A very very late post about my trip to Seattle back in April!
Who realized how close to Vancouver the city of Seattle is!?
Well not me until I moved to Canada. In fact, I didn’t know much about the place apart from knowing Grey’s Anatomy was based in a hospital there.
(By the way, I have only just started watching all the seasons of Grey’s Anatomy! Bit late to the craze I know as it first aired in 2005!)
The original reason for our trip to Seattle was because my partner had a rugby game down there.
I made sure I had the weekend off work so I could drive down with him and see a little bit more of the USA.
Usually the rugby team just stays there for the day (as it’s around a 3 hour drive from Vancouver) but we decided to stay for the night.
Even though I only booked us a hotel the night before we stayed – we got a really good deal through my work! (Travel agent perks 😉 )
So on Saturday morning, Nathan, myself and his Irish team-mate Thomas left our place around 7am. The drive to the Boarder which separates Canada and Washington was actually pretty short. It’s the drive from the boarder down to Seattle that takes the longest time. It’s not an exciting drive either. Just motorways and some farms with the occasional food store and Walmart. (Okay I admit, I enjoyed the Walmart’s)
When we got into Seattle, we dropped Thomas off at the Rugby Field because he was playing an earlier game with another Vancouver team. As we hadn’t stopped for food yet, Nathan and I decided to drive around and find something to eat.
Unfortunately for us it was raining – I’m not meaning just a little drizzle either, it continuously poured with rain that whole first day we were there!
I actually didn’t research Seattle before I went but I’ve now found out it’s one of the rainiest cities in the USA. Seattle is right in the path of a weather pattern that brings in a lot of moisture off the Pacific Ocean, they get about 150 days of rain a year! Luckily it’s not always a heavy downpour, more of a light drizzle. Guess it’s similar to Vancouver in a way.
Out of all the fast-food joints we could have eaten at, we decided on a trusty McDonalds meal. Coming from New Zealand where I like to think our McDonalds beef and Chicken is somewhat hormone free, I don’t think this McDonalds was. There’s always that gross feeling inside of you when you eat meat from America coming from New Zealand as you imagine it’s just full of all these additives and bad things you’re putting into your body.
We scoffed it down anyways and then headed back to the fields so Nathan could start warming up for the rugby game.
As the game didn’t start for about another hour, I headed back into the comfort of our car and drove back to the little city centre. We’d passed a Target store on the way to the fields and I really wanted to go and have a look.
Probably a bad idea as I ended up spending lots of money on homewares!!
I thought Vancouver had some decent shopping but America is just soo much better.
There’s more stores to visit (eg, Target), the Walmart’s are much bigger and better, there’s more to choose from and so much variety of things to buy!
Even the Ben’n’jerry’s ice-cream in the grocery aisle at Target had about 15 more flavours than the local Safeway down from my house.
When I got to Target, I grabbed a trolley and ended up buying an ironing board that goes on your kitchen table (kind of useless now that I have it because it just moves around when I iron). I also bought an iron, some large pillows for our bed, this organic body wash, more jars for the kitchen and….I can’t actually remember what else. I just remember feeling really bad because I spent a lot of money and I didn’t bring my own reusable fabric grocery bags because the girl at the check-out had to double-bag like all my glass jars as she didn’t want them to break.
When I got outside, I quickly tried loading up the car as it was still raining. Suddenly this car pulls up behind me so I assumed the person just wanted my parking space. Next thing I know this guy jumps out and starts grabbing all my bags and putting them into my car for me. I thought ‘oh that’s so helpful, he’s probably just trying to hurry me up so he can get my parking space’
I said to him “Oh sorry! I’m trying to be quick, did you want my space?”
He replies “Are you single?” (Really direct I know)
“Uh no I have a boyfriend”
“Okay, are you from here?”
“Nah I’m not”
“Okay, yeah I do want your parking space”
And then proceeds to hop into his car and wait for me. I forgot how direct American guys are. They don’t shy away from just bluntly asking you out. Guess it’s saves all the guessing games!
Anyways, with the car all loaded, I drove back to the field to watch Nathan play rugby.
As it was raining, the fields were obviously very wet but I’m such a dedicated Girlfriend I stood in the rain under my umbrella (with my white shoes on may I add) to watch him play.
Unfortunately they lost and they had so many injuries in their team!
Nathan scored a try and came straight off the field as he hurt his hip so he didn’t even play a full game. Once you say you want to come off, you can’t go back on so he ended up standing with me the rest of the game in his dirty clothes and all soaked.
Once the game was over, we headed to the hotel to check-in and so Nathan could have a shower.
We ended up staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downtown Seattle.
It was really centrally located and the everyone from the valet to the front desk was really lovely and helpful.
Our room was really spacious and the the bed was so comfortable. It even had a pillow menu!
While I was waiting for Nathan to get ready, I suddenly remembered I’d still never gone for dinner at the American Restaurant ‘The Cheesecake Factory’
Nathan had gone when he went to Hawai’i and always raved about it!
When I was in Orlando back in 2015, I also went with a girl from my tour group but we only went and bought a couple of slices of cheesecake. (We didn’t actually sit down and have a meal)
So I quickly did a Google search and saw that there was a Cheesecake Factory literally down the street from where we were staying.
I rung up to make a booking but they said we could just turn up and we’d get a table.
I’m so happy we ended up going because it was soooo yummy!!!
I’m not sure how many calories I consumed that night but everything from the bread they gave us to start, right down to the dessert at the end was so delicious.
Nathan and I are very simple people, I’m not fussed on a small steak and a side of asparagus, no matter how renowned the Chef is.
I want variety and great tasting food!
We ordered the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes to start (which don’t sound that great but were so amazing) They top it with Sour Cream, Avocado and Salsa and put it in this really nice Salsa-type sauce.
As there were literally 50 different things to choose from on the menu, I got really panicky and didn’t know what to order! I ended up deciding on a Thai Coconut Lime Chicken Dish.
Nathan ordered a Steak with Vegetables and a large side of Fries. (He was desperate for a Steak as he had yet to eat one since he’d arrived)
There actually ended up being a fire alarm towards the end of dinner.
Weirdly, no one got up to leave the building. Maybe the food was too good!? (It ended up being trigged from a store next door)
Once we’d finished our dinner, they asked us if we’d like dessert. Our stomach’s couldn’t really handle anything more but we couldn’t go to the Cheesecake Factory and not get a slice of Cheesecake!
I ordered a Salted Caramel one for us to share, which we ended up taking home with us as we couldn’t finish it.
I find tipping in the states much better than Canada.
In the US, you write down how much you want to tip and they put a hold on your Credit Card which they charge (with the tip) once you leave. Or you can just pop a few dollar bills on the table.
In Canada, as everyone pays by card you have to do it on the Card Machine and it’s always a little awkward when your waiter is standing right there and then rips off the receipt for you as they see how much you’ve given them.
We ended up tipping our guy about $15-$20 which we thought was a good amount for his service and the yummy food.
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel feeling like the biggest hippo’s.
When we got there, I quickly skyped my parents as I had to ask my Dad a quick question about our car.
On the drive to Seattle, it kept loosing power when we were accelerating so I just wanted to see if he knew any idea why. (It ended up being the battery so we got a new one when we came back to Vancouver)
A few of Nathan’s rugby mates were drinking down the road at their hotel so he went down to join them for a bit but ended up coming back an hour later as he was absolutely shattered. WE ARE SO FUN AND FULL OF ENERGY I KNOW!!
It was a combination of being in the car for hours, the rugby game, the big dinner and the little walk back to our hotel that really took it out of us.
I know, I know. We’re in our 20’s and should be going out having fun in the city but it was raining and to be honest we had no energy.
The next morning, we actually didn’t get a sleep in (even though the hotel offered us a late check-out) because Travel Agent Sarah (me) had organised a morning tour of Seattle for us.
I honestly think that if you’re in a city for a short amount of time and want to maximize your stay – DO A TOUR!
You have a guide that knows the city like the back of their hand. They can drive you around, talk to you about the history and then drop you off afterwards and point you in the right direction of the best places to eat.
The tour guide we had on our tour was a bit quirky and he defiantly had a ‘different’ sense of humour but we went with it and quite enjoyed ourselves.
We learnt about Seattles history and found out it was the Birthplace of Starbucks. (you can buy a unique mug at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market)
The Boeing Company was also founded in the Seattle area by the man William Boeing. If you like aviation, they do public tours of the Boeing Factory (which I desperately wanted to go to!!) but we ran out of time 😦
We also learnt that The Klondike gold rush was the great boom period for Seattle after gold was discovered in Canada’s Klondike region back in the late 80’s. Seattle established itself as the jumping-off point for transportation to and from Alaska and the gold fields of the Yukon.
We also tried to get pictures of Bill Gate’s house as he lives in Seattle but we were a little too far away across the river to get anything good.
Towards the end, we had a photo stop at Kerry park where we took photo’s of the Seattle Skyline (and ourselves of course)
Some other random facts about Seattle for your reading pleasure:
- More people bike to work in Seattle than in any other city in the USA of similar sizing.
- They were the first city to have Policemen and woman on bikes
- The Public Library system has more library card holders per capita than anywhere else
- Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle
- The have the busiest Ferry Terminal in the United States
- Seattle is a major departure point for Alaskan cruises
- They have the most houseboats compared to anywhere else in the U.S
Now it probably feels like you’ve gone on the tour with me! 😉
When the tour ended, we were dropped off at Pike Place Market which is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront. It’s really famous and you’ll always see pictures of it if you watch Grey’s Anatomy. It’s one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States.
Once there, I immediately took out my phone and started taking pictures of all the beautiful flowers and fresh fruit they had.
I thought there would be more food like really yummy baked goods and stuff but it was a little disappointing on the food front. It’s defiantly more produce based where you can buy fresh fish, flowers, jams and vegetables to take home.
We also watched the famous ‘Throwing of the fish’ at Pike Place Fish Market. It’s one of the market’s major attractions where employees throw three-foot salmon and other fish to each other rather than passing them by hand. If you order a fish, an employee picks up the fish from the ice barrels and hurls it over the countertop, where another employee catches it and prepares it for you to take home.
From what I’ve read on Wikipedia, the tradition started when the fishmongers got tired of having to walk out to the Market’s fish table to retrieve a salmon each time someone ordered one. Eventually, the owner realized it was easier to station an employee at the table and throw the fish over the counter.
At some stage during my photo taking, Nathan wandered off and I lost him in the crowd.
Eventually I spotted him and we decided to go line up at Piroshky Piroshky which is a small Russian Bakery just across the road from the markets. You have to wait in line but you’re given a menu as you wait so you can quickly order when you’re inside.
They did everything from Cinnamon rolls and Rhubarb Piroshky’s to Chicken Curry and Onion Rolls. I ordered a Oscars Star which was a delicious buttery dough topped with chocolate, sweet cream cheese and sprinkled with Hazelnuts whereas Nathan got a traditional ground beef and onion Piroshky which I took a bite of and was actually pretty good. He even enjoyed my sweet treat later that night!! (This is a big thing as he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth for chocolate pastries)
I wanted to save my Oscar’s Star for dessert so popped it into a bag to take home. While we were walking, we walked past one of those really yummy Rocky Mountain Apple places where they dip the apples in caramel and chocolate and cover it with hundreds and thousands or cookie pieces. Nathan was desperate for the bathroom so I hovered around the apples while he found somewhere to pee.
He seemed to take forever but by the time we met up again, Nathan told me he’d found the world famous Gum Wall.
I actually didn’t even know anything about this but Nathan said he’d seen pictures of it on Facebook before.
It’s officially called the Market Theater Gum Wall and it’s basically a brick wall covered in used chewing gum. Nice huh?
If you’re ever in Seattle, it’s in an alleyway located in Post Alley under the Pike Place Market. Great place for picture taking as the colours really stand out!
After a quick photo stop for Nathan at ‘The worlds tallest man’, we signed up to the Seattle Bicycle app called OFO. Basically you sign up with your credit card and scan a bike that you want to use with your phone. It unlocks the bike for you and you can ride it around the city for however long you like. It was really cheap too, I’m pretty sure the first 30 minutes were free and then it was like $5 or something after that.
On our tour that morning, we had driven past the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (which is like a small museum) where you can find out how much your weight is worth in gold.
It’s free to enter so we biked there on our bikes (of course) and had a look around. Nathan really just wanted to weigh himself but of course we read a little bit about the Klondike history etc….
I think in the end, Nathan’s weight in gold came to just over $1. Haha, just kidding. I can’t remember how much he was worth.
Before we headed home for the afternoon, Nathan mentioned we should grab something to eat as we hadn’t had lunch yet. Deep down we were both probably thinking we’d love to go back to The Cheesecake factory as they’re open for lunch too, however we thought we’d look at some other little cheap eats around town.
In the end, we just decided “Whatever! This is our first time here, lets just go to The Cheesecake Factory!”
Haha. You can tell we really explore each city we’re in….
As we knew that weekend was just full of consuming calories, we biked to The restaurant (up-hill may I add) and burnt off maybe just our entree from the night before…
I was actually a little embarrassed going back to the same place we were just in 24 hours beforehand but we didn’t think the people who worked there would remember us.
I had a quick look around for our waiter from the night before and he wasn’t there so we were safe! Or so I thought.
Suddenly I hear a “Oh welcome back!” from our waiter from the previous night.
He remembered us because apparently we left such a generous tip and he never got to say thank you. (We think he went on his break so someone else collected the bill the night before)
Just seeing how happy he was made me realise how much of a difference a decent tip makes to people who work in the service industry so I’m happy that we did.
We toned it down a little this time with me ordering the Nachos and Nathan got the Quesadilla.
After stuffing our faces for one final day, we paid our bill and walked back to our hotel to collect the car.
Before we left the city, we thought we’d stop and get some Gas, however! As soon as we started the car again it wouldn’t turn on.
Like I mentioned earlier, it needed a new battery!
I had a slight panic and thought we’d be stuck in Seattle overnight. Thankfully it ended up working after a few tries.
I don’t even know what would happen if we actually got stuck there. Like our car is insured in British Columbia but does anyone know if they would tow you car all the way from Seattle back to Vancouver?
I’d bloody hope so with the $200 we pay each month for insurance!!
The drive home was pleasant. A little boring but I kept Nathan entertained with my fabulous Spotify Playlist, plus we broke up the trip with a classic stop at Walmart.
We even got some lamps for the bedroom!! (I’d been looking to buy lamps for ages)
It was kind of a gamble though because we couldn’t actually open the box to see what colour lampshades they were. The box said they were a cream colour (which would have gone perfectly with our comforter set) but when I had opened a different box of a different brand, the lampshade did NOT look anything like what was on the front picture.
I took my chances anyways and I’m so glad I did because now I have four pretty lamps scattered around the house that match 🙂
Now it’s the beginning of June and I’ve officially been in Canada for nearly 5 months.
I’ll be honest, it’s defiantly been a struggle at times.
The money here isn’t that great (for me anyways) and even though Nathan gets paid way more than what he did back home, the cost of living makes it so we’re not actually saving that much money.
If anyone is thinking of moving to Vancouver, don’t come here expecting to make money and buy a house or anything. You come for the experience and the close proximity to other places in the USA and Central America to travel to.
I think I’ll write a post at some stage about the pro’s and con’s of living in Vancouver and the steps to take to start a life here – just for any Kiwi’s thinking of making the big move 😉
Thanks for reading!!