Wednesday morning 7am, and the MS Volendam docked for the final time of our tour, in Vancouver. It was time to disembark and I felt flat as a pancake about this. All good adventures must come to an end, I know, but I was willing to have another week on the ship, you know, just to check we weren’t missing out on anything! Today the rest of our Great Rail Journeys group were flying home. It really was the end of their adventure, but not us. We’d tacked on a 3 night stay down the coast in Seattle. One of the things we like about using Great Rail Journeys as a tour operator is that they are very open to you doing your own thing at the beginning or end of the tour and will sort this out for you happily. This time, their hotel was out of our price range, so they sorted out our flights home and train (which actually ended up being a coach) to Seattle whilst we arranged an air b n b for our accommodation.
We waved bye to our group at the cruise terminal and suddenly we were on our own. We took the Skytrain the short distance to the Pacific Station where we promply discovered our tickets were for Vancouver WA and not Vancouver DC. After a very short panic and some fabulous customer service from the team back in York we ended up on the coach transfer to Seattle leaving an hour early (but we’d arrived 3 hours early!) Thanks Gary and Links for sorting us out.
Our coach journey crossed the international border from Canada into USA and as such we had to empty the coach with all our luggage and go through customs etc. This took roughly 30 minutes and then we were back on the highway towards Seattle. The journey took about 4.5 hours so not too bad at all.
We used UBER to get to our accommodation, a cool little basement in the Central District, before heading out in search of a Seattle beer or two and some dinner. We didn’t need to go too far – there was a nice local bar 10 mins away with a great menu, and we were in time for happy hour which meant £2.20 pints! We set up camp there for a while before heading back for an early night as we were pretty drained!
I didn’t sleep very well as I was missing the movement from the sea! We had a fairly lazy morning – as in we didn’t set an alarm for the first time in the 2 week holiday, but around 10am we headed into town via the local Downtown bus which took about 20 mins.
Our first stop was the Space needle observation tower. This was built in the 60s to coincide with the World Fair in 1962. When it was built it was the tallest tower west of the Mississippi, and its unique shape makes for a very interesting skyline.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to go up – the weather was amazing and visibility was brilliant. Mount Rainier – named after the beer we drank last night!! – stood proudly and snow topped – it almost looked like a painting actually, it was picture perfect and we couldn’t take our eyes off it.
We spent quite some time at the top, enjoying the views and the interactive photo points. We even managed a beer at the top – surprise surprise! We also enjoyed (in a loose sense of the world!) the glass revolving floor.
After our visit, we took the 2 minute ride on the Seattle Monorail, also built for the World Fair in 1962. This one mile stretch of track which is above ground in the air, connects the Seattle centre with downtown near to Pike Market, which was where we were heading for lunch
Pike Market was a sensory overload. Flowers, food, trinkets, you name it- we loved it! there was even a man playing the MOP!
We joined the queue for “the world’s best mac n cheese”. They make their own cheese and the mac n cheese was amazing.
Just down the street was the first ever Starbucks but we didn’t go in as it was queuing and heaving!
By now it was getting towards 30 degrees and the sun was just so hot. We had a quick beer and water stop at the historical Virginia inn before grabbing a nice air conditioned uber back to our digs.
We had a siesta and after a shower and change headed back out, this time on the bus, for a pizza at the Diller Hotel, which dated from the late 1800s.
We then walked down Harbour Steps to the waterfront where we joined an hours harbour cruise to watch the sunset
. This was a lovely way to spend our evening. The waterfront area was alive and buzzing. There were loads of delicious looking seafood restaurants and a big ferris wheel. It was a lovely place to spend the evening.
After our cruise, we couldn’t resist some of the “best clam chowder” at Ivan’s takeout before heading back to the accomodation. We can confirm the clam chowder was delicious!
Our last day of our adventure! Sad faces all round.
It was forecasted to be another scorcher, so we decided we would take the ferry to West Seattle’s Alki Beach. On our way to the ferry at pier 52, we stopped for a drink at Pike Place Brewery
checked out Post Alley
and it’s very random Gum wall
and also did a taster flight at Seattle’s Copperworks Distillery, which resulted in some more gin being purchased!
We then got tempted by the close proximity that we were to Ivan’s, so decided to have lunch there before going to the beach. We bagged a fabulous waterfront outdoor seat and ordered more clam chowder and then battered jumbo shrimp and chips. Yum!
We then made our way across the sound on the ferry ($12 for two) to West Seattle and jumped on the free shuttle to Alki Beach.
As it was rather hot by now it was heaving, but we enjoyed our time there. We couldn’t go in the sea as there was a lot of seaweed unfortunately but the sea breeze cooled us down, as did the west seattle brewing company lager!
We had an Uber back to the air b n b, and another siesta before heading out in search of BBQ! We found it on Capitol Hill – similar to Soho, and enjoyed brisket, ribs, mac n cheese and coleslaw before walking it off with an explore of Capitol Hill area.
By now, we were starting to feel sad about our imminent departure and also a bit sensory overload! We had eaten and drank to our hearts content for 2.5 weeks and there is only so much that you can take. Plus, similarly to Vancouver, there were some interesting characters out on the street- falling out with themselves and wandering down the middle of the road. Like Vancouver there is a high level of homelessness, and you can’t help but wonder if its linked to the legalisation of cannabis. Maybe not- Who knows, but I wouldn’t have wanted to have been there without my big strapping 6 foot 4 hubby!
Saturday arrived and it was time to fly home. I was distraught. We had THE BEST time ever. I can’t even begin to describe how much we enjoyed our trip, and wholeheartedly recommend this trip to anyone. Travel with Great Rail Journeys and you have the security of a tour manager and logistics team behind you every step of the way. You also have enough free time for you not to feel like you are on an escorted tour. But you get to enjoy their group discounts, which means the price is really competitive and hard to beat by going solo.
Let me know if you book with them!
Until Next time