Contiki Friends Visit Seattle

My April Mexican Adventure with Contiki Holiday was amazing and came with many new friendships. Two of these new friendships even made their way to the Pacific Northwest for part of their holiday adventure and I had the privilege to be able to play tourist/tour guide to Nicola and Todd, both who venture their way to Seattle. Talk about exciting!

Nicola, who is from New Zealand was venturing to Hawaii with several girlfriends after Mexico but given a few extra days between decided to come to Seattle. Reason…”I just always wanted to come”. Unfortunately, due to work conflicts and busy schedules (as this was just 10 days after I returned), I wasn’t able to spend an extreme amount of time with her. Luckily, we did manage to finagle a night, where I took her the Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square. This is very touristy, not honestly not as touristy as you’d think. These tours take you to the original Seattle downtown, which as the tour title gives it away is underground.

If you don’t know already, Seattle’s original downtown is actually 1-level below the current street level. I could provide you with more details but quite frankly this is one of those learning experiences that you actually need to hear and see for yourself. Nothing I could write would explain it to you well enough, nor do pictures do it justice. This type of experience is one that I was very happy I got to share with someone who isn’t American and really didn’t fully understand what makes Seattle my favorite city. I love the history of this city and HIGHLY RECOMMEND anyone visiting Seattle to attend one of the Underground Tours.

After the underground, we ventured to a coffee shop close to where Nicola was staying and spent a good hour just talking. It was a very simple yet exciting time to spend with someone as lovely and kind as Nicola, plus she can make anyone laugh!

A few months after the Contiki tour ended, I had the chance to spend a few days with another tour mate, who to be honest with you, I only spend maybe 4 hours with him. He was on the second half of the tour, whereas I was on the first. Thankfully, Contiki provides a good chance to interact with people in that short amount of time.

One of the main reason Todd ventured south from Vancouver, BC, Canada was to watch the Seattle Mariners baseball game. Don’t get me wrong, I do love baseball, but I have always had a hard time with  the whole “American Baseball Experience” concept. At the same time, I’m never going to say NO or turn away from going to a sporting event, and I do love watching baseball. This was exactly what Todd and I did pretty much immediately after I met him at the greyhound station just outside the stadium!

We spent the afternoon chatting about our travels and enjoying some delicious beers watching the Mariners! After the game ended, we ventured into the heart of downtown and wandered the city before parting ways for the evening. The next morning was our “Extreme Touristy Day”, which is basically doing every typical Seattle tourist attraction within the downtown area. We walked through Pike Place Market, where we enjoyed delicious mini-doughnuts, Starbucks, and some Beechers cheese; spent some time being grossed out by the Seattle Gum Wall then headed off to the Space Needle. At this point, I was suppose to head off to work but due to unfortunate circumstances, I was blessed with the entire day off.

So what do you do with an unexpected day off with an Aussie…well I took him to one of my most favorite places to eat…”The Crab Pot”. Let me explain. The Crab Pot is a restaurant overlooking the Puget Sound and you can select from various mixtures of seafood, which they proceed to dump the food directly onto the table. You are given a mallet, a wooded board and bibs. Get it Crab Pot. It was quite delicious and very messy. After lunch, it was time to send Todd back to the greyhound station for his return to Vancouver. I didn’t know Todd much before this quick trip but I’m thankful for Contiki Holidays for allowing us to create such a wonderful friendship! Now it’s my turn to visit his city: Sydney, Australia. A girl can dream…one day, one day!

Going Underground of Seattle, Washington

Well I did it. I finally made the move into The City! Although I’m still further away from downtown Seattle than initially wanted; a $2.50/30 minute bus ride beats a 2.5 hour drive any day. Moving day went fairly smoothly- thanks to my amazing friday Sydney for helping out! In less than 8 hours, we drove 2 hours, loaded a u-haul, drove 2 hrs back, and unloaded.  One of the best parts about moving was that my mom came to visit/help me get settled!

When my mom first decided to come into town, we had the plan to organize, hang and turn my apartment into a home. We accomplished this over the course of 5 days (well, we kind of waited to hang things until Sunday) but it involved a few trips to Michaels, Costco, Ross, Target, MANY, MANY Redbox movies and one free, beautiful, sunny day in Seattle. I spent a few days trying to think of something touristy to do with my mom because let’s be honest she can’t come all the way to Seattle and not see Seattle. We both decided the best thing was learn the bus/train system to ease my transition a little easier. It was fairly easy to learn and we ended up choosing Pioneer Square as our destination. Pioneer Square is known for one BIG thing in the tourist world- Underground Tours. Here’s a little history:

Pioneer Square a.k.a. “Skid Road” is home to Seattle’s original downtown dating back to 1852. This district is characterized by late nineteenth century brick and stone buildings, and one of the nation’s best surviving collections of Romanesque Revival style urban architecture. In the early years of the neighborhood, many of the buildings were mostly wood, which were all nearly destroyed in the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. Following the fire, Pioneer Square was quickly rebuilt, however this time the main floors were build 1-level above the original. The reason for the elevation of main street had mostly to do with the ‘drainage’ problem that was occurring, since much of the main housing was up on a hill causing the nickname “Skid-Road” (and by ‘drainage’ I mean sewer). With the elevated first floor, the original entrances are now a part of Underground Seattle, some of which is accessible during these tours.  After the rebuild, Seattle and Pioneer Square became a center for travel during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 and 1898.

You will notice in the pictures (Go Here) of a lot of debris, and unfortunately I can’t say that those are from the original downtown but from a major earthquake that hit the city.  It’s kind of creepy knowing now that I walk above the original Seattle, but make me happy at the same time knowing I live in an amazing city that has something as unique as an Underground. Want more information regarding Pioneer Square and all it has to offer…Click Here!

Until next mapless adventure!