Pike Place Market at Night

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While I was home last, I made a stop at my beloved Pike Place Market–one of those famous sights that’s really worth the hype and not just for tourists. After being in Spain this long, I now look at the market with new eyes, chuckling at the peeled and deveined shrimp; which in Spain is basically sacrilegious. But mostly I just daydream about living in the area, and doing the majority of my shopping there:  picking up a gorgeous $5 bouquet every week, the freshest wild salmon, and seasonal fruits and veggies.

Pike Place Market is much more than just stalls touting seafood and produce, however. There are also numerous restaurants and artisan food shops (perfect for souvenirs!), craft stalls, and an arcade downstairs featuring shops of all kinds. It’s a maze for the senses, and well worth a couple of hours shopping and exploring. As the oldest continuously operated farmer’s market in the U.S.A., we Seattleites are pretty proud of this attraction. In my opinion, Pike Place Market is the king of farmer’s markets, and I compare every market I visit in the world to it (like La Boqueria in Barcelona, this Roman market, or Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel.)

Take a look for yourself! 

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The French Pyrenees: La Mongie

As we drove further and further away from Lourdes, past pretty Bagnères-de-Bigorre , and through the green valleys of the French Pyrenees, we made the ascent to the largest ski station in the area: La Mongie. Stepping out into the cool, clean mountain air, the only thing we could hear were the occasional barks of some shepherds’ dogs, and a whistle or two from their master who was overseeing everything. The dogs gracefully laced in and out of the giant herd of sheep pictured below, setting off a domino-effect of ringing bells that were tied around their necks as they trotted into place.

Content with the herd’s position, both dog and master rested; heading to the stream, fed by last year’s snow, that cut down the hill-side. One of the dogs laid down in the stream without a second thought; feverishly gulping the water around him, as the shepherds scrubbed their hands, and chatted amongst themselves.

I love bearing witness to such simple scenes of everyday life that are so different from my own. Just another reason why travel has me so enamored, I suppose.
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I’d love to come back in the winter and cozy up in cabin with a fireplace…wouldn’t you?

 

 

The Pastel Town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre, France

After a disappointing experience in Lourdes, I needed something that was the polar opposite of mass tourism. Driving further into the French Pyrenees, I stopped at the cute town that was the site of one of the Tour de France finish lines that I was at earlier in the summer: the colorful, small town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

Ah, yes. This would be the perfect place to wander the pastel-toned streets with my family, sip on a steaming café au lait, and fill up our hungry bellies with lemon meringues and berry crumbles ordered in our clumsy French at one of the local patisseries.

Another advantage of living in Basque Country: the charms of the French countryside are only a hop and a skip away! 

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Would a small town like Bagnères-de-Bigorre appeal to you?