Posted by: TomA | 13 November 2006


Thanks to the long weekend in British Columbia for Remembrance Day I had Monday off work so Becky and I headed down to Seattle early Saturday morning, almost but not quite missing the “quick” shuttle bus. To be fair, the bus itself was quite fast, but US immigration were anything but. To make everyone’s bank holiday weekend that bit more enjoyable, they’d decided to x-ray every piece of luggage entering the USA, so we sat in a queue on the coach for 3 hours before we were let in to be probed (verbally only thankfully). We eventually arrived in Seattle, checked into our hotel and headed for coffee and doughnut. Doughnuts in the USA are marvellous things, coming in a bewildering number of varieties and all dripping in sugary icing, glazes and anything else sweet you can think of.

Having had a caffeine dose we headed into downtown for some shopping. Becky had been craving Urban Outfitters for a while, so was that the first destination .Many t-shirts, cardigans, tights and socks later we emerged, poorer but better dressed.

Becky was also immensly excited at the prospect of a Sephora store and having found it, stocked up on a number of lip products (though sadly not the lip balm I last brought back from Paris last Christmas).

Shopping is thirsty work and in Seattle to thirst is quenched with coffee. So we trooped off to Seattle’s Best Coffee (though in fairness I doubt it is) to shelter from the rain and get warming drinks.

This little gingerbread man sank and drowned into a gingerbread latte. He became disorientated and soggy. I had no choice but to fish him out and eat him.

Our hotel room overlooked the space needle too (see below). Shame the weather never quite cleared up enough to justify going up it. Its pricey but the views are supposed to be fantastic – less so when the city is drenched in cloud and rain.

We did however visit the Experience Music Project next door on Sunday morning. Set up by the Microsoft man who isn’t Bill Gates (Paul Allen?), a Seattle resident, its an impressive Gehry designed building (picture borrowed from Wikipedia below). The guitar gallery was particularly interesting – showcasing the development of the instrument from the early acoustic varieties, to the first electric and lap steels, up to the latest designs – and appealed to the geek in me. Upstairs was a “jam” area where you could play and record your own songs etc. It was full over excited children/teens/geeks, so we left them to it and headed out to Broadway for more shopping.

CDs are very cheap in Seattle. I don’t feel I need or want to say any more on the matter…

Seattle itself is nice but lacks the prettiness and friendliness of Vancouver. The people do seem to have a “edge” to them – not any particularly scary or nasty way, but you do feel they wouldn’t be afraid to tell you to fuck off if that’s what they thought.

I noticed that in the record shop I bought several CDs in that the only ones in hefty security tags were in the hip-hop section. Does this mean that Seattle hip-hop fans are thieving? Or simply not to be trusted?

In the evening we went to see Running With Scissors. It was good, with some very very funny bits. But more noteworthy is the sheer size of American cinema refreshments. A medium is easily a UK extra large, if not bigger, and more than we could drink between us; and the popcorn as well as being huge is either disgustingly over salted or smothered in something described as, but is obviously not, butter. Either way – fear.

We also visited the market – Pikes Place – though didn’t venture to the first (or in fact any other) Starbucks outlet. I had meant to take a photo of every Starbucks I saw and upload them here but didn’t. Sorry.

This morning was interesting. We had kind of run out of steam, the rain was starting to get to us, we weren’t sure where we were going. We wander around a corner and well, bump into – who else? – but Bill Gates. I’d love to be able to say he was just standing on the corner drinking his Starbucks and we clashed umbrellas and had a pleasant chat about microprocessors and HIV research, but that’d be a total lie. It was a launch for Microsoft’s rival to the iPod, and he and some dude gave a little talk, then some band came on, whom we thought were rubbish; or at least a touch average. Having asked someone who they were, turns out it was The Secret Machines – a band Becky actually likes and had been wanting to see for ages.

We stuck about for a bit but didn’t get a free mp3 player unlike the jammy girl stood next to us. There were lots of TV cameras and press, but not many people. So if you see us on a Microsoft ad, looking a bit rained on and bored, you’ll know why…

And that was about it for the trip. We got the bus back, Canadian customs officers all appear to be Scottish and really rather friendly compared to their US counterparts. So I’ll leave you with some photos from the bus ride home…



  1. How many CDs did you buy? Must be lots as you are reluctant to specify. Sounds like you had a great time in Seattle and that you are beginning to enjoy shopping like your father! Just happened to come across Bill Gates – that sounds really jammy.

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