We tried to make a booking for the ferry to take us from Victoria, Vancouver Island back to Port Angeles in the state of Washington, USA but were told that they only allow 40% of the space on board to be booked in advance, the rest of the space is on a first come first served basis and the bookable spaces were booked up for weeks in advance. There was a ferry departing at 10.30 in the morning which would mean us either getting up very early to ger in line or even camping at the docks overnight as this was a very popular crossing. We decided that rather than do this we would opt for the 3 p.m. crossing and arrive early in the day to ensure that we got a place. We arrived very early at just after 10 a.m. and were told by the guy on the gate that the 3 p.m. was full and he could put us on the 7 p.m. We were a bit surprised and didn't fancy hanging around all day but had no choice. We went for a coffee and went back at 11.00 as insructed and he told us that he could get us on the 3 p.m. after all. Obviously we were more than happy and went for lunch to kill some time.
We had to be back at 1.30 p.m. for customs checks as we were leaving Canada and going back to America. We had expected in depth questionning and maybe even a vehicle search but the border patrol officer was very friendly, much more so than those you encounter at an airport border. He told us we must eat the orange we had with us and dispose of the peel and that was it, we were good to go!!! As usual boarding takes about half and hour, the crossing was one hour 40 mins and unloading another half an hour.
On the U.S. we found out that every vehicle had to go through a checkpoint and we though here we go this is where we will get searched, but no . We were asked the usual questions bu the woman officer, one of which was do you have any fruit which obviously we had eaten and we were on our way, no search, no checks, nothing just adios amigos!!
We camped in Port Angeles overnight and then up early again next morning for the next small ferry to Seattle. We had two options one an hour crossing and the other one a slightly longer drive of only 4 miles but a half hour crossing so we chose that one. We drove straight up to the ferry queue, paid $15 dollars and were on the next ferry crossing which docked slap bank in the heart of the waterfront in Seattle in the historic quarter where Seattle began.
We found the urban campsite some 10 miles out of the city and after getting directions by bus into Seattle we were off back to town and by 4 p.m. we were sitting at Starbucks right across from the famous Pike Street Marketand what an awesome place it turned out to be. Lots and lots of stalls selling, as you would imagine, fish. The most famous stall was surrounded by tourists and with cameras in hand. They guys on the stall have a brilliant repartee going, shouting to each other and bursting into song all the time putting together customer orders. One guy will shout an order and another will delve into the ice laden stall and come out with a whole fresh salmon and literally throw it through the air over the heads of the tourists to the other guy who catches it with one hand so he can wrap it and pack it for his customer. It is a frenzy of activity all surrounded by crowds of onlookers. They pack salmon in special containers for people to carry home with them and they even have boxes that are accepted by airlines to take on flights that will keep fresh for 24 hours. That's all well and good but I can just imagine arriving in some countries I have been too with a box of salmon, I don't think you would get very far with it.
We managed to pry ourselves away from there only to stare in wonder once again, this time at the fresh flowers. They were unbelievable, a riot of colours and smells made into the most beautiful arrangements and displays. an arrangement here which cost only $5 would easily be £20 at home and those at $15 I couldn't even put a price on at home.
On next to the fruit stalls. Peter is a keen fruit eater and makes sure we have fresh fruit in the truck every day whilst we are driving, apples, oranges and bananas. One guy was slicing nectarines with a knife and giving passers by a piece, as soon as peter tasted it he bought some and we found a nice quiet corner to eat it. I just couldn't believe how delicious, juicy and sweet it was, in fact when I first tasted it my eyes actually watered it was so overwelmingly delicious, juicy and fresh.
Later whilst walking past the Four Seasons Hotel we noticed a large crowd had gathered which turned out to be football fans waiting outside for the Barcelona team who were in town on a pre-season friendly to get on their bus to the game. We joined the fans outside and after half an hour they emerged and quickly boarded the bus and we really only managed to make out Thierry Henry. It turns out that Barcelona won the game 4 nil and it was the highest attended soccer game they have ever had in Seattle with a crowd of over 60,000.
By now it was 7.30 p.m. and we went for dinner and of course had to sample the fresh fish which was excellent after which we caught the bus back arriving at the campsite about 10.15 p.m.
Next day we did the journey all over again back to Seattle. We were going to do a hop on hop off bus tour but after checing out the route decideed we could easilywalk to all its destination. We think overall that we pretty much covered Seattle and really enjoyed the city and after a lucnh of seafood chowder in the market took to bus back to camp. We were surprised with how little it cost in Seattle compared to what it would cost spending a couple ofdays touring say London. The transport in the city centre is totally free, the people are very friendly annd laid back and there really is literally a Starbucks on every corner plus a host of other coffee shops as well.
On our way out after leaving the campsite we had a drive around the city looking for the house boats made famous by the film sleepless in Seattle. We found them without too much difficulty with the help of our map and guide book. There were some really impressive ones very modern and well loocked after alongside some old dilapidated ones. The better ones had roof gardens and plants and some even had hot tubs on their decks. It was quite an impressive site with all the houseboats alongside the yachts and cabin cruisers and we would have liked to see them at night all lit up but we had left Seattle by nightfall.