Monday, October 24, 2005

Twenty-Four Hours of Seattle

This past Thursday night I flew to Seattle. I was there until Friday evening when I flew back home to San Jose. Why was I in Seattle? Well that's the subject for another blog that I will definitely write in the not too distant future. This was my first trip to Seattle, so that makes for a pretty good blog subject all by itself.

First off, I flew Alaska Airlines to Seattle. This was my first time flying Alaska, I was very unimpressed. Their terminal in San Jose and their planes all seemed like they had not been redecorated since the 70's. Both of my flights (to and from) were late. The flight attendants were especially annoying. They were like watchdogs when it came to making sure people shut down their laptops and iPods.

What I got really annoyed with was hearing about how there wasn't going to enough room for all the carry-on luggage. Why do they have a policy of one carry-on plus one "personal" item if they don't actually have room for that? They kept threatening to make people check their luggage. Then they would point out that if you had to check your luggage at the gate, you would not be able to claim at the gate (you'd have to get it from baggage claim) unless you were flying first class. How rididculous is that? Earlier this year I flew to Florida with my wife and one-year old son. We bought an umbrella stroller for pushing him around the airport. We would then check this at the gate when were boarding the plane. We would then pick it up when we were getting off the plane, so we could put him back in it. This was especially useful considering we had to change planes in Atlanta. I guess if we were flying Alaska then, we would not have been able to get our stroller back until we got to Florida.

Ok, so Alaska Airlines sucks. Next up was my hotel in Seattle. I stayed at the W Seattle. I was really looking forward to the hotel. It looked really nice online and it sounded like a place that really pampered its guests. This was exactly the case, but yet I was still very disappointed with the W.

The W is one of those places that tries way too hard to be cool. You've known people like that. They're not inherently bad, but you don't really want to be around them much. That's the W. The place is poorly lit. The hall outside my room was very dark, with only low-lit purple lighting. Yes purple. The lobby was dark with booming techno music. This was true when I arrived at 10 PM on Thursday night, and was still true when I went jogging at 7 AM on Friday morning. They like to advertise about the thread-count of the comforters on their beds and their goose feather pillows, but the most important part of a bed is the mattress. Their beds were way too soft. Maybe kids might like that, but most adults will wind up with a back-ache because of the lack of back support. Actually my wife likes super-soft beds like that, but she's the only adult I know who doesn't need back support from their beds, and the W's beds had no back support. The room did have a nice chair and desk. It also had a cool-looking couch that had soft cushions to sit on, but no cushions for the back. So you'd sit down, sink into the seat cushions, then tip backwards and hit the hard board back of the couch. The W is all about form over function.

But here's the worst thing about the W. Despite being a very nice hotel and very expensive hotel, they totally try to nickel-and-dime you. Things that are included at most nice hotels are not included at the W. They deliver USA Today to your door each morning, without you even having to ask. However, they charge you $0.80 for it. They have internet access in the rooms (though no Wi-Fi, which I found very surprising) but you have to pay $15 a day for it! My wife and I recently stayed at a Best Western in Cambria and it had free internet access in all rooms, with free Wi-Fi in most rooms and all public areas. That was a Best Western. You would think that a fancy hotel like the W would have at least as many amenities as a Best Western in central California.

Ok, so I also hated the W. Otherwise though, I really liked Seattle. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the city. I really enjoyed jogging downtown. Seattle seems like a big sports town. The new stadiums (Qwest Field and Safeco Field) are both very impressive. There were tons of sports bars. The weather there was beautiful while I was there. Everyone claims that the rainy-ness of Seattle is greatly exaggerated. Of course fall is generally a nice season in most parts of the country, but it was definitely quite nice in Seattle. I didn't get a chance to try much food there, and didn't even try any coffee while I was there. Maybe next time.

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