Having used Saturday to familiarise myself with the city a little and get organised, I was able to put Sunday to good use. Another lovely sunny (and in the afternoon clear blue sky) day in Seattle. It’s a city with a reputation for wet weather, so I’m really pleased to have seen it in such fine conditions.
I’ll try and make this narrative interesting, but really it consists of me walking about and, later, drinking beer. Not sure how riveting I can make it…
[Incidentally, I’m getting an increasing number of notifications of folks who I don’t know ‘following’ this blog. I assume these are people picking up on keyword searches for their home town and the like. Really good to have you along guys and I hope my waffle is worth your attention. Please understand, however, that my observations are really only aimed at myself and my friends & family. In other words, it’s all about context 🙂 ]
The rate I’d got at the Renaissance included either car parking or free breakfast. Well given my chosen transportation method, that’ll be a free breakfast buffet, please. Very enjoyable and whilst the staff were very good, it was fun to watch the waiter fawning over the guests who were paying cash (and therefore more likely to leave a tip?). I got left pretty much alone by comparison, so I guess he knew I was a Brit!?
Suitably filled with sausage & bacon, I hit the Sunday streets about 10:00. Almost like a magnet, I found myself drawn back to Pike Place Market first thing. I know I’d said on Saturday that I’d head for the Space Needle first on Sunday then the Pike Place on Monday. Well that’s the thing with plans….
Though the queue for the First Starbucks was out of the door, I joined it and it moved pretty quick. Inside a ‘partner’ was assigned to queue marshalling and the system worked pretty well. While I was at the head of the queue the girl asked me what brought me to Seattle. I gave her the thirty second summary of my trip and it was ‘kinda cool’ (to use the local vernacular) to see her eyes widen as I told her. I duly ordered and received my grande Pike Place and the almost obligatory T shirt. I went and sat in the local park overlooking Alaska Way and the waterfront beyond to drink it.
From there, having spent 20 minutes enjoying my coffee and observing the multifarious goings on taking place around me, I found the steps down to the waterfront. The ‘retail core’ of Seattle is on a ‘bluff’, meaning the waterfront is probably about 50′ below, with various means (steps, bridges, lifts) of navigating the very steep drop between. Crossing the now defunct (unfortunately) Waterfront Street Car line to reach the water’s edge.
The Norwegian Pearl, a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, was in port with its passengers in the process of arriving for their voyage, leading to a whole host of comings-and-goings, with provisions being craned aboard. There was also a classic car and boat show taking place, with a dozen or so wooden hull motor launches in the marina and a similar number of, mainly, Austin Healy cars for some reason, on the shore.
I wandered slowly north and found myself skirting the Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park, choosing to stay by the water and wander through the Myrtle Edwards Park instead. I lingered there a while, taking in the view over Elliot Bay to Puget Sound and the snow-capped mountains beyond. With joggers around me, the BNSF railroad behind me, and the ferries and yachts in front of me, there was a lot going on.
In danger of heat stroke (slight exaggeration) and dehydration (not so much) I headed inland and after a brief climb found myself at the Key Arena on the western edge of the Seattle Center complex. The Seattle University Commencement ceremony had evidently just ended and hundreds and hundreds of newly graduated students and their proud families were posing for photographs and generally enjoying the moment. In the adjacent park, crowds were enjoying the huge International Fountain, with kids gleefully running under its wide cascade. I was just glad to hand over $1.50 for a bottle of ice cold water which barely touched the sides.
I wandered around the park in a large circle, mingling with the students and the rest of the folk enjoying the surroundings. I passed the premisses of the Bill and Melinda Gates Charitable Foundation according to the map, but didn’t see any signage or evidence of it on the ground. That’s shame as I’d have taken a photo and made some cheap crack about the profit margin on Windows95. There was a “Pimp My Ride” style motor show going on in the park, with some really weird and wonderful petrol head porn on show. A little later I saw a couple of those comedians driving round on the street. The below example has just started from a red light and is turning at no more than 10mph or so….
The queues for the Space Needle were long and slow moving. I use the plural of queue as there seemed to be several choices of ticket and various lines to join, which in itself was enough to give me a headache. Needless to say, I decided that the Space Needle can “wait until next time”. I enjoyed another pause in this area to watch the world entertain me, before walking back toward the Retail Core. The empty streets in this area indicated that to walk this three quarters of a mile or so was not the done thing. Oh well.
I broke my journey in the first SBs I came across, at Blanchard & 2nd, before continuing on and back to the Market area. It was mid-afternoon and I hadn’t had lunch, so when I “happened across” the Pike Brewing Company’s premises, I decided that it was Beer o’clock. Their excellent burger (I’m a connoisseur, you know) was washed down with Pike Clam Diggers Ale 4.9%, Pike Post Alley Porter 6.0% and Pike Heirloom Amber Ale 5% (though somehow found I had difficulty saying the last one – too many H’s).
When the coach brought us in to Seattle on Saturday, we passed an interesting looking bar in the Pioneer Square district, so I decided to head south and find it. My walk along First Avenue took me through a much older part of the city which was interesting to look at. Without too much difficulty I managed to locate Collins Pub on Second Avenue at James Street. It was still early in the grand scheme of things, of course, so the place was quiet. Nevertheless, it was my sort of bar; a bewildering tap line, the finale of the US Open on the tv (not that I’m into golf, but it helped with a Brit being in contention and ultimately winning). The below picture is of just one of the tap lines. A test for those who know me; guess which three beers I chose (and extra points for the order in which I chose them). And no, I didn’t have the Hemp Ale.
By around 18:00 I’d had my fill. I left Collins Pub and meandered back toward the hotel (the route I chose was straight, it was me who was meandering). Stopping off at the drug store on the corner, just as it was closing, for cookies and back to the room.
I’m typing this on the southbound Amtrak Cascades. Breakfast, check out and walk to the station this morning were all pretty unremarkable (though I feared I might end up in a big heap at the bottom as my bags pushed me down the streets to the station). At the station, I thought it was “de ja vu all over again” when the PA announced that the train (which started at Vancouver, British Columbia) was running late. I spent the waiting time using my iPhone (which received a ‘carrier update’ this morning and now proudly proclaims to be using 4G) to book my Denver to Austin flight for the weekend after next, and the Austin hotel. My plan from there (subject to correspondence with Amtrak) is to take the train overnight to St. Louis. That will take me to within a week of my booked flight home.
We left Seattle 13 minutes late, so I don’t think that will cause too many problems. Looking forward to seeing cousin Colin who is picking me up from the station at Portland. Now to explore what Business Class on Amtrak gets me in the way of food & drink….