If you’re lucky enough to get a second chance at something, don’t waste it.
Firstly, how I love the song Hello, Seattle by Owl City. Secondly, a little background on me and this city. Seattle and I first met a year ago. It was two days after Christmas and I had a few days off, so decided to head south from Vancouver to this fellow Pacific Northwest city. I had three days in Seattle and did enjoy myself but I wasn’t wowed, you know? Take two and how the tables have turned. I visited two different areas this time around and they helped switch my opinion on the city. So much so, I named it one of my favourite American cities.
Last year the only outer suburb I visited was Wallingford, which did have terrific cupcakes and cute boutiques but Fremont is the place to be. My travel companion and I visited on a sunny yet cold Sunday afternoon to browse the Street MarketIt is very accessible from the city with various buses heading over Lake Union to the neighbourhood regularly. We walked down 34th Street towards the bright flags blowing in the breeze off the lake. But then we had to turn left to see the waterside before browsing the market.
What a beautiful spot: golden leaves holding onto the branches, trying not to let go even though winter was fast approaching. The drawbridge dominated the view to our left and the lake infinitely flowed to our right. The water was clear at the edge, which is always the most inviting, even when you know it will be like taking an ice bath if you were to venture in.
The neighbourhood closes down 34th Street for a few blocks for the markets every Sunday year-round, rain or shine. It reminded me of the Brooklyn Flea I had visited previously with its stalls upon stalls of the most random antiques and vintage products you could imagine. This includes bullets, typewriter key cufflinks, pieces of dolls (I mean separated legs and arms) name tags taken from work uniforms, badges and the usual books, clothes and jewellery. Further down you will find other locals selling homemade wares and food trucks for lunch.
Weird and Wacky
We then walked up Phinney Avenue and stopped for some free samples at Theo Chocolate before heading back towards Fremont Street, the main thoroughfare. There are some good looking dining options in the area and trendy boutiques, but the chief drawcard is the weirdness. First up is a controversial Lenin Statue (bigger than anticipated). Then there is the infamous Fremont Troll hiding under the Aurora Bridge with car-crushing abilities. Next up is the rocket ship attached to Burnt Sugar and the planet resembling Jupiter (I think) opposite. Finally, the Waiting for the Interurban statue (above), where you must look at the dog’s face. Such a fantastic area buzzing with quirkiness and full of life.
Read more: An alternative guide to Seattle
I also noticed immediately the friendly people. It was like being back in my beloved south when a cyclist said excuse me when he rode passed us (when does that EVER happen?), the bus drivers said hello when we entered and the servers greeted us with smiles. Bless you, Seattle.
An $8 round trip ticket and 30 minute ferry ride away, I didn’t know what to expect from this island. But we fell in love with this pretty, quaint town in Washington. We visited for lunch and lucky we were hungry as Isla Bonita filled us with delicious and reasonably-priced Mexican cuisine. We then wandered down Winslow Way, stopping for a look in Bon Bon, and quickly walking past the boutiques brimming with beautiful clothing so as not to be tempted.
Even though it was probably hovering around 7 degrees during our visit, I decided to devour an ice cream from Mora Iced Creamery. This was my single scoop! We sat in a purple seat that was directly in the sun’s path, so we were able to keep relatively warm on the cold afternoon. It was such a perfect spot for chatting and watching the sun creep closer to the horizon. I still cannot get used to the setting sun at 4:30pm. This just doesn’t happen in Australia.
Our final stop on the island was down by the waterfront to capture the perfect houses and moored yachts reflected in the sea. As we walked back to the ferry we passed the real estate office, where we noticed houses selling for $1-9 million. A little out of our traveller price range. We just made the 3:50 pm ferry back to Seattle, which was the most perfect ride.
Read more: Seeing Seattle on a budget
The ferry home
We saw the sun disappear behind the island. Mount Baker glowing in the distance. It looked so magnificent and majestic, I felt like I was in a dream, except I couldn’t deny my hands were freezing as I took photos on the “sun deck” and was nearly blown overboard by the thunderous, icy wind. I snapped too many photos of the Seattle skyline as we moved closer to the city. Now, it was no New York, but it was beautiful in its own way. My friend even said, as we stood with our backs pressed against the boat at the front so we could get an uninterrupted and slightly-more-wind-less view of the city:
It is so beautiful I could cry.
The Great Wheel was changing colour to the left, the monstrous mountain was overlooking the city from the right, and life was cold but perfect right at that moment. I was fortunate to see the sunset every day on my visit from three different viewpoints: Pike Place Market, the Olympic Sculpture Park and the ferry. There is nothing quite like a West Coast setting sun, except for perhaps an East Coast rising sun, if you can wake that early.
The ferry departs from Pier 52 in Seattle. You basically turn left out of Pike Place Market and walk by the water for less than ten minutes. Alternatively, visit the Bainbridge Island website for all the important information: addresses, ferry times and instructions.
It’s funny how your impression of a place can change in a blink of an eye, in a ray of sunshine, in a second visit. This is why I recommend you visit Fremont and Bainbridge Island on your next visit to Seattle Washington.