Today I visited neighbourhoods outside of the downtown core: Capitol Hill and the University District. The hotel staff was really nice in printing down for me the proper buses to go where I wanted.
My first stop was Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill, home of an old water tower, the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a 1912 hot house called the Conservatory. Walking up the old water tower was challenging but worth it; except for an annoying grillage that blocked the view for pictures, if you looked through the holes you had a really nice view.
Then I walked a few paces to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, home of the Asian collection of the SAM. The whole collection used to be there before they moved downtown, but the Asian collection is worth seeing, as well. The building is Art Deco, and there is yet another piece of public art right in front of it, through which you can actually see the Space Needle.
Happily, going to the SAM also pays for the SAAM; 10$ for two museum visits was quite worth it. It was early in the morning, so there was almost nobody in the museum, and I could go at my pace without being bothered much. Their collection of ancient Indian sculptures is especially impressive.
Again just a few paces from the SAAM is the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a set of a few hot houses built, as I mentioned, in 1912. Of course, being from Montréal no set of hot houses really impresses me anymore, seeing that I’ve been raised going to the Botanical Gardens quite regularly. They had a pretty collection of colourful flowers, and the entrance was free, too. But considering that it is maintained by volunteers, is still open and is popular even among locals shows the importance it has in Seattle.
When I was done with the park I took the bus back down to the core of Capitol Hill, comprised mainly of Broadway Avenue. This is allegedly the cultural core of Seattle, and it did feel like another version of St-Denis which made me feel closer to Montréal than I’ve ever felt since I moved on the West Coast. A strip of hipster and designer stores, cafés and espresso bars, bistros and ethnic restaurants, bars and performance spaces all along; it felt homey and nice. If I was to live in Seattle, I would probably try to live in that neighbourhood.
Then I hopped on yet another bus across the water to the University District, the neighbourhood around the University of Washington. The main street there, University Way (or “The Ave” for local students), felt like Montréal again, this time the part of Ste-Catherine/Maisonneuve starting from Concordia going west. I happened to visit on graduation week, so there were a lot of families and students walking around in their robes, with flowers, talking about graduation. There was a nice kind of buzz.
Then I walked onto the campus, to see typical American college grounds. The main architectural sight is the Suzzalo Library, a gigantic Neo-Gothic construction that had me in awe from the moment I glimpsed its high arched windows. I would probably enjoy spending hours in this library. Most of the oldest buildings all have this Neo-Gothic feel to them, seeing as the university was founded in the 1860s or 1870s.
I took the bus back to my hotel and decided to take it easy; my legs are really not happy with me and they are begging for some rest. The Seattle transit system is a bit like Victoria, I feel; the two main points are downtown and the campus, with the addition of Seattle Center, and there isn’t much inter-neighbourhood connections; for example to go to Capitol Hill, which is directly east of Queen Anne, I had to take a bus downtown and then another one back up to the Hill.
Tomorrow I might kill my morning and early afternoon at Bainbridge Island, before I have to take the clipper back.