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USA: Washington: Hurricane Ridge, Kalaloch Beach, Lake Quinault, Long Beach, Marymere Waterfall, Port Angeles, Puget Sound, Ruby Beach, Seattle
Seattle, Washington, USA: The BAMS city
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
The 4 alphabets stand testimony to the cityís happiness quotient. Seattle is home to Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks. Great work places and nice neighbourhoods make Seattle a good place to live. And thanks to its wonderful outdoor the city is great for tourists too.
I had a business conference at Tacoma about 30 miles away from Seattle. We were hosted by Visit Seattle for 3-day tour of Olympic Peninsula as also a 2-day visit to explore Seattle.
We checked out from Hotel Murano, which was my home during the conference. As the hotelís name suggests, itís a contemporary hotel with displays of works of art by famous glass-blowers. Apart from the lobby areas, every floor had exhibits from a chosen artist. In about 40 minutes we were at the doors of Brave Horse Tavern for breakfast Ė a Tom Douglas initiative.
In 1989, when Tom, along with his wife and partner, Jackie Cross, opened their first and flagship restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge, in downtown Seattle, they never dreamed that, 20-some years later they would be running a sizeable group of successful and diverse businesses employing almost a thousand people.
Tom says, ďDeliciousness served with graciousness is the axis of our mission statement; everything we do starts there and gets better.Ē The persistent expansion of the company is not surprising given Tomís enthusiasm for growing the business, for making it better, more profitable, and more successful, while always keeping an eye out for bigger and more exciting projects. Tomís leadership and vision are fundamental to the company. Something else Tom likes to say: ďNo one can out-effort us.Ē
Jackie Cross, Tom Douglasí wife and business partner, has been involved in all aspects of the company from managing the floor at their first restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge, more than 20 years ago, to running the coupleís 20-acre farm in Prosser today.
After a hearty breakfast (though there were great beers and ales, I was OK with a glass of fresh juice), we checked in the Pan Pacific Hotel located on Terry Avenue. A nice location and a nice property too. This would be our hotel for the night.
As soon as our bags were in the room, it was time to go quacking!
Ride the Ducks has been voted the #1 City Tour in Seattle for the past six years and is a must-do experience for tourists from near and far. The tripís wacky Captain will surprise and entertain you with trivia tidbits that you generally donít tend to hear. For instance the story of the fire station that was gutted by fire; or why Mr Boeing started making planes! Itís an 80-minute trip of which 20-minutes are in water. Itís fun and slightly shocking when the bus turns into a boat and drives straight into the lake!
The Captain saw us off at the corner of Pike Place Market. A short walk got us at the doors of Market Theatre. We were scheduled to take the Savor Seattle Pike Place Market tour Ė a 2-hour gastronomic journey.
The Market Theater Gum Wall is a local landmark in downtown Seattle, in Post Alley under Pike Place Market. The Market Theater Gum Wall is a brick alleyway wall now covered in used chewing gum. Parts of the wall are covered several inches thick and about 15 feet high! The wall is by the box office for the Market Theater, and the tradition began around 1993 when patrons of Unexpected Productions' Seattle stuck gum to the wall and placed coins in the gum blobs. Theater workers scraped the gum away twice, but eventually gave up after market officials deemed the gum wall a tourist attraction around 1999. Some people create small works of art out of gum!
The Pike Place Market is open year-round, itís one of Seattleís most iconic attractions and itís filled with tasty treats. Aisles of gleaming fruits and vegetables, tables overflowing with fresh floral bouquets, and booth after booth selling all manner of locally made jewelry, clothing and gifts.
Pike Placeís nine acres have been a staple in Seattle for more than a century. Itís been called ďthe soul of Seattle,Ē and for good reason. When it opened on August 17, 1907, eight farmers sold their wares to more than 10,000 people who came out on a crazy first day. It hasnít slowed since. The market is now home to more than 200 businesses, 190 crafts people and about 100 farmers. Now more than 10 million visitors come to it annually.
Itís easy to love the market for its fabulous selection of gourmet ingredients and staples, but itís also a great place to enjoy many fantastic eateries serving prepared dishes. Itís the kind of place that caters to any hunger pang. And yes, they do throw fish here. So you can see that, too.
The original Starbucks is located right on the cobblestone Pike Place. Sure, there are endless Starbucks in the city, but this is the first and just feels different. If you want quintessential Pike Place, check out the guys at Pike Place Fish. Throughout the day, they lob massive fish over the counter to the joy of spectators.
Just to the northeast of the main arcade are rows of artisan vendors selling everything imaginable, from knickknacks to gorgeous works of local art. Downstairs are dozens of small shops selling every type of antique and souvenir imaginable.
When the market has taken its toll and swiped the energy of shoppers or put a foodie into a culinary coma, Victor Steinbrueck Park is there, offering comfortable grassy patches overlooking the market and Elliott Bay.
Rachel the Pig, a bronzed piggy bank that weighs more than 550 pounds, is the unofficial mascot of the market. Located just underneath the ďPublic Market CenterĒ sign, this piggy bank serves as a perfect picture spot and a place to let loose with some change. Rachel helps collect more than $6,000 annual to help the Market Foundation, a nonprofit that funds market social services.
It was now time to walk from the market to the Seattle Great Wheel. It was built in less than a year, but its story goes back much further than that. Seattle businessman Hal Griffith had envisioned a Ferris wheel in the city for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't until he realized he could build one on his own pier that his dream became a reality. The Seattle Great Wheel opened to the public on June 29, 2012. Since then, it has become an icon of the city and a destination for tourists and locals alike. It is the largest observation wheel on the west coast, standing 175 feet tall.
After a few rounds on the wheel, it was time to board Royal Argosy from Pier 56 for a cruise on the Puget Sound accompanied by music and dinner with views of the evening Seattle skyline.
At 8 the next morning we left for Chihuly Garden & Glass at the Seattle Center. The visit would rank amongst my best visit to any kind of creative display. Itís my recommendation to all people with even the slightest spark of creativity to visit this Ďone manís museumí.
Since Seattle hosted the Worldís Fair in 1962, the Seattle Center has remained an integral part of the local community. The iconic Space Needle is an important reminder of the dreams of that time. Owned and managed by the Wright family, children of Howard S. Wright II who constructed it, the Space Needle continues to be an icon for innovation, originality and imagining the future.
When the opportunity to reinvigorate Seattle Center arose, the Wright family took interest. They invited Northwest artist, Dale Chihuly, to present a comprehensive collection of his work. Having always loved the Space Needle, Chihuly was delighted with the opportunity to design an Exhibition Hall, a Garden installation and a Glasshouse in his own community. Through its community partners, Chihuly Garden and Glass supports opportunities for education and involvement in the arts.
Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade.
In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. This international glass center has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.
His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including eleven honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The eight galleries and three drawing walls of the exhibition hall offer a comprehensive collection of Dale Chihulyís significant series of work. The artworks demonstrate how he pushed the boundaries of glass as an art medium in concept, execution and presentation.
After exploring the Ďglass museumí, we were hosted for breakfast at Collections Cafť Brunch within the museum premises. Do drop in if you get a chance and you will know why the restaurant has been named that way!
Post breakfast we visited the Space Needle that was just next door.
Built for the 1962 World Expo, the Space Needle's distinctive structure, rising 520 feet above Seattle Center, has since become Seattle's most famous landmark. From the observation deck nothing blocks you from a 360 degree panorama of the Emerald City. Mountain ranges covered in Douglas Firs. Elliott Bayís bustling waterfront. The lights of downtown Seattle (in the evenings, of course) and Mount Rainier, ever-present (with a clear sky, of course) from afar.
Thereafter, a short walk saw us at the gates of EMP.
Experience Music Project is a leading-edge, nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture.
When Frank O. Gehry began designing EMP, he was inspired to create a structure that evoked the rock Ďní roll experience. He purchased several electric guitars, sliced them into pieces, and used them as building blocks for an early model design.
A fusion of textures and myriad colors, EMPís exterior conveys all the energy and fluidity of music. Three-thousand panels, made up of 21 thousand individually cut and shaped stainless steel and painted aluminum shingles, encase the outside of the building. Their individual finishes respond to different light conditions and appear to change when viewed from different angles, reminding audiences that music and culture is constantly evolving.
From EMP a 45-minute drive took us to another Seatlleís famous icon Ė Museum of Flight. Post lunch, which was hosted by the museum, we were ready for the breath taking tour of the massive museum.
Museum of Flight offers one of the most comprehensive air and space collections in the U.S. The original Air Force One is on display, and the Personal Courage Wing covers the innovative aviation developments throughout both World Wars. The Future of Flight and Boeing Tour offer an insiderís look, while Paul Allen shares his own private collection with the public at the Flying Heritage Museum.
That was it. It was time to leave for the SeaTac airport to catch the flight back home. The airport is halfway between Seattle & Tacoma. The naming is apt.
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