Seattle, Tech City of the Pacific Northwest.

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On the flight from Los Angeles to Seattle I read an article in Sky, the Delta inflight magazine.

Titled “Keeping the global skies open” it was a rant, by the Delta CEO, Richard Anderson.

What has got his back up is the growth of Qatar, Etihad and Emirates and the subsequent loss of market share by the US carriers.

He points out that these Gulf airlines are heavily subsidised by their governments. But what he fails to mention is that those subsidies go to provide better, roomier aircraft and a level of service that the US carriers have forgotten about, or never even had.

We have flown with a number of American Airlines and I don’t blame the public for deserting them in order to get a far better flying experience.

It’s a pity that the Gulf airlines don’t fly on a few more routes – especially in the US.

To quote Richard. “Fair and open competition internationally is in the best interests of airlines, their customers and their employees.”

I am sure that it’s in the best interests of the airlines, however not their customers and to claim their staff benefit might be dubious.

While many of the cabin crew on US carriers act like little more than high altitude wait staff, Emirates people are polite, attentive and well educated. They have badges on their uniforms informing you what language, other than English, that they speak – some have  a lot of badges.

I am sure that there is a direct relationship between happy customers and contented and fulfilled staff.

We were in Seattle to get a new car. In the US you can only have a rental car for 30 days before you have to return it. This is ostensibly for service and maintenance but it’s also so they can keep an eye on their vehicles.

We originally intended to have one car for 62 days but we were told this wasn’t possible.

Having done a loop out of LA we decided to return the car there and then fly to Seattle and pick up another one.

This was a bad move.

We had booked online with rentalcars.com for the entire time and paid for it in advance.

When we returned the car in LA, Dollar, the rental company, unbeknown to us, closed our booking. To make things worse, when we arrived in Seattle we were told that the Dollar company there was only a franchise and we couldn’t take the vehicle out of Washington State. We were then pointed in the direction of Thrifty, the parent company of Dollar and a national network.

That’s when we found out our contract had been cancelled.

We were about to make another call to rentalcars.com when the guy behind the desk, obviously feeling sorry for us, decided to take the issue to his manager.

She was a ‘can do’ person and resolved to help us out.

She did, and with the aid of the night manager, two hours later we walked out of Thrifty with an upgraded car and a waver of the remote delivery charge.

We had made arrangements to have brunch with Tim, a university friend of Hayden. It was at a funky restaurant in the downtown area of Seattle. The decor was ‘Industrial Grunge’ and the menu, as ever, was complicated, offering items that needed Tim’s translation.

After our rather substantial meal Tim kindly showed us some of the city sites.

Our fist stop was to gawk at the world’s first Starbucks. Yes, unfortunately for Seattle this is where it all began.

Having had a great cup of coffee at breakfast we weren’t tempted inside to have another one.

We wandered through the Pike Palace Market, which was more for the tourists than the locals. I was amazed by the Googie inspired neon signs that were everywhere. The market was opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest, continually operated markets in the US.

Under the market and near the Market Theatre box office is the Market Theatre Gum Wall*. It’s a strange tourist attraction with thousand of locals and visitors depositing their used chewing gum there every year.

We took the Monorail to the Space Needle, which dominates the Seattle skyline, and walked through the Seattle Center. Both the Space Needle and Seattle Centre, along with the International Fountain, were built for the 1962 World’s Fair. We then took an Uber taxi up to Kerry Park. From there you can get a great view of the city and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately the clouds were gathering and the visibility was diminishing.

Then it started to rain.

We left Tim to the rest of his Sunday and returned to the car. The remainder of our Seattle site seeing would have to be done from there.

Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and fastest growing major city in the US. Its growth is driven, in the main, by tech companies and start-ups. Google, Facebook, Apple, ebay, Dropbox, Uber, Twitter, Amazon and Microsoft all have offices there.

*On November 10, 2015, the Gum Wall was cleaned for the first time in 20 years. This apparently was necessary as the gum was eroding the bricks in the wall. After the cleaning people will be free to stick new chewy up again.

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