Hear about travel to Seattle, Washington as the Amateur Traveler talks to Mary Jo Manzanares from travelingwithmj.com about her hometown.
Mary Jo says, “despite what you hear about it raining all the time, you should just ignore that and come because it’s a beautiful destination. We always laugh because if you stack up the annual rainfall against some cities that you think of as warm sunny destinations, it’s less.”
“My first tip would be to find a hotel that is centrally located. It will save you on transportation costs, whether that’s our metro transit system, a taxi or Uber. If you were doing some searches you would probably pull up something around the Pike Place Market”.
We explore downtown and some of its museums like the Seattle Art Museum, the shoreline with the new Seattle Great Wheel and take a ferry ride and a picnic lunch for some great views of the city from the water. We might even find a good cup of coffee somewhere.
Mary Jo then takes us up to the Space Needle for some great views of the city and the nearby MoPop Museum (formerly EMP Experience Music Project) as well as the new Science Fiction Museum and Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.
We talk about some of the seedier history of Seattle (ever heard of “skid row”?) and its connection with the Klondike Gold Rush that you can learn more about at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and on the Seattle Underground Tour.
Then we get out of the city to visit some wineries, watch a Boeing Jet being made, or visit the Museum of Flight.
There is a lot to do in the Seattle area. We can’t describe it all in one episode but hopefully, we can give you some idea why you should come visit this beautiful green city by Puget Sound.
Traveling with MJ
Travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland – Episode 396
Travel to Tuscany, The Hill Towns of Southern Tuscany – Episode 350
Pike Place Market
Rachel the Piggy Bank
DeLaurenti – Specialty Food and Wine – Seattle Pike Place Market
SAM – Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Space Needle
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
EMP Museum – Music + Sci-fi + Pop Culture (Experience Music Project)
Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction (Museum)
Seattle Great Wheel
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – Seattle Unit
Seattle Underground Tour
Sons of the Profits: There’s No Business Like Grow Business. The Seattle Story, 1851-1901
Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
The Museum of Flight
Washington State History Museum
Museum of Glass in Tacoma
Heritage Distilling Co
Northwest Folklife Festival
On the Travel to the Maldives – Episode 500, Martin wrote:
My wife and I have been regular listeners for years. Congratulations on your 500th. We are looking forward to many more years! We are passionate about traveling – we usually get to go on vacation to foreign destinations about two-three times per year and we make it a habit to (re)listen to the episodes relating to our travel before (during and after) each trip.
Regarding the Maldives Episode I thought your listeners would like to know that there is a less expensive (albeit less luxurious) option. My wife and I extended our 3 week trip to Sri Lanka by going on a one week ‘cruise’ on a dhoni boat (refurbished fishing boat) about three years ago. This allows one to visit more atolls (inhabited and uninhabited) and to experience some of the local islands and people away from the capital of Male. The activities on the boat reminded us of a safari schedule with 2 daily snorkeling trips each at different locations (something that spending a whole week at a single resort would not permit). The accommodations on the boat were basic but much more affordable than a $1000 US/night hotel. The meals were surprisingly good and varied given the fact that the cook had to carry pretty much all what was needed for a week (except for fresh fish caught along the way!). With all meals included I would estimate the price for a couple to be well under a quarter of that of the resorts.
Martin and Nathalie
on Travel to Indianapolis, Indiana – Episode 498, Jeff left a detailed comment.
Chris: Amateur Traveler Episode 502. Today, the Amateur Traveler talks about mountains and water, markets and flying fish. As we go above, offshore of and even under Seattle, Washington. Welcome to the Amateur Traveler. I’m your host Chris Christensen, and now let’s talk about Seattle. I’d like to welcome back to the show, Mary Jo Manzanares from Traveling With MJ, and Mary Jo has come to talk to us about Seattle. Mary Jo, welcome back to the show.
Mary Jo: Hi, Chris. I’m glad to be back.
Chris: And I say “Welcome back,” we’ve done one show before, if I am remembering correctly which was on hill-towns in Tuscany.
Mary Jo: And, we also did one on Belfast.
Chris: We’ve done two shows. That is correct. Excellent, and I’ll put links to those in the show notes so that people can check them out, but we haven’t talked about Seattle on the show in forever. I think it’s been nine and a half years or something like that. It was a place that I wanted to do, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of you because you live in Seattle.
Mary Jo: I’ve lived in this area all my life, so I’ve got some familiarity.
Chris: And why should someone come to Seattle?
Mary Jo: Well, it would be really easy to say because despite what you hear about it raining all the time, you should just ignore that and come because it’s a beautiful destination. But all of us who live here are just pretty comfortable saying, “Yup, it rains all the time, all the time,” because it’s sort of the ongoing joke about we don’t want people to really discover how great it is here.
Chris: Now, my understanding is that the actual number is that you get 200 sunny days a year.
Mary Jo: Well, I don’t know what it is.
Chris: You have to trust me here. I know it’s 100 days less than we get, but it is 200 sunny days a year is the number that I read.
Mary Jo: Well and we always laugh because when you stack up the annual rainfall against some other cities that you think of as being warm, sunny destinations, it’s less. But the reality is our rainfall is spread out over a rather long, long period of time during the winter and early spring. So it’s going to rain and be kind of drizzly and gray for a great number of days during that time frame.
Chris: What kind of itinerary do you recommend for people who are coming to Seattle?
Mary Jo: Well, Seattle is a city that’s fairly spread out in terms of the different areas. It’s much like San Francisco in that it’s built on hills, and on one hand, it’s very compact and if you pick an area, you can do a lot without ever needing your car. But if you’re going to get out into some of the suburbs or the surrounding areas, you are going to need a car. So I think the first question when you’re planning your itinerary is “Do you really want to stay in the downtown core and experience everything the downtown has to offer?” which is quite a bit of activity. Or do you want to do a trip out to the outlying areas which get you out to the mountains, some of the parks and the wine country? So, that really is a key decision to make when you’re planning your vacation here.
Chris: Cool, and let’s give them some information on how to do that by starting with downtown.
Mary Jo: The downtown core is a great place to stay and visit. You know I’m local here, and we go into the city and spend a couple of days on a fairly regular basis, we just did last weekend. And it’s fun to be a tourist in your own hometown and look at it through those different eyes. So my first tip would be to find a hotel that’s centrally located. It will save you want transportation costs, whether that’s our Metro transit system or a taxi or Uber or whatever your transportation of choice is.
Chris: And is there a neighborhood you recommend for centrally located?
Mary Jo: You know I just recommend right downtown.
Chris: And for me, that definition would be somewhere along the monorail.
Mary Jo: No, actually not.
Chris: Okay, good. I’m glad I asked.
Mary Jo: I would recommend something more in the central business district. If you were doing some searches, you would probably pull up something around the Pike Place market or…I think that’s one of the…if you’re searching neighborhoods or simply central business district or something. The area under the monorail is the edge of downtown, but that also takes you in the Seattle Center area, and that’s not a bad area to be in either, but I think for a visit that is more centrally located, I’d pick something more in that true downtown business district area.
Chris: And when you say the Seattle Center area, we’ll talk about it in a little bit, that’s where the space needle is.
Mary Jo: That is, yes.
Chris: Okay, so going back, you started us in…I was going to say in Pike’s Peak. I’ve got the wrong one, I’m in the wrong state.
Mary Jo: Locals say “Pike Place market.” We don’t say Pike’s Market or if we’re going to shorten it, we say “the market.” Any other name other than “Pike Place market” or “the market” we sort of know someone’s from out of town.
Chris: And Pike’s Peak is definitely a giveaway.
Mary Jo: It’s definitely way out of town.
Chris: Tell people about what Pike Place market is.
Mary Jo: It is a working market, and there’s some argument over whether it’s the longest continually operating one or not, so I don’t want to stake that claim, but it is a market where local growers…you know fruit, produce. We’ve got fish markets, meat markets. We’ve got artisans of a variety of crafts, specially made. Products like honey and tea and olive oil and bakeries, and it’s just a real working market and locals shop there. I mean, if I’m in the city, I go by and pick up whatever I need for dinner and my fruit for a couple of days. So, it’s huge. There are hundreds of shops. Actually, they call them stalls, which could be anything from a fruit stall to a pet shop. It’s busy, it is crazy, it is crowded, but honestly, no trip to Seattle, for me whether that’s your first or 100th time, is complete without a stop by the market.
Chris: And for tourists, there is one particular stall that tends to get a little more tourists than others.
Mary Jo: Yeah, and I’ll be honest. I’ve never understood this one. They never know the name of the stall. They just want to know “Where are they throwing the fish?” And it’s like “Ok, go and watch fish being thrown,” they’ve really sort of turned it into a performance art, if you will.
Chris: It’s just the fish market, I don’t know the name of it either.
Mary Jo: I don’t know that I actually do. The way that I give people directions at the market is the market is at the end of Pike Street, which is how it came across the name “Pike Place market,” and there’s a big sign up above which is the classic sign that you see that says “public market” or “Pike Place Market.” And right in that kind of corner, 90° corner, is a bronze pig and the pig’s name is Rachel. And so for me, if I am meeting someone, and we’re going to meet at the market I always just say, “We’ll meet right by Rachel.” And that’s sort of a meeting spot that I’ve always used as a way to say, “This is where we’re going to meet.” And if you go to Rachel, the throwing fish is just right behind that.
Chris: I assume there is a story why the pig’s name is Rachel.
Mary Jo: There probably is, but you know how it is when it’s been so long you don’t know. I don’t even know if it’s true or urban legend or maybe a little of both. I mean the best stories are always a little of both I guess. It’s a piggy bank, so I guess it has to do with funding projects for the market, and there are a lot of people barely getting by that both live and work at the market. So I think it funds some of the healthcare initiatives down there.
Chris: Interesting, okay, where to next?
Mary Jo: I would recommend when you’re at the market, that you pick up some…I go to DeLaurenti’s always, that’s one of the big Italian markets there to get some food and cheese because you’re going to want that either for a picnic in your hotel room or to pack up a little picnic as you go to your next destination. But if you’re down in that part of town, I’d probably recommend hitting up Seattle Art Museum, we locally call that SAM. That’s not too far down the street, a few blocks. It’s a great balance between frenetic energy at the market and crowds and loud noises and craziness to a little bit of serenity and fun at the…And it’s a great indoor destination too, so if it’s raining that’s nice, a nice balance.
Chris: And I will tell you that Rachel is named after a real 750-lb pig who won the 1985 island county fair and was also the inspiration behind “pigs on parade” fundraiser throughout Seattle in 2001 and again in 2007.
Mary Jo: Yeah, “pigs on parade” was our version of the cows from Chicago all night. I think a few other cities have done a similar kind of art.
Chris: Absolutely, and San Jose did sharks. Excellent, where to next?
Mary Jo: So after Seattle Art Museum…And by the way, I guess in Seattle we have this thing of having outdoor installations or something that we tell people to meet by. But outside of Seattle is the “Hammering Man” so that’s how you can easily find the Seattle Art Museum. There is a large art installation outside that has a man with a moving arm that looks like they’re hammering. So that’s how you find the Seattle Art Museum. It’s always nice to do a little walk along the waterfront. Again, this is a weather-permitting kind of thing which is why most of my recommendations about what to do are going to have sort of a Yin Yang indoor-outdoor so that you can plan according to the weather.
The Seattle waterfront has been somewhat cleaned up and made very tourist-friendly. We have the ferry terminals down there, so if you’ve picked up something at the market, you can take that picnic lunch and get on a ferry and either go over to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island. If you don’t have a car, I’d recommend just doing it on a nice day as a little boat trip. That’s a perfect time to enjoy some outdoor weather, see the skyline of Seattle from the water looking back, enjoy some time on the water, have a picnic lunch and take a little afternoon trip. The trip to Bremerton takes about an hour, and the trip to Bainbridge Island takes about half an hour. So as a walk on, you can just ride both ways real easily, and it’s a nice little day trip to break up the stuff downtown on a sunny day.
Chris: And you say “head down to the waterfront,” we’re really going downhill. Seattle is built on a hill.
Mary Jo: Yes, much like San Francisco, it’s all downhill.
Chris: And you say, “cleaned up.” Last time I was there, the waterfront was mostly highway. Seattle wasn’t really taking advantage of the fact that it is a beautiful city on the water.
Mary Jo: I’m not sure where you were. You might have been on what we call the viaduct which is a highway giving you access into the city. But when you walk down you actually…there were actually stairs from the from the Pike Place market that you can take downstairs, but we usually just walk down the street, it’s less of a grade. There’s lots of parking, but no there are restaurants and things like that down on the water. So I have a feeling you were up top on the viaduct which is yeah…that’s just the highway with access in and out of the city depending on where you live and how long you’ve lived here working variously well. So it’s a political thing, local politics.
Chris: You talked about taking the ferry. We’re taking the ferry over to…and we’re doing what when we get there?
Mary Jo: Actually, I would recommend not even getting off. If you don’t have a car and you’re not making the drive, I just think taking the ferry is a very, very popular afternoon trip on a sunny day, just to enjoy being out on the water. We’re located on Puget Sound. It’s a beautiful bay. You can get a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline from the water, enjoy some sun…and even if it’s cold, I mean on a sunny day those crisp sunny days of fall are just beautiful. You can take your picnic lunch with you. You’ve got to have lunch anyways, so take your picnic lunch with things you’ve gotten from the market and enjoy a boat ride.
Chris: And when you say it is located in the Puget Sound, I feel like you’re underselling the natural beauty of the Seattle area. On a sunny day as you look down towards the water from downtown, you’ve got the Olympic mountain range out in the distance, and if you turn around and look the other direction you’d see the Cascade Mountains.
Mary Jo: In the west, we’ve got the Olympics, to the east, we’ve got the Cascades and to the south, we have Mt. Rainier. So on a clear day you see it all, and on a really, really clear day, you can see Mt. Baker up north.
Chris: And both Baker and Mt. Rainier are volcanoes that are standing alone, so they’re quite spectacular.
Mary Jo: Yes, they are. I see Mt. Rainier out of my front door, and there are days that it looks just like an ice cream cone.
Chris: Now, I would say that if you don’t want people to think of rain when they think of Seattle that naming the nearest mountain “Rainier” is probably not the best idea.
Mary Jo: Yeah.
Chris: Well, where to next?
Mary Jo: Well, I’ll give you some other areas downtown. If you want to do shopping, there is Westlake Mall or I guess you call it Westlake Center, I’m sorry, as well as Pacific Place which are two of our shopping areas downtown. They also have restaurants and everything. So again if it’s raining and you don’t want to be out on the street, that’s the time to pop in and pick up an umbrella if you didn’t bring one or your sunglasses if you forgot to bring those. At Westlake Center, that’s also the location for the monorail.
Chris: That’s the southern end of the monorail.
Mary Jo: Yes, and there’re only two stops for the monorail. The north end at the Seattle Center and the South end at Westlake Center. So this is a good time to pick up what you need at Westlake Center and then go up to the top floor and catch the monorail which dates back to the Seattle World’s Fair, and take that to what we now call the Seattle Center or the Seattle Center Campus, which was the site of the 1962 World’s fair.
Chris: And so we’ve got the space needle there, and what else would we find there?
Mary Jo: The space needle, which is one of the…you know I hate using the word “iconic,” but if you see a skyline of Seattle, it’s what’s most noticeable in our skyline, and it dates back to the world’s fair. It has both an observation desk, a restaurant, some other things there. Most visitors at some point in the city are going to want to go up there, if nothing else, for the spectacular view. Also at the Seattle Center is the Pacific Science Museum. If you’re a member of any of your local science museums, if you’re traveling with kids, they usually have some sort of reciprocal admission agreement, and it’s worth popping in. The exhibits vary. There’s a permanent one on dinosaurs which is always very interesting for kids. And the other ones are rotating exhibits usually here for six or eight months. And for visitors from out of town who are traveling with kids, that really is a great stop because it gives them a chance to run off a little energy, it’s very interactive. If they belong to something at home, it’s free, and it’s a good rainy day activity for families. Also down at the Seattle Center is the new Chihuly museum, glass museum. I don’t know how long that’s been open now.
Chris: Well since we did the last episode I think…
Mary Jo: I mean, this is in the last couple years. If you’re a fan of the Pilchuck school of glassblowing, you’re going to want to make this a stop. You can see some things from outside looking in, and it’s an “ooh ah.” Many years ago, I saw him when he was still blowing and, how these beautiful things come out of the process is amazing, and it’s worth stopping in there. Again, a good rainy day activity. Honestly, not as family-friendly. It’s a little more densely packed in than the Seattle Art Museum in terms of display. It’s still well laid out, but if the kids are older it’s great but for little kids that you’re worried about if they might need to run around. Probably not the perfect choice, but as an adult there is great stuff, very impressive and again if you’re enjoying the center outdoors, because it’s a huge, mini…I think it’s like 60 some acres…You can pop inside if the rain starts, so that’s a good Yin Yang thing.
However, if you’re outdoors and it’s a nice day or at least a pleasant day and not raining, I’d to head to the International Fountain. Again, if you picked up some goodies at the market and decided not to take a boat trip, heading to the Seattle Center and the International Fountain is a great place to enjoy that picnic lunch that you brought along. It’s huge. You’ll see all sorts of signs there, and the fountain is programmed in sort of a dancing sort of display of lights and water. During the really warm summer you will see kids going down to sort of see if they can race the fountain and play in the spray.
Chris: Excellent, you know the other museum I think that we didn’t talk about the last time you did a show even though I think it was open was the Experience Music Project.
Mary Jo: It has changed, and when you take the monorail to the Seattle Center, you will actually go through a portion of it. It’s now a combination of the EMP which is Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum. So it’s now a combo, and I believe it’s a dual-ticket now. The EMP focuses on music of all types, from primitive rhythms on up to electronica and the Science Fiction Museum had a Star Wars exhibit. It had a costume display from all of the Star Wars movies which was a great prelude here to the new Star Wars movie coming out.
Chris: Interesting, and for people who are unaware, this is a museum that was founded by Paul Allen, one of the co-founders of Microsoft, and it is a Frank Gehry building so even the building itself is worth seeing even if you don’t have time to go inside.
Mary Jo: It is a crazy building. I mean oddly shaped, brightly colored. If you’re flying over Seattle and you happen to see it from the air, you’d be going “What? What’s that?” because it’s so crazy. And then the Science Fiction Museum started as a small private collection up on Capitol Hill and then eventually developed into a larger collection. I’m not sure when it was actually moved into the dual exhibit down at the center.
Chris: Okay, are there any other things that we want to see while we’re downtown before we head a little further out?
Mary Jo: You know, one other thing at the center…and I don’t do it, but I guess if you’re traveling with kids it might be a little break. They do have some carnival rides, some of those kinds of things. Fairly small, nothing elaborate or modern. I mean if you went to a theme park anywhere else, you’re going to have something that is far more impressive, but it does make a great little break if you’re traveling with kids and you need to do a little bribery or little break.
Chris: Negotiation is what we call that.
Mary Jo: Oh okay, see I don’t have kids. So negotiation, if you need to negotiate you can put that in your arsenal. One other thing that I missed down on the waterfront is that we do have the Seattle Wheel down there now. So like many destinations Las Vegas, London, I’m sure a few other places….We do have a Ferris wheel that’s down on the water and also gives you a view of the skyline and of the water. One of the best things about being downtown is some of the history that has gone on in the past. I mean Seattle has a colorful history, not all of it an impressive history. We were a portal for the gold rush up in Alaska, and as a result, we had a harbor and a wharf that catered both to the best and to the worst of what was going on at that time.
Chris: Well in fact, you have half of the museum, as I recall, that’s about the Klondike gold rush.
Mary Jo: The Klondike gold rush, yes. If you’ve got a particular interest in history, that is worth a stop. It’s sort of small and specialized. People either love it or hate it. If you have that interest, it’s worth stopping by. It’s a very quick walk-through. We also have a police museum that’s also rather small and niche. And then if you really want to enjoy some history, I’d recommend getting down to the south end of town to the Pike Place market, I’m sorry not to the Pike Place market, to the Pioneer Square. There’s a lot of history in that. That was the area that was running rampant in terms of prohibition and earlier still with prostitution and various businesses servicing and serving the people that were coming through en route to the gold rush. We have the name of Skid Row and that was because they would take logs from the top of the hill, as we said Seattle is built on hill, and they would skid them. That means push them down the hill, down to the waterfront where they would then either be loaded up and carted elsewhere or would be sent to a mill. Like every area, the waterfront and the wharf often comes with some rather colorful history and much of that is on display in the Pioneer Square area.
Chris: Well, the oddest thing about the Pioneer Square for me is the fact that when I walk into a building at ground level, I’m actually walking into the second floor of the building.
Mary Jo: And that goes back to the Seattle fire when all of the buildings were burned, and if you’re there now, you will see that most of the buildings are brick. That came about because of laws passed after the great fire that required everything to be built up and to be built of brick, so they wouldn’t burn down. And if you’re down there you will see almost everything is still brick. There hasn’t been a lot of new construction that isn’t.
Chris: At one point, they raised the street level basically by a floor because of drainage problems. And now with the underground tour if they’re still running that, you can tour that forgotten first floor.
Mary Jo: It is, and I recommend doing the underground Seattle tour. It was started by a man named Bill Speidel. I would recommend his book to anyone who’s particularly interested in the history with a good dose of reality and humor to read his book “Sons of the Profits,” and that’s spelled P-R-O-F-I-T-S. He talks about the founding families in Seattle, the Denny’s, the Yesler’s, I’m sure I’m forgetting some of the major one. The sawmills that were put in and how they used that particular area. He founded the underground tour when he was still alive. Much of the commentary is a bit of a shtick, and it’s a bit of a shtick that was taken from his book. But while some of it is kind of humorous and is groan-worthy, some of the puns, most of it is frighteningly true. So just know that you’re going to get a bit of the puns and everything going underground, but the reality is that you are also going to see what were some original buildings and floors underneath the ground now that were ground level before. This also was an area where people were nabbed if they were going to be Shanghai’d and thrown on a ship and shipped out.
Mary Jo: Our less than stellar history. And I only wish they taught us that version of history when we were in grade school.
Chris: Excellent, anything else we want to do downtown? Otherwise, I think we should move on.
Mary Jo: Yeah, between the north and the south end, you’re going to find lots of restaurants and boutiques and bars and everything.
Chris: A couple that you would recommend?
Mary Jo: I just did some over the weekend, so those are top of mind. There were too many for me to recommend, let’s just say it that way. I don’t want to single out something that’s recently because my goal on the recent trip was not to go to anywhere I had been before. So I’ll give you this recommendation. For fast food which is not my first choice, but sometimes you just have to grab and run, Dick’s Drive-in which is a local chain started by someone named remarkably Dick and who recently passed away. It’s a local chain. They have a great sterling history here in the area as hiring local college students at a good wage and helping them get through college and move on, and the best fast food burgers I think in town.
Chris: Any other sort of iconic Seattle restaurant that you think is worth a visit?
Mary Jo: Well you know the space needle always is.
Chris: For the view as much of the food.
Mary Jo: Right, and if you want to…You know if I was…
Chris: And you’re talking about the revolving restaurant at the top, not the café at the bottom?
Mary Jo: No, it’s gotten varying reviews over the recent years. You’re probably going for the view, not necessarily the menu. But if you’re here for a special occasion and you really want to splurge, I would recommend “Canlis,” it’s owned by the Canlis family. It is down on Lake Union. Not walk-able you’re going to need to take a cab or Uber to get there. Probably the only restaurant in Seattle that still requires a dress code. So you will need a jacket. I don’t think they require a tie any longer. If they do they have them there and they frequently also have jackets in their closet. So sort of a throwback to days when people dressed up to go to dinner. It has a beautiful view of the lake. Probably the restaurant in town that has the history of being one of the top restaurants in Seattle. People have gone back there. They have tables where every time a particular actor or a performer or singer was in town had their own special table. Very old Seattle, old money kind of restaurant, and the food is great.
Chris: Excellent, any chance when I’m downtown I’m going to be able to find a good cup of coffee?
Mary Jo: Nah, we don’t have coffee here. Well, you know we’re home to Starbucks, and the original Starbucks was at the market. There are versions that it was not at the same place, but I don’t want to split hairs. There’s a Starbucks on every corner. Sometimes there’s a Starbucks on each corner of the block. We also have many independent roasters which are worth a shot. I guess unintended pun intended, a shot of espresso or something. Tully’s is local. Seattle’s Best which is owned by Starbucks is also here. As I said, we’ve got a variety of local roasters. You can’t walk more than a block without finding a decent cup of coffee.
One thing that Starbucks has opened, and I haven’t had a chance to go out there yet but I think they’re calling it “The Starbucks Experience” where you basically get to go out and learn more about coffee because their shop have always been “Come in, buy something, use the free Wi-Fi, get something to eat and leave.” I guess they’re doing examples of how roasting is done, maybe get the “barista for a moment” kind of experience. I have not had a chance to get out to that yet, but I’ve heard good things from people who have.
Chris: Well, and you say “and leave” that wasn’t the intention of the original founder of Starbucks. As I recall, it was supposed to be your third place. Your home, your work, and then your third place was the place you’d hang out, at Starbucks. With the free Wi-Fi, they may have gotten that more than they wanted.
Mary Jo: The market location, there aren’t tables. So you do have to leave. There are some tables, I think outdoors, but it’s not the place to hang out, where the other ones have simply become the place to hang out.
Chris: Excellent, where are sight trips when we’re in Seattle?
Mary Jo: These are going to require either taking a tour or renting a car. So I think some of the other experiences are to head up to the Boeing Museum in the Everett area where you actually get to walk above, and you can see…at the time it was a 747. I don’t know if it still is, on the line. So you actually get to see an airplane being built. There is a great interactive thing where you get to make your own paper airplane and design it and be as creative as you can and then see if it would actually fly. So that’s a fun thing for kids. It’s an industrial type of tour which you know they’re offered around the country, that kind of thing, but it’s pretty unusual that you actually get to see an airplane being built. So I would definitely recommend that. I know there were tours that would pick you up at your hotel and take you up there. So that’s an option.
If you want to head off to do some wine tasting, most of that is located in Woodinville. Again, there are tours that will take you up there or if you have a rental car. then you can do that. We don’t grow wine in Woodinville. We don’t grow grapes. We get the grapes from eastern Washington. So you’re not actually visiting vineyards. You’re visiting the winery themselves. Some of them do production on site. Most of them don’t or if they do some it’s only a small amount for tourism purposes where you can see wine being made. They do have tasting rooms, so that’s where you would go if you wanted to do your tasting.
South of the city is our Museum of Flight You probably don’t want to rent a car just to go there. You would take a tour or arrange for a taxi, but it definitely is a ride away. I love the Museum of Flight. It takes everything from the beginning of airplane flying to a lunar rover to…there is a Concord on display there, one of the few places you can still see one. You can see an internal exhibit of Air Force One, a decommissioned Air Force One. So it covers everything from the beginning of flight to space exploration and has a lot of interactive exhibits as well. I can spend hours there. Depending on the time of year, there is…and it’s a Boeing Field so you’re right on an airport. That was our former major airport before we build SeaTac. There are also some private flights that you can take as tours or charters from there. You can go up in an old biplane. I think there are a variety of different antique, restored aircrafts that if you want to have that experience are fun. And you can also sort of overlook the airport. So for aviation fans, that’s a great spot.
If you want to venture farther afield, then Tacoma is the next major city to the south. We have a history museum there that is actually Washington State History Museum that is located at the old train station, so historic location as well as interior. We have the Museum of Glass which also has a glass blowing school. So if you time it right, you can see glassblowing there. You’ll see a number of Chihuly style art on display. They also have a great program where you can blow your own piece of glass, and usually people choose a dish or an ornament. So if you’re going to be in the area for a while head down there, blow a glass ornament or a glass dish and go on about your other exploration in the area, then stop by and pick it up or they will mail it to you. And that’s a fun thing to do.
If you want to cross over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, there is a little community called Gig Harbor which is right on the water. It’s very small and has a lot of artsy types of boutique-y kind of things like many of the cities around little towns around the world that have that little kind of “across the bridge in a little community” kind of thing. They also have a distillery over there, and they’re doing some real interesting things with distillation now, in terms of vodka, bourbon and whiskey and some of the other liquors that I don’t enjoy and aren’t my favorites, but people are raving about. Seattle has crazy liquor laws, so this is actually something that’s relatively new. We only allowed distillation…gosh, I don’t think it goes that many years back. So it’s relatively new, and people are doing some fun things. So that would be a little pocket community.
I mean these are all easy day trips from staying downtown, but if you wanted to make more of a weekend of it, then you could head down to Mt. Rainier. There are tours that do it as a day trip downtown. In my opinion, that’s a pretty grueling day. You would be much further ahead breaking it up and doing it as a weekend trip. Going down to Mt. Rainier, going down to Mt. St. Helens and the park down there or you could get over to the Olympic Peninsula. But really those are separate weekend trips I think in and of themselves. And if you want to venture to eastern Washington, you can head over the pass. You can see the North Cascades Highway and that gets you into the eastern side of the state which is a great add-on to your time in Seattle.
Chris: And bringing it back to Seattle, any particular festivals or days of the year that Seattle is the place to be?
Mary Jo: Well, locals tend to avoid those times of year because they are so crowded. But we do have a couple of major events. Seafair is our major event that is the end of July into August, and that has different events in different communities around the Seattle area. So it’s a span of days. It’s never the same days, but it spans that time frame. One of the big features of that is the hydroplane races on Lake Washington, the unlimited hydros. So on a sunny day getting down to the park is crazy, it’s noisy, it’s full of food and beverage. You’ll get people out on the water in boats, tying up creating sort of a raft of boats and watching the hydro-races. A lot of locals just choose to stay home and watch it on television. The other couple of festivals is we have Northwest Folklife, and we also have the HEMPFEST. Both of those are big draws to the city from around the world and for Northwest Folklife, we do attract music acts from around the world, so it’s an international festival. And then we have Bumbershoot which is named for the umbrella, and that’s another festival, and those are all at the Seattle Center.
Chris: We are running out of time here both because of calendar pressure as well as the length of the episode. Before we get to our last three questions, anything else we should know before we go to Seattle?
Mary Jo: Just come. It’s a great place to visit, it’s a great place to live.
Chris: You’re standing in the prettiest spot in Seattle. Where are you standing and what are you looking at?
Mary Jo: I’m standing on the deck of a Washington state ferry in the middle of Puget Sound looking at the skyline. On a sunny day
Chris: On a sunny day okay, and I said the last three questions, I’m going to do it for one thing that makes you laugh and say “only in Seattle.”
Mary Jo: We don’t use umbrellas.
Mary Jo: We don’t use umbrellas. I can’t tell you how many times if I’m traveling people will say, “Well, don’t you have an umbrella? You live in Seattle,” and it’s like “No, I don’t.” So if we’re out doing something and it becomes torrential, we either flip up a hood, duck in somewhere for coffee or something to eat. And if it’s drizzling, we just don’t use umbrellas.
Chris: Interesting, you know I never noticed that.
Mary Jo: Yeah, I would say the other thing is not only do we not use umbrellas, but we stop at intersections despite the rain and no umbrella when it says not to cross and wait for the light to change.
Chris: Some other places do that I’m told. Not that I have experienced that. Finish this thought. “You really know you’re in Seattle when what?
Mary Jo: When you don’t notice that it’s raining. You just go about the day.
Chris: And if you had to summarize Seattle and just three words?
Mary Jo: Green. Mountains. Water.
Chris: It does get enough rain that the green is something that you really notice when you’re from someplace like where I live that doesn’t. It is a very pretty area.
Mary Jo: Flying in, you’ll look down and see the green. When you’re here, you can’t help but look around and see trees and mountains and forests. It’s just green.
Chris: The other thing we didn’t say, although we made reference to Lake Washington for instance, is that when we talk about downtown being on the water, it’s really between the water. There’s really water everywhere in Seattle.
Mary Jo: Everywhere, I mean you’ve got Puget Sound as we’ve referenced and when we say “the water” that’s what we mean. You also have Lake Union, and do you have Lake Washington. So that’s sort of the three big water spots and then of course, we have many other smaller lakes in the city
Chris: Excellent, Mary Jo thanks for coming on the show. Where can people read more about your travels?
Mary Jo: You can find me at travelingwithmj.com
Chris: Excellent, thanks for coming on the show and sharing with us your love for Seattle.
Mary Jo: Thank you, Chris, it’s always fun to talk about my hometown.
Chris: In news of the community, I heard from Martin this week who said, “My wife and I have been regular listeners for years. Congratulations on your 500th, we are looking forward to many more years. We are passionate about traveling, we usually get to go on vacation to foreign destinations about two to three times per year and we make it a habit to listen, re-listen to episodes relating to our travel before, during and after each trip. Regarding the Maldives episode, I thought your listeners would like to know that there is a less expensive albeit less luxurious option. My wife and I extended our three week trip to Sri Lanka by going on a one-week cruise on a Donny boat, refurbished fishing boat, about three years ago. This allows one to visit more atolls, inhabited and uninhabited, and to experience some of the local islands and people away from the capital of Mali. The activities of the boat reminded us of a safari schedule with two daily snorkeling trips, each at different locations, something that spending a whole week at a single resort would not permit. The accommodations on the boat were basic but much more affordable than $1000 US per night for a hotel. The meals were surprisingly good and varied given the fact that the cook had to carry pretty much all that was needed for a week except for fresh fish caught along the way. With all meals included, I would estimate the price for a couple to be well under a quarter of that of the resort.” Martin, thanks so much for that.
On the recent episode we did on Indianapolis, I heard from Jeff who left a long comment, so I’ll let you go to that episode to see all of it, but I want to pick out some parts of it. He said that “Virginia Avenue is a corridor down which the cultural trail travels from downtown to nearby Fountain Square, and along it and nearby are some more interesting dining options including the modern local for Cerulean and Bluebeard restaurants as well as the Turkish Bosphorus and some long-established Indian restaurants, three recently added breweries. The Vietnamese fusion “Rook” should be reopening any day now in its bigger location under some new condos and just over the road from us.” I should have mentioned that Jeff has lived in Indianapolis for 15 years, which is why he has a long comment here. He also mentions, “The Benjamin Harrison house on the old north side, an area with a large number of old houses converted to B&Bs; also host events. We will be visiting in April when different rooms each host a different short, one act play.” That’s interesting. Then he reminded me, and I had forgotten this, “The USS Indianapolis delivered parts of the Hiroshima bomb to the air base at Tinian and then was sunk by the Japanese submarines in 1942. This was noted for the far greater loss of life to sharks than to the original attack or sinking,” and that’s the part of the story I remembered after being reminded by Jeff. So go check out Jeff’s longer comment on the episode on Indianapolis. And Jeff, thanks so much.
With that, we’re going to end this episode of The Amateur Traveler. If you have any questions, send an email to host at amateurtraveler.com or do what Martin and Jeff did and leave a comment on this episode at amateurtraveler.com. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter as Chris2X, and I think I’ve got a MySpace someplace too if you’re looking for that. As always, thanks so much for listening.
Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.