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Friday, December 07, 2012

EXPERIENCING SEATTLE

Add to Technorati FavoritesThis is the last part of my Seattle Adventure with a few more photos and stories about what I saw and did on my two-day visit there.

Seattle Washington is a neighbour city of Vancouver but although I've often passed through, sometimes spent a few hours browsing or shopping, I've never actually stayed any length of time. I went down on a Friday evening on the Greyhound and returned on the Sunday evening so it gave me a fair amount of time to sight-see.  My main purpose had been to see the King Tut Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center and also to browse around the Pike's Market.  It turned out my lovely five star hotel was centrally located so I could walk to many of the places I'd come to see and a short cab ride to others.
Mural honoring the First Nations people of Seattle

Seattle is a major coastal seaport located on Puget Sound. The name, "Seattle" comes from an Indian chief whose people once occupied that territory.  The city has around 620,778 residents (as of 2011) and is the largest city on the West Coast north of San Francisco.  Metropolitan Seattle has over 3.5 million population.  Back in the early days it was a logging town but by the late 19th century it was a commercial and shipbuilding center and a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush.

By the early 1900's the city was booming and it was one of the largest cities in the country. In 1913 firearm and typewriter magnate Lyman Cornelius Smith built a 489 ft. tower, at the time the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The thirty-eight storey building remained the tallest building on the West Coast until the Space Needle was built in 1962.

Smith Tower

I enjoyed a tour through the Seattle Underground and the historic area around Pioneer Square where there's many heritage buildings. You'll see the old along with the new in Seattle making it an interesting city-scape.

Buildings near Pioneer Square with modern sky-scraper
 
Seattle has an interesting musical history too. From 1918 to 1951 there were nearly two dozen jazz clubs. The early careers of jazz greats like Ray Charles and Quincy Jones were developed here. Rock legend Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle. "Grunge" music was made famous there by groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. In recent years it's known for indie rock. 
 
I found a cozy jazz/blues bar walking distance from my hotel.  The New Orleans Restaurant at Pioneer Square had a friendly atmosphere and I didn't mind going in for the evening though I was alone. I enjoyed the ambiance and felt right at home.

That night there was a Blues band, Gin Creek, playing — four guys and a woman vocalist.  I took in a couple of sets then meandered back to my hotel.  There'd be lots more adventures the next day.
Gin Creek

 
My friend Taryn came to meet me the next morning and we set off on another adventure. First we walking through town and took in some of the street sights.
Interesting shops around Pike's Market
 
Street Mime
 
Then we flagged a cab and set off for Seattle Center. There's lots to see and do a Seattle Centre - 74 acres of events, plaza, parks and museum. We headed first to the Pacific Science Center to see the King Tut Exhibit.  After that we walked over to the Space Needle, intending to take the elevator to the restaurant at the top. Alas! We needed reservations so had to pass up the opportunity.
 
Space Needle
 
I hadn't seen the Space Needle since 1962 when it was first built for an Expo. We had stopped by with the kids on our way to California for vacation. It would have been fun to ride to the top but that will be on the list for my next visit.
 
Right next to the Space Needle is the unique Chihuly Garden and Glass museum exhibit. I took some photos of the unusual trees all made of glass that were visible above the fence. If we'd had more time we would have gone in for a closer look. But, it will be on my next visitor's list too.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
 
 
You can read about my luxury hotel stay, Pikes Market, Miner's Wharf, Pioneer Square and the Seattle Underground  and the King Tut Exhibit at Pacific Science Centre in my separate blogs.
 
IF YOU GO: Here's some links to help you plan your weekend trip to Seattle.

 

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

THE WONDERS OF KING TUT’S TOMB



Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty known as the New Kingdom. His name means “Living Image of Aten”, although he is popularly known as “King Tut”. He was the son of Akhenaten and one of Akhenaten’s sisters. He ascended the throne in 11333 BC at the age of nine or ten. When he became king, he married his half-sister. They had two daughters, both stillborn.

There is some believe that because Tutankhamun was the result of an incestuous relationship he may have suffered some several genetic defects that contributed to his early death. He was slight of build and about 5 ft 11 in (180 cm) tall. Research showed that he had a slight cleft palate and possibly a mild case of scoliosis. He died at the age of 19. For years, scientists have tried to unravel clues as to why the boy king died. There were several theories, one that he was killed by a blow to his head, another that his death was caused by a broken leg.  There was also the possibility of various diseases including sickle cell disease.

There are no surviving records of Tutankhamun’s final days. There was some speculation that he might have been assassinated but the general consensus is that his death ws accidental.  He was buried in a tomb that was small considering his status. Perhaps his death was unexpected before they could complete a grander royal tomb.  He faded from public interest in Ancient Egypt within a short time after his death and remained virtually unknown until the 1920’s when his tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb was found by explorers Howard Carter and George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon in     1922.  Although it had likely been robbed at least twice in antiquity, probably soon after the initial burial, the tomb was filled with priceless treasures.

Tutankhamun’s mummy rested in his tomb i the Valley of the Kings until November 4, 2007, 85 years to the day after Carter’s discovery, when it went on display inthe underground tomb at Luxor, when the linen-wrapped mummy was removed from its golden sarcophagus to a climbate-controlled glass box designed to prevent decomposition caused by humidity and warmth from tourists visiting the tomb.  His tomb is among the best preserved. Relics from the tomb are among the most traveled artifacts in the world.
Jewelled scarab
 
Last month I travelled to Seattle WA to see them for myself, on display at the Pacific Science Center. It was a huge thrill to step into history and see this grand exhibition.  The exhibition features more than 100 objects from King Tut’s tomb and other ancient sites that represent some of the most important rulers throughout 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history. Many of the object had never been seen before in North America and include a 10 foot statue of the pharaoh found at the remains of the funerary temple of two of his high officials. There were displays of jewelry, furniture and ceremonial items including the boy king’s golden sandals which had been created specifically for the afterlife and still covered his feet when his mummified remains were discovered by Carter back in 1922.
King Tut's bed

Following the tour of the artifacts, there was an IMAX film, “Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs” that followed researchers and explorers as they pieced together the archaeological and genetic clues of Egyptian mummies.

The exhibition is open until January 6, 2013. Tickets are available on-line and include entrance to the Pacific Science Centre exhibits. www.pacificsciencecenter.org

Just this past week there was news that a copy of Tut’s original tomb is being built for tourists to view, in order to protect and preserve the original tomb. You can see a you-tube video about it here:


Note: No photos are allowed in the King Tut exhibit. Photos included here are from internet sources.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

THE PACIFIC SCIENCE CENTRE: A FACINATING WORLD OF PRE-HISTORIC LIFE, SCIENCE AND THE WORLD OF BUTTERFLIES!


One of my main reasons to visiting Seattle WA was to see the King Tut Exhibit at the Pacific Science Centre.  I’ve been to Science World here in Vancouver but I had never visited this Centre.  Nor have I been so close to the Seattle Space Needle since it first opened back in the ‘60’s. The Science Center is located on Denny Way right beside the Space Needle and the Chihuly Glass Garden so you can make a whole afternoon of enjoyable activities. If you want to dine on the top of the Space Needle you should make a reservation first.  There is a cafe in Building 1 of the Science Center.

The Science Centre has more than 300 interactive exhibits, two IMAX theatres and acres of hands-on fun indoors and out. 


Taryn by the pool

Prehistoric animals
 

Ornamental tortoises and heron

My friend, Taryn, and I spent most of the afternoon browsing around the various areas.  We loved the bug and crustacean displays!
Eek! A giant praying mantis!
 
A scary scorpion!
 
There’s only one word to describe the dinosaur displays: Awesome!  They give a real perspective of the size of these prehistoric critters and their environs.
 
Tyrannosaurus Rex. (Yes! He was BIG!)
 
Probably our favorite display was the Butterfly room with thousands of pretty butterflies flitting about the flowers and shrubbery, some of them feeding on plates of fruit.
 
 


A butterfly lands on Taryn's hand
 
Resting on a lily pad
They are so ‘tame’ they will land on you so when you exit the room you must be checked over carefully to make sure none are hitching a ride out. You also have to be careful where you walk, in case they are underfoot.  In the IMAX there was a movie about the  butterflies (Flight of the Butterflies) but we were going to the King Tut movie about the Mummies, so we missed this one.
 
 

I’d highly recommend visiting the Pacific Science Centre if you’re spending a weekend in Seattle. It’s fun for young and old, indoor and outside.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

EXPLORING SEATTLE'S UNDERGROUND

The pergola, Pioneer Square

Down under the streets of Seattle near Pioneer Square, as we wander through a warren of tunnels an amusing and informative guide tells us of the city's early history. In the mid 19th century these 'streets' and passageways were ground level but after the streets were elevated they fell into disuse and are now a major tourist attraction. Pioneer Square is the city's oldest neighborhood.  The lovely wrought-iron pergoa was built in 1909 and underground there was a fancy bathroom which is now closed since the Seattle earthquake a few years ago. The term "Skid Row" was coined to describe the Square where huge logs shoved from the highlands west of town skidded downhill to the waterfront. There is a memorial at the Square for Chief Seattle whose people once lived on that land.

Chief Seattle
 
Totem
 
The tour groups meet in an old bar at the coffeeshop and ticket office of the Underground Tours. A guide tells the history of the city in a most entertaining way, preparing us for the tour.  Then we are divided into small groups and assigned another guide for our adventure under the streets of the city.

The old bar room
 
Entrance to the underground
 
When Seattle was first built up in the 1800's all the buildings were wooden. On June 6, 1889 a fire was accidentally ignited by an overturned glue pot and the fire bread so rapidly the core of the city was destroyed. To insure against a similar disaster, in future all streets had to be graded and new buildings had to be of stone or brick and only one to two stories high.
Touring the underground
 
 
Pioneer Square had been built on land-fill in the tideland's and as a consequence it often flooded. Flush toilets had to be installed that funnelled into Elliott Bay and made so that sewage didn't back up at high tide as it had before. When the new buildings were constructed, the ground floor would eventually be underground and the next floor up,was the new ground floor.


Brick arches provided the ceiling for the underground corridors and supported the sidewalks above. Streets were lined with concrete walls forming narrow alleyways between the walls and buildings.  Pedestrians had to climb ladders to go between street levels and the sidewalks in front of the building entrances. Skylights with small panes of clear glass were installed creating the area now known as the Seattle Underground.
Skylights

 
 
Toilet
 
The Underground was condemned in 1907 for fear of bubonic plague. The basements were left to deteriorate or were used as storage. Some became flophouses of the homeless, speakeasies and opium dens.

In 1965 a local citizen, Bill Speidel, established "Bill Speidel's Underground Tour", realizing there might be an interest in the underground ruins. Over the years this tour has become more popular and the underground structures have been refurbished.

Items in the Underground Museum
Printing press and typewriter
 
Copy of the original "Crapper" (named for the man who invented the first flush toilet)


There is also an adults-only Underworld Tour.  At one census report at the turn of the century there were reportedly 10,000 loggers living in Seattle and 2500 'seamstresses'.  These women, were of course prostitutes.  The most famous Madam in Seattle was Lou Graham. She had a bevy of 'seamstreses' working out of her house and ran a money-lending operation as well.  When she died in the early 1900s she bequeathed all her money to the Seattle school board.
Madam Graham is on the left and her four favorite girls (the prize one is in black)
In the Underground Museum you'll see a photo of Madam Graham and four of her most popular girls. There's a secret to this photo:  the one dressed in black was the most popular of the girls but clients had to know that in order to choose her for her special services.


Lou Graham's house of ill repute at Washington and 3rd Ave.

IF YOU GO:
The daily tours start on the hour from Pioneer Square, from 10 -7  May- Sept and 11 - 6 Oct-April.
The Underworld Tours is daily May - Sept 8 & 9 pm and October-April Thursday-Sat. at 7 & 8 pm.
608 First Avenue. Tickets at www.undergroundtour.com  or at the Underground Tour meeting place.

NEXT: The Pacific Science Centre and The Wonders of King Tut's Tomb.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

MY WEEKEND IN SEATTLE: PART IV: A Fun Evening at Pike Brewery and Pub


Pike Brewery & Pub
 
 
The first night I arrived in Seattle I went out for a neighbourhood walk and was delighted to come across the Pike Brewery & Pub just a block up the street. I decided to stop for a pint and have a look around as it looked like a pretty happening place, packed full of merrymaking folk enjoying the lively pub atmosphere.
 



 
 
Pike's Pub serves all the brews made by the Pike Brewery which is also part of the premises.  It's said to be Seattle's 'classic shrine to beer'. It reminded me somewhat of a British pub, but much larger than most British pubs would be, with various areas for sitting with a beer or dining. There's even a Beer Museum. It features ales and beers brewed on the premises as well as local wines, cheeses and a temping pub-meal menu reasonably priced.
Cute wall mural
 
 
The bar was crowded with drinkers and diners so I had to wait for a little while to get a seat for dinner, although I could have sat at the bar area.  As it was my first night in town I wanted to treat myself to something special so I ordered a plate of fresh clams stewed in a delicious savory coconut sauce complimented by a tall glass of Pike's Indian Pale Ale.


I went back the following day to look around and sample another pint of ale.  I discovered the Beer Museum in the back room and spent some time browsing there, looking at pictures and write-ups explaining the history of beer from Egyptian times on.  There's an interesting collection of beer bottles and various types of steins on display as well.




The pub is open 11 am to midnight daily.  PIKE PLACE MARKET AREA
1415 First Ave. Seattle WA
www.pikebrewing.com

NEXT: MY SEATTLE WEEKEND Part V: Exploring Seattle's Underground