Victoria Cafe (Tim Baynes)
Blog Words : My life as an Expat | 02 August

Seattle: Views from a coffee cup

Wandering illustrator Tim Baynes sketches America's most caffeinated city, Seattle

During a weekend in Seattle I was struck, profoundly so, by the number of people who spend time in coffee shops. They appear to undertake all manner of activity: meeting, eating, drinking, reading or hunched over a laptop computer. Jenna took me to a wonderful café in the Capitol Hill area on Saturday morning. It was busy with café society people and at the back was an 80-year-old playing the piano.

People always seem to carry reading matter wherever they go. Whether they're commuting to work or on a weekend ferry trip, going to and forth from the islands that surround the city.

It was a wet, blustery weekend that started early on Saturday morning with a visit to the Sound View Café. A great place where the concept of a small omelette does not exist. The whole idea of portion control is a complete anathema to the US catering industry.

There is a great collection of modern American art at the Seattle Art Museum and when I paid a visit there was an exciting exhibit of current Chinese film and photography running.

As a seaport Seattle is the entry point for a lot of fresh fish and fruit some of which is on sale at the Farmers Market.

Red Cranes (container hoist not the feathered species) are a landmark of the waterfront. I was told that they inspired the creation of those long spindly creatures in one of the Star Wars films.

A ferry ride across to the surrounding islands is a worthwhile diversion. I went to Bainbridge Island with its lovely harbour and marina areas. On a Sunday it is quiet with only walkers taking coffee and browsing in bookshops.

I suppose given it is the home of Starbucks, the universal coffee house, one should not be so surprised there is a coffee and conversation dimension to Seattle. Yes there is more to life, but a Starbucks on every corner is a fine place to sit, drink and take in the view.

Tim Baynes, is a senior executive with the BBC. He has recorded his impressions of more than 20 years of travel with sketches and observations from Istanbul to New York to Tokyo. His book, Drawing from Experience, is available from his website.

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For further illuminations on Tim and his travels read his interview here, The World According to Tim Baynes

A selection of his illustrations can be viewed in our photography galleries

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Tim Baynes: São Paulo | Photography galleries... More

Tim Baynes: around the World in Illustrations | Photography galleries... More

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