Final morning in Seattle

We’ve breakfasted in a couple of independent coffee houses and resolutely avoided Starbucks. We aim to leave Seattle without doing so despite the city being the home of the original Starbucks.

Pike Place Market was our first stop, 156 steps from quay level to the entrance. It’s one of the oldest, continuously operational Farmers Market in the US and the 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world!

As we puffed to the top of the steps we wondered what was drawing the crowds.

The famous chewing gum wall! It was created when customers, waiting for the theatre, used to stick their gum to the wall with a coin in it. It’s amazing how something so revolting is such a draw for tourists….

Outside, there were a number of buskers adding to the atmosphere.

The market was a great place to be, the top floor was dedicated to food and flower sellers and absolutely heaving. It has 10 million visitors, annually, and most of those were there this morning.

The fish market is famous for the vendors throwing 30lb salmon to each other, an entertainment that started when one vendor became fed up with walking along the counter. We saw a lot of fish but no throwing

Lower down, were little independent shops and the crowds thinned. We passed by the Athenian restaurant featured in Sleepless in Seattle.

Lunch, on the go, was Mac and Cheese from Beechers Cheese Shop. It’s billed as the ‘world’s best’ and it was very good

Our final stop was the Olympic Sculpture Park. One of which provided a welcome resting place.

We can’t prove we saw a bear or moose but unexpectedly, today, we saw this elusive creature……

The train runs from Banff to Seattle and everywhere we stayed we saw coaches or pick-up signs but never the train itself. We were beginning to think it was a myth!

Finally, we successfully negotiated Seattle without entering a single Starbucks.

MoPOP and Discovery Park

This morning’s breakfast was at one of the many coffee shops Seattle has become famous for. Then on to the Museum of Pop Culture. It was recommended when we left Victoria, so that’s where we headed.

We meant to take the monorail to save our feet but forgot and walked along 4th Avenue instead. The neighbourhood was slightly less terrifying than last night other than we did walk past Macy’s!

The museum is next to the iconic Space Needle so that was ticked off the list.

MoPOP was an eclectic mix of exhibitions with rooms devoted to Music, Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction films. Each exhibition featured costumes and original props ranging from a Dalek to a real Starfleet uniform and Buffy the Vampire Slayer stake. Other exhibitions celebrated Seattles rock music heritage – Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix and Pearl Jam all featured.

There was an amazing sculpture created from 700 guitars

The main attraction was the Marvel exhibition, charting the history, and rise, of the brand. Amongst many other displays, we saw The Thing asleep on a sofa

And Spider-Man scaling a wall

Our afternoon trip took us out to Discovery Park by bus. Did you know that Seattle buses don’t give change? Neither did we and our lovely driver let us travel for free rather than take $20 for an $8 fare. It was a great ride out through Seattle suburbs to the 500 acre park.

We were dropped off, at the end of the route with no idea where we were or what we were going to do! There have been a few occasions where we’ve really missed using data on our phones and this was one.

Luckily we found a photocopied map and we were off to the Lighthouse at West Point

There were some great views over a Puget Sound, it was a shame today was overcast and we couldn’t clearly see the Olympic Mountains.

Seattle appears to be a mixture of different suburbs and there have been some interesting contrasts between old and new.

It’s raining outside and there’s live music in the hotel lobby so that’s all from us today.

Victoria to Seattle

We survived our night in the swanky hotel and thankfully need never do it again. John pronounced it overpriced and all show. Fairmont Hotels have some fantastic locations and very grand buildings however it’s all a bit superficial. If you looked closely, it wasn’t that clean and we’d expected spotless. We all agreed the toiletries were good but that’s not enough to draw us back.

We headed out for breakfast at Sam’s Deli, half the price of a Fairmont breakfast but not quite as stylish.

Next stop, Victoria Clipper for our trip down to Seattle. Before boarding we had to negotiate US border control. We were fingerprinted, photographed, quizzed as to our travel plans and previous visits to the USA before being relieved of $18 for the privilege of having pieces of paper stapled in our passports. A sign said ‘Welcome to USA’ – we are not sure it means it!

The trip down the Puget Sound was sunny and smooth, always a bonus for poor sailors like Kim and Matt.

We arrived in Seattle in under 3 hours.

Like many places we’ve stayed this holiday, no-one said it would be hilly so we took a proper yellow cab to the hotel

Before heading out to explore, we needed to create enough clean clothes to see us through. We packed most things including cable-ties before leaving the UK but still had to go to the drugstore to buy string.

Next was an Underground Walking Tour which explored subterranean Pioneer Square. To kill time we had a drink in a local cafe. John went for a Cold Brew, Kim a London Fog and Matt had a smoothie. Guess which one was the sensible choice!

John’s iced coffee and Kim’s London Fog (Earl Grey, steamed milk and vanilla syrup – why would you do that to a cup of tea?) were revolting. We looked on with envy as Matt savoured his sensible smoothie.

Our tour, lead by Serena, was quirky and gave an entertaining early history of Seattle, bringing some of its early prominent citizens to life. Some of the original city remains underground as they simply built over it, there are even water mains made from wood which are still in service.

It’s worth reading Bill Speidel’s site for a little history –

Dinner was in Purple, a cafe bar just across the road from the hotel. It was very noisy and the menu paired food choices with wine so we gave it a go.

We’re not enjoying Seattle as much as we hoped. This is the first place we’ve stayed where it really doesn’t feel safe to walk at night and we’re rather pleased we’re only here for a two nights. Matt, who has run the risk of bears in the Rockies and drug addicts in Gastown after dark, decided to keep to the gym and declined to stay out by himself tonight.

Throughout the night, we are taking it in turns to do 2 hour shifts to dry the washing with the hairdryer.

Breaking news – 2019 Motorhome trip booked. Hands up who thinks John wasn’t paying attention when he agreed to 14 nights in the smallest Motorhome available!