Sunday in Seattle: Exploring City Center

Back on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. Today we’re hopping off at Seattle Center. The number one thing we wanted to see this weekend is the Chihuly museum. Like everything else, we had to buy tickets in advance and reserve a time slot.

Bad girls always sit in the back of the bus.
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the country.

Pike Place Market is a popular spot but today we don’t have time to roam its nine acres of fish tossing, deli food, artisan crafts and countless other things. In previous visits to Seattle, I have enjoyed its significant international presence. It’s easy to find French pastries, Russian piroshkis, Persian kebobs, Thai curries and much, much more.

Pike’s Place is the original farmer’s market and the center of locally sourced artisan and specialty foods. The first Starbucks can be found here. It is one of the country’s oldest and largest farmer’s markets which has welcomed over 10 million visitors since its start in 1907. It’s in the top 50 most visited tourist attractions in the world but not today for us — we are heading for the Chihuly museum.

The bus passed by two Seattle icons … the Space Needle and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop). The latter was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry who also designed the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.
This giant typewriter eraser brings back memories of an era gone by. I wonder if millennial visitors know what this is.
Sonic Bloom is the giant solar energy-generating flower sculpture by Dan Corson designed for the Pacific Science Center. It is the nation’s first science and technology center that serves as a resource for educators and fuel discovery.

Finally we have reached our destination for the day — Chihuly Garden and Glass. The centerpiece is the Glasshouse, a tall, glass and steel structure of light-filled space which holds an expansive long sculpture.

The light-filled glass and steel structure is the result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories. (Image by the Chihuly photographer
An expansive long sculpture in reds, oranges, yellows and ambers decorates the Glasshouse ceiling.

The world knows Dale Chihuly as a glass artist. Being from Tacoma, his reputation as Seattle’s most famous artist is one facet of his life. He began his career with weaving and incorporated glass shards into woven tapestries which led him to blow his first glass bubble in 1965.

This stunning display of white glass is the first item in this exhibit.
Part of Chihuly’s personal collection of Northwest Coast Native American Indian trade blankets were on display.

Chihuly is credited with transforming the methods of creating glass art leading to the development of complex, multi-part glass sculptures and environmental art.

The Persian ceiling is a clear glass ceiling filled with numerous glass sculptures of varying sizes, hues, and forms.
Geez Terry, we look like a couple of gawking tourists … I guess we are a couple of gawking tourists. Included in the price of a ticket is a photo taken by the Chihuly photographer.
Dramatic, dynamic, and detailed, each piece is fluid yet fragile.
Chihuly is credited with the development of complex, multi-part glass sculptures.

Macchia is Italian for spot … inspired to use all 300 colors in his hot shop studio, Chihuly explored unexpected color combinations with the Macchia series. Chihuly adds brightly colored spots for a speckled effect.

Macchia forms look like seashells. The largest one made by Chihuly was four-feet in diameter.
The glasshouse frames one of the outdoor environmental sculptures.
Citron Icicle Tower is the tallest tree in the Chihuly forest.

Opened in May 2012, Chihuly Garden and Glass is already a top tourist attraction, quickly outdoing its more established neighbors like the Space Needle as one of the most highly recommended things to do in Seattle. Our tour ended in the gift shop which offered small Chihuly pieces for $5-10K. We bought magnets instead.

Close to the Chihuly exhibit we discovered the start of the monorail. Having had glimpses of the monorail around town, we enthusiastically decided we just had to ride it.

We couldn’t resist the allure of the monorail. You don’t see them very often. (Image from Seattle attractions.)

Not knowing anything about the monorail beforehand, we discovered it is a two-minute ride with only one-stop. We felt like little kids who had just ridden the kiddie train at the zoo. We had a good laugh. Looking around, we did notice that there were a lot of kids riding the monorail.

Built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the monorail is the fastest way to travel between downtown and Seattle Center. It is the world’s first full-scale ALWEG monorail system. Alweg was a transportation company based in Germany known for pioneering straddle-beam monorails.

The best part of the monorail ride is that it curves around MoPop, the Museum of Pop Culture. (Image from Seattle Attractions.)

Speaking of MoPop, that is one stop we wish we could have done but we didn’t have enough time on this trip. The Museum of Pop Culture’s mission is to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect communities.

Frank O. Gehry-designed the MoPop building which is a fusion of textures and colors. (Image from Hoffman construction)

It was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 as the Experience Music Project. It has the world’s largest collection of artifacts, hand-written lyrics, personal instruments, and original photographs celebrating the music and history of Seattle musician Jimi Hendrix and the band Nirvana.

This looks like a tornado of musical creativity. (Information and image from Seattle Attractions).

Exhibits feature pop culture, from the art of fantasy, horror cinema, and video games to science fiction literature and costumes from screen and stage.

One of the reasons we didn’t have time for MoPop was because it was Sunday afternoon. Had to find a Packer bar.

(Image from

Buckley’s Pub was a short 4-5 blocks downhill from the Space Needle. Coincidentally, we happen to see someone wearing a Packer shirt by the Space Needle. As usual when I see a Packer fan I do a little “Go Pack Go” shout. This was a couple from Florida who just happened to be looking for a place to watch the Packer’s game. We mentioned that we were going to Buckley’s Pub which was touted on google as being a fun Packer pub. Theresa and I started wandering toward Buckleys.

Flamingo dude was part of the landscape at Seattle center. Musicians playing amplified string instruments were interspersed among the exhibits.

With Pudget Sound in the background, it was a scenic ten minute walk to Buckley’s through a pleasant neighborhood. We arrived in time to see the Seattle Seahawks lose 27-7 to the 49ers. Being an empathetic person I felt sorry for the disappointed Seattle fans at Buckley’s.

Coming from Minnesota, I see this kind of disappointment often with Viking fans, many of which are my friends. With that said, I must mention that the Vikings recently beat the Packers 23-7 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It’s all fun.

Buckley’s Pub is a neighborhood bar that attracts Packer fans on game days.

When we were seated on the Packer side of the bar, it was confusing to see someone wearing a Viking jersey sitting at the table next to us. Hoping we were at the right place, we discovered the Viking fan was from Hudson, Wisconsin (even more shameful). This misguided but very personable young man blamed it on his family of Viking fans. Nick had just moved to Seattle and reassured us that the Viking bar was elsewhere.

Packer fans are everywhere … Dillon and Abbie are from Gainesville Florida.

Shortly after the start of the game, we saw our acquaintances from the Space Needle walk through the door. We waved them over to our table. It was really fun having Packer fans to party with. Theresa and Abbie were less interested in football so there was some interesting crosstalk going on while the game proceeded. I’m good at multi-tasking so I tuned into the conversation when the game permitted.

Kindered spirits attract. Abbie is a very talented person who does graphic design, excels in pottery and is an entrepreneur. Her pottery has been promoted on Etsy but she is striving to create her own website and find other ways of marketing her creativity.

Check out Abbie’s work on Instagram at

Confident that the Packers were going to win, we cut out of Buckleys during the 4th quarter of the game and headed back to Chinatown. Our Hostel receptionist Jessie had recommended a nearby restaurant called Fort St. George. We were eager to try it.

We shared Takoyaki which is octopus dumplings with Tonkatsu sauce.
For a main course we shared Shabu Shabu salad which has lettuce, mizuna, cucumber, and blanched thin pork slices dressed in a ginger soy vinaigrette.

Fort St. George was a lovely place with quiet ambiance. The food was touted as Japanese comfort food and it hit the spot.

Packers beat the Bears 27-10. It was another great day in Seattle.

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Jane is a resident of Browndale neighborhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

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