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Inspiration & Influence: Playing the Tourist

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Whenever I visit a new place, my favorite way to get around is to simply wander around the streets. Walking a city is, in my mind, the best way to discover a city. It gives you time to soak up the surroundings and slows you down enough to notice the details that make a place what it is.

But wandering is not just for new places. I love “playing the tourist” in Seattle. Yeah, I’ve lived here my whole life; but even so, there’s always something different to take in. Walking the streets can offer new perspectives even in your hometown.

I do have a few favorite “techniques” for hometown touristing (did I just make up that word? Probably.).

Focus on a specific element

It could be buildings, window displays, cars, etc. Yesterday I had a couple hours to wander downtown Seattle, and I chose signs (click on the image to close the gallery):

Look up

The fastest way to see a familiar place differently, I think:

Walk down an unfamiliar street

Naturally, only recommended in the daytime if you’re alone. . .

Check out an iconic place you haven’t been

For me it was Mee Sum Pastry in Pike Place Market (super popular among actual tourists) and Bauhaus Books & Coffee in Capitol Hill (super popular among natives). Great for people watching, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Are you ever a hometown tourist? How do you look at the familiar in a new light?

(Header Photo)

January 31, 2011   No Comments

Grateful for . . . Seattle

If I had the luxury of doing so, I’d take a few months off and book one of those around-the-world plane tickets. New cultures and places fascinate me; and the list of places I’d like to see in this lifetime constantly grows.
But even if I do make it to half of the destinations on my list, I imagine in the end I’d still think I live in one of the greatest places on earth.

Among the reasons I love Seattle:

Natural beauty
Every time I return here after being away for more than a couple weeks, I’m struck by how gorgeous this city is. In Seattle, you’re never more than a short drive from real mountains (not hills), real ocean (not lakes), and real trees (not shrubs).

General atmosphere
Seattle is surprisingly relaxed for a major city. People generally come across as smart, friendly, and fairly laid-back. In terms of arts and culture, we may not have as much in quantity as other urban areas; but what we have is diverse and generally good quality. Another thing I enjoy about Seattle is that there are plenty of distinct neighborhoods to explore: downtown, Fremont, Capitol Hill, University District, Ballard, etc. I still feel like I have a lot more to see, despite having lived here most of my life.

Four words: Coffee. Seafood. The best.

I am an extreme weather wimp, so Seattle’s climate is perfect for me. I’ll take a little rain and thunderstorms over blizzards and/or hot humidity any day. And just when I start wishing that we had “more distinct seasons” we get hit by a small snowstorm or heatwave to remind me what I’m not missing.

Yes, I am grateful to call Seattle home.


December 27, 2010   No Comments