Sleepless before Seattle

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The bus from the Amtrak terminal in San Francisco to the Amtrak train station left right on time, only to then have to wait an hour at the train station because the train was delayed. At 11pm, I was finally on my way towards Seattle. 130$ for just a seat is quite a lot but at least you could fold the legs up a little too and I could be in a half-lying position.

The next morning, we were traveling through beautiful nature. I passed time with reading, writing, watching Dawson’s creek and looking out of the window. At around 3pm, the train came to a rather abrupt stop and you could clearly smell the friction of the iron wheels on the tracks in the air. I joked that somebody must have pulled the emergency brake but when a conductor came running through our compartment, we thought that something serious must have happened. Through the window, I saw the cabin of a truck and a few minutes later a message on the speaker informed us that the train indeed hit the trailer of a truck. Nobody was hurt but we knew it would be a while until we’d be able to leave that spot. Nobody had foreseen that it would be 9 hours though. They kept telling us that in 20min this and that should work again or get cleared by authorities. The 20min kept adding up and we started to feel like hostages on a train, since we weren’t even allowed to go outside. I wouldn’t have thought that possible in the US, where the infrastructure should be well enough to organize a different locomotive or buses. We were only half an hour from the next stop too. But there we were, just sitting and waiting, with the occasional message from the parlor car, telling us that they still have free seats for lunch or dinner. At least we didn’t run out of water and they did bring us a small snack.

At Pike Market

At Pike Market

At around 10pm, we finally started moving again (I should have been in Seattle 2 hours ago) and we were in for a second night on the train. It was actually good that in the end it took them so long and we therefore arrived at 5.30am the next morning and not in the middle of the night. Now, I only had to wait for half an hour until JB’s friends were awake. They were so nice to let me stay with them and Jon extra got up early on his day off to come and get me at the train station.

Did you know that Seattle was at least as hilly as San Francisco? I hadn’t before but after pulling my suitcase up the hill, believe me, now I know.

Finally, I could take a liberating shower and then had the best nap one could have on a window sill. Cécile and Jon live in a tiny studio and therefore it’s even more awesome that they put up with me! The only space for someone else to lie down was the big window sill but that was cool, I felt like a princess in her winter garden balcony.

But actually, it was too much of a waste to sleep through the morning because the weather was perfect.

Pike Market

Pike Market

I walked down to the waterfront past all the chowder shops and the ferries wheel. From there I took the stairs up to Pike Market where I had a look at the big fish and sampled some food. Plus, I visited the first Starbucks ever. Yup, it’s in Seattle.

Afterwards, I walked through the Olympic Sculpture Park and eventually made it to Seattle Center. A nice green patch with a big fountain in the middle of the city with lots of entertainment, museums and the Space Needle.

By that time it was late afternoon and I felt kind of tired and thought about going home. However, Bennett, a couchsurfer wrote me and came to pick me up with his convertible. Suddenly, I was on a beautiful sunset ride with Bennett and another couchsurfer from Germany. We stopped at a view point and then proceeded to the Ballard Locks. There is a pretty park with a nice mansion in it. The locks themselves are very interesting. That’s the place where they regulate the water to transport ships from one water body to another. There also is a salmon fish ladder and we tried to find them but by then it was too dark and we only saw one big fish.

Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks

After that, we were hungry and had earned ourselves some dinner. Pia had watched a series called “Taco Wars” and so we went to the El Camion food truck which was supposed to have Seattle’s best tacos. And they surely were the best tacos I ever had (but I usually eat quesadillas, so I’m not really an expert on tacos).

The next morning, I wandered around Chinatown. Bennett had created this awesome scavenger hunt for tourists (www.seattlefunmap.com). I didn’t have enough time to finish it though because soon, Bennett picked me up again, this time with three other couchsurfers (from Texas and Washington) in tow. We drove to the locks again with the plan of shipping through them in an inflatable boat (we asked the night before whether that was possible). But first, we had some delicious fish and chips at the entrance of the park.

This time, there was an incredible amount of big fish in the salmon ladder and we even saw a seal too.

After looking at the animals, we went to pump up a boat and a kayak and set out on the river. It was awesome to just row and drift between all these other big boats and ships. Getting into the lock was no problem and it was a lot of fun to slowly start sinking with the water that they let out and then be ready to leave and row out into the Pacific Ocean. There were beautiful houses along the shore but unfortunately nobody was having a bbq-party and wanted to spontaneously invite us.

Fountain at Seattle Center

Fountain at Seattle Center

At some point we decided to turn around and row back. To our dismay, the lights now were on red and we had to wait around until they opened the locks again. While we waited, a bigger, expensive boat invited us to come aboard and so we climbed onto the boat and lifted our rafts on it as well. It was nice to be on the boat and not to have to do anything anymore but everybody in this group wanted to prove to us that they were the one in charge and therefore the mood on our little boats had actually been much better.

Finally, it was our turn to get into the lock and we were slowly lifted back up into the river. The boat we were hitchhiking on kindly drove us close to where we parked the car and from there we rowed back ashore.

On the way back to Seattle, Bennett stopped at the man under the bridge. That’s a statue of a giant troll under a bridge. I thought that was really cool.

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On Thursday, I met up with the couchsurfers from the day before to go to the art museum. It’s donation based and so we only had to pay a dollar to get in.

After that, I separated from the group who wanted to do the funmap. I went to have lunch at the busy Pike Market. I found the best yoghurt I’ve ever had outside of Switzerland at the Greek Yoghurt corner and I bought two more bagels because they are just so delicious here.

Then, I made my way to the EMP museum. It cost 19$ but it was absolutely worth it. They had an exhibition about fantasy stories and horror films and I could put on a cloak of invisibility. It was awesome. The top floors were filled with exhibitions about music and musicians. Did you know that Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Hendrix and Macklemore are all from Seattle?! So much musical talent here!!! The facts to read were extremely interesting but there were also a lot of fun stations to interact with. It came very close to the ACMI film museum in Melbourne, which I absolutely loved.

From there, I strolled back through town to the other end where my hosts live. I first needed to eat the remaining part of my Ben&Jerry’s when I finally made it up the hills.

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Unfortunately, it was already time to pack my suitcase again. On the last morning in Seattle, Bennett and the girl from Washington picked me up again. We quickly stopped at the library to look at the awesome building and take the elevator to the platform on the 10th floor.

After that, I finally made it to the chewing gum wall at Pike Market. Since BoltBus was leaving from Chinatown, we went to fill our stomachs with dumplings and noodles before I hugged them goodbye and boarded the 4hour bus up towards Vancouver.

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3 thoughts on “Sleepless before Seattle

  1. Wir haben gestern im Fernsehen einen Beitrag übers Couchsurfing gesehen. Dies ist wirklich eine tolle Möglichkeit, Land und Leute kennen zu lernen.

  2. Unglaublich, was du alles erlebst. Die Fahrt durch die Schleuse in einem Gummiboot hätte ich ja zu gerne ebenfalls miterlebt. Mit dem Couchsurfing bzw. den hosts scheinst du ja ebenfalls unglaubliches Glück zu haben. Sind die immer so nett und vor allem auch so umtriebig, ihren Gästen so viel zu zeigen?

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