Seattle – no driving today
I said in a Facebook post today that I hadn’t fallen in love with Seattle, but that certainly didn’t prevent me from having a very good day. I can’t actually put my finger on what makes me feel a bit lukewarm about the place, or whether it is a set of circumstances conspiring to make me feel this way. We started off the day heading downtown to book ourselves in for a Segway ride. The taxi took us through some very industrial areas towards the docks and then swung onto the seafront with its piers and entertainment areas. The Segway company was closed and the roadworks in that area, together with the rather dilapidated looking flyovers, added to a rather rundown look. We did hear that the whole area was in process of renovation and in a couple of years there will be parks and a grand seafront. So, what to do when you can’t chase around on two wheels?
We headed off to the Space Needle for a bird’s eye view of the city. The Needle has been done very well and has, very recently, had installed a revolving glass floor at a level just below the top lookout deck. This is my 3rd ‘Tower experience’ this year (Auckland and Toronto previously) and it was just as much fun. Included in the price of the ticket was a virtual reality bungee jump from the top of the tower. Virtual is quite good enough for me but I did welcome an opportunity to don the mask and enjoy this strange ‘gaming’ world.
After lunch at the top of the Needle, we strolled the exhibition area before deciding not to spend hours in one of them, so jumped on the monorail for a short and different experience. This took us within a walk of Pike Place market, and after some refreshing ginger beer we were off to marvel at the magnificent creations by the flower sellers, the fish stalls piled high with crabs, every kind of fish and seafood, including some of the largest prawns I have ever seen, and stalls with a vast range of retail opportunities!
By this time we were wilting a little, so to give our legs a break, we went back to the piers and booked onto a harbour cruise. We were a bit lucky with the weather as the forecast rain held off and we enjoyed the views and commentary from the top deck. I commented that the skyline was not as impressive as Toronto but we did get a glimpse of Mt Rainier, which only shows itself through the cloud on 95 days a year. Seattle is one of the wettest places in the USA, which confirmed it would never be one of my favourites. Wet? We can show them wet!!!
Back on dry land there seemed only one way to finish – dinner at Elliott’s Oyster Restaurant. The oysters were superb, as was the clam chowder but our main course of fish left no room for anything else. Wot no ice cream?!
It’s a strange day tomorrow. We are off back to Canada. Will the USA let us out and will Canada have us back?
Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities
‘Sleepless in Seattle’ it is. A busy day with little down time until now. The day began with our Segway disappointment but we are not travellers to be trifled with! Plans B, C,… etc. are all ready being formed when a diversion is required.
So, onwards and upwards… literally. It is well known with family and friends that I don’t like heights. I go up them to show I won’t be frightened by them but it takes its toll. I’m not concerned about heights merely I don’t want to fall from them! Seems logical! And, that’s the key. I stress the logic for myself. Despite being 605 feet above the ground, I will not fall. It’s been tested. Other people are here. Get a Grip!
Once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River, it is 605 ft (184 m) high, 138 ft (42 m) wide, and weighs 9,550 tons (8,660 tonnes). It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude, as strong as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake. It also has 25 lightning rods.
The Space Needle has an observation deck at 520 ft (160 m) and the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 ft (150 m). The downtown Seattle skyline, as well as the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands can be viewed from the top of the Needle. Photographs of the Seattle skyline often show the Space Needle prominently, above skyscrapers and Mount Rainier.
Admission paid and we’re in. The notice said ‘Your admission ticket includes complimentary bungee jump from the top of the Needle, queue here.’ Yeah, right, I thought. No!!! I saw people being strapped in and, I assumed, they would be then hoisted somehow to the top. What I hadn’t realised was this bungee jump was through virtual reality headsets. So, ‘it can’t go wrong!’ philosophy applied and I sat on the chair in the booth, headset fitted and the only instruction was, ‘Make sure you look around’. And, I did. I looked up at the sky and then at Seattle’s virtual skyline and then down to the ground. Suddenly, 3 – 2 – 1 flashed into my vision and the ground started coming closer as I descended in my virtual reality experience. And, of course, I then ‘bounced’ as would happen with a real bungee jump. Clever! I’d planted my feet firmly and my hands were holding my chair (in real reality) but neither were needed.
Next, we went up… to the top. Walked around in the fresh air gazing down at Seattle. I smiled inwardly at one building whose painted roof said what I was thinking. Down two short flights of stairs was the new revolving glass floor. Bravely stepping onto it, I watched the cogs moving this enormous platform whilst I looked downwards. Strangely, it was difficult to work out which part was moving at first but we did it. Stepping on the moving glass was initially tentative but, almost immediately, we got blasé about it. Clearly helped by seeing one of the staff walking with a rotary cleaning machine towards us – also, of course, on the glass. Lots of photographs were taken by us and the other tourists but I then saw a guy proposing to his girlfriend, take out a ring and place it on her finger in front of us whilst we were having lunch. I spotted them later in the shop and offered my congratulations! I was probably the first to do it. Made me feel a little special. Lunch was special, too, with toasted sourdough bread, salt beef with a thousand island dip.
We had contemplated MoPOP – Museum of Pop Culture – but changed our minds. We wandered through their shop where I was reminded that one of their most famous stars was Jimi Hendrix. They now have statue of him at the Capitol building and posters, plectrums and mini-guitars, with his iconic image, were much in evidence. I’d seen where he had lived when we’d been in San Francisco so I didn’t visit the statue or anywhere else connected.
Next, the monorail – don’t we get about a lot?!
Onto the market via a less than useful map but with help from Apple map directions. Well worth visiting. And, we had a nice ginger beer…
Next, the cruise – don’t we get about a lot?! (I’ve said that! Chuckle!)
Our female Captain was superb and managed to reverse the boat out whilst giving us a running commentary on the cruise we were about to do. She then introduced Billy who was excellent in his lengthy, fact-filled and very well-presented travelogue as we sailed round the harbour – sorry, ‘harbor’.
Next, the oysters – don’t we… (you know the rest!)
The oysters were truly the best I’ve tasted. Thank you! A very good meal which required no dessert at all.
What was next? An Uber back to the hotel with Russell who had worked in Beijing with clients in the UK and proceeded to tell me he was wanted by the Lincolnshire Police for offering to personate for a former colleague/employee’s speeding offence. I felt at this time I ought to confess my voluntary role with Lancashire Police and point out it was an offence punishable by prison. I’m not sure I believed his story, fortunately, and I gave him a small tip as well as the legal advice!
Tomorrow, a return to Canada and our last few days exploring Vancouver before we fly home.
Finally, the oysters didn’t last long between us (4 for me and 2 for Kath – her choice!); the floor in the market was paved with… names! Presumably donors? And, look what I found in a shop window. You have to smile!
Finally, finally… the monorail ticket had an excellent message from Bill and Melinda Gates