By Mimi Kmet
Accompanying Silk Road & The Sushi Bar’s Chef Naka to Seattle’s Pike Place Market to buy fresh fish for the evening’s dinner was a highlight of my recent Pacific Coast luxury cruise. But after our morning sojourn, I realized that I had several more hours to explore the city before Crystal Symphony embarked for the next port — a perfect situation for someone like me, who loves to explore.
I’ve visited this city before. I’ve seen it from the observation deck of the Seattle Space Needle, ridden on the Seattle Center Monorail, and taken the Underground Tour (a below-street-level tour of a Seattle that existed before the great fire of 1889), among other things. And, although I’ve been to Pike Place Market, I never really explored it beyond the famed fish and produce market.
So I crossed the street, where an abundance of intriguing cafes, gourmet shops and boutiques beckoned. The first place I ventured into was the original Starbucks coffee store, where I ordered up a decaf latte. I’m glad I started there so early in the day, as about an hour later, the line stretched out the door.
As I sipped my latte, I strolled down the street, where I watched through a wall of glass at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, as a cheesemaker kept watch over a huge vat of whey that was being mechanically churned. I smelled the savory aromas of freshly baked meat pies wafting out of Piroshky-Piroshky and the sweet redolence of hot specialty breads coming from Cinnamon Works.
There were also gourmet markets, like La Buona Tavola Truffle Café and Specialty Foods, The Confectional (cheesecake and chocolate), and Sotto Voce (spiced oils and herbal vinegars), as well as delis, cafes, and walk-up eateries like a gelatería and a juice bar.
As I turned the corner, I came across Post Alley, a narrow street that reminded me of Europe, with more shops and cafes, as well as an improvisational performance theater. And, following a neon sign that read “More Shops,” I entered an arcade that meandered past several boutiques, including a cutlery shop, a Made In Washington store, and a boutique that sells scented soaps, lotions and other personal products.
I discovered that Pike Place Market is a nine-acre historic district that opened in 1907 and includes several buildings. There are dozens of eateries serving an international array of food, including Nepalese and Tibetan, Korean fusion, Bolivian and Spanish and, of course, Pacific Northwest cuisine. There’s a crafts market with handmade jewelry, ceramics and other goods from local artisans. Other shops and boutiques carry everything from antiques and second-hand collectables to European pottery and eco-friendly, natural-fiber clothing. And of course, there was an umbrella store with lots of different styles and colors.
But the best part was the fact that getting to this eclectic microcosm of merchants took only 10 minutes on foot from the ship!
You can discover Pike Place Market for yourself on three Pacific Coast cruises next year:
Voyage 6308, “Coastal Vistas” (San Francisco to Vancouver), departing May 6, 2016; Voyage 6309, “Pacific Delights” (Vancouver to San Francisco), departing May 22, 2016; and Voyage 6311, “West Coast Wayfarer” (San Francisco to Vancouver), departing June 13, 2016.