Playing Tourist

The sky today was a lovely shade of what I call “Seattle gray.”

Today was a nice mix of touristy fun in Seattle. I hit up one spot that wasn’t on my Seattle bucket list (but was close); later on, I stopped by an old haunt for a new treat; and I ended the day with a fun attraction that I didn’t know existed a week ago.

Olympic Sculpture Park

The Olympic Sculpture Park opened more than five years ago on the border of the Queen Anne and Belltown neighborhoods. I’ve long wanted to see the larger-than-life sculptures cast against the picturesque background of Elliott Bay, but — for one reason or another — it had never happened. Until today.

I took the bus into downtown and walked to the park for a brief stroll. There I encountered some awe-inspiring works of art. I don’t know enough about art to offer any thoughtful critiques, but I was nevertheless enamored.

I would have stayed longer, but the lower half of the park was closed off for Hempfest. So I decamped for Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market

The last time I strolled the corridors at Pike Place Market, I was a day away from interviewing for a job with the University of Washington. This time around, I’m settled comfortably into my new home and job in Seattle.

I normally enjoy the bustling atmosphere of Pike Place, but the crush of people — and the achingly slow pace at which many of them ambled — tested my patience. Throngs of tourists stopped mid-aisle to check out vendor booths; those that didn’t stop, just barely outpaced the growing grass back at the sculpture park.

All that said, I explored some nooks and crannies that I’d never discovered before. And, really, it’s hard not to love the colorful flowers, the impressive posters and prints for sale, and the surprisingly eclectic food selection.

A friend on Thursday told me to make a bee line for Piroshky Piroshky Bakery in the market — and to order a beef and cheese piroshky once I got through the line. I noshed on that for lunch while enjoying the views of Elliott Bay.

Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center

Following lunch, I took the light rail down to the Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. It was a revelation.

Until this week, I’d never heard of the Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center. But I found it while researching fun stuff to do in Seattle, and the overwhelmingly positive reviews on the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp led me to check it out.

That, and I’m an insatiable history buff. Given that I knew little of the Klondike Gold Rush or the history of my new home city, my curiosity was piqued.

I spent a few hours watching a pair of films about the gold rush and exploring the museum itself. In that time, I learned that Seattle might never have become the metropolis it is today without the gold rush. In the latest 1890s, Seattle’s recovery from a devastating fire was stalled by a national depression. But the Klondike Gold Rush started in 1897, bringing 70% of all would-be prospectors to the city en route to Alaska. Even Seattle’s mayor at the time resigned so he could head into the Yukon.

It was an interesting few hours that ended with a walking tour of the surrounding neighborhood. It’s a curious choice for the National Park Service to host walking tours of the sketchy Pioneer Square neighborhood; on multiple occasions, we walked around men sleeping on cardboard boxes and — even worse — Sounders fans on their way back from the day’s match.

But it gave me a bit of insight into the early days of my new city and gave me a new appreciation for its historical significance. About that time, I got back on the bus and headed home. It had been a day full of gorgeous sights, good food, and fascinating history. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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One response to “Playing Tourist

  1. Pingback: Super Saturday « I Gotta Shine·

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