I didn’t actually stay in Seattle, Microsoft are in Redmond and our hotel was in a small city next to Redmond (what we’d probably think of as a large suburb) called Kirkland. It’s hard to describe the feel of this area, but basically it’s affluent. Over 65,000 people work for Microsoft, some of whom (Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Balmer to name a few) are very, very wealthy and this money shows in the surrounding communities. That said, it isn’t a bad thing, there is lots of great public art and a nice feel to the area.Kirkland also has it’s own quirks which are unique. The one that amused several of us is the pedestrian flags. When crossing at a Zebra crossing, there are buckets with little yellow flags you are supposed to carry with you across the crossing.
They have a slogan — “The flag, take it and make it”. We were all very amused by these, and there was many an in depth discussion; for example, does the city have to employ someone to re-balance the flags over night when too many end up on one side of the road, or is it something that happens altruistically? For every ten people crossing the road, only about one or two would bother with the flag. I had to be one of them.
Another fun store in Kirkland was the Terra Bite cafe. They have a no-price policy, you just pay what you like, no questions asked. The money goes into the slot next to Eric here, another conference attendee.