If, like me, you have never been in Seattle before, you will probably know this city for one of the following reasons:
¤ awesome favourite bands were born there
¤ the most gifted and beautiful fictional doctors work there
¤ coffee. You want to go see the first ever Starbucks shop, waiting in line like when you go see that rare miracle baby panda in a zoo, but then you want to go and have actual coffee at one of the many artisan roasters nearby.
¤ you know there is a Space Needle but you don’t know what it’s for.
¤ you have seen it on pictures and know there is a lot of water and mountains surrounding the city but you don’t know where Seattle ends and nature begins.
¤ you know it’s called the Emerald city but you have no clue why.
These are all good reasons to know of Seattle, but wouldn’t it be much nicer to go there and learn how to Seattle?
That’s what I thought at the beginning of this year. Admittedly, my main reason to go there was the favourite-band aspect, but only until I got there and realised there is much more to it than just inhaling the air that created my favourite musicians.
Though this might be an illusion, it feels like you can easily walk everywhere in the central part of the city. Of course it helps to have the Link lightrail and the short but sweet monorail to shove your sightseeing hungry body from A to B. The Link actually gets you to and from the airport in around 30 minutes for only $3, so Seattle wins on the affordable public transport league already. The monorail only runs the few blocks between Westlake Centre and Seattle Centre, where you get off right in the middle between the Space Needle and all the museums worth seeing.
The best museum by far, not just in Seattle but anywhere, is the EMP. I went there merely to have a look at the Nirvana and punk exhibition and ended up fangirling in the the Science Fiction and Horror department for a couple of hours. I have never been so excited about a museum in my entire life, and if I could have afforded it I would have spent a fortune in all of the several gift shops. What an amazing place.
The city is surrounded by picturesque fairytale landscapes, with everything from water to mountains. You can totally go up the Space Needle to get your scenic views, but the better views are still from the 73rd floor of the Columbia Centre, also known as Skyview. It’s cheaper and it’s higher up, so make sure to charge your phones so you can take loads of pictures. I was up on the Skyview just before sundown, which was totally worth waiting for.
For those who love to rent cars and drive around: sure, that’s a good idea, because there is so much more to see of the Emerald City than just the city centre. But be aware that traffic in Seattle is ridiculously bad. At all times. Everywhere. Seriously. It’s bad. If you have a short temper or road rage, this might not be for you. If you have to give your car back in the city centre, be sure to plan to get there at least an hour early, then you might only be half an hour late. I am not even joking.
Be sure to take at least one ferry or tourist boat when the weather is nice, because the views are not just spectacular from the city, but the city itself is quite pretty to look at. And there is no better feeling than the soft waves of Elliot Bay and the fresh air from the surrounding Olympic Mountains.
This is a city to enjoy in a concentrated form, just like the strong coffee they brew there. It is definitely doable to see Seattle in 5 days or less, but if you really want to experience it like a local, you should probably give yourself some more time to hang out and do a little bit of nothing.