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Seattle - Diverse, Varied, and Ecclectic

A day in Pioneer Square and the International District


I’m finding that the more I discover in Seattle, the more I realize I have yet to explore. The topography of the Pacific Northwest is varied and diverse with lakes, rivers, islands, and mountains creating dozens of physical boundaries which separate communities from each other. Perhaps this is why there are so many unique neighborhoods to explore. When compared to a large, flat, sprawling city in which the lines between communities are blurred, Seattle offers distinct boundaries where suddenly you turn a corner and the people, homes, and sights are completely different.

This week I made it a point to discover contrasting communities whose borders show no “grey area”. For this purpose I found myself in Pioneer Square, a short 15 minutes walk from Seattle’s downtown adjacent to Safeco Field and Qwest Stadium. Pioneer Square is a tourist’s delight with beautiful brick buildings, cobbled paths, and outdoor cafes. Dozens of tourists gather here in large groups to be led on walking tours of the city. Rather than get swept away in the buzz of tourists snapping photos and sporting umbrellas and ponchos (it was barely drizzling mind you), I was lured into a brightly lit, rustic looking bookshop on the corner.



The Elliot Bay Book Company is Seattle’s largest independent book store. Despite the size, Elliot Bay exudes coziness and I could have easily passed the day browsing books curled up in dusty corner of the shop. I particularly fell in love with the Travel Loft. Here, perched high above the rest of the store, I scanned travel memoirs and guidebooks in search of my next adventure.



Surrounded by the travel books I felt encouraged to explore, so I stepped back out onto the street determined to discover something new. It didn’t take long. Several blocks later I found myself outside of the Klondike Gold Rush Museum. Now you may be wondering, “Why the heck is there a gold rush museum in Seattle?” This is not a fluke. In fact, after the discovery of gold in the Yukon, 70% of the Klondike gold rushers were outfitted for their journey right here in Seattle before making the treacherous trip north. Needless to say, Seattle flourished as up 100,000 people passed through in their search for riches. The museum itself was beautifully crafted and between the free admission and informative displays – it easily falls in my top five favorite Seattle museums.


Now that I had thoroughly uncovered Pioneer Square -- well I guess not technically as I have yet to go on the Underground Tour, I decided to veer east in search of the China Town and International District (even the names of the communities are as contrasting as possible: Pioneer and International!). I was determined to demonstrate that Seattle is composed of contrasting communities each sitting side by side, and within several minutes I had made my point. I literally walked just up the street and suddenly I was surrounded by the International District. With brightly painted buildings, ornate decoration, and Chinese dragons slithering up street lamps, I think I can safely say that this was nothing like Pioneer Square. The people, food, and stores were culture shock. Was I really still in Seattle? The contrast was night and day. It amazed me that I have lived in Washington my entire life and yet I had never walked the streets of the International District. The colors were vibrant, the vibe was eclectic, and the people living within were helpful and friendly. I reveled in the magical feeling of being swept away into another time and place.


Alas, however, my day had come to an end and work was approaching – I know you may think otherwise, but I don’t get to play all day you know! Passing back through the International District into Pioneer Square I was mesmerized by the contrasts I had experienced. I love Seattle, the diverse communities, the different people, foods, and cultures, and the bountiful parks, lakes, and beaches. Despite my passion for travel, nothing can truly compare to home.

Posted by Jennylynn 14:00 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites

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