So as you may have already seen, I spent all of last week in Seattle! I loved every minute of it. I was on my own for several days, which was really fun and freeing. I’m not going to talk about this vacation chronologically, because it’d be overwhelming. I’m going to do it thematically. Today I think I’ll start off with some info about lodgings, getting around, and how I planned my trip.
Naturally, I want to tell you where I stayed. I was at a hotel during the days I attended a conference out there, paid for by my employer, but you already know about that. For the vacation, I moved to an apartment in the southern part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, rented on AirBnB. Here’s the listing. If you’re ever in Seattle, I recommend considering staying here. It’s not a fancy place, and it’s fitted out pretty sparely, but it was clean, comfortable, and the host was right upstairs if I needed anything. For me, it served the purpose of being a safe and affordable place to stay, that included a kitchen to store snacks (wine and cheese of course) and have breakfast. If you don’t want to stay there, I recommend looking for something else in Capitol Hill. There’s plenty of shops to poke around in and restaurants, cafes and bars to keep you feed and watered.
In terms of getting around, I had a couple of maps, plus my phone, and so I walked everywhere I went. Now granted I am a Walker, and clocked 8 miles on my longest day. I also stayed mostly in Capitol Hill, Downtown, and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods and vicinity, so there’s plenty of the city that I never got to. I saw tons of buses, but never even bothered learning how to use the bus system. That said I have the sense that it’s pretty extensive. I did take a single cab ride across part of the city, and that cost me all of $8. Totally worth it. Had I realized it’d be that cheap I would have taken a cab on another night as well.
To get to and from the airport, I took a shared van on the way in, and a cab on the way out. The shared van service had two options – door-to-door service or service to a particular list of downtown hotels. The estimate for the former was about $33 I believe. The latter is $19. Once I realized that one of the hotels on their list was two blocks from the one I was going to – I just booked that and walked over. The cab ride to the airport was $50 after tip, so significantly more expensive than those options. But, I got to the airport when I wanted to get there, and didn’t have to ride around the city while we picked people up. And if you are traveling with two people, it’s probably a better deal. (You can also take Seattle’s light rail up from SeaTac into the city, but I obviously didn’t do that.)
Tuesday I spent the day wandering around with my supervisor, and we had a great time. But other than that, I was on my own the entire time. I was a little worried going into this trip that I might get lonely at some point. But, that didn’t happen. I was out and about all day, interacting with all kinds of people at cafes and other places I visited, and that seemed to be enough. I also spent a lot of time in bars & restaurants reading, which was really nice. I wish I felt like I could do that in Baltimore without getting interrupted by a creeper. Maybe I’ll try it sometime this summer.
I really think everyone should take a vacation on their own at some point. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy traveling with friends – but it was really great to only have to be concerned with what I wanted to do. No real need to keep an eye on the time, or compromise on what I wanted to do. I could stand around changing lenses and taking pictures of whatever I wanted without annoying anyone. I could change my plans on the fly without putting anyone out, and I did so more than once. One of the things I would have said was a top thing to do – the Underground Tour – I never got around to because the weather was so nice most of the days I was there. There’s something really great about indulging yourself and your own whims for several days, and that’s exactly what I did. Now, I did wind up spending a bit more on this vacation than I’d estimated, but I don’t regret it. I made a conscious choice not to worry about it while I was there, and enjoy myself. After all, it’s not like I do this kind of thing regularly. (And between a generous travel budget this year and the savings that I barely ever touch, it’s really fine, anyway.)
To prepare for this trip, I did a bunch of somewhat haphazard research, and plotted everything on a Google Map. I sent away for a packet from the Seattle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and poked around on their website a bit. I also looked around in the Seattle archives of Not Martha, which I think is where I found this other post that had a bunch of interesting stuff. I put all the interesting stuff on the map, and then wherever I was I could pull it up and scope out what I wanted to do next. This was especially helpful when trying to find places to eat, although I did of course wind up at spots I hadn’t identified previously. I think I’ve added most of them to the map, just to keep track.
So I had this big list, and that seemed like enough. I bought one ticket in advance – to see Rat City Rollergirls one evening, and I didn’t make any reservations. On Tuesday night, I came up with a rough idea of what I wanted to do on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I left Saturday as a day to either do anything I hadn’t been able to do earlier in the week, or come up with something else. This worked out pretty well, and as I mentioned allowed me to take advantage of the gorgeous weather at the end of the week. Of course the loosey-goosey “play it by ear” also lends itself well to the hindsight of a night like Friday, where if I’d planned my day better I probably could have seen a new-to-me part of the city on Saturday, and also not missed the last monorail out of Seattle Center by less than 5 minutes. (However, this was also the night I took the fast & cheap cab ride, so really no harm done. It is nice that my expensive, bad cab ride karma doesn’t seem to follow me to other cites.)
That’s all for this portion, but stay tuned for more details on where I ate and what exactly I did with all this time.