When we last left off in the story of my adventures to the West Coast and back, I had just finished exploring the incredibly beautiful Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon; but little did I know how much spectacularity was still in store.
Soon after seeing the Lan Su Garden, I headed onward up to Seattle. This article is about the first place I explored in Seattle, Pike’s Place Market; and, for those of you just tuning in, I was being followed by a very peculiar, and very small, spaceman from another world. His name is Marco.
Now, as far as I can tell, Marco is mostly harmless. But he is very small after all, and I suspect there isn’t much he can’t get into. If you’ve forgotten what he looks like, I’ve put a picture here to refresh your memory.
Marco must have followed me to Seattle as well, because he continues to show up in every photo I have from Seattle…
But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s start with how I got up to Seattle from Portland.
Thumbing up to Seattle
For the only time during my West Coast trip, I hitchhiked to my destination. That’s a story in and of itself, but suffice to say that a friend was in the area and wanted to get up to Seattle, too. Since I’d hitchhiked before with some success, I asked her if she wanted to make a sign and try. She was excited to try, and after waiting a bit at an onramp, it worked. We got to Seattle in just one ride.
As I said, the story of hitchhiking up to Seattle from Portland is a story in and of itself, so I think I’ll save that for another time and instead focus on my experience at Pike’s Market, the first place I explored in Seattle and in many ways my first impression of the Emerald City.
Exploring Pike’s Place Market
When I first arrived in Seattle, I knew I would enjoy exploring it. Seattle had a feeling of vast possibility and diversity. And I was very lucky since I was part of the Couchsurfing network and had an awesome Couchsurfing host to introduce me to the city. He graciously took me to Pike’s Place Market in downtown Seattle. (In fact, it was his idea.) If you’re not familiar with Pike’s Market, it’s one of the most famous places in Seattle, if not the most famous; and it’s right on the waterfront. The market is one of the oldest continually operated public farmers’ markets in the United States, which isn’t surprising considering it’s over one hundred years old.
And did I mention they have just about everything? Fresh fish is probably the first thing you’ll notice, but they also have fresh produce, craft shops, very cozy family-owned restaurants — even places where you can buy comic books!
So with all that in mind, it probably won’t surprise you to hear that the place was absolutely bustling with energy. It was definitely one of the busiest places I’ve ever explored in my travels, but it was a good type of busy.
As you can see from the photo, salmon is a pretty big deal here. Since I’m vegetarian, I refrained from trying free samples, but one sign did catch my eye. Planted in the ice around a bunch of fresh caught salmon, a sign read “Today Only! Guess the weight of your whole salmon purchase and it’s FREE!”
Now, I’m going to venture to guess that this means you’d have to guess the weight accurately to the ounce, which is quite difficult; but I must admit, as promotions go, it’s pretty darn creative. I wonder if anyone ever guessed correctly…
Surprises behind the market
Having had my fill of the action-packed environment of the market, I wandered west to explore the waterfront. I looked to my left, out toward the southern end of Elliott Bay and saw the massive cargo cranes in the distance. Not a big surprise considering where I was. These towering metal structures were reminiscent of the massive AT-AT Walkers from Star Wars.
And then there was the “green” apartment complex.
Before I arrived, I had no idea that Seattle was so focused on environmental impact. But when I discovered this strange apartment complex positively covered with green, vibrant plants, I realized there was something going on here. My only guess is that this used to house people but was converted into some type of plant nursery. Although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised since Seattle is a pretty green city these days. (In fact, in early 2010 the City of Seattle committed itself to becoming North America’s first “climate neutral city”, with a goal of reaching zero net per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. And while the goal itself is defined somewhat vaguely, at least their heart is in the right place, and that’s a start.)
What the heck instrument is this?
Pike’s Market is a pretty exceptional place, so it would be a pity if it didn’t have exceptional street performers as well. Now, I’ve seen many street performers in my travels. (Let’s not forget Jentry McCombs, Mr. Statue, or the as-yet-to-be-revealed Hurdy Gurdy Man of Boston.) But I must say, I’ve never seen anyone play such an instrument as I saw in Pike’s Market in Seattle on that warm summer’s day. For just near the entrance to one of the shops, a Chinese man was playing a most odd instrument which struck me as a cross between a cello and a mandolin.
I’ve included a picture of it here. Does anyone know what this instrument is and what it’s called? I’d really appreciate help in identifying it!
When you visit Seattle, visiting Pike’s Place Market is almost not even a choice. You simply have to stop by if you’re serious about exploring Seattle. It is simply one of the biggest cogs in which the entire city turns, and there truly is something for everyone. You can even pick up good Seattle postcards for 25¢ each!
Yet little did I know that I would soon stumble into a farmers market a few days later, try my first “pluot” fruit, encounter a horrifying plastic bag monster, and be shocked by radical act of kindness — all before I even set foot in Portland again.
Have you ever seen a pluot?
Stay tuned, and all shall be revealed to you.
Until then, I present to you a challenge.
Can you find Marco in each of the photos in the Pike’s Market album?
This is not easy. As I said above, Marco is in all 8 photos contained in the Pike’s Market photo album. Even if you might not think he’s there, he is. You just have to look very carefully. Remember, you need to look at the photos in full size becuase Marco will hide in the tiniest nooks and crannies. Usually he hides in bright places in the photos because his spacesuit is completely white, which means he’ll blend in. And if you were stumped with the Lan Su photos, this time it’ll be a bit easier.
Last time, Marco used his cloaking device to turn his suit completely black so that he could hide in the shadows of some of the photos. But Marco didn’t feel the need to do that this time, so he appears completely white in every photo, which is lucky for you since that makes finding him easier. And don’t forget to click the “full size” link at the top right of the photo.