Sunny Seattle and Pike Place Explorations
If you take just a glance at the interwebs, you’ll find that there are a million articles about Seattle’s Pike Place Market. My fellow 90s kids, remember Real World Seattle? The intro showed Pike Place’s world famous fish throwers in full action. Situated above picturesque Elliot Bay, the waterfront marketplace first opened its doors on August 17 in 1907. Since then it has hosted small businesses for over a century, becoming one of the country’s longest operating public farmer’s markets. The market is primarily indoors with open sides that let in the cool Washington breeze. It is built on a steep hill and spans several floors. You can find small boutiques selling unique and outlandish gifts, artisans peddling handmade goods, fresh seafood recently plucked out of the nearby Pacific, entire stalls dedicated to diverse fruits and veggies, and any manner of foods from gluten free pastas to savory pastries. I’ve been to my fair share of farmer’s markets around the world and so far none can hold a candle to Seattle’s Pike Place Market. I’ve been to the colorful market more than once and while each time has been memorable, this last trip was beyond measure.
I spent nearly three weeks away from my newly established home in Argentina. I was visiting my family in the Pacific Northwest. My mom is living there now, in a perfectly situated condo on the beach in southwest Washington. While I was there, my aunt Roni wanted to treat my mom and me to some sort of fun outing. I overheard talk that this outing might take form as a long drive to the rainforest. This trip would feature multiple stops, winding roads, and non-stop car action. I had to confess that while I am a traveling soul, just the idea of a road trip made me feel ill. I could predict the motion sickness that would undoubtedly overtake me and completely ruin the experience. I cannot do long car rides, unless I drive. If I’m not driving I need to be sitting upfront, pop a Dramamine, and sleep. When Roni heard that she nixed the rainforest plan and starting contemplating new plans. After conversing with my mom, I approached Roni with the idea of going to Seattle for the night. She loved it and used her Hilton points to hook us up with a night at the Hilton Seattle.
We left early on Tuesday morning. My mom and I loaded up her sweet little Toyota with our shared Nautica suitcase and my mom’s loyal canine companion, Arwen. We drove out to Roni’s and we exchanged Arwen for Roni. Leaving the pupster to hang out with her canine cousins and be looked after by my cousin and uncle while we ladies took on the city. Roni piled us into her SUV, popped on some jazzy tunes, and drove us down the road. After a brief stop in Olympia for breakfast and another drive by in Tacoma to buy cheap books at Half Price Books, we arrived at the Hilton Seattle.
We took no time getting into our room, double checking ourselves for wallets, phones, and cameras. Then after retying my new polka dot sneakers, we stepped out the door into sunny Seattle. Yes, sunny Seattle. Seattle is one of the cloudiest cities in the nation and has an average of 201 cloudy days each year and 93 partly cloudy days. We were blessed with blue skies. Those pesky clouds I’ve heard so much about didn’t dare rain on our good energy.
Pike Place Market was our stomping grounds for the day. The day was full of entertainment and new human connections; from watching the fish throwers toss a poor headless salmon to chatting with a college girl from India who helped us pick out some killer gluten free pastas and told us enthusiastically, “Your energy is great!” to a beautiful and simple dolphin necklace that my mom bought for me to help guide me with the energy of the smart and friendly dolphin.
Then of course there was finding my new journal that was handmade and covered with a world map. Finding a new journal is always a very intimate experience for me. My writing has always been based heavily in journal writing. If you've followed my writing, you know I'm an open book (which can come to the chagrin of those close to me who find facets of their lives outlined in my words) and became a writer when I was only nine years old and started my first journal. Through all the worldwide moves, upsets, tragedies, and even a house fire that destroyed everything my journals have always somehow been saved. Either by being stored in a different place or by having some of them by my side always.
The journal I was instinctively drawn to had my new home of South America on the back and the front had the two world regions I have yet to step foot on: Africa and Oceania. The girl who made the journals said that a lot of people had picked up that very journal earlier in the day but no one decided to purchase it. Roni, a big believer in connections, saw my eyes light up with inspiration of what could fill the blank handcrafted pages and gifted me with the journal. Below is the picture of the journal maker, I have lost her card in my travels and can't locate her information, if you know who she is please let me know and I will update this article to include how to get in touch and buy your own beautiful handcrafted book.
We stopped into Lowell’s for a midday appetizer and drink. Comprised of three stories, each offering a different level of service, we stopped at the second floor for our drink and nibble needs. Their catch phrase “Almost Classy” adorned their signature cosmopolitan drink. A big cosmo fan (and as someone who has definitely lived her life almostclassy, but not quite all the way classy), I had to indulge. The Almost Classy Cosmo is one of their “Handmade Craft Drinks” and the ingredients are “Tito’s vodka, Patron Citronge orange liqueur, muddled lime, cranberry juice, homemade fresh squeezed lemons & limes sweet and sour.” Roni went for something called the “Grey Wolf” and my mom went for (if my memory serves me well…which it often doesn’t) a Salty Dog, or at least hers had salt on the rim and I know it was dubbed with a cute name.
We ordered Home-made fresh Portobello mushroom fingers, which are breaded with Japanese bread crumbs and fried (served with smoked Gouda cheese sauce to dip). I couldn’t share that thanks to my pesky gluten problems, but don’t feel bad for me. I got to eat almost all of the Dungeness crab cocktail (fresh crab served over celery and lettuce mixed with some homemade cocktail sauce…I’m drooling). Then we shared Dungeness crab cakes that came with a citrus aioli and coleslaw. Needless to say, we were pretty happy with that situation.
Afterwards we meandered further down the market and made our way outside. We visited the world’s first Starbucks, I watched while Roni and my mom shared in some cheesecake bites and Russian savory pastries. I stuffed my face with a delicious gluten free chocolate chip cookie. Now we were waddling more than walking, but it was worth every bite. We made our way down the market levels and over to the waterfront, where we took a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel. I kept calling it Seattle’s Eye because it looks so much like the Eye of London. It’s smaller than London’s Ferris Wheel (and accommodates fewer people). We were lucky, we were visiting midweek, and although the market was bustling with people there were no lines and the Great Wheel was comfortably open. We shared our own ‘cabin’ and took in sweeping views of Seattle. We watched as several sailboats bobbed near the port. I took countless photos of the changing landscape. It wasn’t quite sunset, but the sun was dipping and the few clouds in the sky were beginning to pick up the color of the evening. Friendly people, humorous conversations, energetic interactions, unique craftspeople, and farm fresh goods…I know the statistics about the cloudy weather and the rainy days, but after the perfect day I had in Seattle it’s hard to believe such a lively place could ever be constantly covered with such haze.