Hi everyone, hope you are having a fab weekend!
Day 22 started really early with a 5:30am alarm for breakfast on the train on the way to Seattle. We got our meals included in our sleeper ticket and as we missed dinner the night before because the train was late there was definitely no way we were missing breakfast! They close the dining car a couple of hours before the train reaches its destination and sure enough just as we'd finished eating there was an announcement over the tanoy to say it was now closed.
Our train got into Seattle just before 11am. The carriage attendant warned us that the station was in a dodgy part of town so we treated ourselves to a rare taxi to take us to our hostel, which turned out to be a hotel - result! We weren't allowed to check in so we left our luggage and had a wee wander. I noticed straight away how much cooler it was, especially in the shade, and thought I might need to dig out my warm things for the first time. We discovered we were quite central with the monorail down the next street and the Space Needle towering into the skyline a few blocks down.
After a couple of hours we went back and checked in and had a very lazy rest of the day. Dan had a siesta while I did the last blog and we watched crappy tv and grabbed some yummy food in the hotel restauarant, opting to recharge our batteries after a pretty full on 48 hours in Glacier.
Wednesday started quite grey but by the time we left the hotel the clouds were starting to break and the sun came out to shine. It was still quite cool and even though I was wearing a long sleeved top and over-the-knee shorts I could have worn my jeans. We headed down to the Space Needle to enquire about the restaurant as a couple of people recommended it in Glacier. We looked at the menu and decided we would need to rob a bank to have dinner there (and it was far too fancy and fishy for my liking) but that lunch prices were quite reasonable so we booked a table for the following day. After a cheap and easy lunch (good old Subway!) we decided to check out the Experience Music Project and Sci Fi Museum. We went into the latter first and had an absolute ball. Having grown up with Star Wars it was really cool to see a life size model of R2D2 and also one of Yoda, they rock! They also had the only 3D model of the Death Star ever created on display! Dan saw the original Star Wars figures that he and Rob used to have when they were kids as well, which brought back some memories. They also had costumes from various other movies / tv shows such as Start Trek on display and a time line that showed exactly when Sci Fi became popular, which started right back in the 1920's.
We then moved into the EMP and oh my word, it's a Groupie's paradise! First of all they had a little section entirely devoted to Jimi Hendrix, who was born and raised in Seattle and scored his first ever gigs in Jackson Street. They had about five of his Fenders on display, (all unharmed, and a further three broken pieces of those he destroyed!) a coat he wore for one of his gigs and original LPs of his records. There was also a timeline of his albeit short life and I was surprise to learn that his death was due to an overdose of sleeping pills and was accidental, as one assumes I suppose when you hear the word "overdose" it involves hard-core drugs.
Then we moved into my favourite section, which was the North Western Passage, dedicated to all the bands who formed within the Washington State (not to be confused with DC!) and OH MY GOD THEY HAD DAVE GROHL'S DRUMS ON DISPLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have died and gone to heaven! For those of you who don't know your music that well Kurt Cobain was also born in Washington State and died in Seattle, also at the age of 27. Nirvana was created in Seattle and led the way for other local bands such as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. Again, they had original LPs, hand written lyrics for songs and clothing on display for these bands. The drums in question were Dave's Nirvana drums, which Cobain broke while jumping onto them during a gig.
Finally, upstairs they had about 20 mini music stations, where you could play the drums, keyboard or guitar, or try your hand at mixing or vocals. Computers gave introductory lessons to these instruments allowing everyone to have a go. Dan and I spent a happy half hour here marvelling at the hands on way of getting youngsters (and some fathers!) interested in Music. There should be more of these places, they are a good thing.
We went back to the hotel for food and both had the traditional American Meatloaf for tea with mash and veg - yum! We both thought it was delicious and will be something for me to add to my list of "things to cook when we get home"!
Thursday was the start of our final full day in this city. We wandered back to the Space Needle for our lunch, which we had timed perfectly. The elevators for this attraction are on the outside of the structure, with windows and let me tell you it was not a pleasant ride. The windows are curved plastic putting a funny slant on the view, and the ride is fast, which leaves your stomach waiting for you when you return to the ground! We had a little mooch around on the observation deck, which again wasn't pleasant. This is because the platform is also slanted at an angle, so when you try and walk in a straight line you find yourself walking towards the balcony walls. The view was lovely, and the reason I said earlier that we had timed it well was because once again the morning started grey and overcast and the clouds had broken and the haze lifted just as we sat down at our table in the revolving restaurant, which meant that we could see the snow capped Mt Baker in the North and the active volcano Mt Rainer in the South, truly awesome spectacles of nature and quite surreal to see in the background of the city, next to the water.
Lunch was beautiful. We weren't going to have starters until our waiter talked us both into it! But they were really worth it. I had Cream of Cauliflower soup, which was infused with saffron - out of this world! Dan had warmed flat bread with avocado, goats cheese and cherry tomatoes. Then for mains Dan had a burger (no surprises there) and I had stuffed chicken breast with cheese and pancetta. It was beautiful! We completed two full circuits and saw the wonderful sights of Seattle and ate some exquisite food. It was a tad expensive, but when you consider that the meal included the ride up to the observation deck and that was all we ate that day, it didn't work out too bad.
We then "waddled" down to the sea front and along and stumbled upon a Sculpture Park, with a Farmers Market so we walked through that and came across some "art". Picture this, there's an allotment size patch of land, overgrown with weeds and grass (waist high) and three electrical appliances (what looked like washing machines) sat at different angles in the centre of this field. This was art. So Mum, don't bother clearing out the junk room, V&L, don't empty the garage, just put up a sign saying art and charge people a tenner to have a look. You'll make a fortune!!!
After laughing hard at that we made our way to Pike Market and had a look through all the shops. This was very similar to what used to be the Corn Exchange in Leeds, lots of little independent boutiques selling unique items (jewellery, music, books etc) on about six different levels. Outside on Pike Place was a famous fish shop where lots of different fish are laid on ice waiting for shoppers to purchase them. When someone buys one the fish is thrown over the counter and gutted and prepared there and then for the consumer. The workers sing a little song before each fish is thrown. Hey - you could argue that this was art!
After watching this for a little while we went and found the original Starbucks store, which was a little shop with a long counter, and no tables. This little baby was born nearly 40 years ago by two teachers and a writer. They originally only sold coffee beans and equipment and it wasn't until 1982 that they started selling drinks.
It was getting quite late by the time we left there so we didn't get a chance to do the Underground tour, but we return on our way to California for an evening so hopefully we'll see it then.
After we got back to the hotel we slipped into the role of a normal married couple (almost!) Dan went for a run, and then after a shower sat in the bar with a well deserved beer while I did two loads of washing. Dan has got a new personal trainer (no not me, I'm just the PT's skivvy and make sure he does what he is told!) so he is taking his exercise quite seriously! Long may it last. Whilst lounging in the bar we booked our tickets to Hawaii (yeeha!) and got a really good deal - £200 return flights each from LAX with United! Lost country here we come.
We then retired to bed (and more crap tv) before our early start in the morning, our final Amtrak train will take us to Vancouver at 7:40am. We were a bit sad about this as our seven segmented train journey has been fab - a great way to see the American countryside. We highly recommend it to all.