Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Up, Down, All Around Seattle

Final random comments on my Seattle trip.

Seattle is hilly, flat along the waterfront and abruptly rising, steep streets creating challenging hikes. Or cab or bus rides.

An economically vibrant city, construction cranes, retail shops large and small, eateries, businesses and busy streets create a happening place. Seattle is a serious container port, one of the largest on the West Coast. The cruise industry likewise has a significant presence on Puget Sound due to the proliferation of Alaska-bound ships. 

Major employers include Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, and the University of Washington. Seattle is the birthplace and home office of the Nordstrom department store. I strolled through the flagship store, but did not buy shoes, a recommended Seattle to do.
The fuselage of Boeing plane transported by rail.
Alexander Calder sculpture The Eagle in background.
The Space Needle, now a city landmark, constructed for the 1962 Worlds Fair, rises 520 feet to an Observation Deck, the cost $22pp senior price. We were counseled to experience the ride only if sunny and clear weather prevailed. Cloud-covered days saved us a bundle.

A highway separates a section of the city from the waterfront, an urban renewal development-in-progress. A major project will reroute the aboveground road into a tunnel, providing unfettered access to the many Elliot Bayside attractions, but construction problems have delayed the project. Shades of Boston's way-over-budget Big Dig...

Fran's Chocolates are touted a local specialty. Hub and I stepped into one store, a sleek, modern storefront. My first impression was wow, those prices! I decided my body did not need the calories.

Paul Allen, the other Microsoft guy, founded the EMP Museum (Experience Music Project also Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame). The Frank Gehry-designed structure houses an eclectic mix of displays and hands-on activities. My 11-year-old grandson would love it.

We viewed a costume display from the various Star Wars movies...an exhibit of objects from fantasy-themed movies...and fooled around with musical instruments. We did not play any video games

But performed a three-minute Twist and Shout rendition in front of a faux audience using real instruments, singing karaoke-style. I never realized how heavy a professional guitar is!
The Baer Band perform Twist and Shout.
Richard Serra sculpture titled Wake
in the Olympic Sculpture Park
I spent a couple of hours walking along the waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. The weather was warm and dry (meaning no rain, always an issue in Seattle). School groups congregated around sculptures, dog walkers eased their animals between bikers, joggers and walkers, people sat sunning themselves on strategically placed chairs and benches, and of course lots of people communicated on electronic devices, phones and iPads everywhere. But I guess for employed folks, working outdoors beats the office most days.

Before flying home on the red-eye, an overnight flight, we enjoyed dinner at Portfolio Restaurant, the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Seattle. The fifth-floor dining room provides a panoramic view of Puget Sound. Our three-course gourmet dinner ($23pp) was excellent. Between the two of us we sampled beet salad, seared tuna appetizer, sea scallops, roasted hen with seasonal vegetables and, since dessert was included, sumptuous, calorie-laden concoctions.

It was time to go home.

The flight home proved difficult. I usually have no problem sleeping on planes, but perhaps because my body was wedged into a window seat with no legroom, the uncomfortable accommodations prevented any kind of restful slumber.

Arriving at the airport exhausted and bleary-eyed a few minutes after 6:00 a.m., we grabbed our bags, retrieved our car from a secured lot, drove home and, after a quick breakfast at a local café, collapsed into our own bed.

It was good to be home.