Last week I set off on my first solo adventure. I booked a ticket to the Pacific Northwest with the initial plan of flying into Seattle to stay with my friend Emily for the first 2-3 days. After my reunion with Emily, my plan was to have no plan. To venture off on my own and do a little soul searching and self discovery. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to end up doing or where I was even going to go. This may have sounded crazy to some and, to be honest, it sounded a little crazy to me. Coming from a planner, meticulous detailer and over thinker, this was a big step out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to have as few expectations as possible. I wanted to do something that I have never done before. My goal was to be spontaneous and take things day by day…
So here I am, just a few days after returning from my trip, struggling to find the right way to tell you this. You see, I’ve had a blog post written since last Wednesday but I have been going back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to publish it. What I have decided is that I am going to create a two part series. This first post will be a roundup of my trip to include the sights, tastes and highlights. As confident as I felt about the post that I wrote last week, I felt extremely negative publishing it. I felt that I wasn’t living up to the expectation that I had set for myself regarding my solo trip. I kind of felt like a failure. Days went by and I started to get anxious about the fact that I had not yet produced any content from my trip! So, with that being said, a two part post is my solution.
This post will be more information based and my follow up post will be more opinionated. Very strongly opinionated, in fact. So strongly opinionated that I am still debating whether or not I should publish it! Do I have your attention yet? What could I possibly be so conflicted about? Well, don’t you worry about that just yet. For now, sit back and enjoy the recap of my adventures last week!
First up? Puyallup, Washington. A suburb about an hour south of Seattle where my friend Emily and her husband live with their 6 month old baby, Chase. I met Emily back in my days in Fayetteville, NC because her husband is in the Army. They moved out to the Pacific Northwest and I haven’t seen them in over 3 years! Our first evening was spent catching up, cooking Spaghetti and drinking plenty of wine- talk about a great girl’s night!
The next day we set off for Seattle with plans to go to Pike Place Market. I have heard so many awesome things about this market and I was so excited to finally experience it. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! I actually ended up spending quite a bit of the rest of my trip at Pike Market, but more of that to come. We decided on The Athenian Seafood Restaurant for lunch and enjoyed 2 large crab cakes to share, seafood gumbo for myself and clam chowder for Emily. All amazing. I love seafood and was so happy to get my fill while staying by the coast.
After lunch we meandered through the bustling hallways of the market. We went up and down stairwells and strolled past artisan stands filled with handmade trinkets. Fish tacos were on the menu for dinner so we picked ingredients from local produce stands and of course grabbed some local fish from the flying fish counter! Oh, and I can’t forget about the giant crepe filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries that we absolutely had to have for dessert. We were able to pick up everything that we needed for dinner in this giant open air market- kind of my dream, but hey, I’m European so what do you expect?
Since Valentine’s Day was the next day we decided that Chase was going to treat us to a giant bouquet of stem tulips that we selected in various colors. Absolutely beautiful. Men were flocking to the beautiful flower stands (as they should!) and I may or may not have given several high fives for their flower giving efforts. Thumbs up. I love fresh flowers! So after a fun filled day at the market we headed home to make dinner and relax with (shocker) more wine and a movie.
Emily had to work the rest of the week so the solo part of my solo trip was just about to begin. My plan for the day was to venture to Olympia, Washington for the afternoon. Before I left, however, I booked an Airbnb in downtown Seattle where I would spend the last part of my trip before heading home. If you have never booked an Airbnb, I HIGHLY recommend it. The cost for two nights in my furnished apartment was less expensive that one night in a hotel in downtown Seattle.
Once my apartment was booked, I set off on my big adventure to Olympia. Has anyone ever been there? Is anyone from there? I don’t want to offend anyone but I was so underwhelmed by this city! It’s the freaking state capital for Pete’s sake! I drove around for over an hour trying to find somewhere to eat. I ended up at Anthony’s seafood restaurant which from the looks of the crowd when I walked in may have been the lunch spot for the local seniors. Ok, ok. The food was actually very good. I plopped down at the bar and chuckled to myself over a local IPA. I ordered the Rockfish with mango salsa, after negating any recommendations from the bartender (is this rude?) and was not disappointed.
With the realization that there wouldn’t be much else to fill my day in this city, I remained at Anthony’s for a while and enjoyed the serene view of the water from my lonesome bar seat. After my afternoon in Olympia, I made my way back to the suburbs and picked up ingredients to make one last meal for Emily and myself- a special Valentine’s day meal of panko crusted chicken with roasted potatoes and fresh salad- one of my favorites! We said our goodbyes before bed as I would most likely be sleeping as she head off to work in the morning.
The next day, I summoned my Uber driver (quite a feat in the suburb, let me tell you) and ventured to Seattle. This was the first day that the weather was not necessarily in my favor, but I couldn’t complain considering rain is the norm out there! I was so thrilled when I finally made it to my Airbnb. It was the cutest little city apartment, the location was great and it had everything I could possibly need to pretend I lived in downtown Seattle for a few days. It has always been a dream of mine to live somewhere where I would be able to have anything I could ever want within walking distance of my home. Needless to say, this place was perfect for that.
I dried off, cleaned myself up and headed to the 4 Seasons (which was conveniently about 50 feet from my apartment door) for a drink. I sat quietly at the bar and people watched for a glass of wine or two before heading across the street for sushi at Japonessa. I’ve never been a big fan of sitting at a table in a restaurant and especially being alone, I decided again to sit at the bar- which I had to put my name on a wait list for! Kind of bizarre but I waited.
And waited. And waited. Finally when my spot was open, I was taken to a small, secluded corner by the window, which was really nowhere near the bar. Slightly disappointed and feeling very shafted I skimmed the menu and ordered the salmon tartare with plans to order sushi rolls after, per the servers recommendation this time. I waited again. And waited. And waited..with no sign of the server in any of this waiting time. Forty minutes later, my tartare came out and I was irritated and hangry. If I felt shafted before then I felt completely shut out at this point. I asked for my check and scarfed down my meal before my very defeated self walked back to my apartment.
The feelings of disappointment started to set in. I had expectations (mistake number one) of chatting with locals and travelers alike, making new friends and finding out about all the hidden hot spots. Quite the contrary, I experienced none of this. I called my friend Lauren (my friend who I visited recently in Chicago), who quickly rounded up a few good joints nearby for me to check out.
I begrudgingly dragged myself to the Zig Zag Cafe (in hopes that they had food because I was still starving!). Zig Zag was a dimly lit and cozy spot with an obvious prohibition vibe. Very Charlestonesque and I loved it! I posted up at the bar and enjoyed a Mule made with homemade ginger beer (extra gingery- just the way I like it) and some hummus. I watched the bartender craft amazing cocktails, most of which were set on fire. This made for a very entertaining rest of my night! I met a couple from California who had a very overwhelmingly jam packed itinerary planned out for the next day. They also looked at me funny when I said I had no plan- haha! With my need for social interaction somewhat satisfied, I headed back home to rest up for my next day of adventure.
When I woke up, the weather was GORGEOUS and I knew I needed to go to the Space Needle and spend my afternoon exploring the streets of Seattle. I ran out the door and found a juice bar and a Starbucks within minutes and headed back to my apartment (I quite like the sound of that) to enjoy my coffee and croissant before getting ready for the day.
I set off for the Space Needle, meandering through Pike Place on my way because, again, this place is awesome and always full of life. When I made it to the Space Needle I contemplated if I should even go up. I’m slightly afraid of heights and elevators aren’t my favorite… $22 to cram in an elevator and go up really high and look out over the city? I don’t know…I stared up at the giant structure and contemplated my next move, and maybe the meaning of life, I’m not sure. Ugh, Fay, get a hold of yourself. You didn’t come all this way to just look at the damn thing.
When I made it to the top, stepped out on the balcony to take in the 360 degree view. Wait, didn’t homeboy in the elevator say something about beer? I found the bar and ordered a NeedlePoint craft beer, which so conveniently turned out to be an IPA. Posting up at a nearby table, I enjoyed my beer and people watched for quite sometime. I smiled at people taking selfies, took a few pictures for some fellow tourists and snagged a few Insta worthy pics of my own.
Do you see the ferris wheel by the water? That’s right by my Airbnb!
Hunger strikes again (that seemed to be a theme during my time in Seattle and I’m still trying to figure out why) so I set off to find something for lunch. I walked aimlessly up and down streets, scoping out google maps (talk about looking like a straight up tourist- eye roll) and checking out menus posted on the sides of buildings. I really didn’t know what I was craving but I wanted something unique, different and perhaps native to Seattle. Low and behold, I found myself back at Pike Place market (it kind of became my safe space- something familiar that I could gravitate back to when I felt flustered or overwhelmed). Having already eaten my way through most of Pike Market, I decided to continue onward in hopes of finding a new foodie spot.
The first Starbucks! I had to grab a pic but the line was always so long. Also, I love the shot I got of the barista hanging out the front door! Haha!
Eventually I wound up in a cute little spot just beyond my apartment called Lecosho. I ordered a local IPA (yes, this is kind of my thing) and an amazing housemade sausage and lentil dish from the happy hour menu. It was delicious! For the first time in Seattle, I left a restaurant feeling full and satisfied! At this point I needed a bit of a break from walking so I picked up a coffee at Cafe Ladro and went back to my place (again, it sounds so great to say that) to relax a little bit before dinner. After getting dolled up for my last night in Seattle, I once again headed to the 4 Seasons for a quick drink before dinner. Perhaps I’m more of a creature of habit than I think…
My quick stop at bar turned out to be very differently than the night before. I found several people to talk to, including a very nice, older, British gentleman who talked to me about life, work, relationships, food and travel. After such a quiet day, it was refreshing to communicate with people and I got so caught up in the social atmosphere that I never even made it to dinner! I went back to my Airbnb exhausted and hungry (shocker) but satisfied with my night of conversations that wrapped up my first solo trip.
Traveling alone is no joke. Some people rave about it and some people hate it. It has it’s ups and downs and it is most definitely an adventure! I can say that my trip to Seattle was memorable and that I learned quite a bit along the way, both about life and myself. The city itself is great and I could not have asked for a better location to stay- perhaps next time, I’ll go back with a planned out food itinerary!
In my follow up post, I dive a little deeper into the idea of solo travel and share my thoughts, opinions and emotions that I experienced during my first trip alone! Is solo travel right for you? I think this next post will help you decide!
Have you ever been to Seattle? Where did you go? What did you eat? Any recommendations for my next trip?
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