A mountain dweller in the Washington Lake valley

Seattle SkylineI have recently had the opportunity to fly to almost the other side of the planet. This was my first time on the West Coast of the USA and my first time in Seattle. No matter how much people had told me about this major city of Washington state, I must admit that I bumped into a few surprises that I am keen to report in this blog post in form of questions/answers:
  • Is Washington State a republic where salmons are king? I must admit that before visiting Seattle I did not know anything about their local salmon. I eventually knew about the Alaskan, but there are so much coming from Norvay and Scotland over here that you may not know the full diversity of this species. But let's face it, you cannot dissociate Seattle from these pink-fleshed fishes as they seem to rule the place. For instance, there are two bridges crossing Washington Lake and they are quite unique. First they are floating and not laid on the ground because the lake is too deep and too big pillars might have blocked the natural flow of the salmons. Second, they are not wide enough to support the amount of traffic that goes through, and are consequently a constant traffic jam nightmare. Guess what? They cannot be expanded because the work and extended shade may disrupt the salmon migrations! A bit further sewage grids are accompanied with a sign: do not dump anything in the sewage. Why? To avoid polution? Yes... of course, but primarily to avoid bothering the salmons as the visual clearly priorities. Lucky enough to have a boat? Your boarding deck will have to be in transparent material... to avoid disturbing the swimming kings. And the list goes on and on.
    More about the king of Seattle and fun around it here.
  • Are you really green when you drive a 4x4? Seattle is renown for being one of the most eco-conscious city in the country. Most taxis travelling around the city are Toyota Prius with hybrid motors. People have a very high consumption of organic products (and this translates in an average wasteline way below Fatlanta's). And yet, Average Joe's car is a SUV. This type of car does match well with the topography of the city where streets have been drawn straight regardless of the ground inclination, and the wild countryside thirty minutes away. But on the other hand, it seems to be antinomic of a green mindset.
  • Do we know each other? The people in this city are just too friendly, and that can take you aback. Waiters, shop staffs... Everyone is so friendly that, coming from Europe, you may feel that it is over the top, or even malicious. It took me a while to adjust to this mindset. An example? I was shopping for some presents to bring home in the baby aisle of a department store. The sales rep comes to me and engage into a conversation:
    "- who are you shopping for today?" she says with a smile on her face.
    (obviously not for me as I have stopped wearing 6-8 month babygros for a few years) "- My son"
    "- And where is your son?", looking around for a pram.
    "- Back home."
    "- Ah... And where is home?"
    "- In London, UK"
    "- Great, enjoy shopping"
    I could not quite figure out whether she was genuinely interested, or just attempting too hard to be friendly to sell, or even if she was an under-cover FBI agent conducting an investigation to figure out if I were a paedophile...
  • Are you aware that you are on latitude 47? The great thing about Seattle for someone like me is the immediate proximity of both snow-covered mountains and sea. The earlier attribute should be an hint of the current weather in that area. Seattle is in the Northwestern region... Like NORTH western... When you walk around, you really wonder if people really clicked about the fact that they are on the same latitude as Ukraine, Romania, Kazakhstan... Non of which is really reknown for its sunny beaches. So it is fair to say that it is not the sunniest and warmest place in the world, and this translates in numerous outdoor clothing chains like North Face, Patagonia, etc. Seattle is thus probably the best place to shop for warm fleeces or snowboard gears. And yet, when the above-mentioned Average Joe parks is SUV downtown, he is very likely to wear a simple T-Shirt or even flip-flops.

And finally, is this the best example of name dropping or what?

Bill Gates???
(Seen at Seattle Airport. Seattle home of Microsoft...)


  1. I know what you mean about the SUVs. Get further out of town and everyone seems to have a pick up truck for "haulin' stuff!"

    They would have loved your accent mate. The most imprtant thing to learn is how to order water in a restaurant. They won't understand rcieved pronunciation so ask for "woddah" and you'll get it.

    If you want me to bring you back some of the "smoked" salmon let me know. It's unlike anything your've every tasted!

  2. Amazing post, smiled and laughed and learnt quite a few things along the way - I knew a little about Seattle as our mother compagny is ther. Even got to taste their smoked salmon, quite yummy. Many thanks!

  3. LoriH8:13 pm

    This was a fun read! I giggled all the way through. And next time you visit, I'll fire up our smoker and we'll have a smoked salmon feast! Mel - you are also invited, since you are almost a West Seattle resident.

  4. Upasana6:07 am

    Love your insights on the city and made me laugh out loud! The SUV craze and the over friendliness of the city...it too me a little while to get used to. Today after 7years i have come a long way- i joined the group of SUV owners but i don't think i have become half as friendly as an average Seattlite.