Seattle short stay – Space Needle

There are spectacular views, really showcasing the surrounding area, not just the city.

Despite living in BC for five years and having toured down south, I’d never visited Seattle. I’ve ridden past the city and even seen the Sounders play the Whitecaps, however, I’d not trodden the Seattle tourist trail. That was about to change. It was time to sample the the home of Grunge and Starbucks.

Although this was a midweek trip, the wait at the border was far longer than expected, who on earth was travelling to the US at 12pm on a Wednesday. One thing worth mentioning here is that even though the wait times haven’t improved, the border crossing experience has. Since taking dual citizenship earlier in the year and investing in Canadian passports, getting in to the US has become a relative breeze. No more long line up in the office to obtain a ninety day visitors visa (green card). No more finger prints and photo’s. No more forgetting to return the green card upon expiry (I’ve received a stern talking to in the past when an expired card has been found in my UK passport). Being Engladian/Canglish sure has its benefits.

Once in the land of the free it’s an easy ride down I5 to Seattle. Interestingly, the northbound lanes were pretty busy. It was the day after the Presidential elections and I couldn’t help wondering if those Republicans that threatened to quit the country if the result didn’t go their way were actually making good on their promise. Maybe not.

Space Needle and Fall/Autumn coloursThe motel for the stay was around 15-20 minutes outside the downtown core on the edge of Washington University. Another hotwire.com find, the Silver Cloud Inn provided a reasonable sized room and good breakfast at half the price of downtown accommodation.

The first port of call the next day was to be Seattle Center and the iconic Space Needle.

The weather gods were playing nicely and it was a chilly but clear morning. Having found early bird parking, which is well worth the early start for, it was a short walk to the Space Needle. Although not totally dominating the sky line, the structure was clearly visible and rather at odds with the usual high tower squareness that predominates.

The Space Needle was erected for the 1962 World Fair and the artist that sketched the design, Edward Carlson, was inspired by the Stuttgart Tower. World Fairs should have a large central structure, and the Space Needle was to be Seattle’s statement.

There’s a CityPass ’combo’ ticket offered that is valid for six attractions and it’s worth while going for if you intend to visit at least four of the six places. There wasn’t enough time on this trip to make use of the offer, so the $20 entrance it was. In to the lift (elevator)and wow, it moved. The 520 ft from ground to observation platform were covered in around 30 seconds. The city suddenly comes in to view and starts to shrink beneath you as the lift powers up the outside of the structure.

Views from the Space NeedleOnce at the top it’s possible to walk 360 degrees around the platform, inside and outside. There are spectacular views, really showcasing the surrounding area, not just the city. The Olympics, the Cascades, Puget Sound, the ferries criss-crossing the Sound, spectacular.

The Space Needle does have a revolving restaurant, but it wasn’t on my agenda. Although it could be said that entry is a bit pricy, to me it was worth while to get a sense of the city’s location. This was a good start to the visit. Next stop ground level and the EMP.

This post also appears on the Union Jack.

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