Thursday, June 18, 2009


We have just returned from 3 days in Seattle. Seattle is a lot better than I thought it would be. I have been a couple times before for work, and didn't get out to see the city. I do remember liking the old brick buildings and staying at a very posh hotel. But I never got to do anything touristy. Our main reason for wanting to go to Seattle now, was actually just to try the Amtrak Cascades train. We have heard nothing but horror stories about Seattle traffic, and we thought we might want to go there sometime to see a concert or something, so we wanted to see how the train works out. It is surprisingly cheap to take the train. So after we got our train tickets, I got a tourist book about Seattle. We've seen a few references to an alleged Seattle-Portland rivalry since living here, and when I read the book I understood why. Almost all of the Seattle attractions seem to be things we have here in Portland as well. Market, locks, waterfront, sculptures, Pioneer Square, underground tour, coffee...according to the book, these are their claims to fame, and ours too. So I wasn't very excited to go to Seattle.

Well, we had a great time.

First of all, our hotel, which I chose for its cheap price, was one of the best hotels we've ever seen. Ever. It's called the Arctic Club, and we would go back in a heartbeat. It was only a mile from the train station, so it was a $5 taxi. From there, we walked everywhere.

On our first night we walked to Pike Market. It's way better than Portland's Saturday Market. Point for Seattle. We saw them throw the fish, and then ate fish upstairs at a famous restaurant I've now forgotten the name of. But it had a great view, and we watched the ferries come and go while we ate.

Then we walked over to the Seattle Center, which is a park-like part of town where the Space Needle and various museums are located. We have not heard anything positive about the Space Needle, which is just an elevator to an expensive restaurant. It costs $20 or so to ride the elevator to the sky tower. Our guidebook says don't do it, and everyone on the train said don't do it. So even though it was a sunny day, we did not. Instead, we took the monorail over the shopping district and then walked back to our hotel.

The next day, we ate breakfast at a crepe restaurant in Pike Market. That was something I noticed about Seattle that I thought was weird. They had a bunch of crepe restaurants. I don't know if that's a new trend or if it's just Seattle or what. But I liked it. Point for Seattle. Another thing about Seattle is that Seattle smokes. Walking down the sidewalk, everyone is smoking and blowing it in your face. It's disgusting. Point for Portland.

We went to the aquarium. It is not the greatest aquarium I have ever been to, but it was decent. The staff was very friendly, and it was cheap, I think. $16. They have a few seals and sea lions and otters and river otters. We got to see them all getting fed. And a river otter that climbed up in the window to take a nap. It was the cutest thing.

Then we walked back to the Seattle Center and went to the Sci Fi Museum and Experience Music Project. Those are in the same Frank Gehry building and it is one admission to go to both. The EMP isn't really a museum. It's more of a walk-through worship Jimi Hendrix thing. But we loved the Sci Fi Museum, which is mostly a display of the personal collection of Paul Allen, the other Microsoft founder. He had the real Twiki from Buck Rogers and the real chimp thing from Battlestar Galactica. Also the real Death Star, which isn't as big as you might think. We weren't allowed to take pictures. So trust me, it's very cool. Right now they also have a Jim Henson Muppet exhibit, which was very cool too.

The last day, we went to Seattle's old town, which is called Pioneer Square. We went to an antique store and a perfume store and the Police Museum and the Gold Rush Museum. The Gold Rush Museum is free, and not very interesting at all. The Police Museum was $3 and it was great. We thought it was very funny that the morning newspaper in Seattle had a front page story about someone stealing plants from homeowners, and we found a police blotter in the museum from 1896 reporting 2 incidents of flower thievery. Some things never change, I guess.

From there, we went to Smith Tower to check out their observation deck. A sign said it was closed for a private event, though. So we went to another building called the Columbia, I think, that was even bigger. It made Smith Tower look like a little toy.

Here is a photo album.

First, a movie of the train going over the Steel Bridge. I just posted a photo a few days ago of us going under the Steel Bridge by boat, with a train going over the bridge above us. So here we are a few days later actually in the train. The hilarious part is you can also hear the guy sitting in front of us, a loud-talking annoying tool who talked in this manner for the entire 3.5 hour train ride. Thank goodness for headphones.

A very good latte.
The river otter napping in the window.


Couple of Space Needle shots.

Sci Fi Museum and monorail tracks.

View of Space Needle from Columbia Tower.

View of stadium and Smith Tower from Columbia Tower. I spit on you, Smith Tower!

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