Given that it’s not that far from Vancouver, Seattle typically experiences similar weather e.g. lots of rain! However, during our stay, and in particular on our second day, we were fortunate to be blessed with excellent weather.
Seattle reminds me a bit of San Francisco. It has a similar west coast vibe, the coastal location plays a large part in its identity, and the wider urban area is home to multi-billion dollar companies (heavyweights such as Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and Expedia are all located in the area). Seattle also has the odd steep hill in certain neighbourhoods, which felt like they could rival some of the hills which San Francisco throws up.
It was one of these hills which we trekked up to go to Kerry Park, which is reputed to offer very good views over Seattle and neighbouring Puget Sound. Once there, we discovered that Kerry Park isn’t so much of a park, but more of a small strip of grass with some benches! The views on offer were good, but not exceptional, given that trees seemed to obscure parts of the view of downtown Seattle.
The rest of our day took on something of a nautical theme, as we headed to The Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Washington. Lake Washington sits to the north east of the city centre, and our AirBnb host told us that every Sunday the Center for Wooden Boats offers free boat rides on a first come, first serve basis. Offered a choice of three boats, we plumped for the gillnetter sailing boat, originally built in 1932 for salmon fishing, having never been on a sailing boat before.
The boat trip lasted an hour and took us round the southern half of the lake. Emma even got to ‘help’ out with the sailing at the start of the ride! On the trip we passed the houseboat of Sleepless in Seattle fame. With neither of us having watched this film, this meant nothing to us, but we do now know that it starred Tom Hanks!
Having stopped off at Seattle Public Library (once again for a rest and to use their free wifi!), we went down to the Seattle Ferry Terminal. Given how fragmented the coast is around Seattle, ferries have always played an important role in transporting people and goods around. We caught the ferry to Bainbridge Island, which gave us good views of the Seattle skyline, and clearer views of Mount Rainier in the distance than those that we had got from the Columbia Center. As with all ferry rides, standing on the top deck was freezing!
As soon as we got to Bainbridge, we got off the ferry and then immediately got back on it for the return trip! This time we got views of the city as the sun started to set and the lights came on.
Having started the following day by catching up on boring admin tasks, we headed down to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which displays the glass-blowing and sculpture work of Dale Chihuly, and is located at the base of the Space Needle at the Seattle Center. It is essentially an art gallery, and although we’re not normally into art galleries or certain types of museums, we thought it was excellent. We’ll let the pictures do the talking.
The Seattle Center is home to one end of the Seattle Monorail, which along with the Space Needle, was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. Much like its 1960s styling, the payment system for the Monorail is also stuck in the 1960s, and only accepts cash. For two travellers who had not planned at the outset to go to the US, and so had no US dollars, it was frustrating not being able to use the Monorail to travel one or two times from the Space Needle, which was close to where we were staying, to downtown Seattle, instead of making the 40 minute walk!
All in all though, we really liked Seattle and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is in the area. There were a few other things that caught our eyes/taste buds/ears too!
- We’ve never seen a city get behind one sports team like Seattle does. Every where we looked there were references to the American Football team, the Seattle Seahawks, who are the current Superbowl champions.
- Seattle water tastes like a swimming pool! It’s not as bad as Orlando water though.
- The pedestrian crossings in Seattle are pretty funny if you’re not used to them – they shout “Wait” when it’s not safe to cross, and then play sounds that sound like machine gun fire or lasers when it is safe to cross!