In August 2017, I had to travel to Kirkland (close to Seattle) for a business trip. During these days, I had a chance to go hiking in the Cascade mountains for a couple of hours and I also stayed an additional day to explore the more immediate Seattle area for a bit. This trip was particularly exciting, since the Portland/Seattle region (including the Olympic Peninsula) was my first trip to the US almost 10 years ago.
This post is a bit of a test balloon, I would like to see if it's more convenient to integrate pictures in a blog post like this or if I need to keep looking for "external" mechanisms. The full set of pictures are also available as a Lightroom Mobile gallery and the local Nikola gallery.
The first days were quite busy with meeting preparations and other distracting activities. I still had a chance to bump around the marina and explore the old town a little. Unlike most American cities I've visited in the past, Kirkland is extremely bike-friendly, the hotel even offered free bikes. The area around the marina is filled with plenty of good bars and restaurants, a place that deserves special notion is the Bottle and Bull, great beer and food selection just a bit beyond your usual bar food. A word of warning though, recent changes in Washington State law require you to carry your passport(!) if you want to buy drinks and are not from the US or Canada. A non-US ID or driver's license is not good enough anymore and is strictly enforced by most restaurant employees.
On one of the afternoons, I managed to carve out a couple of hours to go hiking in the Cascade Range east of Kirkland and the lakes. I picked the Wallace Falls State Park which offered a nice 2-3 hours hike with some good views.
On the way back to the hotel I decided to take a detour via Snoqualmie, the small town where Twin Peaks was filmed. It was one of the places I visited in 2007 on a foggy and rainy November afternoon. This time I was a bit more lucky and managed to get a shot of the signature hotel and waterfall. The hotel in the background is called the Salish Lodge & Spa, the The Great Northern Hotel from the TV show. Other famous spots, like the Double RR Diner are still around but I skipped the "damn fine cup of coffee" (I already had too many ...).
Unfortunately there was just not enough time to go and visit the gorgeous Olympic National Park this time. If you are in the Pacific Northwest and have more than an afternoon to spare, this is a must see location!
After a couple of days of busy meetings in Kirkland, I finally had the chance to go and explore Seattle for a bit. An old friend who used to live in Seattle for a couple of years volunteered to be the tour guide for the day.
We started the day by visiting the popular Pike Place Market, which was extremely crowded, even on a Thursday morning. After stuffing our faces with stuffed dumplings, we went to check out the original Starbucks store, listened to some street musicians, bought some treats and just generally went with the flow there.
The next stops on our tour included Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill, the University of Washington and the beaches of West Seattle. With the golden hour approaching, I decided to go and visit Kerry Park in Queen Anne, a spot recommended for having an excellent view of downtown Seattle. Unfortunately, this view was a bit spoilt by the amount of construction sites and cranes throughout the city. A lot of the big tech companies, like Amazon and Facebook, are moving into the region and I'm curious to see what Seattle will look like in the next couple of years.
It was great to be back in the Pacific Northwest and the Seattle area in particular. What made the experience even better, was having a "local" guide, who was rediscovering the city he used to live in 20 years ago. Thanks Per. Another big "thank you" goes to Kilroy, who invited us for a couple of beers on the rooftop terrace of his houseboat in the Gasworks Park Marina.