Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Seattle, Part I

 Here I am in the sitting area on our floor of Seattle's Best Western Pioneer Square hotel last week, the great old staircase just behind me. The area right around it is a bit rough around the edges, and within a few blocks there are quite a few people whose lives on the street made me very conscious of my own good luck and privilege.  Inside the hotel, we were very comfortable and treated very well, with a hearty Continental breakfast on offer each morning -- we took full advantage of it to fuel our one full day walking around the downtown (the iPhone's fitness program said we walked 12 kilometres -- it felt like at least that!).

Our room was comfortable; although not spacious, it compared very favourably with the 2-3 star hotels we're used to in Europe  -- the price, sadly, was a bit higher than those. I stayed in Paris for less than we paid to stay in Seattle!  In comparison to those European hotels, though, and almost worth the price difference, our room was surprisingly quiet. The width of the hallways and the thickness of the old walls, I suppose. However achieved, it made for two of the best hotel sleeps I've had -- surely the most important measure of all! Another feature particularly impressed me, as a reader: we've been very frustrated over the last several years with bedside lights that cast their light too far away or too low to usefully illuminate the pages of our books. Are we the last bedtime readers of the travelling world? Here, in the Best Western at Pioneer Square, there was a light on the night table, as inadequate for reading as we've found elsewhere. BUT, there was also a light mounted on the wall directly above the centre of the bed. YES! Finally, a designer who reads or, at least, respects readers. I'd come back just for that! .

And we will be back to Seattle, for sure. I don't think we've been there together, ever, although we once traveled through to visit a friend nearby. I had a fun visit with my sisters five years ago and Pater has been there for work, but even though it's the perfect distance for a weekend getaway, it's somehow never beckoned.  So we had so much fun together discovering its many delights, its fascinating similarities to and differences from our own Pacific Northwest city only a few hours' drive north.
For example, Pike Place Market


Outside the market, I had to find the best spot to take a shot of the ferris wheel against the cool industrial-dock background, all made even more visually captivating by a layer of fog against the blue sky and sunshine. . . I posted this on Instagram I'd embedded ed the actual Instagram post, but that takes too long to load, so here's the original photo on its own. 

And that gives you a taste, right? I'm surprised to realize that a one-full-day exploration of Seattle is going to take me two posts to cover, but I have a few more photos to share -- I was so excited by the city's architecture and very happy with its food! So more Seattle in another post soon (and I'm not forgetting that I have more, more, and more Paris for you as well -- life is just too rich, no?!).

Today, I'm off to dress up in my doctoral robes one last time for our spring Convocation. Many of my former students will be receiving their degrees, a few very special ones among them, and I have the honour of being Mace Bearer. It's surprisingly heavy and if the weather is good, the procession goes through part of our town square. Plus I'll be watching my step carefully and praying I don't trip! I'm hoping to get a photo or two of me in my long gown -- a very different What I Wore!

But I'll check for your comments when I get back . . . have you ever visited Seattle? What did you think? Or, and perhaps more interesting, what worthy travel destinations within three or four easy hours from home have you not got to yet? And why not? Or which ones were you similarly surprised to find your loving after taking too long to get there? Or tell me if you're much wiser than we are and you take advantage of near-enough getaway spots regularly. All fodder for the conversation.

20 comments:

  1. Seattle was our first U.S. landing point from the UK some twenty five years & many North American holidays ago . We loved it . I remember an underground street tour which was fascinating & we enjoyed the market too . We collected our hire car & took the ferry over to the Olympic peninsular for a day trip round & back to Seattle overland - my mistake . A wonderful trip but I didn't calculate the mileage , over 750 miles in one day was really too much . We then realized what a vast area North America is & after that I always checked mileages. It was nice to see Seattle again in your pictures .
    Wendy in York

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    1. Oh dear! That was a very ambitious "day trip"! That Underground Street Tour is still very popular, but we didn't take time for it this visit. Lots for the next trip. . .

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  2. Monsieur and I took the bus down to Seattle for one of our anniversaries. He usually complains about the traffic and parking so it was great. The bus stops near the Space Centre and the waterfront so our hotel, the Mediterranean Inn, was convenient. We walked the waterfront, Pioneer Square, visited the Space centre, took the boat through the locks and ate at the Market. It was one of our more successful trips together as we visited The Music Experience at the Space centre and vinyl stores on Fremont Street. We had a special anniversary meal at the Space Needle. As a girl, I visited relatives in the area often. If you are looking for another really pleasant destination, take the Amtrak to Edmonds. Visit the galleries, restaurants and Rick Steves' store then walk on or take the bus on the ferry to the Olympic Penninsula, visit and take the Port Angeles ferry back to Victoria.

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    1. I'm making notes, thank you Mme. We got to the Gehry building but didn't get inside the Museum -- next time. (It's getting to be a long list). And would you believe we've never been to LaConner. So much as we want to ferry down next visit, we might drive again so we can do a detour.

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  3. I've been once to Seattle, driving through on the way to Microsoft's Redmond campus. I'd love to visit on a more extensive stay, although, I think I'd go to Portland before Seattle, as I remember the geography there as more unique for someone who comes from San Francisco Bay.

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    1. We were actually a bit horrified by the motor approaches to Seattle. Vancouver managed to avoid all that expressway intrusion into the downtown, thanks to some great activism in the 60s, very Jane Jacobs-inspired. Driving through mightn't give much sense of the city.
      I love Portland, and not just for Powell's Books and all the craft beer. We're going to be there early next year (Pater's work) -- hey, maybe we could meet up ;-)

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  4. We've been to Seattle, but usually as a stopping point along the way, not as a destination. It is a fun city to explore. We took an Alaska cruise a few years ago that started in Seattle and we spent the day before wandering through the downtown. This was pre-blogging days, and even pre-digital camera days (not so long ago as it may seem) so there are few photos, but many memories.
    How lovely that you are the Mace Bearer, Mater. An honour for you as you retire from your teaching career. May the day shimmer in your memory.

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    1. We used to take fewer photos and somehow still treasure the memories, right?

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  5. You are not the last bedtime readers of the travelling world. I too am familiar with the trembling arm and aching neck that result from supporting a book under a 6-inch-tall, 5-watt bedside lamp which can't be brought anywhere near the actual bedside. Not to mention the light always falls at the exact distance where neither the near- or far-sighted section of the progressive lenses are at all useful. And yet, despite it all, if anyone was to say 'just turn off the light and go to sleep', the answer would be 'just a couple more pages'...the plight of the bookworm!

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    1. You describe the problem exactly -- and I have to laugh at your last sentence. Guilty as charged! And proud of it.

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  6. YES, what is it with good lighting for reading in bed? Why is this hard? Even people who don't read in bed have to grope around for their phone or glasses or something, don't they? So they need a light? This is a bit less frustrating in some of the vacation houses we rent for a week or so because there tend to be lamps elsewhere that can be carried to the bedside, but why does one have to do that.

    Whoops, you triggered a rant......

    ceci

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    1. Ranting might generate change, who knows? Activists (ranters, at least) for bedtime reading lights!

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  7. Two wonderful cities recently Frances - lucky you! I love Paris and return whenever I can, but Seattle and Vancouver are certainly both on my wish list if I ever return to the other side of the Pond. Glad you found a quiet hotel, and a reading light that does the job - quite a find then and rare as hen's teeth here too! Good luck with the gown and the mace bearing.

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    1. I have been very lucky in my travels lately. And the gown-wearing and mace-bearing went very well indeed. As, it seems, did your nuptials -- I was so pleased to see your photos. Settling down in my garden, now, as perhaps you are in yours. It's not so bad!

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  8. I've never been to Seattle, or anywhere in the U.S. northwest. It looks great, though. Good luck at your last convocation ..this will come too late, I realize. I remember my last commencement before I retired. Bit sad..bit relieved not to be sitting through anymore three hour ceremonies, on stage with hot lights, dying to drink the bottle of water I had but afraid that if I did I would have to pee the minute they called my turn to hand out diplomas:)

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    1. I've only been to a few, as faculty, so the relief is not as pronounced as yours. Yesterday was very special, leading the procession, but sitting under very hot lights, unable to see beyond the first row of the audience, and right in the front row, very visible position for over two hours. . . Plus no water as I couldn't carry it AND the mace. At least my long robe gave enough leg coverage that I didn't need to worry about modesty and shifting. . . Almost made up for the hood's choking effect. ;-)

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  9. Have you been to the Rem Koolhaas-designed public library? It's a photographer's dream and an amazing public space. I also strongly recommend walking over the highway to Broadway. Some cool shops to be visited, and great eating as well.

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  10. No, but it's top of my list for next visit. And I'll make a note that you recommend Broadway. Mostly, though, I'm tickled to see you reading here. Haven't bumped into you for ages. Hope all is going well! Thanks for taking time to comment.

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    1. You're welcome! I've been reading along, all along. I'm just terrible at commenting; I've been trying to make more of an effort to join conversations rather than just enjoying content.

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    2. Don't apologize about not commenting, but do join any conversation you'd like to -- I'm just pleased you've kept reading here. All the best!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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