It's been a while since I've taken a trip anywhere, but over Spring Break I got to visit the lovely state of Washington. Particularly Seattle, of the Space Needle, Sleepless, and Starbucks fame.
It was a very nice break after a stressful, finals-filled end to winter quarter, and I was looking forward to it a lot, having never been to Seattle before. My only impression of it was that it rained a lot. I didn't really know much about it, other than that it rained a lot there, but we actually got lucky and somehow caught the three sunny days allotted for the year.
We only spent a couple of days there, but I feel like we did a lot in that time! Take a look:
Well hello, beautiful Seattle! Seattle is so green. I am in awe of the evergreen trees everywhere, but my sister reminds me that this is what non-Californians think of palm trees.
It's actually not THAT cold...I think I was mentally prepared to freeze in the rain, so I am surprised that it is only a little chilly and drizzling. It's very grey here. Grey and green. Despite talk of weather-induced depression, I really think I could live here.
Seattle reminds me of a cross between New York, San Francisco, and Alaska, three destinations that hold very special places in my heart. You get the city vibe from walking around and seeing all of the buildings and the lights and the shops, but it's still unique. You can see the grey-blue of the ocean from some of the higher streets, and the air feels very crisp and clean when you breathe in.
We go to the Pike Place Market, a cute little public market on the waterfront and a hot spot for tourists. It has everything from dried fruit to spices and tea, from wood carvings to jewelry, and lots and lots of fish. My sister makes friends with some giant lobster tails and I try possibly the best smoked salmon of my life.
The people in Seattle are so friendly! Everywhere we turn, vendors smile and joke with us and offer us food. There's so much seafood here, and it's all so fresh.
We go down to an alley and see all of the street art in it, and the infamous Gum Wall. Although the Public Market was started as something for the locals, it's a big hub for tourists, which is cool...how many tourist attractions do you actually see in use by anyone but tourists?
We wake up early to go on a walking food tour. Our tour guide, a very enthusiastic man named Jerry, takes us back through the Pike Place Market, but this time we stop at some of the more tucked-away vendors and get a little history lesson the whole way. As it turns out, Pike Place Market started as a real market for gold rushers, shipbuilders, and loggers who came into Seattle via the port. It came into being after one guy somehow monopolized the onion business and raised the prices an outrageous degree. People rioted, and came up with the idea of having a public market in order to exchange goods, cutting out the wholesalers. To this day, there are no chain businesses in the Pike Place Market, unless they began there (see: the original Starbucks).
A food tour is exactly what it sounds like. You literally just go around and eat everything. I don't think I've ever been so full in my life just by snacking. There was. So. Much. Food.
There are coffeeshops everywhere (and even a roast named after Pike Place), so it's kind of a shame that my mom, my sister, and I don't really like coffee...we go down to the original Starbucks, but we get actually try coffee at another stop on the food tour.
We stop at the International District, but there isn't much to do there...it's not like Chinatown in New York or Japantown in LA. It's mostly just restaurants. The best thing there is a Japanese market (which is still pretty cool).
In the morning, we take the monorail to the Seattle Center. It's like a Disneyland ride, and was built for the Century 21 World's Fair (like the World Expo we went to in Shanghai!) in 1962. They keep the monorail up and running for tourists.
The Seattle Center is equally touristy; it includes the Space Needle and a bunch of attractions like the Armory, the Poetry Garden, the Pacific Science Center, and the EMP. The EMP, or Experience Music Project Museum, was pretty much a museum of pop culture. We opted not to go to the Space Needle (because for $22 and however many pictures, it didn't seem worth it).
I've never liked Hello Kitty, but the Hello Kitty exhibit is actually really interesting. It's amazing how one little cat had such a huge cultural impact. There are high-fashion collections centered around this cat. It's become such a phenomenon, even in the Western world, but we view her much differently. According to a part of the exhibit, according to Western critics, Hello Kitty's lack of a mouth symbolizes powerlessness. I'm mostly fascinated by just how many things you can make Hello Kitty-themed.
There's a "Sound Lab," where you can try out different instruments and record your own demos, and a "Sky Church," which was inspired by Jimi Hendrix, intended to be "a place where people of all ages and cultures could come to collectively celebrate musical experiences," and it plays different music videos throughout the day.
The EMP is kind of a nerd museum—it has a fantasy exhibit, a horror exhibit, and a science fiction exhibit. I love it anyway.
Seattle has a kind of small-city feel, but I don't realize exactly how small until I run into my friend James and his girlfriend, who happen to be on vacation in Seattle, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HORROR MOVIE EXHIBIT. Crazy. It's a cool little exhibit; it has different screens where you can watch mini-documentaries about the making and psychology of different horror movies like The Exorcist and Psycho.
The last day, we visit the University of Washington! It's a gorgeous campus, East Coast-looking, with large stone buildings and castle-looking towers. It was especially pretty because all of the cherry blossoms were in bloom. We didn't even need to go all the way to Washington D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Seattle was fun, but I'm not quite sure if I would live there. I suppose we'll have to see (but Amazon, if you're reading this, I would 100% move there to work for you).
Until next time, Seattle!
writer/creator. problem-solver. curious cat.