OK, so Seattle obviously isn’t in Canada, and as this is blog about Canada, you might find that odd.
However, Seattle is just across the border from Vancouver, and having not activated our working visas when arriving in Toronto in late September, we decided that a short trip to Seattle would allow us to check out the city and activate the visas on our return.
We decided that we would book a coach to take us there, but later found out that we could have booked a seaplane! Seattle’s seaplane port claims to the world’s oldest continuously operated airport, and there are flights to and from Vancouver. The coach company we booked with was called Quick Shuttle, although it felt anything but quick, especially when we had to take all our luggage back off the coach and put it back on again at the US border and when we got stuck in the Seattle rush hour traffic!
On our first night in Seattle we went to an excellent local Mexican restaurant recommended to us by our AirBnb host. We could tell that we were in America by the size of the portions – they were massive!
The following day started with a brief visit to the Olympic Sculpture Park, which utilises the space found between, and over, roads and railway tracks down by the waterfront. Having briefly taken in a few of the sculptures on offer, we continued on to Pike Place Market.
Now we don’t have a particularly good record when it comes to markets. We go in with high hopes, which are more often than not dashed when we come away empty handed having found nothing we like. Pike Place Market felt like it was going to be more of the same given that we weren’t in the market for child/dog sized tepees, strangely printed t-shirts or homemade honey.
But then we wandered into the building which houses the food and flower market, and who cares if we weren’t to come away with anything, because this was vibrant, fun, full of atmosphere and didn’t disappoint. Being on the western US seaboard, the market was stuffed with fresh seafood. One of the market stalls in particular draws in the crowds by staff throwing a fish like a javelin between each other at high speed. Then there were the fruit and veg stalls, all of which seemed to have two members of staff standing around with an apple and a knife, and offering you a slice of their “honey crisp apple” (to be fair, they did taste good). Surprisingly, despite all the food, we couldn’t see any meat stalls – I guess that seafood is king here. Finally, there were the flower stalls, lined with brightly coloured and huge bouquets.
Across the street lies yet more of the market and various food offerings. Here, the food is less about raw ingredients, and instead picking up something to eat then and there. In need of lunch, we decided to give American fish & chips (fries) a go. They were very good, although I think that British fish & chips are better – not that Emma agreed, she preferred the Seattle take on this British classic. For desert, we decided to give ourselves ‘tongue freeze’ by eating a chocolate and vanilla frozen yoghurt.
Departing the market, we headed into downtown Seattle. With time to spare we stopped off at the excellent yet cavernous Seattle Public Library for a sit down and to make use of their free wifi.
We ended our first day in Seattle with a visit to the Sky View Observatory at the Columbia Center having decided that it was a better option than the equivalent at the Seattle Space Needle. The Columbia Center is cheaper, it’s taller and you can see Seattle’s landmark – the Space Needle itself! Despite the distinct advantages, the building is just an office block, and if you were none-the-wiser, you would walk past with no idea that there is a cheap observation floor at the top!
The timing of our visit was perfect, as we were up there in time to take in the views whilst light, while also being able to look down on the city as the sun set and once it was dark. Having been up a few of these attractions now – Top of the Rock in New York, The Shard in London and the CN Tower in Toronto, we thought that the Columbia Center was excellent. Cheap, few people, lots of interesting information on the walls, and even a man who came around cleaning the windows of people’s greasy forehead and hand prints!