It looks like Larry & I enjoy traveling during the beginning of Septembers, so to keep that rhythm going, we headed out for a much closer-than-usual destination: the Pacific Northwest. We only were going for a week, so we split the time in half, with the first half in Seattle and the second half in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Our itinerary involved us not heading up until Monday, Sept 4, which was Labor Day. Kind of calculated on our part, hoping that maybe people weren’t actually traveling all that much. To hedge our bets, we left on a fairly early flight out, direct from Burbank (yay!) to Seattle on Alaska Air. Since they’re buying Virgin America, can’t hurt to get used to what they’re like as an airline. So, Seattle! (thanks Google Maps)
Our hotel, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, can be seen in the map above, and what’s ideal about it besides being part of the Kimpton Hotel chain is that it was very centrally located in Downtown Seattle. We could walk pretty much anywhere we wanted to go and you know Larry & I love to get our steps in.
Of course, getting in to a city early in the day typically means your hotel room isn’t ready, and that was our case. Who cares though, once they hold on to your luggage? We got our breakfast (finally) in the attached restaurant, Outlier, before heading out into the city to go see absolutely everything!
Arrived at Outlier, the hotel restaurant
Hungry for breakfast
The sunny, warm view of 4th Avenue outside our hotel
Interesting Seattle skyscrapers
If we headed north from the hotel, we were able to jump on the Seattle Monorail’s southern end, which takes a huge chunk of the walking out of our travels as the other end is situated in Seattle Center, where the Space Needle and many other things are centrally located.
It’s a bit of a retro experience as the trains look like they’re the originals, but it’s still an effective way to get between these two points quickly. While on the monorail, both Larry and I had to wonder why monorails aren’t more utilized in cities. My guess is that they’re expensive, take up “overhead sky views” and people don’t want to be under their tracks, and maybe not as easy to manage as subway/light rail trains.
First attraction: the Seattle Monorail
It was Labor Day so a few people were out
Looking out the front
It’s a 2-minute, 2-mile ride from end to end
The Space Needle in view
Approaching the Pop Culture Gehry-designed museum
So as could be foretold in the pictures from the monorail, of course the first thing we were going to do was go up to the top of Space Needle. One simply does not not visit the Space Needle when in Seattle. It just isn’t done.
It was a very nice day to be going up to the top, as the sun was out and the haze wasn’t super bad as it would be on other days during our trip. Why do I bring up the haze? As the whole west coast seems to be on fire – check out this current map:
The pictures from this day really don’t show too much in the way of haze or smoke, except for the fact you can’t see the Cascade Mountain range, but I imagine that will happen enough anyway just from rainy days or regular smog pollution. But in the pics from the following day when we visit Snoqualmie? it’s not a Twin Peaks filter that I’ve applied to make all the pics have that yellowish tinge. So yeah, kind of sucks.
Anyway, the line to get up to the top wasn’t bad at all, the views were great, and the weather wasn’t too damn hot like it had been in LA the previous week. More on that in another post! The funny thing about the Space Needle is that while of course it’s tall enough to be noticed throughout the city, it’s not all that tall, all things considered. It’s got a great vantage point though, in that it’s situated near the coast and a bit outside of the downtown center, so you get nice views of everything from it. And of course, it’s got quite the iconic look to it. Since we had partaken in glasses of wine atop 1WTC, we figured it was appropriate to do so here. Bring on more tall towers and their wine!
Seattle Space Needle
The Space Needle
The history-laden approach to the elevator
Up top! All things considered, the weather was fairly clear
There are wildfires all over the west so haze was prevalent
Seattle is different than from 2005
Looking south towards the sports arenas
Looking west across Elliott Bay to Bainbridge
Some art along the shore
Looking northwest towards the Queen Anne neighborhood
This is Kerry Park which affords the best view of the Space Needle & Seattle
Looking down on the Pop Culture museum
A look at Lake Union – we’d be there in a few days in a Duck
Lots of tech development – mostly due to Amazon
The Cascades out there in the distance
Had to grab a glass of wine atop a tall tower
After finishing up our review of Seattle from above, our next stop was happily right there in the Seattle Center. As you can see from this map:
Seattle has conveniently put quite a few of their most popular tourist attractions right all in one handy place. I’m sure that makes the locals happy too, as it’s a place they can purposely avoid, much like New Yorkers avoid Times Square, Las Vegans avoid the Strip, and Los Angelenos avoid Hollywood Blvd, Universal Studios, 3rd Street Promenade, etc. 🙂
The tickets Larry had pre-purchased a month or so before the trip got us into the Space Needle, the Monorail, and the Pacific Science Center. Also, that pre-purchase got us tickets into the exhibit that was closing that very same day, the Terracotta Warriors. Since we were able to get into that exhibit, we went to that first, and you’ll notice in the pictures that it’s not exactly what you’d see if you went to the First Emperor’s tomb site in China, as that’s where the hundreds upon hundreds of warriors are situated in place. Rather, these are touring examples of what exists in that site – it’s still quite an impressive collection to look at and take in. The history that’s in this world is just quite exciting.
Pacific Science Center
The Pacific Science Center, designed by the same architect as the original WTC
Larry got us tickets to this too, so we explored the grounds
Dinosaurs and fountains
Last day for the Terracotta Warriors, and our tix got us in
Line into the Terracotta Warriors
Obviously just a few of the warriors – have to go to China to see them all assembled
Still, pretty amazing to look upon
China won’t excavate inside the actual tomb for fear of too much disruption
After leaving that exhibit, we then meandered to the other portions of the museum, including the more kids-focused ‘science is fun’ stuff, and happily it also entertains adults. The best part though was a chance to sit in the Laser Dome and watch a laser show set to Michael Jackson songs. I didn’t know it before, but a laser show to “Thriller” is fucking amazing.
We explored the kids part of the museum next, including the Laser Dome
But first, the Theremin
Even the camera can’t be tricked
Inside the Laser Dome – our show that day was Michael Jackson music
It was late afternoon by this point, and we had found out our hotel room was available, so we figured it would be nice to head back. Instead of taking the monorail again, we decided to go for a walk, as while on the elevator down from the top of the Space Needle, the guide mentioned it’s worth seeing the area where Amazon.com is building up. Specifically, the Spheres. Neither Larry nor I had any idea what that meant, but we had the directions to get there and it was on the way, so off we walked through downtown Seattle. As the pictures below indicate, there’s a lot of new construction going on here. Not only corporate office towers but lots and lots of residential towers are going up – and they ain’t cheap. I kind of was thinking to myself they might be, but no, Seattle is as expensive as Los Angeles, if not more so, due to the tech industry there. The towers are beautiful (if you like futuristic, towering residential high rises) and it’s periodically easy to imagine living there, but we had some really good rain-free days this trip. I can imagine when it’s nonstop rain, like it usually is, that gets old real quick.
So we walked and walked towards the Amazon.com complex, and found our way to the Amazon Spheres. Long story short, I think these biospheres are intended for Amazon employees to be able to retreat to while working to reconnect to nature…or something. But they’re still under construction yet their external ‘spheres’ is done and can be gawked at.
Via Wired.com: https://www.wired.com/2017/05/amazons-expansive-biodomes-get-first-9000-plants/
Walking Downtown Seattle and Seeing Amazon’s Biospheres
Walked back through downtown – this is the oldest car wash
Lots of construction amid the gleaming skyscrapers
Amazon.com’s Seattle offices
More to come
Here’s where approved customers can buy things without checking out
The Amazon Spheres – a nature biosphere where employees can retreat to nature
It’s not quite done yet, but it’s cool to look at from the outside
Finally back at our hotel, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, it was a much needed chance to get situated, unpack, and then head immediately back downstairs as by then, it was the Kimpton wine hour! If you have stayed at a Kimpton Hotel before, you’ll know there’s a complimentary wine hour every day for hotel guests. It’s the BEST.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco
The Hotel Monaco, our Seattle base
Taking part in the Kimpton wine hour
The lobby area for wine hour
After enjoying a relaxing hour resting from the day’s adventures, it was time to eat! We got the first of many good recommendations for dinner – this time for Nijo Sushi, a few-block walk away from the restaurant. Ended up being fantastic sushi. After that, we then went for an evening stroll along the waterfront and watched as the evening lights all turned on, eventually realizing we were exhausted!
Dinner & a Waterfront Walk
The fabulous Seattle Central Library
Dinner that first night was at Nijo Sushi
It was goooooood
Walked along the waterfront for a while to walk off dinner
The Seattle Great Wheel
Think we finally turned around here
Was a bit darker at this point so we could see the colors
Big, but no High Roller or London Eye
A big day awaited us tomorrow with the trip to visit Twin Peaks filming locations set as the main attraction. Stand by for that post as it will contain MANY pictures.