Sleepless in Seattle
I haven’t explored too much of the United States of America but I can easily say that Seattle was by far my favourite place to stay. I do feel that a main reason may be because it looks and feels so much like Europe. It sounds a little pretentious to say doesn’t it?
The trees were just fuller and greener, the landscape was lush. It resounded with me in a way that no other city had. It was also far quieter than any of the other places we had been to, eerily so. Almost as though it wasn’t a real city. We were situated in the suburbs and it took forever to lug our huge suitcases from the bus stop to our accommodation. It might have been the area we were staying in because there was a collection of enormous medical buildings and a general ghostly air of no one. You would encounter people occasionally and it wasn’t run down or anything. Just oddly silent.
I ate at my first iHop which was great until we converted the bill to Rands which was a horrible idea. It was a ridiculous amount of money to have spent on stupid pancakes. We also encountered a lady who was as confused by us being South African and not black, as we were by how to sort out the damn bill.
Lazy walks through the city led to us to stumble across a bar called Sam’s Tavern where a little bit of a smile got me a free shirt during happy hour.
A shirt that I got for a smile
When we headed down to the water we realised that it was quite chilly. We found some interesting art installations on the way. It was interactive and filled with adults and kids. One ended up being a survey of sorts which you answered by coiling a length of string over each appropriate response. A separate work asked me what I want be when I grow up. My response; “Who the hell knows!”
Part of the interactive art installation
For anyone who is a fan of the movie 10 things I hate about you, you will be pleased to know that the Freemont Troll is situated right across the water. We took a bus after buying little bus cards which came in handy with preloaded credits on it, and got off close enough to walk to the troll. It is much more aged than it was in the movie which was filmed in 1999 which is quite a while ago. You can’t see the little red VW beetle that he is holding so clearly but he is both a creepy and friendly looking troll much like myself. It is a little awkward stepping in to get a photo in because there was a group of people all standing around waiting to do the very same thing.
The Freemont Troll. His red VW Beetle is behind me
We then proceeded on foot to an interesting site called the Gas Works Park which on the grounds of a former gasification plant. The name did scare me a little as I was afraid that it might explode at any moment but luckily it didn’t. The view was incredible as it overlooked the entire bay. We watched a plane not unlike the one from the children’s programme ‘Tailspin’, fly in and out, landing on and taking off of the water. We stopped for a picnic which comprised of a banana and watched an interracial family doing an odd sort of photo shoot. I never realised how many Asians are in the USA. They are never really depicted in movies so it was a pleasant surprise to note the true population ratio.
View of the bay
The old Gas Works is visible on the left
We also stopped at a little bar called the Freemont Brewing Company where the beers were delicious and we were given two free glasses!
Beers at The Freemont Brewing Company
We had a lovely day exploring a beautifully lush park called Volunteer Park on which was situated a stunning Conservatory that we didn’t enter but saw on TV a few weeks later. Turns out that Lake View cemetery is adjacent to the park and it is where both Bruce Lee and his son Brandon are buried. We skirted around it but weren’t able to find the entrance.
I was also a little freaked out by the scary bugs and spiders.
One of the harder parts about being a girl with a small bladder is that when I travel, I can’t drink too much water due to a constant need for a toilet. I get worse when I drink beer – it seems to go straight from my oesophagus to a call of nature.
We found a cool sculpture park and had some sly beers which resulted in the unfortunate need for a bathroom. Luckily we found a decent one and proceeded through the gardens right to the edge where we sat and watched the world go by. There was a grandpa who had been walking or using a snakeboard or something and we watched his do hip rotations and leg stretched in his book for about twenty minutes. I kid you not.
One cannot go all the way into Seattle without viewing the Space needle of course so the next day we set out for that icon. My boyfriend was kind enough to pay for tickets for the both of us. It had the feel of a micro Disney world though I am going just based on photos. Also the prices of cotton candy and sodas.
The Seattle Space Needle
It was amusing to hear a coloured South African family rolling their R’s and skelling their kids in the middle of the USA. Generally when I travel alone I tend to engage with fellow South Africans though it does tend to end in awkward conversation. But then again the previous time I travelled I had been abroad for two months which left me severely homesick. So a mere ‘howzit’ or a ‘boet’ was like music to my ears. There is also an interesting park right outside filled with these towering sunflower installations that did a weird choral singing bit as you walked through. It was solar powered and had sensors that could track where you were walking to make noises at you.
The tower itself was rather neat – again as is with all tall buildings, you can’t see them when you are within them but the view is fantastic. A 360 of the entire city, it felt so crisp and fresh which may also have been due to the current season change.
A difficult battle to deal with when you view iconic landmarks is how long to actually spend there. I mean we waited for a specific time before we could even start lining up and then we stood in a queue to get to the elevator. Luckily there were little interactive displays that we could amuse ourselves with while learning about the structure at the same time. Finally just before the elevator there was a photo opportunity and I never say no to those but once inside you can only circle the viewing deck so many times. Eventually you run out of new things to see and admit to yourself that it is time to leave.
View from the top
Adjacent to the needle is a Museum of Pop Culture. It was vaguely interesting though we didn’t go into the actual exhibit. The shop had some lovely Harry Potter that I could not justify the cost of. The exterior was unusual made of a bright purple and shiny material.
The shiny Museum of Pop Culture
From there we made our way up yet another hill which luckily offered a stunning view of Seattle from a distance. It is incredible how much ground you cover when you are travelling and exploring a city.
Yet another view of Seattle
I also managed to snag a poster of the band that I had specifically come to see which was going to be in the next city after we left Seattle. I might just be their biggest fan!
Playing Sleepless in Seattle was fantastic (perhaps I should watch the movie to ensure I have gotten that reference right?) I guess I can’t really compare it to a different continent as each has its own unique style, history, culture and people. I liked the USA for what it was but I must say that I am not in the biggest hurry to return.