Thursday, July 21, 2016

Two More Ways to Have Fun on Puget Sound


photo of Mt. Rainier on the Sound by northtacoma.net
Space Needle
On a clear day in Seattle, the beauty of Mt. Rainier will keep on following you. The elegant Space Needle, however, takes over when you get to downtown. But what makes the area unique is Puget Sound, a system of interconnected waterways and basins created by glacial melts. It is the second largest estuary in the US at 13,700 square miles. At the Sound;s center is Elliott Bay, the waterway to the Pacific, which has made the Port of Seattle one of the busiest in the US.

The Washington ferries link most of the key cities and islands around the Sound. I wrote about this fun experience on the Sound in my last post. Here are two other, quite different, ways. 

Around Pike Place Market on Elliot Bay
Pike Place Market

Starbucks' First
Carved out of a steep hill fronting Elliott Bay, Pike Place Market has several levels below that have all kinds of shops: antique dealers, comic book and collectible stores, several restaurants and one of the oldest head shops in Seattle. The street level features craft stalls and vendors of fresh seafood, produce, and flowers. One of the oldest continuously operated public farmers' markets in the country (since 1907), 10 million annual tourists mingle with locals, making Pike Place the best example of the Seattle pulse.

at Athenian
I had a chance to be a tour guide here when Oca, a schoolmate from the University of the Philippines, whom I have not seen for almost fifty years, came to visit. Facebook had reunited us, and that’s how he PMed me that he was going to be in the city. A former Undersecretary of the Department of Tourism, he now serves as Legal Adviser to the Philippine National Red Cross. He was in town to complete the acquisition of a vessel for its rescue operations in Philippine waters.

Tom Hanks Sat Here
Our little tour brought us first to the small plaza fronting the Bay with a good look at the new Seattle Great Wheel. We felt the whiffs of sea breeze that must give the busy market the fresh scent not many markets have. Across the street, an unbelievably long line wound its way around the street at the first Starbucks store in the world established in 1971. Soon we were right at the center of the market’s hustle and bustle with its famous flying fish and the not-as-famous but cute golden pig.

But, of course, we chose to dine at one of the market’s restaurants! Luckily, the Athenian Seafood Restaurant had an open table for two looking out over the Bay. Make sure you have their ultra-fresh grilled salmon and halibut when you visit. Over dinner, Oca gave me ideas for projects our new Phoenix Chapter could undertake since he is the First Vice-President of the UP Alumni Association. After dinner, we noticed people milling around a bar stool. To our delight, it was where Tom Hanks sat in a scene of “Sleepless in Seattle.”

At Alki Beach Park in West Seattle

my little Seattle family at Alki Beach
One Sunday, my daughter, granddaughter and I took my grandson for an outing at the best-known beach on Puget Sound. Alki Beach in West Seattle lies between Alki Point and Duwamish Head on Elliott Bay. Covering 135.9 acres, it’s the first public salt-water bathing beach on the US west coast. All late-risers, we found parking a far block and a half away on one of the side streets.

kayaks, boats, and cruise ships on Elliott Bay
We headed straight to the Spuds and Fish for some clam chowder and deep-fried cod, oysters, and fries, all excellent ways to start the day. Then we chose our spot on the sand, with the sun warming the 67 degrees to comfort level with winds at only 4mph. It was fun watching the people play, and vessels sail on the waters. As the ferries passed by, I was glad. When the red boats appeared, I was happier. But when the yellow kayaks entered the scene, I was ecstatic!

our Quad Surrey
After a relaxing hour, we rented a Quad Surrey for an hour of sight-seeing through Alki’s entire 0.5 miles of beachfront. I have never learned to bike, but each one was supposed to carry his weight. But I didn’t know how to reach the pedals. I said, “I’m too short!” Then one got loose and hit my shin. “I’m too clumsy!” was the next logical cry. After that, I was excused from pedaling, That ride gave us many photo-ops including one of Seattle Skyline, seeming so close, from a small lookout. But we just had to stop in front of a beachfront house fully bedecked with flowers for a photo. 

the Flower House
These two experiences show how living in Seattle could be so much fun. You can have executive dining in busy downtown Seattle or, the exact opposite, casual family fun at Alki Beach. It is too bad this may be my last trip to this one-of-a-kind city. My Seattle family is moving to San Francisco, another city by the Bay, But hey, I am sure I will have more stories there.