Turtle Canyon Media now has a branch in Seattle, USA and we are delighted to be residents of such a beautiful city. The famous sights and attractions of Seattle are well-known: the Space Needle, monorail and Pike Place Market attract thousands of visitors every year, but we wanted to draw attention to some of the slightly less famous examples of what makes Seattle great. Stuart recently visited and presents his top three places to discover…
It turns out that Washington is the one state that doesn’t run on Dunkin’. Perhaps due to the proliferation of Starbucks, Victrola and Tully’s coffee houses, Seattle hasn’t been able to taste Dunkin’ Donuts since about 2001. As a man who enjoys donuts (as witnessed to disturbing excess here), I was dismayed to discover there would be a donut shaped hole in my visit to Seattle. Luckily, I discovered an independent chain of doughnut shops that not only filled that hole but then glazed over it with a lovingly crafted icing. Top Pot Doughnuts’ hand-forged doughnuts are incredible, beautifully made and taste so good you’ll need to put aside most of your sightseeing time just so that you can make your way through their forty different types. Combine that quality with a great coffee and the relaxed atmosphere and you have a “doughnut lounge” fit for a President. Literally, because President Obama visited in October of 2010, no doubt attracted by the chance to just have a quiet coffee and hand-forged doughnut.
It turns out that Seattle is perched on top of another Seattle. In 1889 a great fire destroyed much of the old city and it was in the aftermath of the destruction that a decision was made: to re-build the city using stone and brick structures and to raise the street level to avoid the regular flooding that occurs when you build a city on tidelands. It was to take around ten years to raise the street level so the local business owners, keen to not lose out on ten years of business, decided to rebuild their premises and allow the city to be raised around them. The legacy of this is an incredible situation where the ground floor of lots of buildings in Seattle are now below street level. All of this information by itself would have contributed to the excitement of being able to walk around the underground Seattle but at Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour you get much more for your $16. Your tour guides are so well-informed and enthusiastic that even the most curmudgeonly Englishman can’t help but be swept up in their excitement for the history of their city. It’s also funny, really funny. The opening twenty minute monologue that establishes the story of settling in Seattle and what led to an underground city is so well-written and perfectly performed that everyone was immediately won over, even people from Tacoma.
I find it difficult to go to bars, pubs and clubs because lots of people go to them and those people invariably look far more relaxed, comfortable and cooler than I ever manage. Drinks are often overpriced, you have to shout to be heard and there’s nowhere to sit down. So, it was with great trepidation that I walked up to this bar called Shortys, so that I might engage in some social interaction with a friend. Shortys is not a place to be scared of for various reasons: the music is good and at just the right level to eliminate an awkwardly quiet atmosphere but also allow conversation, the toilets weren’t a disgraceful collection of bodily fluids distributed on every single surface, and the drinks were good. The main reason why you should go to Shortys is the pinball. There are about fourteen pinball machines that allow you to play multiplayer games to really rack up a competitive atmosphere during your quiet night out. Retro machines sit next to the latest models so that you can play an eighties Indiana Jones machine and then turn around to fire up the Avatar model. This also means that if you want to leave your house to stop the voices talking to you you can go somewhere, safe in the knowledge that the bells, chimes and sound effects can drown out any voices that try to communicate with you. Because the music isn’t loud enough. For the record: I easily won the first two rounds of four person multiplayer, got cocky and came last in the final two rounds.