I arrived in Seattle yesterday after taking six buses and a beautiful ferry ride across Puget Sound. Looking and smelling like a homeless man, I surprised the tourist officials by saying I'd take a bed at the Westin but would prefer a bed at a hostel. Fortunately, I found a downtown hostel.
I spent the day roaming the city and reacquainting myself with crowds. I went to the central library. I went to the Experience Music Project. I went to the Science Fiction museum where I paid $15 to view Star Wars action figures that I had as a kid. I contemplated going to the top of the Space Needle, but there was no way I'd pay to get a view when I got countless free views all summer. I caught my first movie of the summer and tested a local brew pub. It was a good day.
I choose to walk everywhere considering my body is so well conditioned for walking, especially when I'm not carrying a pack. My desire to walk places really baffled some people. I'd get directions from someone, and they'd say I had to get a ride because it was too far. If only they understood what I already walked this summer.
Cities need efficient transportation systems to work, period. Many cities fail to make their mass transit efficient though because citizens are so lazy. Buses that stop at every corner take more time than walking. The transit authority could never reduce the stops--say to every third block--because then someone may have to walk an extra two blocks and we all that this isn't possible.
Walking the city is the best way to learn it. My issue with a subway is that you can't see where you are going. Instead, you magically appear at your destination without seeing the communities that you passed through. It's like taking an airplane. One minute you are in Minneapolis, the next minute you are in clouds for six hours, and then you are magically in some tropical city. Sometimes it is hard for me to be convinced that I actually am in a city because I couldn't see I got there while on the flight.