Seattle: Seven things you didn't know about Aer Lingus's newest US destination
The Emerald City
Ireland's newest transatlantic route will whisk visitors all the way to Washington State. But what surprises lie in store in Seattle?
1. The Space Needle sways
Don't worry - just a little bit. Seattle's Space Needle is the city's iconic tower, though it's not actually that tall (the Observation Deck is at 520 feet, with the observation levels at Toronto's CN Tower starting at 1,122-feet, by contrast). The structure sways around one inch for every 10mph of wind, and is built to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour. See spaceneedle.com.
2. There's more to its music than Nirvana
Everybody knows Seattle is the birthplace of Grunge. The northwest city has given us Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and, of course Nirvana (whose In Utero is 25 years young next year), but it didn't stop - or indeed, start - there. Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones both grew up in the city, and in recent years the seminal Sup Pop label has released the Fleet Foxes (above), Beach House and Foals, among many others. It's one of the best cities in the US for live music.
3. It's not as rainy as you think
Here in Ireland, we can empathise. Seattle's maritime climate has helped cultivate its Emerald City nickname, but it's not as wet as it's often made out to be. In fact, at around 38 inches, annual rainfall is less than that of Chicago, New York City and even neighbouring Portland, Oregon, according to Visit Seattle (visitseattle.org). In reality, its Pacific Northwest location is more likely to shroud you in mist and drizzle than full-blown rain... so pack a light raincoat rather than the umbrella.
4. It's got a Museum Month
February sees Downtown hotel guests gain access to the region's top museums for half-price (you're welcome). After collecting your map and pass at check-in, proceed to explore everything from MoPOP, the excellent museum of pop culture (above) to LeMay - America's Car Museum or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center. See seattlemuseummonth.com.
5. Here's the original Starbucks
Ta-da! OK, you (like many Seattleites) may prefer counter-cultural coffee roasts, but it's hard to pass up the chance to visit the original Starbucks café. It opened on March 31, 1971, and you'll find it at the brilliant Pike Place Market, alongside 225 other local artisans and knockout views of Elliott Bay.
6. It's home to some HUGE brands
Starbucks is but the beginning. Microsoft, Boeing (above), Nordstrom... all are based in Seattle. Arguably the biggest of the local behemoths is Amazon, with its own campus and some 40,000 employees in the South Lake Union area. Jeff Bezos first arrived in 1994 and began by selling books from his garage - today, the company has a huge impact on everything from culture to traffic management and minimum wage in the city, as this New York Times story illustrates. “Other cities would kill to have the problems that Seattle has,” as one computer science professor puts it.
7. You've seen it on screen (a lot)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993) is its definitive rom-com, but there's more to it than the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan weepie. Try The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), An Officer and a Gentleman (1992), Singles (1992), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) and The Ring (2002), just for starters. Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) was set here too, although filmed mostly in Vancouver. Plus... we forget, the iconic 90s sitcom Frasier (1993-2004).
NB: Aer Lingus's new Dublin-Seattle route starts from May 18, 2018, with prices from €259 each-way as part of a return ticket.