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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Seattle discoveries

I keep telling friends I can never have enough of Seattle because every time I visit, I always discover interesting parts of the city that fascinate me.  I thought I had seen enough during the recent Harbor Cruise I took with my daughter and grandsons but my daughter insisted we’d go on a sightseeing bus so that I could see other noteworthy parts of the city that are not popular but, nevertheless, beautiful.

So off we went on one of those red double-deckers that ply the city routes, together with dozens of eager Seattle first-timers on board.  Of course, we made sure we were on the front seats on the second deck, to have an unobstructed view of everything we passed by.

The ultra-modern design of the Seattle Central Library boasts of its 10,000 windows

Seattle is Washington state’s largest city, located on Puget Sound, and is surrounded by mountains, water, evergreen forests, and thousands of acres of parks.  Aside from being the home of Microsoft, Amazon, Costco, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Verizon, Alaska Airlines, Holland America Cruise Lines, and many other large enterprises, I know there is much more to see in the city, thus, my eagerness to discover more attractions that don’t usually make it to the “must-visit” list of many tourists thanks to the prodding of my daughter.

The Kubota Garden is a 20-acre Japanese Garden located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood and is open daily to the public, free of charge.  It is beautiful during summer because the lush foliage banners a profusion of colors, with attractive blooms all over the place.  It is a very nice place to have some peace and quiet, while slowly sipping on your favorite coffee blend or, in my case, a cup of hot chocolate.  It definitely is a beautiful place to commune with nature…and it’s right in the heart of the city.

We passed by KOMO Plaza near the Space Needle,  The helipad on top of the building was actually utilized to show the rooftop of the hospital portrayed in the very popular TV series, Grey’s Anatomy.  However, it will surprise many fans of the show to know that the interiors of the hospital used in the TV series were actually those of a hospital in California.

The Kubota Garden, ablaze with attractive colors from the trees and blooms, is an ideal place for some peace and quiet

For those who enjoyed the movie, 50 Shades of Grey, Christian Grey’s fancy penthouse in the movie was a replica of the penthouse of the Escala Tower, an upscale condominium complex in the downtown area where a fancy one-bedroom unit sells for a million dollars minimum.   Still, our Tour Guide identified the luxury structure with that controversial movie.

The tour also passed by the Seattle Central Library with its ultra-modern architecture.  It is a towering 11-storey glass and steel building designed by a Dutch architect.  Its claim to fame is its unique structure which features 10,000 windows, yes, 10,000!  It also has an enviable collection of 1.4 million books and other reading materials.  What makes this library a favorite venue of many are its workspaces, music practice rooms, a writers’ room, classrooms, conference rooms, a teen center, and a children’s center.

We also passed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters which is right across the Space Needle.  According to our Tour Guide, the building is where the grantees, partners, and employees work together in tackling some of the pertinent issues that plague society or the grantees’ respective countries.  Bill Gates established the Foundation in 2010 to “give every person the opportunity to live a healthy and productive life.”

The attractive double-decker which took us to Seattle’s less popular but interesting attractions

But the biggest discovery and a pleasant surprise I had during this tour was the Dr. Jose Rizal Park, an 8.4-acre open space with a picnic shelter, an amphitheater, play areas and a public restroom in the outskirts of the city.   I learned that this same area was originally condemned by the city in the early 1900s due to some engineering problems and was left undeveloped for several decades.

However, in 1973,  Seattle’s Filipino Alumni Association petitioned the city to honor our national hero, thus the park was named after him and funds for its redevelopment were granted by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Aside from the aforementioned facilities, the park now has walking trails that offer a scenic view of the city, as its location is on the slopes of Beacon Hill.

I’m glad I followed my daughter’s suggestion for me to take this sightseeing tour, otherwise, I wouldn’t have discovered all these interesting spots in one of my favorite cities in the USA. I’m looking forward to more discoveries in my next trans-ocean sojourn!

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