Last week at this time I was rushing around Pikes Place in the Emerald City. Dodging around Seattle tourists, I tried to find the perfect bouquets to decorate the ceremony and reception space for my brother’s wedding.
It had been a year and a half since I had gotten the chance to see my favorite American city. Luke and I had visited friends/family in Oregon and Washington during New Years break in 2012. It was the first time Luke had seen me in such familiar and comfortable territory. I was giddy to return to the rainy, green, and coffee obsessed state where I went to college.
Two weeks ago late night I joined my parents at the Best Western in Silverdale. Exhausted and jet-lagged the next day my mom and I went down to the espresso bar in the hotel lobby. I boldly asked for a 12 oz. nonfat double shot cappuccino and almost cried with happiness when she asked if I wanted it wet or dry. I told her I loved that she asked me- and without understanding my burnt espresso experiences , she just gave me an odd look. I realize I am a coffee snob and I do not trust any other state to get a cappuccino right (but more on my coffee obsession later).
My mom and I enjoyed the bay view sipping on our coffee trying to regroup for the bridal shower that night. As I sat there I remember why I love this state: surrounded by bays, lakes, and the ocean year-round there is greenery in site ( it is called the evergreen state after all.) The sunny days are deeply cherished just as the rain and cloudy days an accepted norm.
We spent most of our time in a little town called Poulsbo. This quaint country-like town is considered a little Norway. Years ago, immigrants from Scandinavia settled here because the weather and geography reminded them of the fjords in the old country.
Front street downtown Poulsbo hosts a variety of Scandinavian treats and souvenirs awaiting the summer tourist. This was not my first time to Poulsbo, visiting both in 2005 and 2009 during some vacations. So in our limited spare time my parents and I stopped by Sluys the famous Scandinavian bakery in town. It storefront is easily spotted especially in the summer as the line is out the small front door.
This little Norway hosts traditional winter and spring festivals such as Julefest and St. Hans Midsommer which is celebrated along the Liberty Bay waterfront. Here the local Sons of Norway chapter dedicates itself to preserve culture through annual events, traditional folk dancing performances and classes among other cultural arts. Stina and her family are Swedish/Norwegian and have grown up folk dancing and participating in the annual festivals downtown Poulsbo for years.
Within this past year my brother also has participated in the Scandinavian traditions. And appropriately so, although our family history includes many European ancestries my maiden last name is Norwegian and we can trace the Halvorson name all the way back to a farm in Norway. It was here at the Sons of Norway that the wedding reception was held and celebrated by traditional folk dancing (more on this to come).
But as I mentioned earlier I did get to spend some time in the great city of Seattle. Taking the Bremerton hour long ferry on rehearsal day my mother, Stina, her father, and I sat and discussed our strategy for saving time and money on this flower-run. Meanwhile, we enjoyed the music of street-muscians warming up for a performance at Pikes Place.
If you have never been to Pikes Place it is a multi leveled shopping experience filled with eclectic storefronts. The top level hosts the famous semi-open market adjacent to the famous original Starbucks. All along the right hand side of this top level are florists selling beautiful arrangements for 10 to 15 dollars a bundle.
After gathering enough bouquets to fill the back of the van we took a snack break grabbing monster size gluten-free pumpkin cookies at a familiar storefront.
By 11am we were back on the Bremerton ferry headed to Poulsbo. On the ferry ride I sat in the back organizing flowers and prepping a sample bouquet for centerpieces.
The next day after the wedding reception and seeing the newly weds off Luke, my in-laws, and I packed up our bags and headed for the 7:55pm ferry to Bremerton. It was my first time on a Seattle ferry with Luke and it was beautiful as the sunset over the Emerald City.
By the time we reached downtown the sun had set. We parked under the free-way and walked over to the pier boardwalk. Finding a cheap fisherman stand, we got a late dinner of clam chowder and fish n’ chips. We found a spot to sit outside watching the ferries and the newest additon to the pier: The Great Wheel light up.
As we walked around the pier and then back to the car my mother-in-law said the same thing Luke had more than a year ago: I was obviously back in familiar territory.
As we curved past SAM park I directed my father-in-law up hill to the Queen Ann district to get gas before taking us to the airport. Passing right by the space needle we then headed to SEATAC for our red eye back to New York. I was sad to leave the northwest and friends and family behind but was so grateful for a weeks worth of great experiences with them in and near my favorite city.