Roman Malanke

Grounded in Seattle

As they say you never know what may happen to you in the next instance.

Same with me, how on earth could I imagine myself being affected by the worst air travel disruption ever when I was peacefully packing my things to return home from the U.S.? However it’s also true that every (ash) cloud has a silver lining. So instead of getting frustrated and blaming nasty Icelandic volcano I resolved to enjoy this unexpected chance to extend my stay in Seattle. Not only did I spend more productive time working with American colleagues but also experienced Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Mexican cuisine and of course attended the biggest local salsa party.

Before coming to Seattle I had an impression of it as a cool city with a massive artistic and alternative culture. That’s probably because I used to be a great fan of grunge music which basically originated here. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were the foundation of my music taste formation. And I should say what I actually saw wasn’t at all disappointing. Walking through Capitol Hill district at night and seeing so many “creative” individuals, art shops, galleries and clubs with live music couldn’t leave any doubts about city’s “coolness”. But apart from that Seattle, as well as the areas surrounding it, is very neat, clean and green. So it’s not for nothing that Washington has its nickname “The Evergreen State”.

One of my first must-see tourist destinations was, of course, the famous Space Needle. I first read about it in Chuck Palahniuk’s book “Invisible Monsters”. Characters from the book went on top of the tower’s observation deck and threw their notes for the future on pieces of paper down by the wind. Being a good tourist I, of course, didn’t follow their example and litter from the top but made a couple of wishes inside my head anyway. The panoramic view of downtown and Puget Sound were definitely worth its $17.

The other impressive place I happened to visit was Seattle Public Library. From outside it’s a big futuristic building made of glass. Inside it’s the most amazing reading temple I’ve ever seen. The floors are organized as a giant spiral, which runs to the upmost level, where a huge reading room with a transparent roof is located. I couldn’t stand the temptation of the place, picked up a book about Abraham Lincoln dated 1945, and spent a couple of pleasant hours reading.

The only thing that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate was probably Seattle’s famous coffee shops as I am not a great fan of coffee. But nonetheless I stopped by at the world’s oldest Starbucks and some others where tasted cocoa and hot chocolate. My vegetarian needs were fully satisfied by visiting Pike Place Market which apart from being a big tourist attraction with its fish and crabs actually offers a good selection of vegetables, fruits and berries.

So at this point my next attempt to fly back to Ukraine is scheduled on Thursday, but we’ll see how it goes with Eyjafjallajökull. Guessed what that meant? ;-)