If you read my post Time to Find Inner Balance, then you know it’s been a crazy two years. There has been so much going on with my job and daily life that I haven’t taken much time to travel outside of work trips.
Then, a friend of mine moved to Seattle and found herself struggling to make friends. Apparently there is something called “the Seattle freeze“. She asked me if I wanted to come visit and help her tackle the neighborhood by finding some new places to go and meet new people. I decided I wanted to help, but also wanted an adventure, and planned a birthday trip for myself to Seattle.
So here we are. It has been only two weeks since I landed back in Los Angeles, and I’m missing Seattle horribly.
If you have never been, I highly recommend it.
If you have been, well then you know.
Seattle is one of the most stunning cities I have ever been to.
Mind you, I love rain and gloom. If you do not love these things, I suggest planning your trip during the approximate 10 weeks of sunshine available in Seattle. In addition to the rainy weather, there are a few reasons why this city is so much fun for me when I visit.
First, I have family just outside of Seattle. They live in a small community within Tacoma called Lakewood. Whenever I get to visit my aunt, uncle and two cousins it’s a good time. Their current house is on a small lake, so we will often use it during the summer time to go slalom skiing or wake surfing. During my most recent visit, I decided it would be a great time to go kayaking – forgetting that the weather is very different from Los Angeles right now… It was fantastic, but definitely cold so I’ll remember that for next time. Must bring warm waterproof clothing.
Then, of course, there is my favorite thing to do in Seattle – EAT!
Visiting family always ensures delicious meals. My uncle is particularly good at grilling salmon, which will never cease to be a favorite dish for me.
Overall, the seafood is so good in this area. Obviously you have fisherman coming back from Alaska with quality product.
The only food that I really struggle to find in the area is Mexican food. As someone coming from Los Angeles, where we are much closer to the border and privileged to have some of the best Mexican restaurants around, I always look for restaurants because it’s my comfort food. Alas, I have yet to find any restaurants or trucks that serve really great Mexican food.
I did fulfill a food fantasy though. I’m an enormous fan of Alice in Wonderland. I love everything about it. Then I found out there is an oyster place called The Walrus and the Carpenter, it was promptly added to my food bucket list. My friend went with her dad and raved about it, so she made sure that we went while I was in town for my birthday dinner.
I’m so glad we did. This place was everything I had hoped for. Without too much context to neighborhoods in Seattle, I wasn’t really sure where the restaurant was located. We took a Lyft and as the car pulled up I thought we were in the wrong spot. The restaurant is in a somewhat deserted corner of the street it’s on, and there is not a lot of lighting. It definitely made the sign stand out.
We put our name down for a seat – and the place was buzzing but the wait was about 45 min – and the host suggested we take a seat at their neighboring bar Barnacle.
Owned by the same people, this place is essentially an extension of the restaurant. We ordered a few excellent cocktails and even a quick snack before dinner.
If you do decide you want to check out The Walrus and the Carpenter, feel free to make a reservation if you need to, but I think that sitting at Barnacle should be a part of the experience. Maybe just be sure to stop by after if you do make a reservation.
That was definitely one of my favorite moments in the trip. I’m a sucker for oysters – they are so good!
You can’t be in Washington state, let alone Seattle, without commenting on the landscape.
The best part about this city is how stunning the port is and how green the state is. Everywhere you look are beautifully green trees and some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. I decided that I needed to take a ferry because it’s the one thing I have never done in all of the years that we have visited the area.
So I planned a ferry ride over to Victoria, BC. Originally this trip was meant to be with my friend, but she was held up at work (understandably) and was unable to join me. I decided to go anyways and bought a day trip ferry ride over to Canada.
If you take this trip – DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT.
Seems like a very obvious statement, but there will always be that one person who forgets.
The trip started around 6 am when the boat took off. The trip over lasted about two hours, then I had about 8 hours to explore as much as possible before the return trip.
If you get the chance to take this trip to Victoria, I have one recommendation – visit during the spring or summer months. This city is largely parks. When it’s cold outside nothing is really blooming, so it’s most likely a vibrant trip during the warmer months.
Never-the-less, I had a great time.
Something that I prefer to do, especially when I’m traveling alone – is to do a double decker bus tour. Some people say it’s too touristy, and if that’s your stance then I understand. But I find this allows me to absorb as much as I can as quickly as I can.
It’s worth noting that I do this in almost any city I visit, if I have never been before, because I really like to get as much information about the history as possible before venturing out. I also really love that you can get a bird’s-eye view before picking parts of the city to hangout in or venture deeper. I have also found – although only in New York City – that there is an additional benefit of using the bus as a taxi later in your trip. There have been many times where I will go one round on the bus before taking it again, and then utilizing the “hop on, hop off” approach.
While in Victoria I decided to visit Craigdarroch Castle… and I’m not going to lie, it’s a little anti-climactic. If you’re really interested in the Victorian era, definitely go. If you are like me, however, and hear “castle”, get excited like it’ll be super European and massive and exciting – you will be disappointed. It’s much more of a mansion on a hill that feels slightly haunted.
Overall… Victoria was really great. It was fun to just be able to say I spent the day in Canada.
It is much more of a town for old people. All of the tourist stuff is right by the water – shops for maple syrup and lumberjack pjs, etc. During the tour they mentioned that the city has started to peak the younger generation’s interest and so the overall vibe has begun to shift. But as the tour went on, you could see a lot of housing developments for those who are retired.
I was satisfied with a quick trip.
Bookstores and coffee shop hopping all day.
As a book nerd, it shocks me that I have never sought out bookstores during any of my visits to Seattle. I have no idea how it is possible, but this was in fact the first trip I have ever taken time to shop at the local bookstores.
I hit up three in particular:
Elliott Bay Book Co. – This is by far one of the best book stores I have ever spent time in. It was so amazing (in my opinion) that it’s a factor in my personal debate of whether to move to Seattle or not.
“COME FOR THE BOOKS, STAY FOR THE EXPERIENCE
Located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, The Elliott Bay Book Company is a full service bookstore, home to over 150,000 titles, set on cedar shelves in a multi-level, inviting unique atmosphere.
We offer one of the region’s best selection of new books, as well as a large collection of bargain editions. Elliott Bay presents an unparalleled schedule of author readings and events throughout the year.”
Left Bank Books Collective – This was one of the most unique book stores I have ever been to. The selection of books is very left wing (as the store name implies). Located right in the heart of Pike Market it’s definitely worth browsing.
“Left Bank Books has been a fixture of Seattle’s radical community since 1973 when a group of people split off from the University District’s Red and Black Books to form their own collective bookstore in the Pike Place Market. The two projects would continue as separate but mutually supportive projects until the mid 90’s when Red and Black closed its doors. For much of the 80s and 90s, the Left Bank Books Collective expanded to include two other projects: AKA Books, a used bookstore in Seattle’s University District, as well as a wholesale distribution and mail order project known as Left Bank Distribution. Neither of these projects exists today due to financial problems and rental situations in Seattle.
Left Bank is collectively owned and operated by its workers, and has been since its inception. As an anarchist collective, Left Bank has no bosses or managers. Decisions are made in bi-monthly collective meetings based on a consensus process. Despite all the changes over the years, Left Bank Books continues to thrive at our Pike Place Market storefront thanks to Seattle’s radical community and the many folks who visit us from out of town. See you next time you’re in the neighborhood!”
BLMF Literary Saloon – Walking into this bookstore was fantastic. Tucked away in the bottom floors of Pike Place Market there are stacks upon stacks of second hand books everywhere. The owner was incredibly helpful and the prices were reasonable. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a website to provide any more details, but the Yelp reviews speak for themselves.
I certainly hope that this isn’t the last time that I go book shopping in Seattle.
Like I said, it has been a little difficult for me to acclimate back into the Los Angeles lifestyle. I love living in LA so much, especially now that I have honed my skills of avoiding traffic and Hollywood. But, you never know where I might end up. This vacation has me seriously considering what a lifestyle change might look like if I were to move.