Seattle has been on my bucket list for a long time. After San Francisco, it’s probably the US city I’ve wanted to visit the most. Last autumn when I started making plans to visit Vancouver, I knew I needed to fit a trip to Seattle in at the same time.
The journey to Seattle was a long one. I left our flat in Edinburgh at 7am last Wednesday morning, and took a bus, then a train, then another bus to Glasgow International airport for the once-weekly 11am flight to Vancouver. The flight itself lasted just over nine hours, and was immediately followed by a couple of hours passing through Canadian immigration at Vancouver International. That’s fifteen hours travelling so far for those of you keeping count, and I then needed to take a Skytrain across the city to Pacific Central train station, where I sat around for another couple of hours until the Amtrak left for Seattle at five thirty local time. Four and a half hours later, at 2220PDT I arrived at King Street station and walked the final 25 minutes or so to my hostel on Pike Street. Total travel time: 23.5 hours, almost entirely in daylight too. My body clock hated me for that one.
Still though, I made it up early on the Thursday morning for the final run of my 10k plan along the Puget Sound. That helped to shake off a lot of the travelling cobwebs, and let me start enjoying the city pretty much immediately. I got back to the hostel before 8am, and after a quick shower left to go explore Seattle.
I started without any real plan, and wandered north until I got close to the Space Needle. It had just opened, so there were no queues and I got straight up to the top. The views were spectacular, even though the skies were overcast; the only problem being that you obviously can’t see the Space Needle from the Space Needle, probably the most iconic part of the Seattle skyline. So to make sure I had enough Instagram-worthy photos, after a lunch at the ever-present Hard Rock Café, I headed up to Kerry Park for some panoramic views of Seattle. It was still a little overcast at this point, and since I had already walked so far north, I decided to keep walking until I got to Gas Works Park, for even more skyline views.
I had an early night the first night, with my body clock still on Scotland time, and instead got up early again for my second day, and headed east to IHOP to start ticking off my list of American fast-food places I wanted to eat at. Having eaten about a full days worth of calories just for breakfast I meandered south with no real aim in mind, ending up near CenturyLink Field. Unfortunately, both the Sounders and the Mariners were playing away during my time in Seattle, so I couldn’t catch a game of either football or baseball (the NFL season had finished, so there wasn’t any Seahawks games on either).
I headed back to the hostel after my walk, picking up some souvenirs for family and friends on the way back. I had a few beers with some of the guests / staff in the hostel, managing a few more hours awake into the night, but not quite fully on Pacific time enough to last beyond midnight.
My final full day in Seattle started in an Irish pub, the only place open at 9am and showing the Arsenal game. After a couple of beers watching the football, I started out on a brief coffee tour of the city. My first stop was at the inaugural Starbucks in Pike Place Market, followed by the Cherry Street Coffee House on 1st Avenue, walking a wide circle around the city to Stumptown Coffee Roasters on East Pine Street, finally finishing (a little shakey from the caffeine) at Seattle Coffee Works on Pike Street, next door to my hostel. Seattle apparently has the most coffee shops per capita, and its residents spend more than any other US city on coffee every month. It’s not hard to believe this, given that you can barely walk 50 yards without passing a coffee shop - not that I’m complaining in the slightest.
On my final night in the city, the hostel was running another free beer night (keg party from 7pm-9pm). I was more than happy to oblige, as my train to Portland the next morning had been rescheduled to a few hours later by Amtrak, meaning I could afford an extra few hours sleep - which I gladly took advantage of. I walked red-eyed back to King Street station the next morning to catch my train to Portland, having thoroughly enjoyed my first city visit of the United States.