First published July 2014, here freshly edited.
Sometimes you just need to embrace being a tourist. You need to have a strong word with yourself in the mirror, and own it.“Katy: you are going out in public in sensible shoes and a backpack. You will wear an obnoxiously large camera around your neck. Your accent, your confusion regarding dollar bills being “all the same” and your general expression of wonderment will give you away. You need to be OK with that, right now, before we leave the house.”
So a Scotsman, a Kiwi and South African head off into the grey metropolitan maze. We went in search of the EMP Museum, which is so much more fun than it’s more common science- and natural history- cousins: this museum is dedicated to Rock Music, Pop Culture and Sci-Fi. This is a building constructed with the sole purpose of housing an immense Jimmy Hendricks memorabilia collection. This is the temple to Nirvana. If only it wasn’t closed. Apparently the 17th of September is “Fall” and not “Summer”: we had misread the opening times because none of us knows exactly what Fall is and when it’s supposed to start. Abort Mission.
Luckily, adjacent to the EMP Museum is the (ta-dah!) Space Needle. With the promise of booze at the top, the Scotsman agrees to part with $20 to ride the elevator to the Observation Deck. It was an average elevator ride, with sickly Americanized commentary that made me feel as if I was in some kind of TV game show nightmare. The view was lovely in all directions, the crowds were at a minimum and I had ample opportunity to take touristy pics of a grey looking Seattle. And then, suddenly, we were told that the Observation deck will be closing and that, no there will not be any cocktails or canapés on the highest point in Seattle. We sulkily queued for the elevator as I seriously considered taking some merchandise from the gift store as ‘reimbursement’ for my lost $20. I didn’t, I promise. Abort Mission.
We headed back to our parked car, without much direction or a plan for the rest of the evening. We were rudderless in this concrete stream. And then miraculously, perhaps steered by some subconscious memories of the city layout just recently embedded in my mind while atop the Space Needle, I began to navigate my way through the city. I was driving on the right. I was taking turns, and recognising landmarks. Then I found a great Mexican restaurant, and adjacent parking. (I also found Dick’s, but that’s how a lot of my stories end…)
So a Scotsman, a Kiwi and South African walk into a Mexican bar: here was the promise of cold beer, guacamole and a menu that overwhelms one with choices and vowel-laden nouns. Pesos was just in time to save Taco Tuesday from a dreary, drive-through experience. Corona’s, chips, salsa and a fantastic atmosphere. I had a truly inspired shrimp and bacon quesadilla, which has raised the quesadilla bar considerably. Scotty (that’s his name, I promise) had chicken fajitas that must have been good, because it kept him quiet for a little while and Kiwi (not his real name, I promise) had a burrito the size of a small Mexican child.
And that is the story how, in the space of one Tuesday evening, I went from being rather bad at being a conventional tourist and organically, naturally became a citizen; navigating and weaving my way through this great city and not finding what I was looking for, but rather exactly what I wanted.
EMP Museum at 325 5th Ave N Seattle, WA 98109 . Apparently it’s amazing.
Pesos Mexican Kitchen and Lounge at 605 Queen Anne Ave N Seattle, WA 98109