Canada is a place where my dreams come true. Earlier this month I had another dream coming true in a very unexpected way. I have always dreamed about visiting USA. I have dreamed about riding the Route 66, seeing Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, endless plains of Texas.
But quite unexpectedly I had a business trip in the far northwestern corner of the lower 48 – Seattle.
This was my first flight with our national carrier – Air Canada. And I was really disappointed! First, the plane. 4.5-hour flight from Toronto to Seattle was performed on a relatively small 120-seat Embraer aircraft. It is not a matter of size, but on such a long flight I would expect some comfort. The biggest disadvantage – it has only 1 toilet. So the lines were huge! It took over 30 minutes for some passengers to get in. Secondly, why there was no free snacks? Why they could not include some 10-dollar food? Of course it was available for purchase with a credit card, but honestly, it feels cheap. I did not feel like I was treated as a person who paid for the service. And the plane was dirty, I did not want to put my jacked in the overhead compartment.
Seattle started to amaze even before I landed. When the aircraft was approaching Seattle – Tacoma airport, it was flying by the Mount Ranier, a volcano and highest mountain in the Cascade Range, and the highest mount of state of Washington. Its summit is 4,392 m above the sea level. The view is spectacular. Also what felt different, is that Seattle feels 3-dimensional. Most of cities where I have been, lie on a relatively flat ground, but Seattle lies on hills, surrounded by mountains on ocean inlets.
As I arrived on Sunday morning, I had half of a day to explore. I wish I could go outside of the city to see Washington’s amazing nature, but the time was limited and I did not have a car, so I went downtown with my colleagues for some food and sightseeing.
What are the first things I that come to my mind when I think about Seattle? First – it is a birthplace of grunge rock, truly iconic bands like Nirvana and Alice in Chains call this place home; next – Boeing, they have assembly plants in the area; then the Space Needle. It is a truly iconic landmark of Seattle since it was built in 1962. So this was the first destination in Seattle for me. And it seems that I was not the only one with such idea – the line was huge! I was able to get in only 3 hours after I bought a ticket. But I must admit they organize it really well – the ticket has time when you can be allowed in and while waiting you can explore nearby area.
It takes 41 seconds for elevator to get you 160 m meters above the ground. Up there there is a rotating restaurant and two observation decks! The first one is inside, you can look out through huge glass windows. The other is outside, like a huge balcony. I really liked it. It offers panoramic view of Seattle, you can easily see mountains on horizon, the Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and busy city life down below.
Most of my business trip I spent in the office in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle. It is a city with a lot of offices of big IT companies – Microsoft, Unity, Expedia, Valve and others. This city leaves mixed impression. On one hand, it looks very modern, wealthy and clean. But to me it felt very boring. I have found absolutely zero points of interest. Yes, there are some parks, botanical gardens, galleries. But nothing that caught my attention, unlike Seattle. And it seem like other people feel similar about it. To me it seems that the only leisure available is going to restaurants. And they are really packed with people! Sometimes you need to wait for over an hour to get a table. And prices match that demand! (although I cannot say it is too expensive).
Other specific of the area is the weather. Seattle has only about 70 days of sunshine per year, while Montreal has over 200. Constantly grey skies and drizzle need some effort to adapt to. Although locals say it’s OK and they got used to it quite easily. They even joke that you can easily tell who is local and who is visiting Seattle – locals don’t carry umbrellas. 🙂
The state of Washington is indeed a very interesting place to visit. But next time I’ll spend a couple of days off-work there, get a car, and will go exploring amazing nature that this state has to offer.