Round Up

Here’s a bit of a round up of my travels – what I liked, what I didn’t, what worked well, what I’d do differently next time and just other general bits and pieces.

London

London in late June (early summer) is light.  It’s light at around 3.30/4.00am in the morning until around 10pm at night.  I found this a little difficult to get used to, especially coming from winter in Australia.  My advice if you like your sleep, make sure your windows are closed, blinds pulled down and perhaps invest in some earplugs and an eye mask.

Find a Waitrose, M&S or local fruit stall to stock up on fresh fruit.  Pret a Manger is a great cheap place to find breakfast or a sandwich and they are everywhere.

The underground was really easy to use.  I would suggest getting an Oyster card before you arrive in London.

I would definitely stay at the Rydges Hotel Kensington again.  It wasn’t really walking distance to all the action, but it was a few underground stops away and there was definitely enough in the area to not need to be.  It was close to the underground, supermarkets, plenty of restaurants etc.  I ate at the Hotel restaurant, the Jam Cupboard and was really impressed with the meal.  And of course, Kensington Palace and Hyde Park were just down the road.

There are people out late on the streets, but a lot of stuff doesn’t open til later in the morning.  So use it to sleep in or explore the streets while its quiet or go for a walk through Hyde Park.

Grand Cayman Island

The Caribbean Ocean is stunning.  However, it is very salty.  It played havoc with my hair, hats and clothes.  My suggestions would be to travel with a small container of hair treatment or at least wash your hair after every beach visit.  Rinse anything that you wear into or around the water so that the salt doesn’t ruin it.  Don’t pack overly good clothes.  Make sure it’s beach friendly, because truly that is where you will spend half of your time.  I reckon I didn’t use 1/4 of the clothes I packed for this very reason.

Sunscreen is a MUST.  I can’t stress this enough.  Even coming from Australia, the sun was so bitey.  Please be careful or you will end up very, very burnt.  And make sure you drink enough water.  Dehydration can happen rapidly.

Take an underwater camera, disposable or otherwise.  Schools of fish, stingrays and starfish can all be found in stunning clear water less than 1/2 meter deep.  So even if you aren’t into snorkelling or scuba diving, you can be assured to see sealife somewhere!

This is the place for water sports.  And because the waters are so calm and warm, it’s the best place to give them a try for the first time too.  Snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, scuba diving – just give it a bash.

Despite the fact that Cayman is not huge, it is not really that easy to get from one part of the island to the other.  A lot of the attractions are spread across different parts of the island.  My advice would be to either hire a car, or if you want to hit up numerous attractions pick up a tour.  Generally the tours visit the same locations, so choose between what you will see on the tour and what you can get to by local bus or taxi easily.

I would definitely stay along 7-Mile beach again.  A self-contained room, like what you’ll find at Sunshine Suites is perfect.  That way you can prepare the majority of your meals and then just splash out on the odd one.  There are some great value buffet meals around – like XQ’s and the Marriott’s Buckaneer’s feast.  But don’t forget to try some local specialties.

New York

If you are happy with a not so close up snapshot of the Statue of Liberty, just catch the free Staten Island Ferry.  If you want a better close up, I would suggest taking one of the paid ferries, which travel closer to the statue.  Of course, if you actually want to access Ellis Island and climb the statue, then that’s another option again.

The museums are huge.  Central Park is huge.  A lot of the time, you will need to decide whether you have time to dedicate a whole day or whether you want to fit more into your day.  I chose to do a little of each thing, rather than one or two things, but that’s just me.

New York is an easy city to walk around.  I walked most places, but I found that cabs were affordable and used them on occasions such as late at night or for further trips.  Bring good walking shoes.

New York is a noisy city.  Earplugs did not work for me.  Get yourself good and tired during the day and then have a few glasses of wine before bed, perhaps go to bed with the TV on snooze and hopefully that will give you a few good hours before daylight.

I found it easy to eat relatively healthy in New York.  There are plenty of shops such as Pret a Manger, Fresh & Co, Hale & Hearty where you can get fresh salads, sandwiches and fruit and they are open all day serving breakfast through to dinners.

New York is literally the city that never sleeps, but the city doesn’t sleep in either, so if you are into getting out there and seeing all the sights you can stuff into your visit, plan on some long, long days.  There are people out on the streets until late at night, and you can dine at any time of the day.

I wouldn’t stay here any less than 4 nights next time.  I stayed at the Affinia Manhattan in Midtown, across the road from Madison Square Gardens and a 10-15 minute walk from Times Square.  I felt this was a perfect location.  The hotel, whilst old, had been recently renovated.  The rooms were large and funky, if not still showing some signs of age.  Niles Restaurant had great meals and hotel guests were entitled to a 20% discount on dining in.  There were a load of restaurants around the area in any case.

Seattle

I stayed in Belltown and I don’t reckon I could have chosen a better place.  Walking distance to the Space Needle/EMP, Pike Place Market, the shopping district and the waterfront, loads and loads of restaurants and bars to choose from – what more could you want.  Seattle is an easy city to walk around, and its such a pretty place, there’s no reason you wouldn’t want to.

Get out and visit Mt Rainier – it’s worth it.  I chose Mt Rainier over Yosemite, as Mt Rainier is only a 2hour trip each way.  I chose Evergreen Escapes and although I probably paid a little more, the service and quality of the day was well and truly worth it.

Things don’t get going that early in the morning, so go for a walk around the markets, sleep in or do breakfast somewhere nice.

I wouldn’t stay here any less than 4 nights next time.  And I would definitely stay at the Ace Hotel again (I had a private room, but you can book otherwise).  The free breakfast was awesome.  The place smelt so clean and fresh and the staff were awesome.  The bed was the most comfortable I stayed in the whole time I was away.  FYI – Ace also have a hotel in New York.

San Francisco

San Francisco is not really an easy city to walk around.  A lot of the streets are actually at a 45 degree angle.  Obviously if that’s what you’re into, then go for it.

There are homeless people everywhere, as with all cities, but I didn’t feel threatened anywhere else.   I didn’t do my research thoroughly enough and ended up on the edge of Tenderloin (well I knew there were homeless people around, but just not quite the extent).  In saying that, Macys, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Hilton and the Westin were all about two blocks away and they weren’t immune either.  I probably would have felt more comfortable staying in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, seeing as that’s where I spent most of my time. There’s loads of restaurants here and most of the tourist attractions are here or leave from here.  Because I didn’t feel safe here by myself, I would suggest the city sightseeing buses or guided tours with hotel pickup/dropoff.

I chose to stay at the Best Western Hotel California.   The vegan restaurant at the hotel, Millenium was fabulous.  Don’t let the fact that its vegan put you off – the meals are so hearty that you probably won’t even notice.  But I wouldn’t stay here again.

If you want to go to Alcatraz, book in advance if possible.

Pack warm.  Even in ‘summer’.  July (summer) is the foggiest month.  I would say it was more akin to winter in Perth.

Singapore

Let’s face it, I don’t think there’s many parts of Singapore that you could go wrong for accommodation.  But that said, I like indulging in everything that Singapore has to offer.  The only thing that would determine my accommodation is this – if you want to relax by the water, have kids or want to indulge in water sports – head to Sentosa.  If you are keen for shopping – stay on Orchard Road.  If you are into luxury – head to Marina Bay.  If you like Museums and great food, perhaps head for Chinatown or the Raffles area.  If you want a quieter, greener area, try around Cuscaden Road.  Keep in mind, nowhere on the island is more than a 10-20 minute taxi ride and Singapore’s MRT system is fantastic.  So you really can’t go wrong.

There is always something new to do in Singapore.  Keep an eye out on www.yoursingapore.com, www.timeoutsingapore.com or even just make sure you pick up the tourist brochures at the airport like Where and you will find out all you need to know about where to go and what to do.  I can recommend any tours by Tour East (www.toureast.net), especially the Night Safari with dinner, which I find to be the best value.

Singapore is not just about tourist attractions though, so if like me, you had no idea how much history Singapore had particularly in relation to World War II, make sure you check out Fort Siloso (on Sentosa), Changi Prison & Chapel, Fort Canning or the Old Ford Factory for starters.

Culture vultures will not want to miss the Chinatown Heritage Museum and the Peranakan Museum.  There are also numerous walking tours through Chinatown and Little India.  And for art lovers – you must stop by SAM or the Art Science Museum.  But sometimes, the best thing about Singapore is that even if you just stroll around the streets, you will get a really good picture of the country, its food and its people.  And don’t be afraid to try anything here – the food is amazing.

Again, things don’t get going until around 10/11am in the morning, so use the time to enjoy brunch, sleep in or just explore the streets or Botanic Gardens while it’s quiet.

Hotel 1929’s terrace rooms are the best.  That said, I would only chose one of these if I were by myself or with a boyfriend etc, simply because the rooms are on the small side and the toilet is situated in with the shower, surrounded by glass.  The hotel itself is in a great location, the staff were amazing.  Free wifi, good coffee, free breakfast, free cookies and drinks.  Well worth the price, which was much less than a lot of the other big name hotels

Don’t bother with a transfer here, just grab a cab from outside the airport.

Overall

Whilst there’s lots of conjecture over what works and what doesn’t when trying to combat jet lag, what worked for me was a) following the time clock of the city I arrived in (ie. even if you are tired, make yourself go out for dinner or even just sit on a city sightseeing bus and go to sleep when the sun goes down) and b) try Jet Ease (or No Jet Lag), they may be called something different in your country, but I found this homeopathic remedy to work a treat.

Book transfers.  I know you can catch taxis, but I prefer to know that I don’t have to bothered thinking about where I’m going and how I’m going to get there after a long flight.

I booked a lot of tickets on line which saved time queuing up.

When you are budgeting, make sure you include for tipping – I found this added incredibly to my bills in Cayman and the US.

Everyone will tell you this – but don’t over pack.  You won’t use it all.  And if there’s something  you need while you are there, if you need it bad enough, you can buy it.

Buy a second battery for your camera.  I take lots of photos and the best investment I made was in a second battery.  I find there are lots of days where I spend all day snapping away and not having to worry that I’m running out of battery is a relief.  Obviously make sure you have lots of spare cards if you are also this way inclined.

My best flights were with Emirates, Jet Blue and Singapore Airlines.  I was surprised that you had to buy food on the six hour Virgin flight from New York to Seattle.

Order a low fat meal for the flight home!

Any questions?  Please drop me a line and I’ll be more than happy to share my point of view!

Expect the Best

Day 22:  Seattle

Oh what’s this?  Another day filled to the brim with new and exciting things to do?  Righty then, best I finish my granola and yoghurt, wash it down with my coffee and get on with it!

Scenic Flight on a Seaplane

Taking a Seattle seaplane tour is a quintessential Northwest experience apparently.  So I arrive at Kenmore Air on Lake Union to experience the “unique thrill of flying off the water and soaring over one of the most beautiful parts of the world”.

Ready for takeoff!
Ready for takeoff!

Boarding the small seaplane, every seat is a window seat.  We snap on our belts and put on our headphones to listen to the narrated flight.  We skim across the water for a while, before taking off.  It’s a lot smoother than I thought and soon we are flying over Lake Union’s famous houseboat communities, the beautiful University of Washington (U-Dub as the locals call it) campus, lakeside and seaside estates, Seattle’s professional sports stadiums and downtown skyline.

The Lake Union floating homes
The Lake Union floating homes

We also fly over the gasworks park…

The gasworks park, where Linda says yes to Steve's marriage proposal in the movie Singles
The gasworks park, where Linda says yes to Steve’s marriage proposal in the movie Singles

It’s an amazing view from the plane and you can see a lot.  It’s unfortunate that it’s not the clearest day so you can’t see Mt Rainier.  But I’ll be going there tomorrow anyway, so it doesn’t worry me in the slightest.  Interesting fact – there is one boat for every five peeps in Seattle!

Touching back down onto the water, the ride is over and another first accomplished – ride in a seaplane?  Tick!

Nordstroms Surprise

I hadn’t really planned to do any ‘shopping’ in Seattle, but driving through town on my way from the airport last night, I saw Nordstroms and the shopping strip around 5th Avenue and decided I could put away an hour to drop by and have a look around.  I was coming down the escalators on my way out of the department store, when I heard a voice start singing.  “I know that voice”, I thought to myself.  But it couldn’t be – surely not in a department store!  When I made it to the ground floor, I was right though – it was J Mascis, of the mighty Dinosaur Jr, now more commonly a solo artist.  Just singing and screaming away on his guitar.  J has a unique kind of voice, wallowy and mellow, his music melancholic and beautiful, his guitar work quite fabulous.  And he was just playing away here in Nordstroms.  So of course I just stayed and watched.  Wow, what a day!

Still can't believe it...J Mascis playing in Nordstroms!
Still can’t believe it…J Mascis playing in Nordstroms!

What a Bitch!

Now I needed lunch and I needed it fast.  When I’m in a locale, I do like to try the local food – fish, chips and mushy peas in London; conch, jerk chicken, beans and rice in Cayman; pizza and mac n’ cheese in New York – and now in Seattle, I’m going to try biscuit.  Biscuit in the US is different from biscuit in Australia.  Our biscuits are sweet – like cookies.  These biscuits, which generally come as a breakfast or lunch meal, are more like huge scones.  And they are crumbly like scones too – I’m not sure why this concept is so popular, but hey, who am I to judge.

Just near Pike Market is a café called Biscuit Bitch, where you can buy just such biscuit meals.  All the meals have names like Hot Mess Bitch, Smokin Hot Seattle Bitch, Bitchwitch (breakfast sandwich) and Straight Up Bitch.  My lunch is You Lucky Bitch, which is basically house roasted Cuban pulled pork, grilled onions, melted swiss cheese, fried egg, bitchy sauce all wedged between – well, biscuit!

You Lucky Bitch
You Lucky Bitch

Apart from aforementioned crumbliness, sandwich was good!  And it comes with chips, which confused the hell out of me because I assumed this meant hot potato chips/fries, stumped at why they were asking what flavour I wanted.  But no, they mean a packet of chips.  I’m confused, very confused by this meal.

Space Needle

My brother in law – hi Mike! – had one request of me for my trip to Seattle and that was a visit to the Space Needle.  The Space Needle is a tower located at the Seattle Centre.  It’s the symbol of Seattle and was built for the 1962 Worlds Fair.  Reaching 184m in height, the Space Needle was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River when it was completed.

It is built to withstand winds up to 89 m/s and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude.  Earthquake stability of the Space Needle was ensured by digging a hole 9.1m deep and 37m across, using 467 concrete trucks and one full day to fill it.  The foundation weighs 5850 tons, including 250 tons of reinforcing steel.  The structure is bolted to the foundation with 72 bolts, each one 9.1m long.

From the top of the Needle, one can see not only the downtown Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier and Elliot Bay and surrounding islands – unfortunately it isn’t clear enough to see Mount Rainier today.

Being a major symbol of the Pacific Northwest, the Space Needle has appeared in numerous films, TV shows and other works of fiction – It Happened at the World’s Fair (1962), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), Frasier, Grey’s Anatomy and iCarly.  The Space Needle has been used for some other purposes as well, including a large 57 piece Lego construction set of it that has been released as part of Lego Architecture’s structures.

Space Needle from the Seaplane
Space Needle from the Seaplane
View from the Needle
View from the Needle

EMP Museum

The EMP Museum (formerly known as Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame or EMP|SFM) is a museum dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, science fiction and pop culture and it’s located on the Seattle Centre site, along with the Space Needle.  It was designed by Frank Gehry and founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

There are a few exhibitions on at the moment, but I’ve got limited time, so do I whiz through each or pick one to see properly – ah darn it, let’s whiz through them all.

The first was Nirvana – Taking Punk to the Masses and it contained loads of memorabilia from Nirvana’s rise out of obscurity into grunge spotlight.  Broken guitars, old set lists and gig posters – even the In Utero models.  It’s all here along with interactive videos and billboard narrative.

Moore on that later...
Moore on that later…

The second was Jimi Hendrix.  This room contained a number of outfits that Jimi wore as well as news articles and reviews, including this interesting little snippet….

Bahahaha
Bahahaha

But more on Jimi later.

The final one, which I was looking forward to the most – Women Who Rock – turned out to be the least interesting.  I thought it would be an awesome display of some of history’s greatest female rock pioneers – Blondie, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks…. but no, it was just a bunch of outfits worn by people like Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Brittany Spears and this little gem from Lady Gaga…

Gaga's famous meat dress...ew
Gaga’s famous meat dress…ew

Disappointing.

Anyway, moving on, cause I got a tour to catch.

Stalking Seattle

Outside the EMP, I wait for my tour bus.  Before long, a big black SUV pulls up with “Stalking Seattle” plastered on the back.  This is my ride.  I meet Charity and find out I’m the only one booked on this tour – it’s all about me.  “Have you heard about the movie Singles?”  she asks.  “OMG yes, my sister and I are addicts”.  Charity is super excited at this as most people haven’t heard of it.  “And, do you know who Andy Wood was?”  she asks.  “Oh yeah, I love Andy!”  she’s even more excited now.  “This is going to be such a good tour!” she says and off we go.  I tell her that I saw J Mascis playing in Nordstroms today and she’s like “No way!  Norstroms – really?  That is SO cool!”

The basis of this tour is pretty much to stalk out all the grunge and Singles related sites around Seattle.  The ‘grunge’ scene, if you must call it anything, suddenly became a way of life to the outside world.  Long johns and flannelette shirts, which Seattlites actually wore to keep warm in the North West’s miserable weather conditions, were seen on the high fashion runways thanks (or not) to designers like Marc Jacobs.  Anything remotely related to grunge was marketed and sold.  Bands who had hardly played a gig were suddenly signed to record labels.  And everything went a little bit crazy.

But if you were into the music, actually really loved the music, it was a great time in music’s history.  There were some fantastic bands, a lot of which are still around today.  Mudhoney, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains have all released new albums this year.

Around this time, Cameron Crowe, film director and Seattle native, made his film Singles.  It was a story about young 20 something singles living in Seattle and actually featured quite an all star cast – Bridget Fonda, Sheila Kelley, Bull Pullman, Campbell Scott, Jim True, Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedgewick, Tim Burton and Eric Stolz.  Not to mention cameos by Alice in Chains, Chris Cornell and Stone, Jeff and Eddie from Pearl Jam.  It was quite comedic and there are heaps of classic lines in it, which Leigh and I repeat over and over and over.  I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched this movie.  And on a rainy day when I think about that era, I always pull out Singles and rug up on the sofa with a glass of red for a good laugh.

I’m aware most of this will go over your head, but Leigh – this one’s for you, let the stalking begin:

Andy Wood's apartment where he lived until his death of a heroin overdose in 1990
Andy Wood’s apartment where he lived until his death of a heroin overdose in 1990
The apartment building where Jeff Ament lived from 1990 until 2011
The apartment building where Jeff Ament lived from 1990 until 2011
The Crocodile Café - where Nirvana played Smells Like Teen Spirit and Mad Season played their 1st show
The Crocodile Café – where Nirvana played Smells Like Teen Spirit and Mad Season played their 1st show
The Virginia Inn where Steve met Linda for 'water' in Singles - this is the view from where Linda lifted Steve's car door button
The Virginia Inn where Steve met Linda for ‘water’ in Singles – this is the view from where Linda lifted Steve’s car door button
...and inside - this is the booth where the couple was snogging while Linda and Steve were trying to enjoy their 'water'
…and inside – this is the booth where the couple was snogging while Linda and Steve were trying to enjoy their ‘water’
The original Sub Pop Records location. The lobby was used as a 'fake shop' where Debbie Hunt went to film her 'Expect the Best' video
The original Sub Pop Records location. The lobby was used as a ‘fake shop’ where Debbie Hunt went to film her ‘Expect the Best’ video
The Moore Theatre where the video for Even Flow was shot - remember Eddie falling backwards from the rafters into the audience
The Moore Theatre where the video for Even Flow was shot – remember Eddie falling backwards from the rafters into the audience
The Central Saloon - Mother Love Bone played their last gig here before Andy Wood died
The Central Saloon – Mother Love Bone played their last gig here before Andy Wood died
The Singles apartment block where Cliff, Jennifer, Bailey, Steve, Debbie and Pammy lived
The Singles apartment block where Cliff, Jennifer, Bailey, Steve, Debbie and Pammy lived
The garage under the apartment block where Steve gave Linda the beeper to park underground next time
The garage under the apartment block where Steve gave Linda the beeper to park underground next time
Linda's Apartment "I was just nowhere near your neighbourhood..."
Linda’s Apartment “I was just nowhere near your neighbourhood…”
Black Hole Sun sculpture - possibly the inspiration behind the Soundgarden song
Black Hole Sun sculpture – possibly the inspiration behind the Soundgarden song
The Paramount Theatre where Andy Wood's memorial was held in March 1990
The Paramount Theatre where Andy Wood’s memorial was held in March 1990
The house where Kurt Cobain shot himself (now remodelled)
The house where Kurt Cobain shot himself (now remodelled)
Sub Pop's current offices, this is the view at the back of the building - Mark Arm from Mudhoney runs the warehouse
Sub Pop’s current offices, this is the view at the back of the building – Mark Arm from Mudhoney runs the warehouse
Bad Animals Studios - Alice in Chains, BB King, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden all recorded albums here
Bad Animals Studios – Alice in Chains, BB King, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden all recorded albums here

These were not the only places we saw (I’d be here all night uploading photos otherwise!).  We also drove over to Renton to see Jimi Hendrix grave, Jimi’s sculpture in Pine Street, the alley where Debbie’s bike tyre gets a flat on her way to meet Jamie, the 5 Point Café where Andy Wood used to hang out, the original Sub Pop mega mart, the Metropolis (considered the birth place of Grunge, co-run by Chris Cornell’s ex wife Susan Silver), the street where the newsstand in Singles was built, the Comet Tavern (where Mia Zapata from the Gits was last seen alive before she was murdered in 1993), the Re-Bar which was used for the scene where the Spanish dude dumped Linda and her friend consoled her, the building where Andy Wood and Jeff Ament worked in whilst it was a cafe, the chair dude where Linda’s friend asked “if you got married, would we still go out dancing?” and two rock stars homes, which I’m not sure I should post pictures of, given that they are neighbours of Charity and she only showed me cause I was such a fan of the whole scene (cough, cough, ahem – Mike McCready and Stone Gossard – I didn’t tell you).

Hard Rock Café

I wasn’t actually going to visit this Hard Rock Café, because let’s face it – it was going to be hard to top the Caymans with their Eddie Vedder’s brown jacket display, but Charity tells me that there’s some Andrew Wood memorabilia in this one, so I trek down there with my camera.  Now I think Seattle is wonderful, but I don’t want to paint it as perfect, because it’s not.  It still has all the big city problems that any other city has.  It’s quite obviously Friday night in the city centre, cause even though it’s only 7.30pm, fights are breaking out between gangs of youths on the street, and the amount of homeless people wandering around is staggering.  There are a lot of addicts in this city and I won’t lie, it does make you feel a little uncomfortable at times.  But generally they don’t bother you, just say no to their plea for cash (which you have to remember is usually going to fuel their addiction) and walk on by and they leave you alone.  Charity said some of them act as car parking attendants to trick people into giving them cash.  Crafty.

So anyway I was glad to find the café and go on in.

Unfortunately they way they have set this one out is with all the memorabilia on the outside walls with booths in front of them, so you can’t take photos without bothering the people sitting in the booth, and because it’s a Friday night, it’s packed.  I can see the Yield sign from the Pearl Jam album of the same name.  And Andy Woods Lakers Jersey and a guitar.  There’s a drum head with signatures on it, which I can’t see, but I find out later is signed by the members of Mudhoney.

Andy Wood's Lakers jersey and guitar and drum head signed by Mudhoney
Andy Wood’s Lakers jersey and guitar and drum head signed by Mudhoney

But nothing else.  And the service is pretty bland.  This is not Hard Rock’s finest hour.

The Original Starbucks

I’m passing by Pike Markets on the way home, so I pop by just to see if I can find the original Starbucks shop.  I’m not really into Starbucks, there’s just too much cream and syrup (sorry – Layers of Delicious!) for my liking – but this is THE original Starbucks – so this stop is for you Katie.

The first Starbucks Coffee store, founded in 1971, was originally located at 2000 Western Avenue.  In 1977 it moved one block away to 1912 Pike Place where it has been in continuous operation ever since.  The store was opened by three partners:  Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker.  The sign outside this branch, unlike others, features the original logo – a bare-breasted sirenn that was modeled after a 15th century Norse woodcut.  From just a narrow storefront, Starbucks offered some of the world’s finest fresh-roasted whole bean coffees. The name, inspired by Moby Dick, evoked the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders.

Today, with more than 17,000 stores in 55 countries, Starbucks is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world, or so they say.  Sorry, but I’m just not a fan…

The original Starbucks
The original Starbucks

After today, I simply cannot believe I am in Seattle!  I never thought this would happen in a million years, but here I am, visiting the stories for real.  This is the other side of the world for goodness sake.  The musicians I have idolised since my teenage years walked these streets, crossed these lights and sat in these chairs.  I am so, so, incredibly excited.  I just can’t believe it.  Who would have thought…me, in Seattle….. Wow.