Monday, 15 January 2018

Seattle - 2017/18


Every year during the festive season we try and get together with kids and grand kids. This year was no different, in fact we jumped at the chance of discovering a new city, as our #1 son had recently moved to Seattle, the home of several technology giants. 
So in early December we got up one morning at 3am (Ouch) to catch the early morning flight to Frankfurt and then the 10 hour flight to Seattle. Since there is a 9 hour time difference the 10.30 flight to Seattle arrived by 11.30 as we followed the sun around the earth and we were hugging the grand kids soon after.
As usual the first thing was to pickup our hire car which would be our transport for the duration of the stay. The girl at Alamo counter turned out to be a Sikh from Ludhiana who was suitably impressed while we chatted amongst ourselves in Spanish, and we talked for a while about the quirky exoticness of a mixed culture family. It turns out that the before mentioned technology companies employ a lot of Indian IT nerds and consequently there are a lot of Indians in Seattle.


Seattle has something of a reputation for getting a lot of rain, but we arrived in bright sunshine with somewhat colder temperatures then we are used to, and the road (Rt 99) home took us past downtown which looked lovely in the Sun. There was also a first glimpse of Mount Rainier, a volcano which can be seen towards the South from Seattle.

Over the next few days we did what every tourist does when arriving in a new place which is to visit all the sights, and discovering that it was much more expensive then other US cities, we took the advice from our hosts and bought a combined entry City pass for several locations in the city at a bargain. The cultural hub of Seattle is a large space near downtown known as Seattle Centre which makes room for several interesting things in Seattle. These include theatres, museums, the Space needle, Chihuly Glass Gallery and gardens and parks and cafeterias all within a walkable distance.

We loved the Chihuly gallery and garden, which contained many of his famous colourful glass sculptures and the nearby Space Needle in which you can take a lift to the viewing deck at about 300 meters. The nearby Museum of Pop culture is also very interesting, inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Included in our pass was also a boat ride on the waterfront and the entry to the fabulous Aquarium (Santa Clause put in an appearance!).

No visit to the US is complete without visits to the spectacular shopping malls in every city and here we had several within a short driving distance. Additionally the whole of the Downtown area is a big shopping district and the nearby Pike Place market is a big tourist attraction where hundreds of market stalls fight to attract buyers of everything from fish to handmade jewellery. The fish stalls are famous for throwing fish from one employee to another and make a big show of every sale. Not surprisingly the Alaskan fish is in big demand and all the restaurants feature mouth watering fish and sea food dishes.

One curiosity fact is that Starbucks home base is in Seattle, and they are everywhere, apparantly 150 of them all together. Their flagship Starbucks Reserve cafe and store on Pike Street is well worth a visit though expensive compared to coffee in Spain. The first Starbucks outlet is also kind of a tourist attraction.

Eating out was a major passtime for us as we tried to be as low maintenance as possible for our hosts, and we tried all type of cuisine, including Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, American and more. Santa Clause from Germany had left us a big gift card for a grand dinner at one of the better fish restaurants in the city and we did full justice to our good fortune. By the time we had dived into a cocktail (typically 12 dollars) and a bottle of wine (about 60 dollars), half our budget had been blown, but we had enough left over to tuck into a nice dinner. Having said all that about eating out, we were also treated to many evening meals cooked in a cosy atmosphere at home.
Grand children were a delight, so grown up already and able to engage in conversations and games and soccer. The celebrations included Xmas, New Year and a birthday so time flew by quickly. An added bonus was a visit by a family we used to know in England twenty years ago, who were all in Seattle where one of their grown up kids also works. Its a small world, and we spent a lovely afternoon reminiscing about old times.

A visit to the Boeing Museum of flight and aeroplanes is mandatory in Seattle, and although it was cold we spent a very interesting day exploring all things related to flight including a large section on space craft. A hanger full of real planes contained marvels like a Concord! It was the first time I entered one of these lovely supersonic planes. Somewhat curious item was one of the old Air Force 1 presidential planes.

The art museums were left for January when they had free entry days in the first week of the month. The SAM and the BAM as they are known, the Seattle and the Bellevue art museums are a treat. Housed in very pleasant buildings with large open gallery spaces they had marvellous exhibitions. The ‘Searching for home’ work in wood by Humaira Abid was amazing ( and next to it the stunning figures of Walter McConnell called ‘Itinerant Edens: A Measure of Disorder’ ( were in the Bellevue. In the Belleview also was a large exhibition by the teachers from a local art institute known as the Pratt, which contained a stunning variety of great work by obviously accomplished artists. The Sam had a large exhibit of a tree project by Andrew Wyeth in the foyer to attract visitors and a collection of Museum art covering many movements plus very interesting sections on American Indian art, African art and Japanese works.

Soon after this the time had come to take our leave and head home. Not before a 7 year old’s birthday party. ‘Make a wish’ we said as he blew out the customary candles. Afterwards he revealed that the wish had been to go and see the Egyptian Pyramids! This kid will go far. One of his Xmas list items had been a trip to Hawaii! 
What else can you expect from my grandchildren!