Bay Area Vacation: The San Jose Flea Market

Hi All: Am back. It was a hectic past week for me. First, my 2.5 year old PC decided to go slow on me all of the sudden. Everything seems to grind to a virtual halt … I think it’s all the photos that I had been dumping into it (23,000 already!). It was so slow that it took 5 minutes to just to edit ONE photo. It was that agonizingly slow. So, we decided to go get a new PC … spanking new one with Vista on it. I like Vista and boy … it’s really fast even with all the Aero stuff on Vista.

And before I had the time to properly setup the new PC, I had to travel again on work. Just got back last night and back in action. Well … that means that another travel series is now in the works.

Back to this series …

I like the motel we stayed in Santa Clara. They give better free breakfast than most of the other hotels we been to. Instead of giving the standard cold pastry and coffee, they even have a waffle making machine. I like hot breakfast. The coffee was pretty decent too.


We picked up a brochure at the hotel about the world’s largest flea market. We thought that warrants checking out although it was not part of our plan since it’s just around the corner from Santa Clara. It is called the San Jose Flea Market on Berryessa Road.


Locating this “no-tech” market is really easy. The parking lot is huge and reminds me of those in large theme parks. Looking at the size of the car park alone I can imagine how big this flea market is. Although there is no entrance fees for the flea market, parking costs $6.


We went very early when they just about to open.


This place is so big that they have street names to help people navigate around the flea market. Oh yeah, you need a map too.


We headed off to the Produce Row first. A lot of the people there are Mexicans and I felt that Spanish are more widely spoken than English! Most of the signs here are also in Spanish.


I tried to ask about some food that were uncommon to Canada but did not get much help. BTW, I see a lot of cactus being cut and sold here. What are they and how do they eat them? Cooked or raw?


There were quite a variety of peanuts. I like peanuts, especially roasted ones.


Not only peanuts but pistachios. I did not know there are so many ways to prepare pistachios.


More snacks … they all looked so colourful.


We did buy a pack of Charales to try. It’s dried fish … it was not quite our taste. $3.00 wasted.


Stopped by a drinks stall. It was the most delicious and colorful looking fruit stall we had ever seen. The people who worked there were pretty nervous of my camera because I caught them chattering nervously and saying something about “camera” and then turned around. I was thinking … are they “documented”.


The fruits in cups looked so fresh. Now, why did the world not think of the way the Mexicans prepare the fruits … cut them into strips. I think if someone think of doing this in Canada’s fairs, it would sell.


I don’t know what we got for a drink. I just pointed to one that looked different. What is this drink anyway? It is really good.


In this flea market, you could get almost everything you can think of. You can get carpets …


… perfume …


… ladies fashion, very cheap too …


… all kinds of soccer jerseys …


… beach towels and blankets …


… even goldsmith and jewellery …


… haircuts …


… want to buy a taser gun? or bullet proof vest? or mace? they got it here too …


… pinatas in all shapes, sizes and colours ..


It was interesting browsing stalls like these …


Am particularly curious over the cookwares, especially the roundish ones with a small hump in the middle … what do they use this for?


They even have a carousel.


If you are doing the tourist thing in San Jose, you should check this place out. It’s pretty amazing.

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  1. Erik

    Really enjoying your blog. Keep up the great work, it’s appreciated.

  2. Chubbypanda

    Hey Ben!

    Looks like you’ve been having fun in my childhood haunts. I went to Chinese school in the Berryessa School district and Elonweis’ father has a stall in the San Jose Flea Market when she was small. My primary school is only a few miles away from there.

    The cactus paddles are called “nopales”. I think they’re peeled and eaten raw or blanched. You can actually find them in Granville Island. There’s a produce stall that carries them near that place that sells the fancy salts.

  3. Hukilaujean

    I live in Sacramento and every year we take a trip to San Jose to the “Fanime Convention” for my son. After we drop him off we always head out to the flea market. We spend the whole day and still it’s not enough time to see everything. Sometimes you can catch local bands playing salsa music and people dancing. You mentioned the drinks. Last year I drank 3 cups. Soooo good but definite overkill in my tummy! Great bargains on everything you can think of. First time I visited was back in 1984. It’s a definite must see if you’re in the area.

  4. grayelf

    Those cooking vessels I believe are for tortillas.

    I love the drinks you had, called aguas. You can get a couple here (horchata, jamaica). My favourite is limon, though I don’t know that I’ve ever had it with chia.

    We may have to head out to San Jose on our next trip to the Bay Area :-).

    1. Ben

      Hi Grayelf: Wow, I had almost forgotten about this post of the San Jose Flea Market. If we knew better then, we would have been more prepared stomach wise for the visit. Ben

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