Sunny skies over downtown on the water. Photo by Aadil
It’s been a couple of weeks since we started flying from London Heathrow to Seattle, on the beautiful Pacific Northwest coast. There’s so much to do in and around the city, but what if you only have a few days in town? We sent a team of our people to the Emerald City for 72 hours and asked for their top five tips for fellow first–timers on a tight timescale…
Embrace the elements Let’s get it out of the way first: the (infamous?) weather. We heard Seattleites joke that the city only has two seasons; rain and heavier rain, but don’t let this put a dampener on your trip. Giovanni Manzella, a member of our Cabin Crew said: “Yes, it’s sometimes rainy and grey but it’s a city still full of colour and energy. It’s like another San Francisco and I think people will love it!” And really, it doesn’t actually rain all the time – as you can see from some of our sunny snaps – but pack a good coat and an umbrella and be ready to embrace the elements, just in case.
Arrive hungry Seattle is a hungry person’s dream, with tempting markets, restaurants and shops in abundance selling delicious local produce. According to Blaine Taylor in our Finance team, you shouldn’t visit while you’re on a diet: “The food everywhere is incredible! Pike Place Market shouldn’t be missed, but the smaller, really cool Melrose Market is well-worth a visit too.” And another top tip from Otis Shoebridge at Virgin Holidays is to ask the producers at the food markets what’s good this time of year. As he discovered, they’re desperate for you to taste what’s in season. And once you start chatting, you might not stop. Olivia Williams in our Heathrow Customer team suggests: “Have fun and be open and friendly, just as the people of the city are. You never know who you will meet in this newly expanding city!”
Cultivate a love of coffee, coffee, and more coffee Seattle is home to the original Starbucks, and you’ll never be without your skinny caramel latte as there’s a shop on almost every corner. But there’s a lot more for coffee lovers to discover in Seattle, as Blaine told us: “There were lots of interesting and independent coffee shops, and the people working in them have a real Pacific Northwest friendliness.” At places like Convoy Coffee in Pioneer Square and Analog Coffee in Capitol Hill, you can get your cold brew or pourover fix with beans from local Washington roasters.
Explore on foot The city’s different districts all have their own distinct feel, and exploring on foot really lets you get a sense of them. Just make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes, as there are some surprisingly steep hills. In Downtown Seattle you can marvel at the public library, whose glass walls are at such wild angles it needs roped-up mountain climbers to clean its windows. In the International District, you can discover Seattle’sJapanese-American history at the Panama Hotel, site of the last remaining sentō in the United States. Sports fans can take in not one but two sports stadiums in Pioneer Square, home to the Seahawks football and the Mariners baseball teams. Aadil Soroya, Turnaround Coordinator at Heathrow said: “I find Seattle very quirky yet quaint. Where Capitol Hill has the cosmopolitan hipster bars and shops, an island hop across to Bainbridge will make you feel completely differently about the city!”
Get out on the water Perched on the shores of Puget Sound, close to the Pacific Ocean, Seattle is a true seaport city. If you’re a transport geek like us (we don’t just like planes you know!), you’ll be fascinated by its vast docks and hulking container ships loading and unloading their cargo day in, day out. A great way to see the scale of it – and view the city from a different angle – is by getting out on the water. Hop on the ferry to Bainbridge Island and, as you speed away from the port, the full skyline emerges. In about 35 minutes you’ll experience another, slower-pace of life. Aadil put it best: “The serene neighbourhood overlooking the harbour was truly mesmerising and the friendly locals eager to make conversation really showed the warm side of this residential area. Sit at the front of the ferry for the most breathtaking view of the Seattle skyline.”
Our staff Seattle competition winners – Kiel Lillie, Otis Shoebridge, Blaine Taylor, Olivia Williams, Giovanni Manzella and Aadil Soroya
We asked our team to sum up Seattle in three words… hard to do, but here’s what they said:
Aadil: “quirky, quaint, cosmopolitan”
Blaine: “quirky, friendly, cool”
Kiel: “hipster, moist and friendly”
Giovanni: “beautiful, liberal, tolerant”
Olivia: “City no limits!”
Otis: “young, vibrant and entrepreneurial. And can I add picturesque?!”
And finally, Gio made this fabulous video which shows the whole trip in two and a half minutes…
Jodie’s new to Virgin Atlantic, but her love of air travel begun years ago when her dad surprised her with her first ever flight from Heathrow. She still gets excited about going to the airport but she likes travelling on foot too – her favourite way to explore a new place is with an early morning run.