10 December 2010

Seattle City Pass, Day 1 (with PICTURES!)

Today was a touristy day for Kara & I.

We woke up early, and caught the last commuter bus at 7:05am (still dark) to get into downtown Seattle by 8:30.

Our first stop was Starbucks. Pike Place Markets is home to the world's first ever Starbucks store. The current store is next door to the actual original site, but it still has the title of "Starbucks #1". It's been our first stop on most visits to Pike Place.

Kara with her caramel macchiato.

Me and my caramel frappucino. There are some cold days where I still want cold coffee.

At that hour of the day, mos of the market stalls were still empty, and vendors were arriving to set up their shops for the day. After a wander through the markets, we headed down the stairs on the hillside which led down to Alaskan Way, the street that runs along by the waterfront piers.

A couple blocks along is the Seattle Aquarium. Here we purchased our Seattle City Passes. What is a City Pass? Well, it's a book of tickets to six highly popular tourist attractions in Seattle. And it costs $59 for an adult, instead of $114 (the combined at-the-door admission prices of all attractions).

So, Attraction #1: the Seatle Aquarium.

Not the kind of trained-seal-and-dolphin-show aquariums you might be thinking of, this one was kind of cool. While not as big as Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa (and without any sharks), this research and breeding aquarium still had plenty to entertain and inform.

The "Window On Washington" - a giant tank of fishes found in local waters.

Our tour guides for the presentation - one outside, one inside.
The scuba diver is miked up inside his suit as he cleans the tank and feeds the fish.

A puffer fish being fed a clam in the Tropical Waters exhibit.

This was the first aquarium to breed sea otters in captivity, and we saw them rolling around at feeding time. They were the highlight of my day, and inspired a punny souvenir T-shirt purchase. I believe I've already said I can't resist a good pun.

Sea otter grooming - they rub their head, and lick their paws a lot.

Time for shrimp!

The two River Otters were no so active - sleeping in a pile instead.

After that, it was time for a bit of lunch before our next attraction. I highly recommend the cod and chips from Steamers Seafood Cafe on the corner of Pier 56. The fish was great, well-crumbed (not battered), and the chips were crunchy, well-seasoned and not greasy. We split a 2-piece & chips between us, but the serving wasn't that big - it really was a one-person lunch - even if we were saving room for later.

Attraction #2: 1-hour harbour tour in Elliott Bay.

Kara with boarding passes.

Our second touristy thing today was a tour out on the water with Argosy Cruises. They also do lunch and dinner cruises (with prices to match) but the one-hour version was a good deal. The boat does a loop of the bay, with a tour guide pointing out various buildings and locations on the waterfront.

Such as the Edgewater Hotel (seen above), built on a pier and designed so that you can fish out your window. As these guests did when they stayed here in 1964.

Seattle skyline from the bow.
The second half of the loop takes you round the southern end of the bay, where Seattle's main commercial port facilities are. This is where we saw cranes, container ships, ships in dry dock, and some Coast Guard icebreakers.

Frasier and Niles, I presume.

Ships in dry dock.

I spent the hour in the open on the bow - my favourite place to be on a boat.
So here I am warming my fingers and nose with a paper cup of hot water.

Then it was back to the markets for some window shopping, and a stop-off for more food at Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian bakery and one of our "regular" stops in Pike Place.

The Beef-and-Cheese comes highly recommended. As does the Apple & Cinnamon Roll.

Kara's favourite sign in the markets.
Aging posters on a wall.
Downtown decoration, on the way back to our bus.

A good day out.

Attractions on our Pass still to come: Woodland Park Zoo, EMP (Experience Music Project) & SciFi Museum, Pacific Science Center, and the iconic Space Needle.

Stay tuned!

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