Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

SEATTLE

Seattle.  What an attractive and beautiful city.  It was lovely and sunny.  I was staying in the Queen Anne district which is northwest of the city and only about a block from the Space Needle.  The Queen Anne district was very pleasant area to stay in and explore. Lots of good things about this city – aesthetically pleasing to the eye, great attractions to see, free wi-fi in public places etc.  The area around the Space Needle has plenty to offer and I went to the Experience Music Project on the first day.  However, I was a little underwhelmed by the music museum.  It was one of the main reasons I went to Seattle.  I think I just wanted it to be bigger and more of it.  What they had there was good but I went through it and wondered if there was any more to see.  Today the Experience Music Project is called the Museum of Pop Culture.  The name change occurred in 2016.  They have had dozens of exhibitions, 17 of which have toured internationally.  I did love the guitar sculpture which dominates the foyer.  The distinctive building was created by famous architect Frank Gehry.

The Pop Culture Museum
The Pop Culture Museum. Architecture by Frank Gehry. 

One of the highlights of my stay in Seattle was dinner at the top of the Space Needle. The tower was built for the World’s Fair of 1962.  It has an observation deck at 160 metres high and the SkyCity restaurant at 150 metres.  I was able to walk there and home again in the evening without feeling any danger.  The view from the top at night was spectacular.  One of the best views I have ever seen.  Looking to the Cascade Mountains and out to Elliott Bay made a wonderful contrast and as the sky lost light the city lights were impressive too.  The restaurant revolves and takes about an hour to do a full revolution.  Apparently six people have base jumped from the Needle although two were arrested as they did not have permission to make the jump.

The Space Needle and the Seattle skyline at night
The Space Needle and the Seattle skyline at night

Another gem of Seattle is Pike Place Market – you can spend quite a few hours there.  The market opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest continuously operated public markets in the U.S.  It is down beside the water and a really pleasant way to spend a few hours.  If you are wandering around check out Pike Place Fish under the clock.  You get to see them throw some fish around as part of the selling process.  It is quite entertaining.

Pike place market
Fruit and Veg at the Pike Place Market

I also enjoyed checking out the colourful flowers and the fruit and veg.  Oh by the way the first Starbucks is here. Starbucks was born in 1971 by three university friends and only sold roasted beans to start off with. It is a humble little shop in the Pike Place Market area.

Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market

I took a tour of Seattle to get a feel for the place and this was really good too.  I got to see the Troll under the bridge, Frasiers apartment building from the show, great views of the city skyline and a place where fish go through a lock.  The Fremont Troll (under the bridge) is a sculpture that was created to rehabilitate the Fremont area bridge, which had become a place for drug addicts to hang out.  Also worth doing was the ferry ride over to one of the islands.  I believe it was Bainbridge Island.  I didn’t have much time to explore the island, but trip over and back alone was relaxing and well worth it.  I always enjoy being out on the water.  I only had to pay one way and I think it was around $5-6.

Seattle Ferry
Seattle Ferry

CANADA

Okay so I only went to Canada for one day but at least I went. I caught the ferry from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia which is on Vancouver Island. The ferry trip was very pleasant and well organised.  The seats were comfortable and clean and I enjoyed looking out to sea on my way to Canada.  My impressions of Victoria were that it is a very pretty city, the people were friendly and the weather was nice (it was summer).

The Empress Hotel
The Empress Hotel

They had some grand buildings, such as the British Columbia Parliament Building and the floral displays in public places really added to the appearance of the city.  A statue of Queen Victoria is on the front lawn of the parliament building and Captain George Vancouver is atop the dome.  The building began operations officially during 1898.  The Empress Hotel faced out to the Inner Harbour and was a glorious building but I am sure well above my budget.  The Royal British Columbia Museum was interesting. The indigenous cultures of Canada were well represented here and the exhibits were visually outstanding.  I caught a bus around town to give me a general feel for the place. I can’t really tell you exactly where I went as I randomly caught a bus to what appeared to be a suburb or area of Victoria and then caught the bus back.  I like doing this to check out the locals going about their everyday life.

British Columbia Parliament Building
British Columbia Parliament Building

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. Named after Queen Victoria, it is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest.  Victoria is known as the garden city so I guess it has a few common things with where I live – that being I live in the state of Victoria which used to be known as the Garden State.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

The border control going each way, that is into Canada and then back into the U.S.A., was quite strict. They asked me a lot of questions and made sure I wasn’t planning on staying illegally. I was due to fly back to Australia a few days later so it wasn’t a problem.  They do really give you a thorough grilling though.

The Canadian Flag
The Canadian Flag

I caught the Victoria Clipper back to Seattle and got back to my hotel quite late at night.  I was totally exhausted but the day had been fascinating and rewarding.

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