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Day 41 - Reaching Seattle

I woke up early this morning even before the sun was rising but I couldn’t go to sleep anymore. Nevertheless, I had a good night sleep and thanks to the time change from Mountain Time to Pacific Time I had gained another hour and therefore slept almost for eight hours, the sleep I normally always need. Also the seat next to me had remained open which had given me the opportunity to stretch a bit more. During the night the train had made stops in Libby, MT and briefly passed through Idaho with a stop in Sandpoint, ID before reaching Spokane in the state of Washington. Slowly the daylight came up providing views of the desert like scenery that reminded me about California and Arizona. The first train stop was at Ephrata, WA. Once the train started its spectacular decent down along the Columbia River Gorge towards Wenatchee, WA the landscape got much greener. After we had reached Leavenworth, WA the scenery had changed completely. The train was passing through beautiful pine forests and spectacular views of the nearby mountains opened up. I wanted to get some breakfast in the launch car and enjoy the great views from the panorama windows but unfortunately the launch car had remained with the other half of the train that was removed in Spokane, WA continuing its journey to Portland, OR. Luckily the dining car was still on the train and they sold also hot beverages and muffins there. Finally the Empire Builder passed through the Cascades Tunnel. Also on the other side many spectacular views opened up while the train was crossing several bridges. I got some really nice shots from the mountains with the river right in front. Then the terrain became flatter and we reached Everett, WA. After a short stop we continued the trip along the beautiful coast line. It had taken me pretty much exactly 72 hours from the time leaving the Atlantic coast in Boston until reaching the Pacific, a distance of about 5,200 km. The train did one more stop in Edmonds, WA before finally arriving at Seattle King Street station. The train was a little bit delayed, the actual arrival time should have been at 10.25 am. Instead we reached Seattle about 50 minutes late at 11.15 am. Still when considering that the train ran for 46 hours and 10 minutes a delay of 50 minutes was quite reasonable. I claimed my bag which luckily didn’t get lost although it had been on three different trains. I walked the short distance to the hostel which conveniently was located right by the station. It was of course too early to check-in but I could at least store by luggage at the hostel and move freely for the rest of the day. After I had left the hostel I went first for lunch. After lunch I walked down to the water front. There I just ran into the Washington State Ferry terminal and decided spontaneously to do a crossing by boat to Bainbridge Island. The return ticket was only 8 dollars and from the ferry I got a fantastic view of Seattle. After I had bought the ticket it was already time for boarding. The ferry left in time and the crossing took about 35 minutes. I had the chance to take some really nice pictures and to get a better overview of the city itself. At Bainbridge Island all passengers had to disembark however after I had gotten off the boat I immediately returned as I didn’t had the time to stay on the island. The next ferry would have been about an hour later but I wanted to get back to Seattle immediately. Also the return trip took about 35 minutes. On the way back the sky started to clear a bit more and some of the mountains right behind the city became visible. After returning to Seattle I kept walking along the water front passing by some of the piers and the ferries wheel. I also had a quick look at the Aquarium but didn’t enter it. Instead I left the harbor behind and climbed the stairs up to the Pike Place Market. I was browsing through different shops while the one selling old magazines and newspapers mainly from the 1940s and 1950s was the most interesting one for me. After I had spent some considerable time at the market I followed Pike Street in order to get to the Westlake Center, just a few blocks from the Pike Place Market. There I witnessed a public dancing event right on the square before getting on the Seattle Monorail. This monorail was built in 1962 for the Seattle World Fair and is still operating on its original track. I got a return ticket and boarded the next train that became available. The ride to the Seattle Center didn’t take very long. I went right to the Space Needle which I aimed to visit. The cue at the ticket windows was long but there were some ticket vending machines where I didn’t had to wait in line at all. Unfortunately the earliest available tickets were for 9.30 pm. I asked the staff that was around the vending machine and they confirmed that there were no tickets anymore available for the afternoon. I didn’t want to wait until 9.30 pm and therefore didn’t get a ticket. What a shame, I was really looking forward to get on top of the building. Instead I spent some time at the Seattle Center, I had a look at the art work and the surrounding buildings and structures such as the Chihuly Graden and Glass, the EMP Museum and the Pacific Science Center. I didn’t enter any of them as they were all bound to close soon. I returned to the Westlake Center by monorail and got some refreshments. I spent some time at the dance event before starting my walk back to the hostel. I went along 4th Street because I still wanted to see the public library which is housed in a very interesting building. The library was already closed but I had still the chance to have a closer look at the building’s exterior. Finally I was able to check-in at the hostel and to take a shower. I didn’t had the chance to shower since I had left Boston. I spent the evening in the common area of the hostel catching up with all my e-mails as I didn’t had much internet access during the past three days. Also I got to know a few fellow travelers that were staying in the hostel as well. I went to bed early as I also had to catch up a bit with sleep from the past three nights. It felt really good to once again sleep in a real bed and not on a coach seat.  
Nice views from the train window

Nice views from the train window

Empire Builder after arrival in Seattle King Street Station

Seattle harbor

On the Washington State Ferry

Approaching Bainbridge Island

Seattle from Bainbridge Island

Seattle harbor

At the Pike Place Market

Dancing at the Westlake Center

Space Needle

Pacific Science Center

Seattle Library

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