Tag Archives: Market

5 Highlights of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Seattle. Land of rain, coffee, grunge, Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Costco and Amazon…

Also the closest major American city to my god son’s family.

A Very Brief History Lesson on Pike Place

Located on First Ave and Pike St, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest operating public farmers markets in the entire USA. The market, which opened in August 1907, was built on a steep hill overlooking Elliott Bay with the goal of offering regular consumers the chance to “meet the producer”.

With 10 million visitors a year it is one of the most visited attractions in the Pacific Northwest. It is filled with farmers and craftspeople looking to offer their produce and products to both locals and visitors.

TIP!: The best places to park are Western Ave., 1st Ave., and 2nd Ave.

Main entrance sign at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

These are my highlights from our morning at Pike Place Market. Feel free to add YOUR highlights in the comments below! I’d love to hear them!

1. THE ORIGINAL STARBUCKSOutside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com You can’t start your day at Pike Place Market without first stopping at the original Starbucks.

Being a 23-year-old American female I am basically a religious follower of the coffee brand.

Okay… maybe that’s taking it a little far. But barely.

Outside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Starbucks is one of the largest business chains in the world – with nearly 21,000 stores across 64 different countries!

And it all started in Seattle in 1971. The actual very first location, which only sold coffee beans and not fresh brewed drinks, was closed down and then moved to this location in the mid-70s.

Even if you don’t like coffee, this is still a cool place to visit from a entrepreneurial/business frame of mind.

Outside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States with my cousin Johnny via ZaagiTravel.com

When I landed in Seattle my cousins and I headed from the airport straight to the mecca of caffeine addicts.

Can you tell I was excited?

I was surprised to learn that the original store has been kept in it’s most simple state – only serving certain drinks. And that’s all.

It’s kind of refreshing to enter a vintage version of the mega-coffee-maker. I’m all about bringing things back to basics.
Inside the Original Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Fun STARBUCKS facts and a tip:

—  The brand was first going to be called Pequod, after a whaling ship from the book Moby Dick. Instead, it was named after the chief mate on the Pequod, Starbuck.

—  The first Starbucks location outside of the U.S. opened in Tokyo, Japan in 1996.

— If you normally order a latte… stop. Order a cafe misto. It’s very similar to a latte but less expensive (and tastier in my opinion). You can have it plain or add pumps of your favorite flavoring.

View from Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

2. The Fish Market

The fish guys are world famous for their fish-throwing ways.

It apparently all started when the workers grew tired of walking back and forth to retrieve a fish a customer ordered. They decided to keep a worker in the back with all the fish who would toss the order up to the front, saving time and energy.

Seafood for sale at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comFunny sign at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

I particularly liked this sign – “We sell only wild salmon caught by wild fisherman”.

The other fish and produce market’s around Pike Place are impressive also!

Fresh fish being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Fish being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Inside of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comInside of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Inside of Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com Main entrance sign at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com3. Flowers at the market

Thousands of flowers line the hallways of the upper street level. Flowers of every color and shape. The tulips here are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen!

And when do you NOT need flowers in your life?

Flowers are always a good idea.

Flowers being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comFlowers being sold in Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

4. The Market Theater Gum Wall in Post Alley

The infamous gum wall is located in Post Alley, just around the corner from Pike Place Market.

The tradition began back in 1993 when patrons would place coins in blobs of gum and stick them against the alley wall. It caught on, and by 1999 the wall was deemed an official tourist attraction.
The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com My cousins and I couldn’t pass up the chance to make our mark on one of the “germiest” attractions in the world.

We each popped a piece of gum and started chewing away while we scoped out where we wanted to place our sticky artwork.The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com This is me placing my piece of gum on the wall as my little cousin Sidney looks on.

How “Seattle” is this picture? Starbucks in hand, scarf around my neck, placing my gum on the gum wall….The Gum Wall outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com That’s my piece in the very center above. That long stretched-out sort-of white piece. Ain’t she a beaut?IMG_7183Outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

5. Food Highlights

A: The ConfectionalPeanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecake from the Confectional outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.comMini peanut butter cheesecake and cheesecake-on-a-stick from The Confectional. No description necessary.
Mini Cheesecake on a Stick from the Confectional outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

B: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Beecher's Handmade Cheese Curds being made at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, USA via ZaagiTravel.com I HIGHLY recommend the mac n cheese from Beecher’s! It’s just phenomenal. Big penne-style pasta and creamy flavorful cheese sauce. It’s addicting. I warned you.
Menu at Beecher's Handmade Cheese outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Macaroni and Cheese & cheese curds from Beecher's Handmade Cheese outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

Cheese curds from Beecher's Handmade Cheese outside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, United States via ZaagiTravel.com

C: La Buona Tavola

Leek & Potato Soup with drops of Truffle Oil from La Buona Tavola at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, USA via ZaaiTravel.com

Leek and potato soup (with a few drops of truffle oil)

So while I didn’t order an entire bowl of this awesomeness, I should have…

The sample I was given was TO DIE FOR – clearly, I downed it all before I could even get a photo. If/when I go back to Seattle I’m coming back here and getting a big steaming bowl of it!

Leek & Potato Soup with drops of Truffle Oil from La Buona Tavola at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, USA via ZaaiTravel.com

So… those are my Pike Place Market (+ surrounding area) highlights.

What are yours?! Comment below and tell me!

German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada

German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

As I opened the car door and jumped out into the crisp November air I shivered and slid my knit toque* onto my head, pulling it down far enough to cover the tops of my ears.

The cold still shocked me every time I stepped outside. The late autumn weather in downtown Vancouver was colder than the coldest night all year in Southern California.

Across the street, on the corner, I could see white Christmas lights and a line of people in coats, boots, toques and gloves.

German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

Once we had my god son all snug in his stroller we began following the smell of roasting bratwurst that filled the air. I began realizing just how starving I actually was.

Sidney, Erica’s four-year-old daughter, stood at my side and held her arms up towards me with her infamous (as well as irresistible) sassy smile on her face. I reached down and lifted her up onto my hip before walking across the street and getting into the long but quickly moving line.

German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

Approximately ten minutes later we walked through the entrance. The adults of our group made their way to the booth where we could show ID in exchange for a bracelet that allowed us to consume alcohol. You know you don’t want to miss out on some mulled wine!

Before we could satisfy our grumbling stomachs we needed to satisfy the youngest awake member of the family – little Wyatt was in and out of a deep sleep despite the high energy environment around us.

So Erica and Sidney had a photo op with the Gingerbread Man & Woman. Pretty nice of them to take a moment out of their busy schedule — you know with all that running as fast as they can. Ha! This is where you laugh… Okay, moving on.

Gingerbread Man at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

Then I took Sidney on the Carousel a few times. Four-year-olds. They dig that stuff. And maybe 22-year-olds do too.

Carousel Ride at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

That evening we ingested vast amounts of traditional German food — including the longest bratwurst you’ve ever laid eyes on (just see below) generously topped with sauerkraut; Schnitzel, which was breaded and fried to perfection; freshly roasted chestnuts; and the delicious (but strong!) Gluhwein, steaming hot red wine spiced with cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and citrus that warms you from the inside out.

Bratwurst at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

After over-indulging our appetites we walked around and checked out the different Christmas gifts and decorations being sold by vendors at nearly fifty wooden booths — things like nutcrackers, German beer steins, tree ornaments, and a whole lot more! A talented live band played festive Christmas music on a stage in the center of the event.

Live band at the German Vancouver Christmas Market via ZaagiTravel.com

I stopped to take some photos of my brother and his fiancee — wouldn’t this have been a sweet picture if he weren’t chowing down on those spiral-cut-potatoes-on-a-stick? I don’t know their actual name but they were delicious so I don’t blame him.

Romantic View of the Christmas Tree at the German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

Then the rest of us gathered for a group photo.

Christmas Tree at the German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

It really was an incredible way to spend the holidays with family. It’s barely September and I’m already looking forward to this year’s German Christmas Market experience!

Nutcracker at the German Christmas Market in Vancouver, Canada via ZaagiTravel.com

The Vancouver Christmas Market is located at 650 Hamilton Street on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza. It takes place from November 22 – December 24.

Adult tickets (13 years and older) cost $6 on weekends and during the evening on weeknights; $3 during the day during the week; $3 for kids 7-12 no matter the day or time. Kids 6 and under enter for free.

TIPS:

1. Admission is CASH only!

2. Print off the VIP Fast Pass from their website, it saves you time in line.

3. Once you pay to enter the Christmas Market you automatically get in free on return visits! Just hang onto your ticket.

4. During lunch you can BOGO! Buy One, Get One ticket FREE! Just print the lunch pass on their website.

5. When you buy a mug of Gluhwein or Feuerzangenbowle you automatically put down a $2 deposit for the mug. If you’d like to keep your mug like I did, go for it! If you’d like that $2 back you can exchange your mug for a toonie (a.k.a. $2 Canadian dollars).

* For all you non-Canadians out there, a TOQUE is a round-shaped hat normally worn during cold weather, and otherwise known as a beanie.

 

Honey, Kvass & Tea: The Central Market & Apsara Tea Room in Riga, Latvia

As we descended from the fifth deck of the MV Explorer I had no expectations. I did not know much about Latvia. All I really knew was that it had relatively recently found independence after being occupied by both Nazi Germany as well as the former Soviet Union.

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I suppose I expected a place still obviously recovering from such a harsh and painful history. Instead, Latvia blew my mind and stole my heart.

 

It was a surprisingly quiet sun-filled Saturday morning in June when we finally found the massive Central Market in Riga, the capital of Latvia. The popular marketplace is housed inside of five old German Zeppelin airplane hangers from WWI.

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Before entering I stopped at a wagon with a bright blue awning reading KVASS. I smiled at the female vendor that looked about my age; she smiled back lowering her eyes as if apologizing for not knowing any English. I hadn’t had time to brush up on my Latvian either (not serious) so I bit my lip and lightly laughed while holding out Latvian change and she picked up the appropriate coins from my palm. We smiled at each other again. In that moment I wished I could have offered her more than an english “thank you” as she handed me my cold, chestnut brown drink. We waved goodbye.

I had heard about this strange but supposedly delicious drink from friends and could not resist trying it. Kvass, a common eastern European non-alcoholic drink, is made from fermented rye bread. It’s actually quite good — or at least I think so, as you can see here.

 

I bought another cup as we exited and was given even more kvass by my friends who did not admire it as much as I did. It kind of tastes like the little brother to beer. Slightly sweet and earthy, a bit tangy and tart… I’m beginning to realize how difficult it is to describe. But I do recommend trying it if you get the opportunity!

 

A couple booths away we stopped to buy a giant basket of deep crimson cherries. We used a water bottle to wash them, letting the water fall into the street at our feet.

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We walked through all of the hangers — I don’t have many pictures inside due to my double-fisting of the kvass. However, we encountered entire buildings filled with honey, nuts, meat products, seafood, fruits, vegetables, handmade knit goods.

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Outside the hangers were numerous booths selling inexpensive clothes, shoes, and souvenirs. All of us bought miniature bottles of local honey, a Latvian speciality. I kept mine in my luggage for over a month, planning to bring it home for my parents to try. Sadly, the cranky man at Heathrow Airport took mine away (after he searched my entire carry-on which nearly made me late for my flight). Thanks, dude.

 

Alright rant over, back to the loveliness of Latvia. It really was. Lovely is the perfect word to describe it.

 

Lovely. Like the local, wrinkled old women buying and selling items around the market as they peered at us curiously from behind the tied scarves around their faces. I wish I’d had the nerve to ask them for a photo. That’s something I need to get better at — learning how to take pictures of people, especially ones I don’t know. I haven’t mastered that science. It’s difficult to break the ice especially with a language barrier.

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Us girls decided to venture on and discover another part of Riga. Without an idea of where we were going or what we would find around the next corner we crossed the street using the underground pedestrian walkway.

 

Down the road a little and to the left on Raina bulvaris we stumbled across an odd shaped building perched along a river that calmly coursed through a deep green park, shaded by soaring trees. Apsara Tea Room, a Latvian chain of tea houses, was circular and small, but with large windows allowing for plenty of natural light brightening the vibrant wooden interior.

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On the inside, a rustic blue and white staircase twirled upward to a second level where striped multi-colored plush pillows lined the floor in a circular shape. A giant black metal chandelier hung in the center of the second floor, eye level with those sitting facing the windows.

 

The view, which oversaw lush green lawns and the Pilsetas Canals lined with waddling ducks, created a feeling of serenity and peacefulness. As we entered we were greeted by a bubbly blonde woman behind the counter. Her voice was high-pitched, but in an endearing way, like a Disney cartoon character I would have loved to sing along with as a child.

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The counter held glass jars full of sweet treats like Sokolades Cepums (heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies), Mandeli Cepums (square almond shortbread cookies), and Riekstu Cepums (horse-shoe shaped sugar slazed cookies) for only $.25 Lats each.

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The walls contained endless assortments of exotic teas, and various tall slices of cake with layered fillings showcased in a glass refrigerator to the left of the cookie jars.

 

Two large black chalkboards were hung overhead and displayed the teas and their prices ($1.20 – 3.50 Lats) in handwritten white chalk. Iced teas came in two varieties, red and green, both were amply sweetened as well as absolutely delicious.

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A version of “Someone Like You”, sung by a male voice, played in the background. The six of us girls sat down on the striped cushions upstairs and faced the windows. We barely spoke for ten minutes. I relished in how good it felt here. The Tea House. Riga. Latvia. Europe.

 

It felt homey, in both a comfortable and brand new way. I was with good friends in a very beautiful place. A place that felt exclusive, secret and undiscovered. It’s easy to run around and hit all the typical, tourist hot spots.

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But this. This was special. This was the feeling I chase. The reason I fly, sail, and ride around the world. Latvia, I can’t wait to return to you.

 

There’s a quote by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. It’s meant to describe people but it now reminds me of Latvia.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Look for the Part II posting of my time in Latvia coming soon!