· Pine Street · The Original Nordstrom · Pike Place Market · Elliott Bay Waterfront · Ellenos · Gum Wall · Olympic Sculpture Park · Space Needle · Belltown · The Original Starbucks · Rachel’s Ginger Beer · Capital Hill · The Elliott Bay Book Company · Oddfellow’s Cafe + Bar · Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream ·
Not the typical way you hear Seattle described, right? Well, when I had a layover on the opposite side of the states, I was thrilled for a beautiful sunny day with the company to match. Katherine, a friend from back home, graciously led me around her stomping grounds, marking everything off my “to do” list and much more. I always love taking advantage of seeing a new place through the eyes of someone who experiences it every day. I’m even more grateful to have gotten one-on-one time with this wonderful soul. She is one of the strongest, brightest, and most capable young women I have ever met. So full of love, she was the perfect guide and companion on what turned out to be one of my favorite layovers yet.
We started out the day meeting in the Westlake area on Pine Street. Wonderfully, this street also houses the original Nordstrom (which incidentally happens to be where my friend is employed). When I first walked out of the train station, I noticed that there were oddly a lot of police officers around… Taken back by this, I began to look around and was even more thrown off by the people there. If you’ve ever seen The Purge (or just the second one like me because you’re really not a scary movie person but all your friends were going and you had a couple beers/might have read the parent guide beforehand), you have an idea of what I was looking at here. Strange collections of people grouping together, mostly wearing black, some in masks, and acting independent of each other but yet somehow still seeming a group. I soon then found out I had landed in Seattle on May Day. While this is intended to be a international day honoring workers, this gathering seemed far from a celebration. Apparently on May 1 in Seattle, the workers instead band together in an anti-capitalist march, which often has lead to riots and violence. Throughout the day as we were wandering, certain store windows were boarded up in protection against the potential danger. Below I have pictured the beginnings of their protest as they made their way down Pine Street. I don’t know how easy it is to tell, but the huge mass of people literally stuffed the street entirely to the buildings on either side. While admittedly I was intrigued by the whole thing, my (responsible) guide and I headed away from the area and towards the infamous Pike Place Market.
Pike Place Market is definitely one of the most commonly known spots in this great city. Being one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the United States, this area serves as an eclectic collection of merchants, retailers, and interesting people all the like. While on the subject, I want to include that Seattle truly has one of the most diverse communities I’ve ever experienced. Every shape, size and fashion moves about at various paces, having entertaining interactions all along the way. There is a very good collection of humans to behold here. Masterfully I was instructed to take the following picture as we approached the market, which coincidentally shows off the Elliott Bay Waterfront that Pike Place runs along.
Our first stop at the market was Ellenos. Real greek yogurt created and flavored by a local family, this place is a definite stop for a healthy afternoon treat. Walking up to the store front, you would think that you were about to order ice cream or gelato with all of the different options. However, this spot serves only freshly made greek yogurt, cutting the calories and guilt factor associated. The yogurt comes in about 4 different sizes at extremely reasonable prices. I couldn’t resist going with the employee’s recommendation for the passion fruit yogurt, and boy did it not disappoint. Absolutely delicious and refreshing!
Afterwards, we wandered into a Target with one mission. Bubble gum. For those of you familiar with Seattle landmarks, you know exactly why. We found the pack that promised the best bubble blowing, and headed straight toward the Gum Wall. The wall is located in Post Alley, a little south of Pike Place Market. It’s tradition actually was started back in 1993, when people started sticking their chewed gum to the wall next to The Market Theater. Apparently they tried to remove the gum a couple times, of course to no avail of those eager to participate. Now the wall spans up to 15 feet high for 50 feet, and is several inches thick in certain places. It was also named one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009, so there’s that. Anyways, we found it very important to join in the fun, blowing a few impressive bubbles along the way (Original Bazooka is where it’s at).
Leaving that sticky situation ,we walked down to the waterfront to check out the Olympic Sculpture Park. One of the must-see spots in Seattle, this park was on every top 10 list you could find on Google. It’s a free outdoor sculpture park that hosts the most incredible artwork and landscaping right along the water. There on a Sunday, we were surrounded by lots of people lounging and enjoying the sun with their pups (oh my goodness the pups!). It was the perfect atmosphere for a stroll, we even got a good glimpse of the Space Needle!
Space Needle + Alexander Calder’s The Eagle
What I loved most was the intricacy of how it was just as much set up to enjoy as it was to see. There was so much space to spread out, have a picnic, read a book, or just people watch. I also really enjoyed how unique each sculpture seemed to be, because the continuity of the park really relied on the landscaping and not the other exhibitions. All together a wonderful spot to pass through or linger at your will.
Richard Cera’s Wake
After leaving the park, we wound our way through Belltown, the most densely populated neighborhood in Seattle. Absolutely filled to the brim with cute shops, eateries, art galleries and boutiques, this area has plenty to offer in terms of things to do. I began to notice here mostly a large amount of graffiti on the sides of buildings. It was all extremely intricate and detailed, I loved getting to soak it all in. Although we were just passing through, Belltown is definitely an area I would like to spend more time in the future.
With obvious purpose, we curved back to Pike Place Market to get a caffeine fix. As it is commonly known, the original Starbucks made it’s home in Seattle. In my research of this location however, I actually found out it wasn’t the true original location. Apparently it was first located on Western Avenue, and after a few years was moved to it’s permanent Pike Place location. I know, I was surprised too. Regardless, this Starbucks being one of the first in existence, often hosts a large crowd of tourists that are drawn to it’s historic appearance that has been maintained. Being the coffee loving (and cliché seeking) person I am, I had to order a Pike Place roast at Pike Place. It didn’t taste exceptional or any different than your normal Starbucks coffee, but knocked that one off the bucket list nevertheless.
As we were making our way back up Post Alley, Katherine and I were drawn into Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Let me tell you, following your gut is the way to go, and this stop proved most rewarding. Handcrafted and brewed right in Seattle, this unique drink stop offers a variety of interesting flavored ginger beers (to be blended into cocktails or served alone). Pink guava and mango habanero were the flavors we ventured, both distinct and refreshing. The pink guava offered a lightly sweet taste, while the mango habanero was less so with a gradual kick at the end. But these two don’t even skim the surface! They offer blood orange, white peach, caramelized pineapple… you name it! Although by this point we were accumulating quite the array of drinks (don’t forget the Starbucks stop that had happened just prior), I would definitely say this spot was one of my favorites on the trip.
As we finished our drinks, I was guided to Katherine’s absolute favorite street in town. Along 10th Avenue in Capitol Hill, she first took me to The Elliott Bay Book Company. I adored this book shop, filled to the brim with every type of story you could imagine. Often I can easily get lost in shelves such as those (and I think she would’ve come right down with me), but our growing hunger pressed us on. We did snag two copies of Sara Majka’s Cities I’ve Never Lived In to eventually read together though!
We hopped over next door to Oddfellows Cafe + Bar, which was the most adorable eatery (and one of the most Instagrammable places in Seattle according to Katherine). Acclaimed for it’s brunch and hipster appeal, this spot provides a unique experience for foodies of all sorts. We started off with a bottle of rosé, and enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant, which is fronted by windows that were swung open to let the cool evening breeze in. Candlelit with the most relaxing ambiance, this place was a perfect spot to unwind after a long day of walking. Our waitress was lovely and accommodating, which always makes any dining experience all the more memorable. What I really enjoyed most was the unique pairings that were included in their menu options. I ordered the seared pork loin with celeriac purée, brussels sprouts and apples; it was to die for! The blend of flavors in the sides paired perfectly with the rich pork, it practically melted in your mouth. I also loved how clean and fresh the ingredients were, it was a perfectly filling dinner. I would absolutely recommend paying Oddfellows Cafe + Bar a visit in Seattle, next time I’m coming back for their brunch!
Feeling as though we couldn’t consume anymore, we still had to make one last stop at Molly Moon’s just around the corner. In the Seattle way, this homemade ice-cream shop creates their treats by partnering with local farmers and producers – so you know you are getting the best fresh ingredients. They also are big proprietors in charity, raising money for non-profits and supporting the community. And even better yet, they use sustainable products to prevent waste. So not only is a sundae from Molly Moon’s good for you, but it’s good for others too! I absolutely died over the vegan coconut chunk ice-cream (seasonal), and added a vegan chocolate hard shell, candied hazelnuts, and their famous organic sprinkles. Not your classic sundae if course, but the unique option of flavors and toppings heightens Molly Moon’s appeal. Although I don’t know how we were able to eat more after our dinner and array of drinks throughout the day, I’m definitely grateful we rose to the challenge.
Seattle, Washington is a beautiful representation of the unique spirit and people it inhabits. I feel as though having some outstanding quality – purple hair, a nose ring, neck tattoos, etc. is really what fits you into this community. It’s a place where there’s a lot to see, but a part of you just wants to linger everywhere you go. There’s a peace in wandering through the market, with a coffee in hand and great company, that is hard to parallel elsewhere. Speaking of, I would like again to add another note of thanks to my dear tour guide who made this day so special. More than anything, your spirit and our conversation is what made this day unforgettable. Now I’m off to find out how I can order some more of that ginger beer for delivery. 😉
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