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Seattle: a metropolis of marvels

By Mark VanekBy Mark Vanek

Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Tuesday Lunch at the Dock, Occidental Square Park, Tractor Tavern, Seamonster Lounge, Queen Anne Hill, Space Needle, The Art Museum, 5th Avenue Theatre, The Music Project …

There’s so much to see and do in Seattle.

Positively European: Never has getting from an airport to a downtown metropolis been so affordable and easy, unless you’re in Europe. From Sea-Tac International Airport, simply hop on the light rail ( www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Central-Link-light-rail) that will usher you directly to the hotel district. Your downtown commute won’t be bogged down in gridlock, and – for pennies on the dollar – you can take a leisurely as well as scenic train ride to your lodgings.

Hotel ‘Wow’ Thousand:

When staying in downtown Seattle, look no further than the incomparable Hotel 1000 ( www.hotel1000seattle.com). There is a reason that this hotel consistently ranks as Trip Advisor’s No. 1 place to stay in Seattle. Unrivaled guest relations, combined with comfort and European-styling will leave you wondering why you even considered lodging anywhere else. Each room is outfitted with a human body temperature monitoring system, allowing maids or other attendants to know if you are in the room and wish not to be disturbed.

Hotel 1000 is within walking distance to the waterfront, outstanding parks and shopping. An early-morning walk will bring you to the famous Pike Place Market, where you can delight in a breakfast of Seattle’s finest java – and healthy, mouth-watering fruits and berries.

Chihuly Garden and Glass: Gaze with wonder in the heart of Seattle as you meander through an incredible garden – though the vibrant colors, delicate shapes and beautiful designs are not of the floral variety. The garden ( www.chihulygardenandglass.com) showcases blown-glass art work crafted by the contemporary American master Dale Chihuly.

From there, drop into the neighboring Space Needle, take a ride up one of America’s most iconic elevators and see a mind-expanding, 360-degree view of Seattle.

Seattle Locks Cruise and Sightseeing Tour: Jump aboard a picturesque and celebrated cruise through the famous Hiram Chittenden Locks between Puget Sound and Lake Union. Your panoramic tour includes the most remarkable city sights from a seaside perspective.

Whether you’d like a romantic break or are just looking for the perfect way to spend the afternoon – regardless of the weather – sit back, take in the invigorating sea air and enjoy all the sites that surround you on this pleasant Intracoastal Waterway cruise ( http://bit.ly/1d3kKxj).

West Seattle: Take an inexpensive and fun water-taxi ride across the Puget Sound to West Seattle, where an awaiting free shuttle with take you to Alki Beach. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon, whale watching and picking up seashells on this 2 1/2-mile beach. Plenty of fun shops, ice cream parlors and waterfront dining opportunities await.

Be sure to drop in at an Alki Beach favorite, El Chupacabra, where you can sip margaritas with the colorful locals.

Tulio Ristorante: For delicious Italian cuisine in the heart of downtown of Seattle, do not miss Tulio Ristorante. Chef Walter Pisano serves up classic fare – affordable and fresh dishes that consistently impress with bold flavors – with a warmth and hospitality that make you feel like a member of the family. Beautifully nestled within the charming boutique Hotel Vintage Park, Tulio’s ( www.tulio.com) bustles with energy and enthusiasm but remains ever inviting and comfortable.

Foodie heaven: Be adventuresome and head out to the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the down-to-earth dining experience of Volunteer Park Cafe. It will take a Google Transit map to get there via Seattle’s amazing bus line – follow the directions to arrive safely and inexpensively without a hitch. This charming bistro, located in an old grocery store, serves up comfort foods that warm the body and soothe the spirit. You almost feel you’ve been teleported back to “Little House on the Prairie” days. The food is prepared very fresh. There’s even an organic veggie farm in the back of the restaurant.

Vanek lives at Lake Norman and has unlimited standby flight privileges. http://flying-standby.blogspot.com.
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