Posts Tagged 'Seattle'

Tossed salad and scrambled eggs

And so, I am finally in Seattle. I’ve been, as I said, looking forward to this for a considerable while. Everyone I’ve talked to who has been here always raves about it, and I was keen to see whether it would live up to the hype.

I left Portland in the early afternoon. Bionic Monkey drove me through the streets, past sunny concrete squares packed with young people, past the homeless with stolen shopping trolleys stuffed with their worldly possessions, and past the quiet gay bars frequented by dozing old queens and lean youths. Much like the cozily liberal cities of the west coast don’t have the same defiant air of the more arty areas in the south (Austin, etc.), the gay scene in the northwest is – as I can tell – relatively assured and easygoing, unlike the riotous California party people, who after all are still officially a persecuted people. I suppose the lesson is that the people who matter don’t mind, and the people who mind don’t matter – unless the people who mind happen to have significant voting real estate.

Hmm.

Seattle loomed large at around half past six, and RandomEngy, another dizzyingly tall fellow, was there to meet me, along with Oliverthemerciless (his real name is considerably less threatening) and another housemate. We wended our way down to the docks and the famous Pike Market, which during the day is a bustling seafood area, and ate at a fairly spiffy French restaurant with a lovely view of the water. There I treated myself to duo de canard and some really very good foie gras, which had me feeling obnoxiously content as we drove through the city night back to Random’s place. We stopped off at an overlook.

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Though what they don’t tell you is that to get that famous skyline you do rather have to cheat. The iconic Space Needle really isn’t particularly tall compared to the steel-and-glass behemoths nearby, so one has to circle around until the tower is the nearest to the lens. Still, nobody can deny that the effect, once engineered, isn’t stunning.

In the morning when I finally managed to drag myself out of bed, I headed into Seattle by bus. Random and his four housemates all work at Microsoft, so they’re all incredibly clever and incredibly busy. The impact of the company is clear, however, and there are veritable palaces, columns and all, scattered willy-nilly along the sparkling waterfront and seated in the trees. The previous night, as we drove along a bridge over the bay that’s actually floating (don’t think about it too much, it will upset you), one of the housemates waved a casual hand across the dark waters to our right.
‘Somewhere out there, that’s where Bill Gates has his house.’ He paused, frowned. ‘Well, complex.’
‘Citadel?’ I offered. He nodded, puffed his cheeks out. ‘That’s about right,’ he agreed.

Oh, and there’s a tonne of Priuses around; it’s like living in the future. The 2010 model has this incredibly heads-up display… but now I’m getting geeky. Well, more so. They’re also eerily quiet, like very sophisticated, energy-efficient ghosts.

Anyway, when I got into town I went on the walking tour of the Underground that had been recommended to me. It was fantastic, I highly recommend it. Turns out Seattle has an utterly insane history, and at one point the streets (government owned) were 15 to 30 feet higher than the pavements (privately owned). So whilst everyone was climbing up and down ladders to get into shops and some bright sparks hit upon the idea of of making their ground floor into a basement, the seven-year rehaul of the infrastructures eventually saw these sunken pavements themselves paved over, becoming a network of underground tunnels that are now vivid props for the witty and wry tour guide to relay the crazy history of the place. Also, Henry Yesler. Seriously? A guy who becomes Mayor, files a lawsuit against the city, then settles with himself out of court? He did this three times. And he was re-elected twice. He also started the lottery, though, which I suppose was a good source of government income. But hey, you’ll never guess who won it on the very first go.

Oh yes, and people here have about the same attitude towards Tacoma as we do toward Liverpool.

Anyway, after this I went a-moseying into another awesome bookstore, where I then met Snappy, Arminas, M4v1s and a friend of Snappy’s from her home. A cool bunch of people, all, though I couldn’t spend too long with them today as I had other plans. We ambled along the seafront together, then I split off solo and traveled to the Space Needle.

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The Space Needle, in the expansive Seattle Centre, didn’t actually impress me all that much, I gotta say. It’s nice, but something about it failed to blow me away. I think it was probably the park itself, with its children’s rides and anonymous fairground stalls. Still, ignoring the crassness of the stuff around the base, there are some surprisingly peaceful areas around, and I enjoyed sitting down for a quarter-hour or so with just my thoughts.

I had a bit of an adventure getting back, and by pure serendipity ran slap-bang into several forumers, though I didn’t know it at the time. There must be something instinctive about it. For instance, Ravenger gets a special mention for helping me make it home, and I originally met him because I was going to ask if I could borrow his phone. Likewise, I met a couple of folk at the bus stop in town as I was waiting for the 525. Strange coincidences.

Anyway, you might be able to tell by my rambling that the day has been a little unfocused, but nonetheless a lot of fun. I plan to see a little bit more of the city tomorrow, before 75,000 geeks, gamers and general miscellany descend upon The Emerald City to complete the mecca of the great unwashed. Present company excepted, of course.


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