The Emerald City

[Seattle, WA, July 22, 2018]

And there it was, our last full day on this trip! It’s hard to believe we have come full circle in such a short time. We reluctantly left our cabin in the forest and headed to Seattle, WA, also known as the Emerald City. The term Emerald City came from a contest held by the Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1981. The name was selected in 1982 and pays homage to Washington’s year-round lush greenery.

We got to Seattle around 11 am, checked into our hotel downtown, and left promptly to explore.


First views of Seattle from Interstate 5

This was B’s first time in Seattle, so we had to visit the landmark the city is best known for – the Space needle. To get there, we took the Seattle Monorail. Both the monorail and the Space needle were built for the 1962 World’s Fair, which took place here. The monorail is only 1-mile long and connects downtown Seattle with the Space needle, which is part of a 74-acre arts and entertainment complex called Seattle Center.



On the monorail

Seattle center was also built for the 1962 World Fair. It is a 74-acre complex that includes the Space needle, Chihuly garden and glass, Pacific Science Center, several museums and various other things. It’s a tourist haven, and in the middle of the day on a Sunday, that was obvious. We got our tickets for the Space needle but our assigned time was not until 90 minutes later, so we decided to grab lunch first. The cafe at the Chihuly garden and glass looked nice, so we grabbed some food on its outdoor patio. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with temps in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C).


Collections Cafe at Chihuly garden and glass

When it was built, the Space Needle was the tallest structure West of the Mississippi river. It’s 605 ft (184 m) high and it features an observation deck and a rotating restaurant at the top. A 41-second long elevator ride takes you up to the top. The Space needle is designed to withstand 200 mph winds and a 9.1 magnitude earthquake, double the requirements of the building code in 1962. Photos along the spiral hallway that leads to the elevator explain how the tower was built and what challenges were encountered along the way.


In January 2015, a 360 web-cam was installed on top of the Space Needle. This video from it shows how much the city has grown since then. Earlier this year, Seattle toppled Austin as America’s fastest growing city this decade. Seattle now has higher population density than Los Angeles.

As much as we enjoyed the Space Needle and the views from the top, it was a madhouse and we were glad to get out of there. We were hoping to find fewer crowds at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. The exhibition celebrates Tacoma native Dave Chihuly. He studied glass blowing at the Venini glass factory in Venice on a Fulbright scholarship. When he came back home, he founded the Pilchuk Glass School. Some of his best known series are included in the Chihuly garden and glass, which opened as a long-term home exhbition in Seattle Center in 2012.


He’s been credited to moving blown glass into the realm of large scale sculpture, and you will see why in the photos below. The first set of photos is from the series Seaform.


And how gorgeous is the Persian Ceiling? I had to take a video to try and capture how magnificent it is.



in the next gallerie, we found this amazing piece. It’s absolutely mind blowing. It’s huge and looks different from every angle.



This series is called Macchia forest. It came about when German glass was introduced to the Chihuly studio and opened up a palette of over 400 colors with which Chihuly could now work. The word “macchia” means stain or spot in Italian.


Last but not least, the glasshouse. It’s a 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space. A 100-foot long sculpture of reds, orange and yellow flowers hangs from the ceiling. It is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. As you look up at it, you can see the Space Needle towering above the glasshouse.


But we were not done yet! As we exited the Glasshouse, we went through the garden, which also featured Chihuly’s work. What an unexpected treat this exhibition was!


As the afternoon went on, we were ready for a little pick-me-up. B had looked up Starbucks – it was born in Seattle, and he was wondering if there are any special coffee shops celebrating this fact. The very first Starbucks was located at Pike Place market but it is now gone. The second location is still a Starbucks, but its reviews said there was nothing special about it. B continued looking and found the Starbucks Reserve and Roastery, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It opened in 2014 and it is a coffee immersion experience that should satisfy the greatest of coffee addicts (e.g., me). It was a truly wonderful space, which different stations throughout and a coffee menu unlike anything I’ve seen before. This is currently the only reserve roastery in the US; although additional locations are in the works, don’t miss this one. We found a table in the corner and enjoyed some downtime and people-watching.



After some much needed rest and relaxation in our hotel, we went out for dinner. My choice restaurant, Matt’s on the Market, was closed on Sundays, so we went to Steelhead diner instead, also in Pike Place Market. We were lucky to grab a table on the back patio and enjoyed a wonderful meal.


We didn’t linger long, as we were trying to catch a sunset ferry. As we were leaving the restaurant, the sun was already low on the horizon and I was lucky to be able to grab a couple of photos of the iconic Pike Place market sign with a ferry boat in the background.


I’ve mentioned the Washington Ferry system before; one of its routes connects downtown Seattle to Bainbridge island. The ride is only 35 minutes and it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the Seattle skyline. The views the other way, towards the Olympic peninsula and the sunset, were also amazing.




2 Comments on “The Emerald City

  1. Pingback: The Ultimate 10-Day WA National Parks Itinerary - Balabanova All Over

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