We started the day with a gritty, scrambled, cheesy bitch. Not even kidding. But happily, that was breakfast. Right next door to the hotel lobby is the delightfully named “Biscuit Bitch”. You’d never guess, but it serves biscuits. Being America, these of course aren’t biscuits as we know it. They’re basically big scones, drowned in gravy, with extras on top. In our case there were biscuits, gravy, what looked like at least four kinds of cheese, garlic grits (I’ve finally had grits!), and scrambled egg.
All of it was delicious.
None of it was good for you.
They even did cappuccino – a solid 7/10. It’s still weird to think that cappuccino is a novelty.
It was nice to see that everything / even the cups and cutlery, were compostable. And their signage, brilliant. The fact they were playing nothing but Talking Heads when we were there, well, that really takes the biscuit 🙂
Today, we took a half day tour to visit the Boeing factory. We’ve been spending a bit of time on planes, seems only fair to learn a bit more about it all. Saw some nice street art while waiting for the bus – a bit of building-sized Tetris.
Along the way we learnt a few things. Seattle has a crazy amount of dogs, and a crazy amount of people who enrol their puppies into Dog Day Care … which can cost, like, ten grand a year!
Seattle, Portland, and Spokane are the three largest American cities for cat ownership. (yay!). No need for kitty day care though (can you imagine the fights, lol)
Once we arrived, first stop was the Future Of Flight museum/exhibition. Aka The Giant Boeing Ad Before The Tour. It was still interesting though, particularly seeing just how huge some parts of the plane are up close. It also offered us a choice of (not at all cheesy and touristy lol) green-screen photos. So of course, being tourists, we had to get one.
Unsurprisingly, the factory is right next an airfield. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s not owned by Boeing, so we saw a few small planes land. If our tour had started 10 minutes later we would have seen one of the “Dreamlifters” land – the big freighters that carry pieces of the 787 from other Boeing factories. We only saw it after the camera and phone were locked up so sorry, no photos. But you know how to use Google to search for pictures, right? Go for it, I’m happy to wait 🙂 Anyway here are some pictures of the airport and the museum.
For the tour of the factory itself, cameras and phones were strictly forbidden – they had to be locked away in a locker before we were allowed to proceed. It was really interesting seeing where they build the 747 (yep they still build them), the 777, and the 787 Dreamliner. All three planes, in one ginormous building. There were also a few parked outside. Including some matte grey airforce refuelling planes (Pegasus).
It was interesting that they mention there were around 35,000 people working there, but they wouldn’t say where they were or what they were doing, or what the build rate is for the planes. They have a competitor who they wouldn’t name, who may benefit from such info. Funny how they never mentioned airbus by name, but they did say a few times how much more useful it is to have a 787 that can land at pretty much all airports, rather than “an enormous plane that is hard to fill with people and is restricted in the places it’s able to land – which is a whole lot of words just to not say “A380” 🙂
Tina our guide was ex-cabin crew and a (self-described) major plane geek. Her enthusiasm was infectious, her knowledge formiddable, you could tell she really loves hanging out at the Boeing factory every day. And, for about two hours, so did we. Fun fact: a 747 is comprised of about six million seperate parts. We saw a bunch of plane bits in various states of construction, including an almost-completed 787 already with the flying kangaroo painted on the tail.
At the end of the tour Tina gave us he prices – if you’d like a 747, it’s only around 420 million or so – but that’s without the engines. But just remember – “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!” – and of course yes you could by a t-shirt with that slogan. Instead of getting dropped off back at the hotel we asked the driver to drop us off at the Space Needle instead. He seemed strangely relieved to not have to drive through Belltown…!
The Space Needle, to look at, is just The Jetsons. You can tell clearly where the show found a lot of its inspiration. It’s retro-tastic, and looks great. And there was a cool Ben & Jerry’s trailer nearby – bonus!
The Space Needle is currently undergoing renovations – so the lift that was mostly covered in roughly-nailed-on chipboard didn’t exactly inspire confidence … but the glass doors were still working so you could watch the whole journey to the top, which was pretty cool. (Or if you’re scared of heights, it’d probably be utterly terrifying).
Up the top, well you know the drill – high-up views over the city. A pretty nice day, and so, a pretty nice city from up high. Some interesting artwork on a nearby painting – giant spiders, paint by a local artist. Though it was kinda funny to hear a young (but not that young!) person ask if they were, “like, really actual spiders” or not.
Perry had spotted a “Duck Tour” place nearby, so after descending the tower we made our way over there, and wth perfect timing, the next (and final for the day) tour was about to start so on to the duck we hopped. No, not an actual duck. We don’t hop on ducks. That would be cruel. This duck:
We drove past some of the sights of Seattle, including the very first automated carwash that opened in 1951. Fun fact – they took an elephant through on opening day to show how kind and gentle the carwash was. Probably a far-from-kind thing to do to an elephant, though. Open reaching Lake Union, driving straight into the water is a pretty cool thing do do – then off we went chugging around. On the lake, there are number of pretty impressive, huge, two-storey houseboats – or, ‘floating homes’ – that are worth about 3 to 4 million each…but I guess you can’t get much more waterfront than being on the water itself. Driving (I guess we can call it driving?) around on the lake was nice – more views of the Sky Needle, the industrially-pretty George Washington Memorial Bridge, and we were fortunate enough to see an eagle sitting atop one the mast of the one of the boats moored at the lake’s edge.
The tour went longer than I thought it would – probably longer that our tour guide “Ben D. Rulz” thought would too – but he kept us entertained with his ridiculously loud sound system, commentary, dad jokes, and quick-thinking choices of music (he had a team of road construction workers in hysterics when he quickly switched to “We built this city … we built this city on rock and roll” as we slowly crawled past in the heavy Seattle traffic.). We also saw some interesting sculptures and artworks.
Could this also be a local piece of contemporary sculpture making an artistic statement 🙂
We also learnt that Seattle has a (bona-fide electrified) Monorail! (what’d I say?) monorail!
By the time we got back from the Duck tour it was dinner time – yesterday we spotted a tapas place, so that was the destination – and so we went to Pintxo.( http://www.pintxoseattle.com/ ) The website doesn’t even show half of what’s actually on the menu. I’m so glad we decided to visit – food was amazing. Lovely olives, bread with honey/chili/saffron butter (awesome!!), bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goats cheese (delicious smokiness), beef and pork belly empanadas (with an amazing sauce) … there wasn’t a bad dish, everything we hired was delicious. So too were the cocktails – Flor de Pintxo I think it was called – deliciously tart and cucumber-y. Desserts to die for as well – rice pudding elevated by strong vanilla and wisps of lime zest, and a chocolate tart that was basically heavy chocolate fudge on pastry, with cumquat and huckleberry to cut through all that thick, thick sweetness. Should you find yourself in Seattle, definitely pay it a visit.
So, we managed to cram a lot in to the day again. Now I’ve seen a bit more of Seattle, I see that Belltown’s homeless problem is only at its worst in that one block around the dog park next to the hotel – so the first impressions I had of the place are certainly changing.
Tomorrow will be another day, another adventure, but for now I really need to get some sleep (in Seattle).