbridge Island. A 40 minute ride through Elliot Bay and suddenly we were in an island, far from the bustle of the city, walking through lush fern forests. Breakfast was a pit stop at Steamliner Diner, a local favorite. We took a taxi to Bloedel Reserve, a natural and highly-landscaped forest reserve with lakes, manicured lawns, a Japanese garden, a Reflection Pool and the most enchanting marshlands and moss garden.
Hungry from the hike and the ferry ride, we headed to Travelers. If you took an oath never to eat Indian food in any city outside of India, this is the place to break it. Started by hippies with a quaint but extremely well developed taste for all things roadside, this little gem serves you a full thali, on an ever-silver plate with masala chai. The samosa is fresh and the alu parantha comes with the tastiest of pickles and creamiest of dahis. Travelers is part restaurant, part grocery, and part trinket shop. It was strange to see a kurta-clad, braided hair gentleman, sitting with an iPad, sipping hot chai in an incense filled entrance lobby with a mini puja room and Hindi music bellowing from the speakers. Travelers was hip, without trying to be.
End of May is a good time in Seattle, with the Northwest Folklife festival taking up much of city’s time and space. Crowded in to the Seattle Center this festival showcases all that is art. Glass blowers, musicians, dancers, magicians, hippies, nomads, gypsies, hula hoopers, flame throwers all attend and participate.
Day 3: Let the Sun shine through. Finally, unrestricted sunlight. Blue skies. Seattle in a whole new light. Wow! The Olympic mountains shelters the city of Seattle from the Pacific and become visible from our room for the first time. We lazed in our room, enjoying the light and the view.
With the sky all blue and the grey threatening clouds all but cottony swirls in the air, we decided to take in Seattle from all its glorious viewpoints. Thanks to a friend and his revamped BMW we headed to Kerry Park, a 1.6 acre park in Queen Anne, Seattle. Perched high on the hill, it offers an expansive view of the Seattle skyline, Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. From there, a 30 minute car ride takes you through Seattle, over Elliott Bay and into West Seattle to end at Alki Beach, diagonally opposite to Kerry Park. The beach, with the waters lapping at the rocks, the running path, kites in the air, dogs jumping at Frisbees all offer a new viewpoint. Across the bay we could see Seattle and Queen Anne hill standing tall. Our only regret, still not clear enough for Mount Rainier to peak through.
We headed into Fremont and headed to Brouwer’s Cafe to drown ourselves in stout beer and pig out on the Belgian fries. Maybe it was the beer but the fries were fantastic. Old friends, lots of SW Giri and we knew this is how a vacation had to end. Dinner was at Jai Thai, a popular Thai food chain in Seattle. Try the Meing Hum, Yum! Thus ended our perfect and rare sunny day in Seattle. We went back to our hotel for a good night rest and caught the Light Rail back to the airport in the morning.