Seattle Day 3: Bainbridge Island and the Underground Tour

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Day Three turned out to be my last day in the second hilliest city out west. After three different cities, three different types of people, food, and culture, I couldn’t believe that I was almost all set to go back East. I felt that San Francisco had been a place a lot of people visit and therefore it was a must-see on my route. Vancouver had totally taken me by surprise – in any way possible. Its amazingly nice people and warm climate near the Sea were very special. Seattle was a true eye-opener: Never would I have imagined to be in a town that reminded me so much of my home in Germany but which had yet to annoy me as much (as so-called home does). The fresh air, the nature, the amazing citizens – it seemed like a perfect place to go back to and start a new chapter in life. But the last day was still open to endless possibilities….

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So how to end your soul-seeking trip in a bang? Just take Bill Speidel’s underground tour! I had a blast moving along with a smaller group of tourists. As its name implies, the Underground Tour takes you to all spots underground. Seattle has quite its history: After the disastrous fire, most of the city had to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, a few people messed up the measurements in heights. Streets were built way above the old sidewalks (which were made of wood). Since the city did not have the funds to repair this damage, people had to descend and ascend via means of a ladder. “Think twice before you cross the street” was probably a big thing back then… Eventually the old and outdated sidewalks were built over with the new ones (not made of wood anymore). But Seattle still exists on these tunnels, which became the stage for some seedy red light district prose: Prostitutes, gamblers, showcasers – they all came together here, especially during night time, to pursue their illegal passions. Prostitutes were officially employed as weavers, at least if you consulted the work history books of back in the days.

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Other than laying out a good chunk of West American history, the Underground Tour covers some pretty cool spots and gives great insight into an older version of Seattle. But, if you are for some reason unable to climb ladders and such, perhaps this tour is not the best activity for you (think elderly and handicapped people especially!). If you don’t have a problem with going up and down a few ladders and staircases then you will have a good time.

First Starbucks is more than 100 years old.
First Starbucks is more than 100 years old.

From the dark streets of former Seattle we went back up to reality. After strolling around Pike Place Market again, I ended up at the first Starbucks in history (think spectacular except for not really and you know what I mean). People at that particular Starbucks were certainly a lot nicer than I was used to and I was tempted to buy a few of their kitschy souvenirs.

Ferry views: Seattle Needle and skyline
Ferry views: Seattle Needle and skyline
Ferry views: Seattle Needle and skyline
Ferry views: Seattle Needle and skyline

Then off it was to Bainbridge Island. Recommended by a few locals who said it was great to check out and it would be a fun time wandering around. The ferry ride over there was 45 minutes long. I overheard a few Washingtonians talk about how they had once been on it for 20 minutes but that it had only gone so fast because of an emergency. It did take some time to arrive but I attributed it to everything on the West Coast taking longer than elsewhere. Walking around the halfway populated island was fun and heartbreaking at once. I discovered a deserted beach with a cute boat tied to the rocks. And of course the sign that read “Life is a Beach” to which I agree with all my heart.

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After a nice chat with a local at a coffee shop (he had moved to Seattle from Cali in order to pursue his career as a paramedic), I went to a small museum close to the ferry station. Here I was welcomed so overly warmly that it almost put a damper on my day. “How much longer are you I town for” the elderly lady asked me when checking in. “It’s actually my very last day,” I replied before it hit me and tears welled up. “My, my, we will always be here, with a different exhibit” she responded quickly and gave me a gentle hug. The exhibit itself was cute and just what I needed after a day in the woods. I will certainly not forget the kindness of the people on Bainbridge Island and their overall welcoming attitude.

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I ended the night by roaming the streets close to the Space Needle and having another delicious Vietnamese dinner in Belltown.

Downtown Seattle views
Downtown Seattle views

Time had gone by fast. The next day the rain finally came. On my way to the airport, huddled in the train, I watched how the drops hit the window and felt this was the perfect ending to almost two weeks on the West Coast.

Yes, Seattle has a special place in my heart. The nature itself warrants at least another visit. I guess I can’t wait to start my next trip Out West there and slowly make my way down South.

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