We decided, on short notice, to spend two days in Seattle during Labor Day’s long weekend.
Looking for hotels on Thursday night was a dramatic experience: Most of them were sold out and the remaining (in the 3 or 4 stars category) were costing almost 500 dollars/night! We almost decided against traveling, as we think five hundred dollars is a ridiculous amount to pay in a city that has much less attractions than London, Paris, New York, Rome, San Francisco, Oahu, Zurich, Lisbon, Washigton D.C., …
Seattle? Come on… why such exorbitant prices?
After more than one hour researching “all” possibilities, we decided to stay in Redmond. Redmond is the city where Microsoft headquarters is located and is a 30 minutes drive from downtown Seattle.
Hotel: We booked the Silver Cloud Inn through the hotel website (USD 159.00 / night) as it was less expensive than through the popular booking engines.
Driving: We didn’t fill up our car before leaving Vancouver because gas prices are much cheaper in US than in Canada. We filled the tank as soon as we crossed the border.
Border Crossing: There was a long line of vehicles at the border and it took around 30 minutes to clear customs. Fast and simple, just “when was the less time you have been in the US?”, “How long are you staying?” , “where are you staying?”. Our stamps from a previous trip are still valid, so the officer said we were good to go without the need of stamping again.
Driving along American‘s freeways is almost the same as driving in Canada: Excellent road conditions and clean resting areas. People driving in US and Canada must take care with speed. US uses miles and Canada uses Km.
The hotel: Silver Cloud Inn was a pleasant surprise. Friendly reception, huge bedroom with a king size bed, a very large flat screen TV, chaise long, fridge, micro oven, tea, coffee etc. The bathroom was huge and spotless clean. Toiletries from Aveda. Free wireless and free self parking.
After leaving our luggage in the room, we had a shower and went to downtown Redmond where I bought a sim card from T-Mobile to be used with my unlocked iPhone.
Redmond City Center: Is pretty and really small. There are a couple of stores and food places. There’s a huge parking garage (free). The entrance is located right at the side of T-Mobile store on 7521 166th Ave NE.
Having a phone with a local number is good because we avoid paying the outrageous rooming rates charged by Fido. I highly recommend buying a local sim card wherever you travel.
Leaving T-Mobile store with an American phone number gave me the ability to look for “where to eat in Redmond”. After searching Yelp we decided on Thai 65 Cafe.
Thai 65 Cafe is located on 17026 Avondale Way, Redmond. There were only two customers eating at the time we got there but we saw many people coming to pick up their “take out” boxes. The restaurant is simple and it has delicious _ absolutely delicious _ food! Service is very friendly and we loved everything there.
Back to hotel we had an excellent nigh of sleep. The bed is very comfortable and I only missed my pillow as I found the hotel’s pillows a little bit “fat” for my personal taste.
Saturday, August 30:
The hotel offers an excellent self service breakfast. It’s not the poor continental breakfast offered by some chains when breakfast is included in the tariff. There were eggs, sausages, waffle, various kinds of coffee, tea and bread, fruits, etc.
After breakfast we planned to walk around downtown Seattle but decided against it as there was a light rain and many clouds above us.
We went straight to Seattle Premium Outlets.
The Outlet: Seattle Premium Outlet is located at 10600 Quil Ceda Blvd,
Tulalip, approximately 30 min north of Seattle, on I-5. There are many stores, including Polo, Nike, Columbia, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Abercrombe, etc. If you have been to other outlets in the US, specially in New York, Orlando and Virginia you will miss them, specially Woodbury (NY).
Seattle Premium Outlets, in my opinion, is good if you are very really fat (size 12 / size 14) or very thin (size 2). If you have a “normal body type”, like size 6, don’t waste your time because you aren’t going to find anything. It was ridiculous looking for shorts and only finding size 2 and size 14. Nothing in between! We managed to do some shopping but my long list could not be cleared.
We arrived early at the outlet and did not have problems parking our car. After 11am the crowds arrived for shopping and the lines at the most popular stores were really long. At 2pm I gave up looking for articles I planned to buy and we went to have lunch at the local restaurant (located at the parking lot).
The restaurant is called “Ram“. Although it is a huge place, there were no available seats. We had to wait 10 minutes for a table. The food was “ok”.
From the shopping we drove to a bike store in downtown Seattle. It was my intention to buy an electric bike to DH but he didn’t like any of the models available and he said he prefers to keep with his actual pedals-only bike.
Seattle is not pretty. Or I did not find the right places to go?
Traffic is chaotic (even on Saturday!) and it’s a hilly city. I prefer flat cities where you can walk or bike without effort.
From the bike store we went to Kerry Park, famous for the views. It’s an “ok” park, where you have a straight view to the Space Needle Observation Tower and downtown’s high-rises.
Living in Vancouver we are spoiled by the wonderful Stanley Park, so… a park must be really-really-really interesting to get our attention (like Windsor Great Park, or The High Park in London, or The Central Park in NYC, etc…). Kerry Park is just an “ok” park, but if you want to see the city from above, you might want to go there and take some shots.
We drove to Microsoft‘s headquarters in Redmond and it was interesting to see so many parking lots and buildings without a soul. Long weekend, Labor day… there was no one there!
Microsoft occupies many buildings and the visitor center is located at 15010 NE 36th St, Redmond. It was closed for the weekend, but if you go on a work day I guess it can be a very stimulating visit. Next time!
Microsoft: Wonderful to see an Architectural project taking accessibility into great account. It’s not “just a ramp” for disable people. It’s “A” ramp, beautiful and with the same architectural impact of the beautiful staircase. Great job Microsoft!
Imagine the emotion of attending a job interview at Microsoft’s headquarters!?! Can be exciting, he? I wish Good Luck for anyone attending an interview there. Redmond looks as a very nice place to live.
We had lunch at almost 3pm so we didn’t want to go out for dinner. (Lunch was still being processed!) 🙂 We went to Safeway Supermarket and bought some beers, cheese and Italian bread to eat later, in case we got hungry.
Second night of sleep at the hotel was very good, and I guess I got used to the pillow as I slept much better than the previous night!
Breakfast was again very good and the hotel was packed with people! There was almost no one when we arrived Friday evening! I guess everyone came on Saturday to the big holiday weekend.
We packed our luggage in the car, checked out and drove to Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour. It’s located at 8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA. I recommend you buy your tickets online as they cost 2 dollars less than if you buy them at the time you get there. Also, you can choose the time you are going on the tour (it gets crowded there, specially during summer and during the weekends).
You can not take anything with you during the Boeing tour (no cell phones, purse, backpack, nothing, nada). There are lockers (1 dollar) at the entrance where you can store your belongings. We left our luggage inside the car, and there were no issues, although it is written everywhere that they don’t take any responsibility for car break-ins.
The Boeing Tour takes approximately 90 minutes and it is excellent. You watch a short video before entering in a bus that takes you to the buildings where the planes are being constructed / assembled. It is a very informative visit and probably better if you go during working days. As it was Sunday, there were very few employees working, so we didn’t get the sense of the factory in “full action”.
After the tour we continued North along highway 5 and crossed the border to our lovely Canada. Traveling is good but when you live in a wonderful place as Vancouver, returning home is awesome! 🙂
If you would like to suggest nice places to go in Seattle, please feel free to send me your suggestions writing on the commentary section. It’s really close to Vancouver and it would be good to go again and discover new sites there! Thank you!