I got off the metro bus at the University Street underground tunnel stop, and grabbed a hot mocha in Benaroya Hall’s lobby-Starbucks for my 3 block walk, and beyond. Although the weather’s still cloudy when I arrive, the sight of the Market is always refreshing, especially in the summertime when all of the adorning plant-life is full of colorful blossoms.
Walking up to the market there’s an expected crowd around the famous fish stand that features 8 (15 at Christmastime) men in fishing waders and hats. It’s so fun to watch these guys toss seafood around in the air. Walking by I hear a low-baritone, “4 King Crab legs,” bellowed in unison after some lucky patron places an order. What’s even more awesome is that when a whole fish is bought and flung behind the counter to be wrapped in newspaper, whether or not the slippery King Salmon or Red Snapper is actually caught (I mean, it usually is), the mood never changes; the air is always thick with big laughs and camera flashes.
Since it was a bit dreary outside, I decided to avoid the main open-air promenade, and venture down the aromatic hallways and explore the lower levels of Pike Place. I pass a flower shop, and today they have a doorway-stand of blue roses. There’s a table packed with rows of packaged dried apricots, papayas, strawberries, and bananas. Jewelry cases are filled with a wide variety of accessories. From matching tin-man earrings, or sterling silver cross-pendants and chains, to unique owl and butterfly rings filled with colored stones of peridot, amethyst, onyx, and amber. I continue perusing, and wherever I am it seems I can always hear the faint sound of music in the breeze.
In an airplane I once watched a special on “bizarre bazaars,” and remember the baskets of milled, exotic spices that filled the city-center market of Istanbul. Walking along the corridors I see MarketSpice; this great store has been selling ground spices, teas and coffees since 1911.
The lower levels of Pike Place are packed with great shopping. There are book stores, candy shops, antique and curiosity trade stores filled with everything from pink glass swans and old clocks, to framed bats and butterflies. There’s a busy barber shop, with old-fashioned red, white and blue-striped columns trimming the doorway. Penny Pincher machines stand outside the Pike Place Magic Shop. You’ll also find vintage clothing and jewelry, and parfumeries filled with medicinal teas and incense sticks.
At this point, I definitely needed something to eat. I had tried a sample wedge of sausage from Uli’s, smelled chocolate pasta noodles at station No. 8, and walked by canned pickle stands and a few oceanview restaurants. Now I needed to eat the sustenance! Luckily, a stool opened up on an R & R platform, and I was able to eat my packed lunch on a wooden counter overlooking a very gray Puget Sound. It had started to rain, and through the streaming window I could see burnished-orange cranes standing off the southern shore of the industrial inlet, and white ferries looked like legos as they toted passengers to and from the islands.
Back on the top floor, I could see many people grievously prop open their umbrellas, while some kids seemed to be okay walking around with balloon hats. As I weaved around the faded-teal columns propping up the roof of the upper floor, I was feeling a bit glum that it had started to rain as I was expecting the sun to break through. All of the sudden, I heard someone very energetically singing: “Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer.” As I got closer, I could see a couple of long-haired, smiling musicians standing atop plastic crates, dancing around, and belting that Monkeys tune out while cars sloshed over the glossy cobblestone street behind them. Rocky Raccoon came on next, and I had to give them 50 cents in dimes. Although they were lacking John Lennon’s fantastic harmonica for this song, they did boast an accordion. On this note, I headed for home.