After a pretty decent sleep – aka I slept like a log – in my Airbnb I woke up ready to take on Sunday in the city of Seattle and knew that there was a lot of walking in store for me and my legs as I had signed up for two walking tours with Seattle Free Walking Tours before Dusting would arrive for an evening of adventure. First it was off to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room for Round #2 to kick-off my day by putting a bit of caffeinated pep in my step!
Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
Back again for a coffee lovers dream as I arrived to be greeted by the same Barista who served me the night before. I knew what I was here for – what I didn’t have before bed last night so I could sleep soundly – a flight of Origin coffees, three to be exact! My Origin Coffee Flight was made up of the following reserve coffees: Paradeisi Blend No. II, Columbia Las Margaritas Small-lot Coffee and Ethiopia Gedeb Small-lot Coffee. All my coffees arrived in individual full pots, there was SO much coffee, and as I began to work my way through the individual selections I quickly found my favourite and decided that was the pot I would polish off before I headed down to the market to grab a bite a spot on my foodie list before heading to my first Seattle Free Walking Tour at 9:30am.
The Crumpet Shop
The Crumpet Shop has been a local hit since 1976, topping your fresh made crumpet with everything from sweet, to savory and all things eggs! Upstairs off of 1st Avenue right after you enter the market the shop is quaint, small and boy do the staff here work hard! There was every topping imaginable on the menu but staying true to my heritage I knew I wanted to experience the crumpets without much else in the way, so I decided on the toasted crumpet with butter and fresh preserves – today it was strawberry! I grabbed mine in a to-go container as I was running a bit late to meet the Seattle Free Walking Tour group thanks to the lady in front of me who ordered basically one of everything on the menu. OH MAN was this crumpet goooooooooood! The outside had toasted up beautifully, the crumpet was much larger than I’m used to but the inside was so airy and light allowing the jam to find it’s way into almost every nook and cranny! This is a must visit for breakfast, snack or a treat while you’re in Seattle.
Seattle Free Walking Tours – Market Experience
Our Seattle Free Walking Tour Guide + flag
If you know me you know I’m the kind of traveler who LOVES to see every city I visit like a local, that is what drew me to Seattle Free Walking Tours as it was created by Jake, a local Seattle resident who spent his 1.5 year long honeymoon traveling the world. Upon returning home he decided to gather other local residents together to share the city with visitors and local alike, all on a pay-what-you can basis vs. $20 – $40 tours in Seattle can typically cost.
Post Alley & Fresh local peaches from on of the vendors we visited
I was drawn to the Market Experience Tour because it seemed like a fantastic way to see all of the best of the market from a locals perspective, while also learning about the history and diversity of the market, “Immerse yourself within the colorful ever-changing soul of Seattle, Pike Place Market. The oldest running farmer’s market in the country is rich with history and it’s brimming with delicious food and vibrant characters. Join us for an hour long cornucopia of everything that is and was the Market we have all come to love. Expect delicious food samples, vendor interaction, history, and a great guide to lead you to the Market’s hidden secrets.”
We started off by visiting Post Alley, many aren’t familiar with the story behind it’s name – it was the street one block north of the market where you could park your horse during the early market years. The market was known as the Sanitary Public Market as animals were kept off the main street to keep the market clean and sanitary.
Dried apple slices & one of the infamous fish stall where they toss the fish upon it being ordered
Throughout the Market Tour I was amazed by the history that was housed inside the market walls, along with such a diverse array of vendors. While we explored the market learning about some of the best spots to eat, the longest standing stalls/vendors and the locals’ favourites it was also a really interesting opportunity to people watch as folks from all walks of life made their way down to the market to sell, shop, explore and even perform.
The most gorgeous + inexpensive flowers I’ve ever seen and The Gum Wall
We continued out way through the back alleys of the market, of course passing a number of vendors who sell some of the most exquisite floral bouquets I’ve EVER laid eyes on, the best part was that they all ranged from $5 – $20! Now I knew why they were such a hot items and I’m almost certain most of the folks in the city have fresh flowers in their home every week. Our last stop on the tour before making our way back our starting location as The Gum Wall, it’s quite the experience to see it in person and the story behind how it came to be is interesting. In 1938 when The Market Theatre opened there was a rule that there was to be no gum allowed in the theatre due to the purchase of new seats. Since then the city has tried to remove the gum on numerous occasions, fearful that the gum could erode the building’s brick exterior, but patrons and visitors alike continue to show up and place their gum on the wall for a photo-op and to contribute to the ‘historical’ wall.
The ‘First’ Starbucks Store
When I walked past the ‘first’ Starbucks Store the day prior the line-up was MASSIVE, looping around the corner and appearing to never move, I had decided that I likely wouldn’t line up for the store as there were other things I could use my time for with the limited hours in the city and if at some point the line seemed reasonable in length I would possibly consider joining in on the hype.
FUN FACT: the infamous ‘first’ location store isn’t the actual first location of the infamous chain. It’s the second location after the FIRST store moved down the street from it’s original location at 2000 Western Avenue.
After the Market Tour I noticed the line was not very long in length, I had about 2 hours before the next tour so I opted to spend half of that time hanging out in the line, grabbing some First Store merch and then getting some lunch. The line was fun, I meet some interesting folks from Boston and South Korea that were good to chat with, once we were in the store is was pure chaos but knowing what I wanted it was easy to get into line with my mug + spoon request before ordering a beverage.
Mr. D’s Delhi for Lunch
I’m sucker for Greek food, I had walked past this particular spot a few times in the last few days and everything always looked super delicious and was made fresh off the spit. I ordered a Lamb Yerro (hence the spelling, it certainly helps with pronunciation of the famous Greek dish). Mr. D’s Greek Delhi is about as legit as it gets when it comes to Greek pitas and I must say the way it is wrapped up with a fork was pretty genius as it allowed me to easily snack away on my fantastic tasty lunch while I walked through the market to meet-up with Seattle Free Walking Tours for the Seattle 101 tour at 1pm.
Seattle Free Walking Tours – Seattle 101
The group our with Jake (Owner) on our tour and the Seattle Map manhole covers
This second tour with Seattle Free Walking Tours, Seattle 101 was meant to immerse me in all things Seattle! I selected this tour because it sounded like an exciting way to explore the history and coast line of the city, “Seattle 101, our flagship tour that started it all! It’s your insider’s guide to the Emerald City. Stroll through history in Seattle’s old town, Pioneer Square. Snap a panoramic photo of the mountains and Seattle’s skyline off the pier. Feed a seagull and down a cup of clam chowder at the iconic Ivar’s Fish Bar. Walk Seattle’s beautiful Waterfront and let the enticing ferries convince you to take a ride. Learn about the best Happy Hour specials in town. Don’t just come to Seattle, Experience Seattle!”
We started the tour between the totem poles at the market park and then made our way up one of the steep roads to get us up to the main road to start our walking tour towards Pioneer Square. Jake started with a brief history of Seattle’s early development, share that Seattle is actually the Happy Hour Capital and then start leading us on our way through the history packed streets of the downtown core.
The light post to commemorate the glue tin that burned down the city in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and the glass side walk panels that allow light into the lower levels of the units
As we made our way down towards Pioneer Square Jake told us the story of The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 that left almost all of the downtown burnt to the ground before it was rebuilt in stone/brick based structures as a preventative measure. This area of Seattle looks very similar to that of Gastown in Vancouver and that is the result of both cities having fires around the same time when buildings were still primarily built of wood structures. The purple glass scattered throughout the downtown city sidewalks is actually windows for the basement units of the Seattle Underground where many local shop keeps stored goods/products.
The Shame Pole located in the heart of Pioneer Square and an ode to the market cart life with the carts installed in the old brick building wall
Making our way to Pioneer Square we were met by the totem pole that sits directly in the centre of the square, a totem pole known as the Shame Pole. It’s believe that after a totem pole was taken from a local Native American community and housed in the square burnt down, the locals sent the remains back to the group and they provided a new pole. After much research into the animals + symbols featured on the pole it’s been determined that it is likely a Shame Pole which as Jake out it, “is like a big middle finger situated in the middle of the square.” At least they had a sense of humour about the situation right? We finished up the 2 hour tour by heading down to the water to explore the Seattle Boardwalk, learn about the vast array of marine life located in the waters here, the plans for the boardwalk/viaduct in their revitalization project and Jake encouraged us to live a little by hoping on a boat to visit Bainbridge Island for Happy Hour + dinner.
Fresh + local Concord Grapes and a local performer balancing a guitar while playing a tune
After being on my feet all day, I swung by the market on my way back to my Airbnb. I finally picked up some Concord Grapes – they looked fantastic and I had been craving a sweet treat – and then grabbed a few snacks to tied me over until Dustin arrived for our late dinner. The market was buzzing on Saturday afternoon and the energy you could feel was something special.
The view of the Seattle Boardwalk from the Post Alley Viaduct Crossing
Dinner at the Pink Door & Exploring Capitol Hill
A lot of people talk about the The Pink Door Restaurant when they speak about places to eat + history of the city. It’s hard to get a reservation, especially on the night there are performances during dinner but some how by the luck of the food gods I was able to snag a table just before 9pm in time to see the last trapeze performance before dinner! Located on Post Alley, the entrance to this spot is hard to miss as there is no sign, just a simple faded pink door that you enter from. We were not allowed to take pictures during the performance but it was quite spectacular to have the girl balancing on the trapeze ring just mere feet from where we were situated for our dinner.
Campanelle Alla Caprese dish and The Pink Door Mocktail
The food at The Pink Door Restaurant was a little underwhelming, while much of the menu is Italian I found my pasta a bit cold and lacking in seasoning. My Pink Door Watermelon Mocktail was refreshing and quite good but maybe folks come here more for the entertainment and history than the food. Either way my company was FANTASTIC as Dustin and I indulged in a long overdue in person catch up on life, or as we like to call it drinks and a rant so I have no complaints about that!
After dinner we were off to Capitol Hill – can I please mention that it took us some 30 minutes to find parking even remotely close to the bar, good god Seattle what a feat for some beer! I had been told that Capitol Cider was the BEST place to same cider flights in the city. Dustin in I were in luck as there was an off-menu Saturday night special on creating your own 3 pick flight. I ordered Raspberry, Pineapple and Crabapple for my flight and man were we disappointed in these brews. I may not be a beer expert but these ciders were not what I had expected and I tend to favour the fruit ciders over other flavour profiles. It was an interesting spot to check out but I think next time we will be on the hunt for a funky brewery or craft bar to sip our beers at.