A SLEEPOVER IN SEATTLE.
The name Seattle evokes some strong associations, like romance, thanks to the popular 1990s movie “Sleepless in Seattle”, and Seattle Grace Hospital of “Grey’s Anatomy” TV show, with its frenetic activity. Contrary to the popular image of Seattle as a place where it always rains, there are sunny days. Due to sudden weather changes, the lighting is often weird, and some pictures come out looking totally surrealistic. It is a large city of some 600,000 inhabitants, situated on Puget Sound, an arm of the Pacific Ocean, and Lake Washington. Yes, there is plenty of water all around it, which accounts for the climate. It is believed that the first human settlements appeared in the area at least 4,000 years ago. Its modern history began in 1851, when two expeditions coincided in their explorations. The name Seattle, or a variation of it, belonged to an Indian chief. At the end of the 19th century, the town became a gateway to the Gold Rush, and a gateway to Alaska. Logging was its main industry, until Boeing built a plant there in mid-19th century. It is a large port and a fishing center. We were extremely fortunate to visit Seattle and stay with a dear friend, who loves the city. “Come, it is only two hours away from where you are!” we heard. By plane, that is. So we flew. Seattle International Airport is huge, one should arrange where to meet in advance; it is not far from the city. On our way, we saw the familiar skyline with skyscrapers, but also a lot of green parks, lakes, pretty residential areas. Even when we could not see any water, we saw lots of sea-gulls everywhere. Many houses stand on stilts and have a deck where one can sit and relax, enjoying the view, feeling like Tom Hanks in the movie. We walked around and visited many places which can only be done when accompanied by someone who knows and loves the area. Across the lake, we could just discern the house where Bill Gates lives. Rather unexpectedly, many streets in the city go up and down. Riding a car can be quite a thrill. There are plenty of museums, monuments, bookstores, bakeries and souvenir shops. One of the city’s unique attractions is the Pike Place Fish Market. It was opened in 1930 and gradually grew into a huge marketplace where one can find anything, be it foods or goods. In 1986, it nearly went bankrupt, but the employees decided to save it by making it into a “world famous attraction”. Today, it is a popular tourist destination; about 10,000 people visit it daily. Crowds of tourists stand around waiting for the main event to happen: when a customer chooses a large fish, the fishmongers throw it across to each other before it gets wrapped. When buying meat or chicken, one can also ask the clerk to butterfly it. Plenty of cafes and restaurants can be found anywhere in town; many of them face a waterfront, and naturally sea food is served in practically all of them. The very first Starbuck’s café is also located in Seattle.
The sound of waves lapping against the shores is practically ubiquitous, and the air is fresh and sweet. We slept like the proverbial logs, lulled by the gentle back and forth whoosh. It was one of the best sleepovers we’ve ever had.