Day two in Seattle started at the Olympic Sculpture Park down by the waterfront.
Then along and up through the floors of the century-old Pike Place Market – saved from demolition in the 60s by a popular outcry and subsequent vote. According to Wikipedia it is the 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world. Which was slightly surprising.
Pressing on along 4th Avenue on foot to find the Columbia Center and its 74th floor Sky View Observatory we passed a large and instantly recognisable Henry Moore sculpture in front of one of the tower blocks.
Curiously, although clearly attributed on the plinth, it does not seem to be listed as one of the Moores on public display in Vancouver.
The Columbia Center Observatory deserves to be better known.
It is much higher than the Space Needle, has superb all round views and is much cheaper to ascend.
It is the highest public viewing gallery on the west coast of America.
Greyhound bus (eventually) to Canada
Saying goodbye to the Silver Cloud Inn…
…we took a taxi to the bus for Canada. Our pleasant, turbaned driver had to enter the address in his sat-nav but it then led him unerringly along a tangle of concrete roads to the strangely isolated Greyhound terminal.
Having left, as usual, plenty of time we checked in an hour early for the 2.45pm bus booked online the day before – for the astonishingly low price of $22 each for the 150 mile journey (not much more than you pay for a taxi ride in Seattle).
We gave the code number to the uniformed girl at the counter and she responded immediately with a reassuring “Hello James” before printing off our tickets. She then said we should be ready to line up behind Door B and that it was going to be chaotic. It was.
We waited for four hours, with almost no information and increasingly wondering whether we should try to get a train or even duck out and find a bed for another night in Seattle.
It gradually became clear that they had sold tickets for two buses at 2.45 but only had one driver with a passport. We were the first people not to get on the bus there was and we headed the queue from then on.
“As soon as we have any information we will let you know. Thank you for your patience.”
Lesley upset the man who took over when the girl who had checked us in went off duty by saying we were not patient – we were in fact impatient.
Most people were better behaved than us. But it was not even clear that, if and when a bus did eventually appear, the people behind us in the queue booked for the 4.00pm bus would take precedence. All in all it was a complete shambles, extraordinarily amateurish by European standards, and the lack of information was insulting. Any British politician who thinks the answer to public transport is privatisation ought to have this experience, but with the present club of rich boys running the show there is little chance of that.
At long, long last our saviour arrived in the substantial form of a smiling lady driver with a lovely southern drawl who had driven down from Vancouver and who said she had always told them she wouldn’t be in until 4.30.
After more anxious minutes we eventually led the queue out to her bus and she checked the tickets, passports and customs declaration forms, and loaded the bags for her fifty passengers entirely unaided (actually I loaded our bags) and, pausing only to go back for an enormous flask of water, cried “OK. Who wants to go to Vancouver” and we were off.
We didn’t need the stop at Duty Free but at last we were through the border formalities and speeding into Vancouver, where the Greyhound station was spacious and well designed and taxis were waiting outside. When we arrived at the Sylvia Hotel, at nearly 10.00pm, the friendly welcome and lovely suite with kitchenette and sitting room for the next 5 nights made it all worthwhile and we felt quite at home!