Seattle or Sealth: Home of the original, more anatomically correct Starbucks mermaid (if you can say that about a mermaid)

Seattle has a different feel to the other cities we’ve visited so far on the West Coast, not vastly different but enough that it’s noticeable. Perhaps we spent a bit more time in the city. Seattle is the home of Microsoft and in contrast to Portland, the people who come to Seattle generally get jobs. Seattle more of a white collar city but it has its gems. Gems like the newer suburbs and the Pike Place Market.

We booked in for another free walking tour which turned out to be excellent, Jake from Seattle Free Walking Tours does 2 tours and we did both. Seattle 101 covers the downtown area and the waterfront and Jake covers the Pike Place Market in the Market Experience. You’re probably beginning to pick up a theme here with the walking tours, I really can’t recommend them enough.

Jake showed us some of the more interesting parts of the Pike Place Market (the ones you’d take hours to find on your own). Apart from plentiful free samples and discounts on future purchases, Jake showed us one of the most disgusting tourist destination in the world (not just opinion, apparently second to the Blarney Stone). The wall started when people entering the adjacent cinema had to get rid of their gum, now, the ground underneath the wall has a few centimetres of compressed gum, sticky underfoot.

Jake was great for finding us great deals, deals like getting into the Seattle Art Museum for 25c each. The admission price listed in the museum is actually around $20 but museum policy says that no one can be refused entry so you can effectively give them any price you want. We gave them about $1 of change and the older gentlemen at the museum gave us change, he just seemed incredibly cheerful to have us visiting.

Some more bits of money saving advice from Jake was cheaper places to get a view, rather than paying $25 to get into the Seattle Space Needle, you can go to Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower to get free views which are actually higher than the Space Needle. The other warning was about the ‘underground’ tours. Whatever you do, don’t go on these tours expecting an underground city, apparently it’s akin to a series of basements instead, fair warning.

If you’re after some other great views of the city, head to Kerry Park (where I took the first photo) or take a ferry to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton around dusk. Why pay for a cruise on the Puget Sound when you can pay $8 for a return ticket to Bainbridge or Bremerton?

Apart some generally delicious free samples including smoked salmon with jelly, salmon jerky which has the consistency of gummy bears, delicious dried fruit and fresh Rainier cherries we also had some more eccentric food. This next option is apparently becoming popular with professional athletes because ‘it’s got electrolytes’ or it’s good for hydrating etc. I honestly think that people who pickle pickles just wanted to squeeze a little more profit from their product, so now they’re also marketing the brine they use to pickle the pickles. To be fair, it didn’t taste half bad and if you must shot dubious liquids, why not shot dubious liquids that are good for you.

Photograph The Cherry Picker by David Cooling on 500px

The Cherry Picker by David Cooling on 500px

I can’t write about Pike Place Market without mentioning the main attraction, the Pike Place Fish guys. These guys are famous in Seattle for their fish throwing antics. It turns out it wasn’t actually a marketing gimmick, what started out as a quick way of getting fish around their stall soon caught people’s attention and now they’re regularly featured on the TV and have even authored a recipe book.

Photograph Pike Place Fish Guy by David Cooling on 500px

Pike Place Fish Guy by David Cooling on 500px

Well, Jake’s tour wasn’t all free samples and good deals (I forgot to mention most of the places we went offered deals to tour members) he taught us some interesting Seattle history. Although they didn’t quite get the name or the spelling right, Seattle was named after a local Indian chief, who was instrumental in making peace between the settlers and the local Indians. The city honours his memory by bearing his name. Of course, back then it wasn’t all roses. The City of Seattle stole a totem pole from one of the local tribes and erected it in the city. When the totem pole burned down a few years later and the tribe it was originally stolen from actually gave a replacement to the city as a gift you may be right in thinking it was very generous of them after everything. Turns out the totem pole they gave the city, currently standing in Pioneer Park may actually be a shame pole, the Indian equivalent of giving the city of Seattle the bird, in the form of a totem pole with prominent animal genitalia. Probably fair enough after your tribal pride gets stolen. Another bit of Seattle history trivia involves a coffee chain which you can see on most american street corners (it was a running joke in Portland). Starbucks originated in Seattle in the Pike Place Market in 1971. Don’t be fooled the cafe deemed the original Starbucks in the market now, the 1911 on the door is the street number and the original Starbucks was actually located a few doors down with a warehouse (until it burned down). The Original logo that you can see on that Starbucks is legitimate. It’s the only place you can see the original logo in all its anatomically correct glory (as far as a fish woman hybrid can be anatomically correct).


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