Once we had checked in to the Warwick Hotel and had a shower we set out to find some cash and a meal. We left the hotel and headed towards the Space Needle which took us through a residential area, no banks, no restaurants! Eventually we found a bank and changed direction to head downhill towards the waterside. We decided to eat at the Belltown Inn which was great.
Seattle was built on the shore of Puget Sound and looks out across the sound to a group of islands and in the distance the Olympic Mountains on the mainland on the other side of the Sound. Originally the Sound had steep cliffs on the shoreline. Although they have been levelled out over the years to allow for development it is still quite a climb back into the city from the waterfront.
After a very good nights sleep we were ready to take on the world but not before breakfast. Before we left the hotel we asked the concierge the best way to get baseball tickets and he suggested we go to the fan shop in the city where tickets aren’t subject to service charges and ticketing fees, so we marked the shop on our map and added it to our plan. We had a look at a few places around the hotel (all directions except towards the Space Needle) and found the Dahlia Bakery serving food and coffee; it was excellent, the croissants were better than most you can get in France and I developed a particular taste for the apple dumplings. The Dahlia Bakery became our first stop every morning while we were in Seattle. After breakfast we caught the hop-on-hop-off bus from outside our hotel. It has been brilliant to do this on the first day in each new place to get an overview of the city and decide where we want to come back to. The tour took about 1.5 hours and was a great introduction with an entertaining and informative driver. We decided we would go to the EMP museum after lunch as it sounded right up our street.
The EMP Museum was funded by Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) to display his private collection of Science fiction and pop music memorabilia; no expense has been spared. There is an amazing gallery exploring a whole range of musical instruments and production techniques. One interactive exhibit explained how to play the piano; another allowed us to remix ‘Sweet Dreams’ by the Eurhythmics, we could play with the sound levels, tone and effects working from the original raw recordings and then compare our mix with the version the band released – great fun. Another huge gallery was devoted to Star Trek, I was in my element, I tried a Borg regeneration chamber for size and was able to crawl through a Jeffries tube – if that doesn’t mean anything to you move on and don’t worry, life is too short!!
After the museum we walked back along 5th Avenue to the Mariners’ fan shop to get our tickets for the baseball. We got a very good deal on some tickets for Wednesday night and then we returned to the hotel. Later we went out to eat in a Mexican restaurant which was also very good. We have noticed that the quality of food here is very high but the emphasis is on foreign food (Chinese’s, Korean, Mexican, Italian).
Wednesday morning, after our bakery breakfast we headed for the Pike Street Market, down town. This is a fantastic farmers/craft market that has been running for years; it is huge! To see all the fresh sea food, veg and the crafts was brilliant. We spent a couple of hours having a good look around, fortunately, because we are travelling and mindful of suitcase weight, we couldn’t buy anything! It was now time for lunch and Kim remembered a small seafood restaurant called Lowells in the market, recommended by Simon Calder. It was terrific and we had a clam chowder (finally a local dish) which was exceptional and Kim had one of their “special” Bloody Marys! While we were eating our food we became aware of a TV near us showing the men’s 3m synchronised diving from Rio. The waiters were watching it as well and soon realised that we were Brits and kept us up to date. We watched the last round of dives with them and they were happy for us when our team won, one of those special moments. We then did a little bit of shopping and headed back to the hotel.
After a rest it was off to the baseball, the game was due to start at 19.10. We caught the subway and followed the crowds to the Seattle Mariners Safeco Stadium. This was very impressive but was dwarfed by the Seahawks Football stadium next door. We got our hotdogs and a drink and found our seats, row 16 on the first base line – excellent! It was a beautiful warm sunny evening, perfect for us to watch the game. Early on a Mariners player scored a home run only for Detroit to score a run 3 innings later. When it came to the Mariners turn to bat, 1 all at the bottom of the eighth, I explained to Kim that there has to a winner so they keep going for as long as it takes. We had been there for 3 hours at that point, she said at this rate I will be sleepless in Seattle! Boom, boom. There was no need to panic as the Mariners scored 2 runs, they won 3-1. A really great evening!
On our last full day in Seattle we decided to take an underground tour that Karen and Charley had told us about – thanks for the tip guys. This was fascinating explanation of the development of the city, especially after the great fire in the 19th century. Most of the lower city was made of wood and 30 square blocks went up in flames after a fat fire in one house. The city elders decided to rebuild the city with brick and stone and to raise the street level to reduce the steepness of the streets and help with drainage issues. They rebuilt the houses and businesses on their original sites, but told the owners that eventually the entrances would be on what had been the first floor level. When each building was finished they put shuttering along the edge on each side of the road, a pavements width away from the building, and infilled between them up to the first floor using mud and rock water-blasted from the cliffs. They then capped off with road surface and built brick vaulted arches linking the new road with the first floor entrances to the buildings. This left a network of old pavements on the lower level which you could still access to walk around the block underground. The fire dept. said they had to have fire walls to stop fire spreading from block to block, but it is all still there as it was. It was a fascinating experience. After the tour we took a stroll around the old town known as ‘Pioneer Square’ and saw some fantastic glass work, one piece we might use for inspiration when we get home.
Eventually we made our way down to the harbour front which at the moment is one big building site as they are replacing the harbour wall and transport infrastructure – it is a real mess. We made our way to a seafood restaurant that the trolley bus driver had recommended and it was great. The restaurant was built on a pier over the water and the food was brilliant, see photos! Finally, we got to try some proper Seattle seafood, Washington oysters and Halibut from Puget Sound, delicious. A last walk back (uphill) to the hotel and that was almost the end of our time in Seattle. We packed our bags and got an early night – we had to be at the station for 6:45, what a shock to system.