A Travellerspoint blog

Seattle

October 25th to November 14th

We drove to Seattle with Cappy and Yvonne with the hope that the American authorities would allow our re-entry. You may recall we were only permitted to stay in the USA for 6 months and there was no definitive timeframe for us to be in Canada before re-entering. After some research indicated that 3 months would be a minimum, we decided to stay in Canada for 4 months to be more certain.

After arriving at the border we were directed to the office to ‘show cause’ for our return. We were asked a few questions regarding where we have been, how long we were away and what our plans were, which is effectively 6-7 weeks in the USA before returning home. We even had paperwork to prove the date of our return flights. Anyways, the official stamped our passports with another 6 month stay and directed us to a cashier to pay a fee. Not sure what the fee was, but at $6 each and now allowed to stay for the remainder of the trip we simply paid, walked out and were back in the USA, Washington State to be exact.

Seattle had always been on our list to visit and we must admit it exceeded our expectations. Our accommodation is in the Downtown district. All our previous stays have been in neighborhoods to get a feel for how people live and generally about 30 minutes on public transport from the downtown. Of all the cities we could stay downtown, Seattle is a very much a worthy choice. Located only 10 min walk West to the Pike Place Market and 10 minutes East to the funky Capitol Hill area and Grocery shops, we were literally in the middle of everything.

Many would associate Seattle with not only Pike Place but the Space Needle. It’s worth noting that Seattle is home to many of the world’s most recognizable names such as Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing and Nordstrom to name a few. All started and have Headquarters in Seattle. In fact, Microsoft has over 60,000 employees, Amazon 25,000, Starbucks has over 500 stores (virtually 1 on every corner), Boeing has over 70,000 employees and Nordstrom 7,000. That alone is a significant number even for a growing, expanding and increasingly expensive Seattle.

The Boeing factory in Everett just North of Seattle has the distinction of being the largest building in the world by volume, as accounted by the Guinness World Records. It is easy to see why when you could fit 55 football fields inside the factory that includes its own fire department, security force, fully equipped medical clinic and numerous restaurants and cafes. From high above the factory floor you view the assembly of 747, 767, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner where the airplanes are being outfitted and painted. We cannot recall all the facts provided and phones and cameras are prohibited on the tour, but we do remember that there are 3 million rivets in each plane. Oh and the mural on the retractable six factory doors is regarded as the largest digital graphic in the world.

Pike Place Market is one of the world’s most famous public markets. Located on the waterfront the market opened in 1907 and houses small businesses offering fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood, arts and crafts. With 10 million visitors annually it is easily Seattle’s most popular tourist destination and is actually the 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world. The main reason for its popularity is the famous ‘fish toss’ where at one of the various seafood stalls the entertainment is fish being thrown between the shop assistants.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Nearby is Gum Alley, an area behind the Market Theater where patrons back in 1993 started to stick their gum before entering the theatre. Noted as the 2nd most germiest tourist attraction in the world (the Blarney Stone is the first) the Seattle council commenced the cleansing of the wall a couple of days after we visited. Probably a good idea since the area was truly disgusting and smelly.

Gum Alley

Gum Alley

A day on the buses, albeit a wet and rainy day (it rains almost every day during Winter in the Pacific North West) took us to the suburb of Fremont. The goal was to see the famous Fremont Troll, a scary looking concrete creation that stands over 3 metres high whilst crushing a Volkswagen Beetle in its left hand. Located not far away is the Fremont Rocket, found lying around in 1993 in nearby Belltown the rocket now sticks out of a building. The most controversial piece of art though is the Statue of Lenin which was salvaged from Slovakia after the 1989 revolution.

Fremont Troll

Fremont Troll


Lenin Statue

Lenin Statue

From Fremont we boarded the bus this time to the Ballard Locks where the freshwater lakes of Washington and Union flow through the 8 mile long Ship Canal dropping 22 feet into salt water Puget Sound. On the southern side of the locks you can view a fish (Salmon) ladder from underwater glass sided tanks.

Again on the bus and this time to the posh suburb of Queen Anne, specifically Keary Park for stuning views of the Seattle skyline with the Space Needle (built for the 1962 World’s Fair) in the foreground. Following we walked to the Olympic Sculpture Park hovering above train tracks and home to sculptures, art both permanent and visiting installations. The rain drizzle was still occurring but we lumbered on knowing that a warm apartment and shower awaited us.

View of Seattle

View of Seattle


Space Needle

Space Needle


Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park

Keen to see some local sport the Seattle Sounders Professional Soccer team was playing a Western Conference elimination game against the LA Galaxy at nearby CenturyLink Field. We called Cappy to see if he and Yvonne were interested in joining us. A few hours later Cappy calls to say that Yvonne had secured some tickets through her work Oberto, manufacturers of Beef Jerky. Cool, what could be better than free tickets. Well …. how about free tickets in a Corporate Suite complete with drinks, dinner and a dessert cart that blew Alyssa away. What a great night topped by the local team winning 3-2.

Sounders Soccer

Sounders Soccer


Thanks Oberto

Thanks Oberto


Final score

Final score

It was Halloween whilst we were in Seattle so we headed to the nearest Target to locate Alyssa a costume, Cat Woman to be exact. We were lucky enough to find that only 10 minutes walk away the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce was holding its Annual Hilloween carnival. The main hall of the Community Centre was full of games for the kids including toss the ghost doll through the haunted house, a spider web maze and balloon pop to name a few. For every turn the child received a piece of candy or chocolate. After about an hour of fun and games a brass band arrived, played a few up tempo tunes and then led the kids (and families in tow) down Broadway street just like the Pied Piper. What a fun and joyous time. Afterwards Alyssa trick or treated in our apartment building with residents dressed up, some playing Michael Jackson's Thriller and all full of cheer.

Hilloween

Hilloween

The guide book suggested a trip to Leavenworth, about 90 minutes West of Seattle. Once again we were joined by Cappy who offered to drive us as he too was keen for the visit. Our first stop though was the Maltby Café, famous for the World’s Largest Cinnamon Roll and probably the largest breakfast we have ever seen. Suffice to say when we left we were full and satisfied for essentially the remainder of the day. Leavenworth is an Alpine town in one of the few ski areas in Washington. Although a Sunday and technically not the tourist season there was still happening and we all noted that a visit during Christmas with snow on the ground would be quite magical.

Maltby's Cafe

Maltby's Cafe


Leavenworth

Leavenworth

On one of our final days we again joined Cappy and Yvonne, this time for a tour of the Underground. The tour commences at Pioneer Square, the birthplace of Seattle which is named after local tribal leader Chief Sealth. The Seattle Underground is a network of underground passageways and basements that were originally ground level. Seattle’s first buildings were wooden and a fire in 189 destroyed 31 blocks. Instead of rebuilding the city as it was, city leaders ensured all new buildings were of stone or brick and also to regrade the streets one to two stories higher than the original street grade. For the regrade, the streets were lined with concrete walls that formed narrow alleyways between the walls and buildings on both sides of the street. The tour was an interesting and informative 90 minute stroll, however will always be remembered for not 10 minutes into the tour a massive rat ran across both Ronnie and Yvonne’s feet soon followed by screams of surprise … or maybe fear. Following the tour we had a Brooklyn style pizza (biggest and best pizza I have ever had) and finally some Gelato before saying our goodbyes.

Underground Tour 1

Underground Tour 1


Underground Tour 2

Underground Tour 2


Brooklyn pizza

Brooklyn pizza


With Cappy and Yvonne

With Cappy and Yvonne

Posted by V3USA 16:15

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Comments

Did you go to the Fish Markets (Pike Street) and see them throwing the fish? There is a work/life philosophy about their behaviour. Funnily enough called FISH.

by Peter

Read the blog Peter.......

by Peter

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