This departure was my first chance to see (apart from in design models) the airside changes at Auckland Airport. Although still in construction the finished parts look great and the new security/emigration area is much better.
Via Hawaii, a good way to go
Although about 15 hours total a stop-over in Hawaii, after 9 hours, made the flight to Seattle much more pleasant than the usual long-haul.
The Hawaiian entry to the US wasn’t terrible but I found the ‘new’ machines, of which they seemed very proud, to be of little advantage. Nowhere near as slick as the Kiwi system.
They still gave us visa waiver entry forms on the aircraft and said they needed to be filled out. In the immigration hall, which was packed, some were put through the old way, queue for an officer, while others - including me - got to queue for the new machines.
It scanned your passport, fingers and asked the questions on the form and some the officers used to do (reason for travel, where staying, anything to declare like are you a terrorist…) then printed a receipt. Then you queued again to see an officer who reviewed the receipt, your passport and asked a few more questions. Overall the whole process seemed to take much longer and that form from the aircraft wasn't needed!
I found the airport layout, and way-finding signage or lack of, a bit baffling but eventually got from the international arrivals to my domestic flight to Seattle. I did like the airside gardens, much nicer than hanging around in a terminal, and the great airfield views. It amazes me how many airports hide the business of flying which (am I odd?) I find interesting to watch!
Seeing 6 stealth fighters taxiing, and quite a few travelling in military uniforms, was odd for a Kiwi but a reminder this is a partially military facility.
It was late at night when I arrived. A long diversion on approach (almost to Portland!) meant the tailwind Jetstream benefit, we were at 40000 ft doing 900km/h, was lost again. The Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330-200 was fine, would happily fly them again which is fortunate because I will be.
Awoke after a bit of a sleep in to find Seattle cold’ish (6oC) and damp. No surprises there so I layered up (yay Icebreaker merino thermals and jacket) and headed out to explore the city.
I didn’t have a plan, other than to see the usual key sights, so just wandered towards the waterfront from the Mayflower Park Hotel where I was staying.
Seattle will be transformed when a tunnel, in construction, replaces this waterfront overhead highway. Note the temporary accommodation, Seattle must be a tough place to be homeless in winter. That aside I found the city to be clean and seemingly safe, certainly no problem wandering in the areas I visited.
No, I didn’t go in but it was interesting/odd to see (below) legal cannabis sales. When I got home NZ legalised limited medical use (a sensible change from the previous governments policy) but I think it will be a while before we see the likes of “Herban Legends”.
Yes, went up The Space Needle because, well, you just have too! The cap was to keep the drizzle off my glasses, not shade!
The view was a bit gloomy, but clear enough to see a reasonable portion of the city.
A glimmer of sun in the distance made this photo more interesting but came to nothing. It was mostly fine enough for walking, just light drizzle if anything.
Loved the Chihuly Garden and Glass and although photos don’t do it justice I took plenty! About a week later wandering through the Bellagio I twigged that the ceiling of their lobby area was by the same artist. It is a mass of glass ‘lilies’ similar to the installation below.
I stayed and watched the glass blowing demo because it was interesting and coincided with heavy rain so no incentive to leave!
After a late lunch, just a burger, at the MoPOP I didn’t really have enough time to do their exhibitions justice. Spent most time in the music spaces, the guitar and related memorabilia collection was amazing!
Meeting Buzz, it’s been a while!
It was great to catch up with Buzz Bruggeman, of ActiveWords. I have used his software for over a decade and it is still awesome. We last met in Orlando, before he moved to Seattle, when I attended Autodesk University 2005!
He was considering getting a new car so, after a meal, we wandered around the Seattle motorshow, in the bowels of the Seattle Seahawks home stadium.
It was great to catch up with Buzz and help him not buy a car! Hopefully he’ll get out to New Zealand for our next rendezvous and it will not take over a decade. My turn to show him some locations from the Aussie/NZ TV series 800 Words, shot near Auckland, which somehow he’d seen!
Was odd to talk about places I know so well, and him only from TV! For Kiwis visiting the US it’s mostly the other way around!