Seattle 3: The City (with insufficient rain)

This was supposed to be a mini-vacation along with Hannah and Ben’s wedding, but was it?

Yes, it counted as one in my book, even though there wasn’t a whole lot of down time. Here are a few of the things we did, in no particular order:

  • We visited four museums (about average for a trip to a city the size of Seattle):
    • The first was the Chihuly, which I’ve already written about , and which is hard to type correctly since autocorrect keeps wanting to change it to Chihuahua. We took the monorail there, which was cool.
    • Then the Seattle Art Museum, which was featuring a special exhibit called Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum. I have never been to that wonderful museum; in fact, I have to admit that I had never even heard of it before. So how do I know that it’s wonderful? Because the subset of their collection shown in this special exhibit was more than enough to make that point clear. It’s in Naples (Italy, not Florida), BTW, and my excuse is that I have spent a grand total of three hours in Naples on my way to Pompeii and Herculaneum. But I still feel bad about my ignorance, given that Italy is my favorite foreign country and I’ve been there seven times.
    • Next was MOHAI, the Museum of History & Industry. Barbara had wanted to see a particular exhibit (something about textiles) but unfortunately we had been misinformed (rather like coming to Casablanca for the waters), as it had closed a few weeks before we got there. It turned out to be a problem with prepositions: we were told that it was showing through October, but I guess they meant to October. Pesky things, those prepositions. But there was still a lot of great stuff there, including a terrific exhibit about the history of Seattle, with a lot of relevant artifacts. One room had a collection of toys from the ’40s and ’50s, one of which was Mobo, a pressed-metal mobile horse big enough (and small enough) for a child to ride. My sister Ellen still has the one we had when I was a toddler and kid, and it remained a treasured toy for years. See the photo at the bottom of this post. (It’s of the one in the museum, not the one we had, but I think they’re identical.)
    • Finally, on the last day, we went to the Olympic Sculpture Garden, a perfect choice for a day with perfect weather. Yes, that really can happen in Seattle: contrary to its reputation, it doesn’t really rain every day there. In fact, we had almost no rain our entire visit! Mostly just a few sprinkles, plus about ten minutes of real rain one day. Anyway, the sculpture garden is well worth seeing, mostly because of the gorgeous setting overlooking the Puget Sound. Totally by serendipity we stumbled upon the Neukom Vivarium at the outskirts of the sculpture garden. It’s a rather unusual art installation, to put it mildly; go read about at the link.

What else did we do other than go to museums? Let’s make another list:

  • Of course we ate a lot of good food (see my next post, link not yet available), we did some of the obvious touristy things, and we walked a lot.
  • The obvious touristy things included walking through the excessively crowded Pike Place Market. We were much too late to see any fish-throwing, but I do have to say that there was plenty of incredibly fresh-looking seafood and produce to compensate for being so crowded. Unfortunately we could not take advantage of the seafood and produce.
  • As for walking, it was often a bit of a challenge, since Seattle is probably the hilliest city I’ve been to. Often directions would say that our destination is a mere five blocks downhill — easy, right? — but then for some reason the return journey turns out to be five blocks uphillAnd the hills are steep!
  • I should mention that we made the right decision not to rent a car: the traffic is worse than Boston, the one-way street system is opaque, and our hotel charges $45 a night for parking. Often taking the bus was problematic (because it often required those five blocks uphill from the nearest bus stop to our hotel) though we did manage to take buses or a trolley half of the time. Otherwise we relied on taxis, or the hotel’s contracted car service to take us to the airport at an ungodly hour yesterday (leaving the hotel at 4:30 AM). I was quite impressed with the Yellow Cab system there, which not only featured an appropriately automated phone system but also featured real-time tracking so you would know at any moment how far away your cab is.
  • For some reason the hotel put us on the 25th floor, designated the “Executive Floor.” Along with the free American breakfast, this floor allowed us to visit the Executive Lounge every late afternoon for Executive Time. Just like Trump’s Executive Time, this was the opportunity to have free snacks and watch television — but there was also free wine, which the current occupant of the Oval Office doesn’t indulge in. So it was nothing special, but a nice perk.
  • It seemed that everywhere we went, there were special privileges for Amazon and Microsoft. Not a surprise, I guess.

Categories: Travel