Thursday, June 29, 2006

Seattle: Good and Bad

I just got back from a week-long vacation in Seattle with my two nephews, my girlfriend, and two of her kids. Seattle's a nice town; we had very nice (re: dry) weather while we were there, had a fun time.

The things we liked best were:
  • The food. Two-pound crabs? Thirty-ounce prime rib? Yeah, we indulged. Great food, especially the seafood.
  • Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. The boys and I loved this. Not just SF movies, not just SF TV, but also lots of SF literature -- even if the boys had never read any Clarke or Bradbury . The best part was the huge screen with all the different spaceships from different media (from the Rama cylinder to the Millennium Falcon to the Planet Express ship from Futurama), and the interactive information about each ship.
  • Game On. The Pacific Science Center was host to the traveling Game On exhibit, chock full of videogames from Pong to the latest Xbox 360 titles. A fun way to spend an afternoon.
  • The Museum of Flight. I wasn't sure the nephs would like this, but they did -- and so did I. Lots and lots of aircraft from different eras, and a fair amount of (interesting) behind-the-scenes stuff, too.
  • The Space Needle. Good view. What more to say?

What didn't we like? Here's a short list:

  • Experience Music Project. Good premise, poor execution. There simply wasn't much there, there. Aside from the Jimi Hendrix room and the fun interactive instrumental jam area, it was a big letdown. Where was the history? Where was the music? The place was poorly laid out (which way to turn?), had little to no content, and cost way too much ($20/each). Underwhelming, to say the least.
  • Nintendo Welcome Center. Okay, so it wasn't really advertised as a tourist attraction, but you'd think Nintendo's U.S. headquarters would have a little something to show to visitors. All we found was a combination customer service desk and smallish gift store. Game over, Nintendo.
  • The streets. This is one of the most confusing cities I've ever visited, and that's saying a lot, given that I've traveled to both Boston and Milan. Streets change names every few blocks, major streets veer off into minor streets, street signs are obscured by foliage, just a real nightmare trying to find your way around. (It took us four tries to find our hotel -- and it was just a few blocks off I-5!)

We also liked our hotel, the Residence Inn at Lake Union. Nice location (centrally located and on a beautiful lake), very large facility, fun pool to play in, roomy rooms to sleep in (we did two-bedroom suites), free breakfasts every day, and a free dinner on Wednesday. The free meals almost made up for the bread we spent at the expensive dining establishments (Daniel's Broiler and Chandler's Crab Shack) we enjoyed across the street.

All in all, a very good vacation. Everyone enjoyed themselves, my nephs got along fine with my girlfriend's children, and the good points outweighed the bad. Seattle -- not a bad place to visit.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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