From San Diego I caught a 3 hour flight up to Seattle. I was lucky enough to have a window seat and saw some amazing views on the way over. We flew over the central Californian valley which looked stunning from such a height. Afterwards we flew over Oregon which looked to be completely covered in a blanket of snow! Looks like I might have to grow a beard for my time there! I was bound to hit cold weather at some point right?
From the airport I caught the tube train that took me all the way into the city for $2, nice and easy. From the station my hostel is about a 5 min walk. Even easier! I've been staying at the Green Tortoise which is a nice little place, well run and very clean and they provide a free evening meal 3 times a week. It's right in the middle of everything, right next to Pike Place market which has many different levels and tons of little shops tucked away there that sell everything from rare coins to original gig posters to vintage clothes and comic books. The upstairs part of the market is where all the fresh fish stalls are as well as all of the eateries. It's a very busy place as you'd imagine, the fisherman throw the fish to each other to catch which cant be easy!
So I spent the first evening having a little wander round the market and round the block. I had an early one as I was tired from overdoing it in San Diego the night before. On my first full day in Seattle I caught the bus up to Greenwood Memorial Park in the Renton district of town, about an hours journey away from downtown Seattle. For anyone who has already seen the pictures then you know why I went - to visit one of Seattles most famous figures in recent history - Jimi Hendrix! From the entrance to the park you can spot his grave/memorial a mile off, there arent many that are that big. (and I'd googled it so I knew what to look for too) I also went over to Capitol Hill earlier in the day to get a picture of a bronze statue of Hendrix.
Hendrix has been a lifelong musical hero of mine so it was a real buzz to be able to come and visit his grave. I stayed a while and took some pics and then caught the bus back into town where I wandered around the blocks getting a feel for the city. I swear I must spend the first day or two in each big city just getting my bearings and not doing a lot else! Which I did on that day. I searched out the cinema, had a look round the different malls and then headed back for the night. I spent my evening putting up photos on Facebook.
On my next day I got up a little later than planned so had to put off a couple of things I wanted to do that required a full day. Instead I got a bus up to Capitol Hill and walked to Lakeview Cemetery to visit Bruce Lee's grave - another legend cut short in his prime. It started raining quite heavily at this point so I had to shelter in the cemetery whilst looking like a big goth just hanging around, ha ha. After the rain died off I got the bus back into town and wandered around the parts that I hadnt yet seen. By this point I had a better understanding of the layout of the city! By this point the day was almost done so I headed back, glad to get into the warm of the hostel. The temperature difference between California and Washington is quite noticeable and I have to say I miss the warmth. Dont get me wrong, when the sun shines in Seattle it's nice and warm but if it doesnt then you can get quite chilly quite fast! I got back to my room and spoke to Mo from New York who had come to Seattle as he was having women trouble back home. I didnt want to get into the whys and hows with him so left him to it!
On my third day I had arranged to meet Riley, a girl I met in my last week in Australia. Riley is from Seattle and had offered to show me around and have a beer or two. We had arranged to meet at midday and I waited but she didnt show. It turns out there may be a cultural difference between midday in the states and my idea of midday. I thought she meant noon and she thought I meant 3pm. Ha ha So we didnt meet in the end. At least I know to confirm midday as 12pm next time! I instead decided to fill my day with something other than grave visiting and headed over the the Experience Music Project which is under the Seattle Space Needle. It is basically a music museum and features a full history of Seattle musicians stretching all the way from the 1900's to the present day. There's obviously a sizeable part of the exhibition that is all about the grunge era too which I found quite interesting as I'm luckily old enough to remember first hand the tail end of it in the early 90's. The EMP also showcases a separate section that is all about Jimi Hendrix. It has lots of his guitars and equipment as well as original notes of lyrics for many of the bands songs. They even have his guitar that he used in his performance at Woodstock, epic stuff!
The other half or the EMP is an equally sized permanent exhibition of science fiction that houses many different props and memorabilia from all kinds of different sci-fi movies from years gone by to the present day. They had some costumes from Blade Runner as well as a model of E.T that was used in the movie and tons of other equally cool stuff. I ran out of time and had to whizz through this half but what I did see was great. I love sci-fi and to have so much of it to peruse was fantastic.
After I was done with the EMP I caught the monorail back up town and went to the cinema to watch Kick-Ass which was hugely entertaining! Afterward I headed back, grabbed some food on the way (eating out in the US is only slightly more expensive than cooking so I'm opting for the easier option where I can) and crashed out for the night.
So yesterday, wanting to make the most of the time I have left in the city I went on the Bill Spiedel Underground tour of Seattle. I was completely unaware but the original Seattle got burnt to the ground in a huge fire back in 1889. Because the city was in ruins they simply built a new city over the remains of the old one, 6 to 35 feet above in places, building huge walls along the sidewalks and filling them in, then raising the roads up over time. I thought it would be interesting to see what was beneath so I went on the tour. Some chambers still remain and the tours have been going on since 1965. It was quite interesting seeing so much old dusty odds and ends down there, just in piles, cleared to one side. Old bathtubs, toilets, signs, doors. Even the innards of an old elevator system! The tour guide explained where different parts of the buildings used to stand at street level and gave you a good idea of how the street used to look before it came to be on a subterranean level. Cool stuff.
After I was done there I caught the bus up to Fremont which is a quite arty district of Seattle. Saying that, Seattle is arty all over really. I'm not particularly into art in a big way but Fremont has a large public art piece that I just had to see! The Fremont Troll! It's a large concrete troll with a real Volkswagen Beetle in the grip of one of its hands that sits underneath the Fremont bridge. It was well worth the trip up there to get a picture of it! I snapped one or two other things while I was there then after getting caught in a downpour I hopped back on the bus and back into the city. I was a bit cold and didnt fancy sitting in at the hostel and didnt fancy walking round the block either so I went to the cinema again to see Green Zone. Good stuff. I chilled in the evening and wrote my last blog entry before calling it a night. I've been tempted to go out and have a drink at a bar somewhere to break up the tedium of sitting in in the evening but now i'm nearing the end of the trip I have to be even more careful with money so opted for a few cans from the supermarket instead. It's a bit odd being asked for ID in the States as I dont get asked at home!
So on my last day after emailing my family I went to the...er...cinema again! This time to watch Date Night which was pretty funny to be fair, just the ticket for a Sunday afternoon. This evening I've been organising my gear for my departure to Portland tomorrow. Seattle's been awesome but 6 days is enough, theres more to see at the next destination!