There's nothing like traveling with a good friend. Traveling alone is fun enough, but going to exciting new places with someone dear to you is another experience entirely. That's how, when I took my friend Anne Marie to Seattle, I remembered what an amazing time I have with friends who enjoy traveling as much as I do.
Anne Marie was born and raised in France but has lived in Oklahoma for over 20 years. She's still got her beautiful French accent and is one of the most elegant people I know. She owns The French Bouquet in Tulsa, and rarely gets to travel because she is so busy designing floral arrangements for some of the biggest events in the city. One night this summer we were having dinner together, and I asked her where she would love to visit in the U.S. if she had a choice. She immediately answered, “Seattle!”
A month later we were on a plane destined for a four-day Seattle trip, 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 them with fervor since many of our destinations included food. One of our favorite restaurants was Joule, a contemporary Korean steakhouse. It was really an incredible start to our Seattle adventure, and we couldn't stop thinking about it for days afterwards. 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 had.
Thank goodness they served eggs (and cheese), but 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 dangly over the edge of the bridge, we told stories about our childhood that made us both cry and laugh. It was a very moving experience. I'll remember it forever.
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 probably not see it all. Of course, we found DeLaurenti, the Italian grocery store with the gorgeous cheese counter and wine room! We spent a while enjoying a platter of cheeses to go with our bottle of Rose’. 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 I couldn’t live without.
We spent the next morning walking to the Space Needle and visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit. It was magnificent, and is a great 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 many 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. So, of course 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 looked 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 restaurant in Seattle it would be Bakery Nouveau!
Our final night in Seattle we decided to up our tourist game and take a sunset ferry ride in the bay. Although we were 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 incredibly interesting. We got to see the Seattle skyline at sunset, and learn about most of the buildings and their history. The ferris wheel is lit up beautifully, and I couldn’t recommend this tour more highly.
After three full days in Seattle, we decided to spend a night 40 miles east in Snoqualmie Falls. We stayed at the Salish Lodge and had a room with a great view of the falls. I had read about a farm-to-table dinner at The Herbfarm, so I booked the “Hundred Mile Dinner”where the nine-course meal consisted of every single 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 we will never forget it.
Anne Marie and I came home better friends than ever, and we laughed so much, we knew we needed a break from each other just to recover from it. 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.