Olympia, Washington

JULY 1st, 2011


Travelled by Greyhound bus to the small city of Olympia, the state capital of Washington (population of about 45,000) at the southern end of the Puget Sound (1.5 hour trip). Greyhound always seem to have the most dingy, unappealing bus stations, but generally the bus is ok (stay away from the chemical toilet in the back though!). The bus passed Boeing Field where I noticed the new Boeing 747-8 Jumbo, 737 and 787 Dreamliner parked on the runway.

Olympia has the impressive Washington State Capitol with the centrepiece being the domed Legislative Building (built from sandstone and granite, completed in 1928 after 5 years of construction – no other state capitols in the US were built in similar classical style after this). Inside the building is very ornate and impressive. The other main building is the grandiously named Temple Of Justice!

Legislative Building
Inside legislative building

Apart from other administrative buildings, the capitol area has a number of monuments to wars – the impressive Winged Victory Monument (WW1), WW2 Memorial (very understated – difficult to determine what it is for at first), Korean War Memorial (also has the flags of all the UN member countries who fought the communist armies – including Australia) and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (similar to the larger memorial in Washington DC).

Winged Victory Monument
Korean War Memorial

Downtown is a nice place with various art deco buildings, parks, Capitol Lake, a waterfront (currently undergoing an urban renewal), with views of the Olympic Mountains and a good farmers market (lots of food stands – I tried Dingy’s Diner and had their famous crab cakes – pretty good). This being Washington there are ample coffee shops and bars to drop into (or drop out of!).

Olympia waterfront

The trip back to Seattle was somewhat of a pain. Got to the bus station early for my 6.35pm departure, once again a dingy station (but with slightly cleaner toilets than Seattle). Inconveniently the station closed at 6pm, so noone could access toilets, food vending machines etc (even though buses come and go until at least 8.30pm – there’s customer service for you) and then to top it off, due to 4th of July long weekend travel the bus was an hour late (although we did almost all end up on a bus to Portland, Oregon at 6.30pm because the driver didnt check the tickets properly! Half the people were onboard before he realised!).

So the bus to Seattle finally arrived at 7.30pm, and then this scruffy guy starts hassling the bus driver….just what we need! I overheard the following conversation:

Scruffy guy: “I couldn’t get a ticket because the office is closed, and I just got out of prison and have no cash. If you take me to Everett my friends will pay you for the ticket” (gotta love travelling on Greyhound!)

Driver: “This bus goes to Seattle, not Everett” (which is about 30-40 minutes drive north of Seattle).

Scruffy guy, now agitated reiterates: “If you just take me to Everett I will make sure you get the money!”(its not about that!)

Driver: “This bus goes to Seattle, not Everett!”….whilst edging away and locking the bus door!

Scruffy guy was last seen storming off up the street. Anway from there the bus got us duly back to Seattle with no further incidence (thankfully).


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