Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

July 10-13, 2022

After 83 days of travelling we arrived in Seattle – our final destination in the US. When we left the UK on 19 April, Seattle seemed a very long way away and it was – a 4,000 mile flight from London to Chicago and then our road trip of 7,577 miles through 16 states. Seattle was a city that we knew a few things about – it’s where Starbucks and grunge music (the Seattle Sound) started and it’s where our mate, Allan, lives.

Pike Place Starbucks was the original Starbucks. It was established in 1971 at Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. We walked past it one day and its early appearance has been maintained. We didn’t actually have a Starbucks there as we just don’t like their coffee but we did have to have a couple of Starbucks whilst in Seattle as our hotel didn’t have an in room coffee machine – the horror!

Given Seattle’s music history we wanted to check out the current music scene. We headed to the Central Saloon which was one of the few places that had live music on a Monday night. It also has a good pedigree; Nirvana played their first Seattle gig there (on April 16th 1988) and many other grunge bands have played there over the years including Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. The headline band had cancelled the night we went but we enjoyed both Glass Noose and the alt-rock band, Frequency Within who gave it everything despite playing to a very small Monday night audience.

Frequency Within at the Central Saloon

We didn’t have much time in Seattle so we couldn’t see all the sights but we managed to get a taste of the city.

  • The Olympic Sculpture Park, a multi-level sculpture park on the waterfront. It has some nice pieces including Alexander Calder’s The Eagle (1971).
  • Pike Place Market and the Waterfront – great for a wander on a sunny afternoon with shops and markets, bars and restaurants.
  • Seattle Harbour Cruise – Getting out on the water is always a great way to see a city. It was a lovely day and on the cruise we had a good view of the skyline including the space needle, Mount Rainier, the harbour and the Port of Seattle.

We spent our two nights in Seattle downtown at the Hotel Max which should have been a funky, comfortable 3 star hotel but sadly it didn’t meet our expectations with non existent wi-fi in the room and flaky morning coffee service in the lobby (essential when there is none in the room). After two nights, we left the city centre to stay with Richard’s friend (former colleague from Intelligent Games), Allan who lives out of the city in Bellevue. It’s been a while since we’d seen Allan as he’s been based in the US for ages, lots of tech talk – but few details as he was working on some top-secret burn-after-reading project. Jo particularly liked meeting Gunner, the dog! Our last night in Seattle was celebrated with a fantastic meal at Jak’s Grill in Issaquah with Allan and Tasha.

The next day after a leisurely breakfast with pastries from the local bakery, Allan drove us to the train station where we would catch our – no, not a train – the replacement bus service (how very British!) to Canada. The Amtrak Cascades which is a well known scenic train route had been suspended since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and didn’t restart until September 2022. Just our luck! It meant our tickets got us onto the replacement bus which didn’t travel by such a scenic route and, worse still, the onboard toilet wasn’t working. Unfortunately, the driver didn’t tell the passengers that there was no toilet onboard until we were underway, leading to an uncomfortable couple of hours before we reached the border for some. We left the US with only a few days left on our ESTA and in the days before we left, we received strong reminders from the US immigration office that it was time to leave! We left the US via the Peace Arch Border Crossing and entered Canada with the bus taking us to Vancouver which would be our home for the next month. Goodbye USA – Hello Canada!

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