Yesterday (Saturday), was the first official day of my holiday - and it was a really wonderful day. After much discussion on Friday night, we'd decided that we'd all get up really early, and head out to a place called Sequim, which is a wildlife reserve where you can buy bread and then drive through the park, and lots of different types of animals will come up to the car and you can feed them. It's about 2 hours away from where Emily & C live, but a gorgeous drive there and back anyway, so we thought it would be beautiful. From there, we'd thought we'd head to a place called Hurricane Ridge, which is supposed to have a beautiful view and still has snow (yay!).
Unfortunately, I ruined the plan! Emily woke me up at 7:30am, as per the plan, I nodded at her, rolled over, and then suddenly it was 10:30am. Oh dear! By the time I finally stumbled downstairs, they'd already eaten breakfast (although there was a homemade breakfast sandwich waiting for me), and were getting on with stuff around the house. So we had to re-jig the plan. C really kindly volunteered to stay with P for the day so Emily and I could go out and spend some time together, and we decided to hit the city of Seattle :)
First we drove over to Bainbridge Island, about 30 minutes away. I know you're all getting a little sick of 'how beautiful Washington is', but really, it is - and the drive was lovely. We drove over a bridge to get to the island, and Emily tells me that they have a lot of really beautiful (and expensive) homes on Bainbridge Island. Apparently Jennifer Aniston has one out here? Anyway, here's a quick shot that I took of some of the nice homes on the island:
From there, we parked the car, and caught the Ferry over to Seattle. It was a really large ferry, and lots of people took their cars on, but we just 'walked on'. The weather was really 'brisk and fresh' as I like to say, but we were worried about being a little chilly later in the day, so Emily had lent me a really cute red jacket she has. The ferry ride took about 35 minutes, and was really fun. First, it was quaint and pretty with great views, then it was really windy, and then it was FREEZING! I had on a big jacket and a scarf and I was FREEZING! :) We lasted about 25 minutes, but we had to go and take shelter for the last 10 minutes or so :)
As we got closer to Seattle though, and the ferry was entering the harbour (where it's a little more sheltered from the wind), we went back out onto the deck, and took in the great views of Seattle from the water. It's a really pretty city. Lots of different colours and architecture - bricks, glass, steel, red, blue, brown, grey and green. The closer we got, the more I liked it :)
We had decided that first up, we'd go on the 'Seattle Underground Tour'. Emily had heard about it from friends who had done it, and we thought it sounded REALLY great. Seattle has a really interesting history. In a nutshell, there was a big fire in the late 1800s that wiped out 30 x 10 of the downtown blocks. When they rebuilt, the city planers raised the streets 12-30 feet to avoid future flooding problems they'd had in the past. But because it took them 2-3 years to raise all the streets, businesses rebuilt at the old ground level. This mean the sidewalks were down low with the businesses, and to access the streets, people climbed ladders from the sidewalks/business up to the streets and visa versa. Eventually, the city built sidewalks at the new level that covered the lower sidewalks, and businesses built second stories on top of their original buildings - so that the 'second stories' were now on ground level. Very interesting! You can read more about it on wikipedia, since it's probably a little more complicated than my very simple explanation! Anyway, these old sidewalks then became underground passages, and the tour discusses the history and takes us down into a bunch of the old tunnels/sidewalks.
The tour started in an old building that was done up like an old saloon. Emmy and I sat up on the balcony, and a really entertaining guide gave us a history overview about the founding of Seattle, and the early pioneers and city planners - Seattle's first movers and shakers. He took us right through the unfortunate fire (started by a 17 year boy who's mind wandered while he was making glue, and who subsequently moved to California and changed his name). Anyway, after this intro, we all filed outside into Pioneer Square and were separated into 4 separate groups (mine met over by the totem pole). Each group had their own tour guide, and we visited different sections of the tour in different orders (they push a lot of us through on that tour - they must make a killing!).
We really enjoyed the tour. Our tour-guide was a little crazy, and her voice seemed to drive almost everyone on our tour crazy, but once you got past that, we all had a great time. Really fascinating stuff to see and learn about. One of the things I enjoyed was seeing the 'skylights' that they built into the sidewalks that covered the old sidewalks. Because people still used the underground sidewalk to access the lower levels (until they were all condemned a couple of decades later), they built purple glass squares into a lot of the sidewalks above ground - which acted as skylights. They're all over the sidewalk in the city, and they just look like decorative tiles. It's not until you view them from underground that you realize their real purpose :)
Anyway, on the tour, we heard about a couple of other things in Seattle that we thought we'd like to check out. The first was the Smith Tower, which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi between 1914 and 1931 :) There's a viewing platform up the top and we were all set to go up and see it. Unfortunately, when we walked (up a very steep hill) to the front door of the building, we saw a sign telling us that it was closed for a private function *heavy sigh*. So we walked back down the hill, and went instead to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. They sold so many yummy types of chocolate, and a huge variety of 'candied apples' - covered in chocolate, caramel, nuts, coconut - you name it. I'm not huge on apples, but they were still really fun to look at, and we ended up getting one to take home for Chris. We also ended up with a couple of chocolates for ourselves.... lol!
Once we'd finished up at the Chocolate Factory, we headed off in search of the Space Needle. After stopping back at the underground tours place to get directions from a guide, we caught the bus to the Space Needle. It was a little scary because neither of us really knew how to catch the bus here, but we managed okay. There was a slight panic when we realized that the 'free bus' we'd been riding has gone past the 'free zone' and we had to pay as we got off, but we managed to scrounge the required 'correct change' from our wallets while an ever growing line of not-so-patient people built behind us.
The Space Needle costs $17 per person to get up the top to the viewing platform. SEVENTEEN DOLLARS people! We were really surprised at the cost, but we'd come this far, and thought we'd better keep going. The lines were really long, and it took us a while to get into the elevator, but we eventually made it. We were the last of the group to get on the elevator, and were right by the doors. The doors closed, and the elevator started shooting up to the top of the tower. That's when we suddenly realized that the walls of the elevator were completely made of see through glass, so that the view opened up right before you as you shot up! I would NOT have stood sandwiched quite so close to the completely glass doors if I'd realized they were completely glass doors! I freaked out just a little and took as big a step as possible BACK from the door :) Emily got a good laugh at that! I was alright once I had a chance to take it in, but it certainly took my off guard!
Once we got to the top, we wondered around and quickly got bored. We've decided that for your $17, all you really get is the opportunity to say that you've been up the space needle, because it really wasn't all that exciting from the top - though it certainly is a long way up. The elevator ride down was a highlight - since we were expecting it the second time - and then it released us out into the very large gift shop :)
We had planned to walk back down to the docks, but seeing it from the top of the space needle, we'd realized it was actually quite a long way! So we sprung for a cab that took us back down to the water.
Our plan was to hit The Crab Pot for dinner - but we got sidetracked and ended up taking a bit of a wander. We walked about another massive hill and 5,000,000 stairs to the big warehouse and open area that houses PIke's Market. It was about 5:30pm at this point, the markets were closing down. A lot of the venders had already packed up for the day, but we had a bit of a wander through anyway, just in case we don't get the chance to go back again. Mum, I thought of you when we got to the flower section! Most had already packed down, but there were still huge areas of the most beautiful flowers, and they're all sold REALLY cheap! We got a beautiful boquet of flowers for $10, and they've been sitting on the kitchen table ever since.
After our wanderings, we went back down to the dock, and over to The Crab Pot. There was an hours wait for dinner, so we put our names on the list, and went out to sit on one of the piers and watch the sunset. It was just the most gorgeous weather, cold but crisp with lovely sunshine. Usually I much prefer rain, but it was so perfect that I didn't even mind the sunshine :) We just sat and chatted and ate chocolates from our chocolate factory visit.
Finally, our hour was up and we made it into The Crab Pot. The place was packed, but we were starving - we had never actually eaten lunch we'd been so busy :) The specialty at The Crab Pot (and the reason Emily dragged me there) is a huge tub of seafood that they come and dump on your table. They give you a fork, a hammer and lots and lots of paper towels, and you just go for it! The hammer is for the crabs legs. I'd never actually had crab legs before (I usually go for prawns or fish), but they were really yummy - though they're annoying to try and extract the flesh from (the bottom photo is an action shot of me doing just that!). Our table was full of Crab, Mussells, Clams, Prawns, Potato, Corn and Kabana. It was delicious! The crab was great, but my favourite was undoubtably the prawns :) A really really great dinner!
After dinner, we were able to catch the 9pm ferry back to Bainbridge Island. Now, I hadn't had any problem with the ferry on the way over. But it was dark now! As we got to the ferry, I started to freak out just a tiny bit! I don't like water and boats very much - and the night/dark combination was one I hadn't thought to consider. I know Emily knew I was nervous, but I don't think she realized just how terrified I was really feeling as the ferry chugged out of Seattle. As the city lights got further and further away I had to through myself into our conversation with increasing gusto in an attempt not to freak out! Seriously, who's idea was the MEXICAN CRUISE! I may have survived the Bainbridge Island ferry, but at least I could always see lights on a shore somewhere - even when they were small - so at least I would have known which direction I needed to swim! What am I supposed to do when the CRUISE SHIP sinks!
I've noticed it's a little better if I'm inside and can't actually SEE the water... mind you, even when I'm inside, I have to be sitting close to a door so I could get out and start swimming if I needed!
BUT - all in all, a FANTASTIC day. I really love Seattle - such a beautiful city. And I love all the water, and the greenery. I loved the tour and the cool underground history. And of course, I loved the company! So much fun just to chill and spend the whole day chin-wagging.
So I'm glad I slept in! Hurricane Ridge and Sequim would have been wonderful, but the city day was perfect :)