As my plane made its descent into Seattle, the rain the city is so famous for streaked long blurs into the window. It would be a somewhat soggy landing.
The stereotypes are true, it does indeed rain a lot in the Emerald City, but that’s part of what makes Seattle what it is. Seattle without the rain would not be right, but a few clear days are welcome. On a clear day, you can see giant Mount Rainier to the south, and the Olympic Range across the sound, getting a reminder of just how varied the landscape surrounding the city is. The ever-present hills of San Francisco seem to have found a second home here, albeit without the cable cars. Trolleybuses take their place, whooshing quietly past you on their way in and out of downtown, and at the light, the locals almost always wait for the signal to cross.
The Pike Place Market was on my list. Much different from a typical farmer’s market, Pike Place is a hodgepodge of commerce; artists and artisans, restaurants, grocers, the first Starbucks ever (which looks like every other Starbucks on Earth), and the internationally known fresh fish market. On the way down Pike Street to the market, you can smell a mix of the fish and the sea air coming off the Puget Sound that sleeps just beyond the row of buildings in front of you. The big neon sign declaring this the ‘Public Market Center’ greets you, and then you hear the ruckus of the fish market.
These gentlemen have the throwing of fish down to a science. They’ll call out the variety and number of the fish or other soon-to-be dinner to be tossed, and then, with tourists’ cameras flashing, the seafood starts flying. Once in a while, they’ll throw a third large fish into the audience, a fake fish that catches the unaware off guard. These men are jokesters, and have a lot of fun doing what they do.
Every day, the tourists come, and every day, these guys put on a show. They’ll ship a fish anywhere in the world via UPS in 48 hours, in a box that’s been sealed so that your tasty purchase doesn’t seep through the cardboard. During the day, the men of the fish market draw a big crowd, similar to the mobs swarming the first Starbucks just down the block. If you’re looking for a good cup of coffee, though, forget the Market and head for a local shop, like Zeitgeist or All City Coffee. After all, what’s the appeal of going out of your way to get the same Starbucks you get back home? Seattle makes a sort of religion about coffee, and the smaller roasters are like monasteries, tending the beans until the chants of the baristas and incantations of the head roaster bring forth the tasty brew. Hallelujah!
To see more photos from my work from Seattle, go here.