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Sep 5, 2003

Road Trip : Part 2 Seattle

The Road Trip - Part 2(Washington) Boeing Factory & Seattle

That was a looong night...slept for around 12 hours, catching up with all the sleep lost. Reached Boeing factory at 1130am and got tickets for the 1pm tour, five bucks each. The guy at the Boeing counter directed us to a place he called the "Waterfront", and gave us a route map for the same, for us to spend the interim time. The so called Waterfront is at Mukilteo, there is a ferry terminal and a waterfront esplanade cum road with some restaurants and cafes. If you have time (we didn't) Mukilteo is an interesting beach front community to explore. After grabbing a quick bite we promptly reported back at the Boeing Tour Center at 1pm.

Boeing Tour (<< a must do) is worth the five bucks they charge and much, much more. They have six tour timings during the day and most of them are packed, takes up all the seats of the bus they use to take people around the factory. It starts with a 12 minute video on Boeing's history and manufacturing process, this is also the time you can utilize to go to the restroom or keep your belongings in your car since you are not supposed to take personal items during the tour and nor are there any rest stops during the hour long tour of the factory.

First they take you to the main building, which by its volume, and footprint is largest building in the world. It is divided into separate areas, one after the other, for the manufacturing and assembly of Boeings 747, 767, 777 etc etc. You are shown the assembly process of a 747, which you can watch at a safe but viewable distance from the overhanging walkways. There is a huge barrage of information you could accumulate during the tour, the kind you could impress your friends with, during light-hearted dinner chit-chat like, "do you know Boeing Factory covers 98.3 acres under one roof?" or "do you know Boeing 777 is the first airplane designed full on computer?" Well, if you want to know more about Boeing or Boeing Factory Tours. Click here

After the Boeing rendezvous, we drove back to Seattle. My research on Seattle prior to this visit had enlightened me the fact that the new Seattle downtown is built atop an older downtown which was almost consumed by the Great Fire of 1889. I had found out that they offered tours of this underground area, which covered about 32 blocks, so we started looking around Pioneer Square (a must visit) and thereabouts to find an entrance to this underground market. There were some 'deceiving' doors leading to underground places just off the street, but most of them were locked or they housed some modern art gallery by the name the 'underground cellar' and the like.

Finally we chanced upon a wizened Chinese caretaker of a downtown garden, who seemed as old as the Great Fire itself and posed the question to him. After what seemed to be an hour of rambling on about 1st Avenue and some other street, we could finally decipher from his talk that Seattle underground was not accessible to all and sundry at anytime as we had thought, but you had to be part of tour that took people down during particular times of the day, and it started somewhere near the 1st Ave or the 1st street and he told us that maybe we were too late for a tour now since it seemed well past morning anyway. Well, Seattle underground will remain a mystery forever, we thanked the caretaker and left.

We walked around Pioneer Square a bit, it looked like the Saturday market in our city, except that here it was held in a place which was more akin to fairgrounds, and in Seattle was a city square, flanked by old brick buildings with ivy growing on them, cobbled stone grounds and an old world pavilion adding to its historical aura. Nice place to hang out if you had enough time. There were lots of artists and painters selling their wares, really good quality stuff for which you didn't have to dish out the art-gallery price.

Our next stop was Pike's Place Market (<< a must visit), the original farmers' market which has now turned into one of Seattle's top attractions. Yes, we did see the 'fish throwing guy', along with many other vendors of fresh produce and fish. Pike's place market also has an underground section which is fully operational. Pike's Place market gave an impression of a similar market in India, maybe a little more orderly and a little less crowded.

We hung out for a while at an Irish pub overlooking the market and the sea beyond, then headed towards the seaside park to 'catch the beat of the city'. A guy was playing saxophone sitting on a bench nearby, for his own pleasure, looking every bit like Stevie Wonder. Seemed like all the people in the park were either bums sharing joints and having drinks out of Pepsi bottles or tourists like us who were photographing everything in sight.

An hour at the park and we realized that our 3 hour parking permit was almost getting over and we headed back. We decided to drive towards Alki Point(<< a must visit, off the beaten path) which was one of those off the beaten path spots, frequented more by locals than the tourists. Alki Point promised a great view of Seattle skyline, but all we knew was that it was way out on the western tip of city, facing downtown. with no definite directions to lead us towards it. Anyway after an hour of exploring various roads we reached Alki Point just as the sun went down and what a gorgeous view it was! There was a pathway along the waterfront, a few benches here and there and it was pretty quiet except for the occasional jogger or somebody walking their dog. Right in front of us, across the water was the night skyline of Seattle in all its glory. Thus ended our day two.

(Link to all posts of Road Trip)