There’s just something about traveling with a good friend. Anne Marie is from France, and she has lived in Oklahoma for twenty years. Fortunately, she hasn’t lost her beautiful French accent, and she is one of the most elegant people I know. She owns The French Bouquet floral shop in Tulsa, and rarely gets to travel because she is so busy designing floral arrangements for some of the biggest events in Tulsa. One night this summer we were having dinner together, and I asked her where she would visit in the U.S. if she had a choice. Without hesitation, she answered “Seattle!” A month later we were on a plane destined for a four-day trip to Seattle, which she allowed me to organize. It had been ten years since I had been there, so it was nearly just as new to me.
We stayed downtown in the beautiful Hotel Monaco where we were able to easily walk to nearly every place we wanted to see. Well, easily might be a stretch since Seattle has many steep hills, but we managed to climb those hills with fervor since many of our destinations included food.
One of our favorite restaurants was Joule, a contemporary Korean steakhouse. It was an incredible start to our Seattle adventure, and we could not stop thinking about it for days. Sunday brunch was spent at Cafe Flora, a vegetarian restaurant where we sat on the patio and had the best vegetarian feast I’ve ever enjoyed. Thank goodness they served eggs (and cheese). We felt like we’d eaten a big healthy meal just right for walking the hills back to our hotel. Cafe Flora is located near the Japanese Garden, where we sat on a bridge over the koi fish pond for over an hour. The fish were stunningly beautiful, and as we sat there with our feet dangling over the edge of the bridge, we told stories about our childhoods that made us cry and laugh. It was a really moving experience to do that with someone from an entirely different culture.
Of course, you can’t visit Seattle without walking along the Puget Sound waterfront, and visiting Pike Place Market overlooking Elliott Bay. It’s a public market that has been around since 1907, and features fishmongers, produce stands, restaurants, antique shops, and craft shops. You can spend an entire day visiting the busy market, and not see it all. Of course, we found DeLaurenti, the Italian grocery store with the gorgeous cheese counter and wine room! We spent hours enjoying a platter of cheeses and bottle of Rosé. I loved looking at all the Italian food items in the store that I recognized from my recent travels in Italy. I also shopped in the cooking supplies shop called Kitchen N Things, which has been there for 40 years. I found a few tools impossible to live without.
Another morning was spent walking to the Space Needle and visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit. It was magnificent, and is a spectacular way to spend hours viewing the most incredible works of art by Dale Chihuly. We particularly enjoyed the gardens where Anne Marie was mesmerized by the varieties of flowers and glass sculptures of flowers. We skipped visiting the Space Needle because the visibility wasn’t good due to nearby forest fires. Instead, we found the perfect breakfast spot, Lola, where we ate eggs benedict, huevos rancheros, and a stack of pancakes.
The only downfall was that we had to walk several miles back to the hotel with very full tummies. Our final breakfast in Seattle was at Bakery Nouveau in Capital Hill. We walked there (of course), and waited for them to open so we wouldn’t have to stand in a line to get in. Once inside, we couldn’t believe how beautiful the pastries and quiches looked. Anne Marie said it was just like a French bakery. Because we’d come so far, we knew we should try several things, and not one of them was disappointing. If I had to recommend one eating spot in Seattle, it would be Bakery Nouveau!
Our final night in Seattle, we decided to be real tourists and take a sunset ferry ride in the bay. Although we boarded with at least a hundred other tourists, it was one of the coolest things we did on the trip. The tour guide on the top deck was a former Marine, and his knowledge of the area was incredible. We got to see the Seattle skyline at sunset, and learned about most of the buildings and their history. The Ferris wheel was lit up beautifully, and I couldn’t recommend this tour more highly.
After three full days in Seattle, we decided to spend one night 40 miles east, in Snoqualmie Falls. We stayed at the Salish Lodge and had a room with a perfect view of the falls. I had read about a farm-to-table dinner at The Herbfarm, so I booked the “Hundred Mile Dinner.” It was a nine-course meal with every ingredient being from within one hundred miles of the restaurant (including the salt). The meal lasted four hours, and we were treated to our own special tour of the wine cellar (26,000 bottles), the patio with wood fire oven, and the chef’s loft, where the chef gets inspired for his menus. It was quite an experience, and for many reasons we will never forget it.
Anne Marie and I came home better friends than ever. We laughed so much, we knew we needed a break from each other just to recover. We shared so many stories, and we’ve already begun plans for next year’s adventure. Seattle was wonderful, and I highly recommend a visit, but traveling with a friend to discover new places is the best adventure you can have.