After I had my time in Vancouver I was all set to head south once again. This really is the shortest journey of the entire trip, taking less than three hours total (assuming there is no traffic at the border). There are some options if you want to ride a bit extra, but in the past I have been happy to go directly to Seattle without tacking on any extra time.
Vancouver, Canada to Seattle, Washington – A short ride on the I-5!
If there was one city that surprised me more than the rest it was Seattle. I had never before given much thought to the city, but was pleasantly surprised to find it was a place with more character and grungy charm then I would have ever anticipated.
When I was alone I stayed in City Hostel Seattle which had an excellent location, very friendly staff and was economical. After arriving I put my bags away and asked the staff about free downtown Seattle parking. They recommended this residential area in the vicinity of Ward St and 5th Avenue which, as luck would have it, did in fact have free parking. It's a bit of a walk, but worth it if you don't want to pay the extortionate parking fees.
City Hostel, Seattle wall art. Let me explain.
The above photo was taken of a dorm room wall in the City Hostel. When decorating the hostel, they decided to have a different local artist paint each room. This was what I was greeted by when walking into my dorm room. I must say that in a very dark, very creepy, very odd way…I quite like it.
As soon as I had my belongings stored in the lockers I went out to ask the hostel-folk what I ought to do while in the city. One of them suggested for drinks to check out Shorty's which was located within a block of the hostel. Apparently it's a proper hang out for locals. Intrigued, I had to see what it was all about.
Upon approaching Shorty's I realized that it was not entirely unusual given the area. The facade was done up in clown/carnival decor, with lots of reds, yellows and whites which is, in my opinion, quite a psychotic color scheme. The sun was shining brightly as I stepped out of downtown Seattle, and into the world of Shorty.
As my pupils adjusted to the astonishingly dim room my ears filled with the sounds of carnival music which, in the context of an actual carnival might be cheerful and inviting but in the context of a scanty dive bar in downtown Seattle was hostile, uncomfortable and demented. I looked beyond the bartender at the shelves filled from wall to wall with liquors of all varieties, an incredible collection. The tables were all salvaged pinball machines, which added a remarkable sense of design effort. It became clear that the environment was entirely intentional.
Walking to the back of the establishment you enter a new room, even dimmer than the one before. Completely dark save for a few black lights illuminating the neon painted walls, the room was lined with pinball machines. Not 5 or 6 but over a dozen. Walk into the bathroom and the experience does not end. A different genre of carnival music all together can be heard playing hollowly in the room. Apparently it is literally piped in from a tiny speaker which creates an immersively eerie effect. The music itself was exactly what one would expect from a horror film, the kind that makes you feel alone, misplaced and vulnerable. I was loving this bar more and more by the minute.
I must say that to date, I haven't found a better bar, and any time I speak of Seattle I recommend this place whole-heartedly. The decor is not to everyone's taste, and to the coulrophopic would be downright terrifying. But it's worth a visit nonetheless, just to experience it. And the drinks are good to boot.
Of course, Shorty's is a lesser-known attraction in Seattle. In addition to it, here are some suggestions for things to do in Seattle:
Even more places are the EMP Museum, the Space Needle, the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and the dozens of galleries, museums, parks and theaters throughout Seattle. I went to a few live shows and they were all memorable.