Monday, January 14, 2008
Part of my Christmas gift to Les was a night in the Washington Athletic Club hotel in downtown Seattle. Lucas, not quite ready to be left on his own, made the trip with us, while his sisters stayed at my Mom's. We woke up fairly early on Sunday morning to get some shopping done on the way down. When we arrived at the hotel, we were impressed with the location, right in the centre of downtown, but unaccustomed to the $30 plus overnight parking rates at all the garages. Apparently these charges motivate a lot of people to find a free spot on the street because it took us about 20 minutes of cruising the local neighbourhood before we finally found something. This gave me a chance to get to know downtown Seattle, something I have never really done before. It's a bit strange that I would know at least 20 European cities better than I know Seattle, but I never really went down much while I was growing up.
We hopped on Seattle's new light rail system that goes to Lake Washington and had a pizza and pitcher of beer at a brewery restaurant on the water. With neither of us big fans of the bitter ale we ordered, it came down to some game playing for who would finish off the beer. Les lost big at first but maybe won in the end....with a happy ride home.
On Monday we did some more shopping before heading to Pike Place market for lunch. Before hitting the highway for home around 2, we drove around the university shopping district and campus of U of W.
My impression of Seattle is that it has some nice neighbourhoods as well as the convenience of being able to take the highway to downtown. The lake also adds a dimension that Vancouver doesn't have. Beyond this however, I see little for Seattle that compares favourably to its so called "twin" city up North.
My main complaint for Seattle.....and I guess source of pride for Vancouver....is about the use of the waterfront and green spaces. Where Seattle has the occasional park or market, Vancouver has miles of walkways along the water and public access to parks and beaches. There are many things to do and places to see in Vancouver that don't require a car or cost money. As someone who lives 300 meters from the sea wall overlooking the ocean, I know it's easy to take it for granted. However, seeing how differently the waterfront could develop, like in Seattle, brings me back to a state of appreciation for all we have here.