Chapter 5: Seattle, the gateway to the Pacific northwest.
The flight to SEA-TAC, that’s the name of the airport in Seattle, was short and sweet. We landed when the weather was nice and windy. We called an Uber to take us on the journey to our AirBnB which had a nice view of the Space Needle. Once we had arrived we set to work by putting our clothes for laundry and drawing up a simple plan of action for tomorrow. We decided to start with a simple breakfast at one of the popular cafes in the area. Next, we would proceed towards the EMP museum. This is a Science Fiction museum which features installations from a variety of movies. In addition to the movie exhibit, there is an exhibit focusing on the music scene in Seattle. This features local artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. Afterwards, we would have lunch at the world famous Pikes Place market. We would be having Beecher's famous mac n cheese called “The Worlds Best Mac n Cheese.” Afterwards, we would be heading towards the Museum of Flight. We would be seeing some important milestones in aviation history. There was a central exhibit around Boeing Aircraft as Seattle is the home of Boeing. Afterwards, we would head to the Space Needle after dinner to get a skyline view of the city. So far we had a solid first-day plan in the city.
We woke up nice and awake to the friendly beeping sound of the washing machine and more to the point, the sound of clean clothes. After freshening up we walked towards a nearby café to have a spot of breakfast. As we stepped outside we were treated to what locals call typical Seattle Weather.
Our view from our AirBnb
We were treated to a cold wind and rain. Soon we reached the breakfast stop where Nalin and I had an egg sandwich and a piping hot cup of coffee. After the delightful breakfast, we braved through the rain to reach the EMP museum.
The EMP museum is home to rather interesting and interactive exhibits. It looks at the history of films, particularly fantasy, and science-fiction films.
Some of the film exhibits in the museum
A Jawa from Star Wars
The hoverboard from Back to the Future II
In addition to the history of films, it looks at the video games and it’s development particularly over the last ten years. There is also another exhibit which looks at the music which came from this area. Seattle is the birthplace of legendary rocker Jimi Hendrix and there is an entire exhibit dedicated to him and his work.
Jimi Hendrix's original passport and songwriting book
In addition to Jimi Hendrix, there is an exhibit on the Grunge music scene that came out of Seattle in the late 80’s early 90’s. The band Nirvana has a special exhibit here and it looks a variety of items. This ranged from the set list at their famous 1992 concert in Reading to smashed guitars used by the singer Kurt Kobain.
A tower of guitars
One of the Nirvana setlists
Dave Grohl's drumkit
An early electric guitar
My favourite part of this museum is the recording studio. It was fully interactive. You not only get to learn how to play different instruments but you can record your own song and download it for free. In a lot of museums, there are rotating exhibits in addition to the permanent fixtures. On this occasion, the visiting exhibit was about Hello Kitty and its global impact.
A robotic Hello Kitty
An example from the Hello Kitty exhibit
It turns out that Hello Kitty has a full family and here they are:
All in all, we spent a solid two hours here before we decided to head towards Pikes Place for a spot of lunch.
It was a twenty -minute walk to the market but with the sun coming out it made for a pleasant experience. The market was crowded and packed with people getting their weekly groceries. One of the famous sights to see at this market is the salmon tossing.This is exactly as it sounds as these giant fish are tossed between each of the vendors. Sadly, on the day we visited we had missed it but we were able to walk to the very first Starbucks. As expected, it was filled with tourists who were queuing up to get coffee which they could get at any other
Pikes Place Market
The very first Starbucks
We decided not to venture in but instead head to our lunch stop. We headed to Beecher’s cheese shop to have their signature dish, “The Worlds best Mac and Cheese.” The food was well priced and did not disappoint when it came to the taste. After having a lunch stop which also included a spot of Turkish Delight at a famous dessert shop we boarded an Uber to take us to a special place.
The Museum of Flight and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. are some of the Meccas for plane enthusiasts all over the globe. It features some important milestones in aviation history. The drive to the museum was short but upon arrival to the museum, we were greeted by an impressive aircraft. We were greeted to a pristine Lockheed Super-Constellation. This particular example was operated by Trans-Canada Air Lines.
The Lockheed Constellation
We decided to first look at the outdoor exhibits as it was about to rain even more. Outside there were some examples of famous aircraft to see but the one which I really wanted to see had been moved to a special exhibit. That special exhibit which features the very first 747 ever made had been moved to a separate Boeing exhibit. This exhibit is being made to commemorate Boeing's centenary to celebrate 100 years. Sadly that exhibit will only open in July of 2016. This motivated me to come back again.
A glimpse of the first ever Boeing 747
Nevertheless, we explored the aircraft in the open air exhibit and this included the 707 which served as Air Force One. This Air Force One served presidents such as JFK, Johnson, and even Nixon when he flew to China to meet Chairman Mao in 1976.
Air Force One
This was my Nixon in China moment
We were allowed to explore inside the aircraft and it offered us a glimpse into how the president managed to run the country while traveling at 500 miles an hour at 30000 feet.
One of the most advanced communication consoles of its time
The safe where the nuclear launch codes are kept
There was also a pristine example of the Concorde, this particular one was flown by British Airways. It is one of 4 examples that are in exhibits in the North American continent. The other three are in Barbados, New York City in the Intrepid Museum and Washington D.C. in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.
The cramped "premium cabin" of the British Airways Concorde This cabin was known as "Concorde class" with the booking code "R". Singapore Airlines uses the "R" booking code for full-fare tickets for its A380 Suites class.
Something you don't see on most aircraft
The cockpit of the Concorde
After looking in and around these jets we went back inside to check out the other exhibits.
The first stop was a red barn that was attached to the museum, this initially puzzled us but we were then in for a surprise. This very red hut was the first building where William Boeing in the early 1900s made his first aircraft. The company that has made such greats like the 747 started in this red barn. It was interesting to see how they used the wooden construction to create some aircraft for World War 1. After exploring the red hut, we went around the impressive facility to check out what aircraft they had. This ranged from a Supermarine Spitfire to an SR-71 Blackbird.
This section of the museum featured aircraft that was used in both World Wars. It was interesting to see the comparison between the two wars in terms of aeronautical technology. The aircraft used in the first World War used wooden construction to make the fighter aircraft. These were some examples of the aircraft.
The Sopwith Triplane
A Fokker Triplane
A French Air Force fighter
The aircraft in World War used mostly aluminium for its construction. These aircraft were also much faster and more deadly. It also introduced multi-engined aircraft to wars. The museum featured aircraft made by both the Axis and Allied powers.
aircraft manufactured by the Allied powers
A multi-engined fighter
A Japanese aircraft
An American bomber
In the main exhibited we were treated to installations such as the Lockheed Electra, the Aerocar and something unique. This was a mock-up of the Space Shuttle that was used for training by NASA astronauts.
The Space Shuttle trainer
I was mostly intrigued by the classic aircraft because they were unique shapes. My personal favourite was the Ford Tri-motor and the Douglas DC3.
The Ford Tri-motor
The Lockheed Electra
Some of the other exhibits even included the United States Coast Guard helicopter, the Huey helicopter, and a Blue Angels F/A-18.
The United States Coast Guard helicopter
The Blue Angels F/A-18
The nine-year-old in me was having a field day as it was an awesome place. After spending roughly two hours in the exhibit we headed back to our AirBnB. We had a short rest before heading to Dinner and the Seattle Space Needle.
Dinner was at a small pizza place that was nearby and they had the option to make a custom Pizza. My brother and I each ordered one and we both made great choices. We had also ordered some artisanal beer to accompany the food. Afterwards, we headed towards the Space Needle which was a short walk away and we rode all the way to the top. During the day when it is clear, you’re able to the Mount Mckinley along with other nearby mountains which are in the region. Since it was the night we were able to get a panoramic view of the city and it was amazing.
The Seattle Space Needle
I forgot to take good photos of The Space Needle at night
After admiring the views it was time to head back to the AirBnB to get ready for our final day in Seattle. This involved a drive up north to Everett to see the Boeing Factory. I was incredibly excited to finally see a real-life plane factory making some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.