Posted by: TomA | 29 October 2006


So, Seattle. Unfortunately, I’m non the wiser as to what its actually like. We rolled into the bus station at 9am, had a quick drive through downtown in thick fog to get breakfast, so failed to see the tops of any of the skyscrapers or the space needle. There might have been mountains, sea views, desert, or for that matter anything else – but we couldn’t see a thing. That more or less sums up our experience of downtown Seattle so far…

…The rest of the day was spent with Amy and her sisters, either at their Dad’s house (doing not a lot apart from feeling incredibly ill and tired) or being dragged around two Halloween costume shops. Which were much the same as costume shops anywhere else I’m sure. We got to see lots of suburbs, some of which were nice, others a bit, well, shit looking. Driving around suburbs and having the sights of Seattle pointed out to you (“this is the xyz shopping mall, that’s the 123 mall etc etc”) failed to give us any sort of feel for what its actually like.

So, thoroughly exhausted we attended the Halloween party. Which was fun but hardly mind blowing. Dry ice in a large and seemingly never empty bowl of punch, along with Shaun of the Dead on the TV made a pleasant evening.

A few things did strike me though over the weekend.

  • I got a hard time from the US immigration people, mainly because I said I’d been to the US before, but my passport hadn’t been stamped by them, because its relatively new. But how do you point out something so obvious without sounding patronising to a man, that if he wishes, can detain you there all day while he, his friends and anyone else that wishes to join in can don rubber gloves and give you a rather thorough search? It didn’t come to this, but he did give me that look… I was also slightly unnerved by knowing the US authorities have my fingerprints and a photo of me at 6am on record.
  • When we went to Amy’s mum’s for breakfast this morning, we all had to sit through slide-shows of holiday photos. Decidedly creepy. Particularly the ones of her mum and her new husband (the type of man you just know goes into the woods at night looking for large animals to wrestle, skin alive and then eat raw – but lovely nonetheless) shooting handguns and shotguns in a field.
  • I also found weird how, when Halloween is such a big thing and everyone apparently plans their costumes months in advance, the general gist is just to buy a pre-packaged, ready made costume from a shop for $25, so as to expend as little effort or thought as possible. I suspect such a desire for convenience is rife throughout American culture (and for that matter, Canada, Europe…)
  • People in Seattle are completely and overwhelmingly obsessed by coffee and Starbucks in particular. Which is odd, for the cappuccino and carrot cake I just bought from the independent little shop around the corner from my house is superior to their fare in every way I can think of.
  • American driving is an acquired taste. Seatbelts are to be worn only if you can’t get into the car without being tangled in it, you may over or undertake depending on mood; or indeed by random, while you’re talking with one hand on your phone and the other holds your aforementioned skinny-triple-espresso-non-fat-latte-with-extra-whipped-this-or-that leaving the wheel to decide your direction for itself.

Having said all that I do think Seattle could be very nice. I’d liked the hills in downtown, they seemed to add a sense of drama to driving around. Becky and I are determined to head back another weekend when we have some control over what we do and properly explore what it has to offer – coffee shops, sky needle, a huge music museum and hopefully some interesting clubs which play music other than R’N’B or trance.

For the moment, we’re off to Chinatown for a meal and a wander about as the weather has turned lovely and sunny again.



  1. If they’ve a photo of you at 6am on file, you’ll never get back in to the US! Glad you enjoyed it though . . .

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