(Edit: Thank you Heather for correcting me!)
Five years ago I became smitten with Seattle. It took more than 4 years to return. The first time we did some typical touristy things — toured Pike Place Market, took pictures and had dinner at the Space Needle, cruised the Locks, visited the aquarium and jammed at the EMP (Experience Music Project).
This time around, we wanted to really explore the city, but not like tourists — like locals. And what better way to explore than to put on our comfy shoes and hoof it.
My boyfriend had booked three tours with Seattle By Foot. In a nutshell, it was a perfect way to explore the city.
The first tour was the Pub Crawl. I doubt it needs any explanation. We met up with our tour guide Jenne and about 5 others for the tour. Heather, co-owner of Seattle by Foot, also joined our tour. In a way, my first thought was to be on my best behavior! But Heather was very chill and cool.
(Just an aside: Heather has the face where you think you’ve seen her before. It’s been almost a year and I still can’t put my finger on who she looks like!!)
Anyway, we went to quite a few difference places and had glasses (not talking sample sizes here) of Seattle’s finest brews. We even got to tour one of the breweries (and sadly I can’t remember what the place was called).
Despite my faint memory of that night, I will remember one moment for forever (or until I move to Seattle… whichever comes first!). We were walking to our next destination and ended up just outside the Macy’s in downtown. There was a crowd of people outside, and I was trying my best to not lose my boyfriend in the mix. I had no idea what the occasion was.
It was after Thanksgiving. The occasion: The lighting of the Macy’s star. And maybe it was our luck or something more, but despite getting lost in the crowd, we arrived at the moment when the star lit up and fireworks exploded.
It was a magical moment. I had seen fireworks before, but none of those times was this unforgettable.
It was at that moment that I felt this is where I want to be. I want to be in Seattle.
The next two tours sealed my love for the city. In the Emerald City tour with our guide Ed, we were fortunate enough to have him all to ourselves. In doing so, we were able to take our time and have great conversation. One of the places we stopped in was the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). There was this spectacular display in the entryway. It was an artist’s rendition of a frame-by-frame scene of a car exploding, like something out of an action movie.
The disappointing part about the SAM was that at the time they had just opened their new entryway. Ed had pointed out to us the old entryway, which was an extravagant staircase adorned with different statues. The entryway we had come through was flat and plain.
The third tour we did was Fremont. This was a part of town we hadn’t explored before. It was funny because we were talking with our guide Vicki and told her how we had driven from So Cal to Washington. Vicki and my boyfriend talked about the freeways and how we had taken “the 5.” Vicki referred to at as the “I-5.” It is those little things that I’ll remember.
One of our stops on the tour was the Fremont Bridge Troll. When I first heard about this, I pictured a troll from Three Billy Goats Gruff. I pictured some tiny thing under a bridge. But when we got there, my first thought was that scene from Disney’s Aladdin where the title character retrieves the magic lamp.
This fixture is pretty huge and it was kind of scary trying to climb up to get close to its face. I felt shamed when I saw a couple of little kids playing on it, completely fearless. Once I got up there, it seemed like an eternity for me to get down because it is much higher than it looks!
All in all, I enjoyed the tours and look forward to going back the next time we are in town — either as visitors or residents. The one tour we did not do — but will be sure NOT to miss next time — is the Coffee Crawl. Figures that the most obvious tour we should take was the one we didn’t do. We’re strange like that.
Bottom line: The best way to vacation is do as the locals do!
Seattle by Foot
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