Monday January 21 Through Thursday January 24, 2019
I knew Detroit would be cold. It is the winter. The monitor at the gate said it all.
In some respects, I was prepared for Detroit’s winter. With my Arctic Parka on, I hardly fit into the airline seat. Considering the time of year, the on time arrival in Detroit made the flight a good one.
In the brief time between walking out the airport door and climbing into the town car, I was stung by the biting cold. Skies were clear. Squinting from the bright sun reflecting off boundless snow and ice, the ride downtown to the hotel didn’t reveal much of Detroit. Perhaps there wasn’t much to see. Ten steps from the town car and we were through the revolving doors, inside the hotel and away from the cold.
The Detroit People Mover connects 13 downtown Detroit locations via an elevated rail system. The trains go around in a big loop, always in the same direction. Passengers stand outside on covered platforms to wait for the next train.
Trains come regularly. The wait always seemed trivial but the platforms were cold.
We were in our hotel well before lunch. At lunchtime, after taking the sky-bridge over to the GMRENCEN, a series of escalators stepped us down a floor at a time to the food court area which was under renovation.
Not feeling terribly imaginative, I had the fish and chips from the Coney Town / Gyroland / Fish-City restaurant for lunch. Really, it was one kitchen and three counters although any of the counters would serve food listed on the boards of the other two.
Noise from the on-going construction in the food court didn’t enhance the dining experience.
It turns out that GM’s corporate headquarters is directly above the food court. No surprise then that there are a number of new and old GM vehicles being displayed throughout the building.
However, my favorites tended toward unique concept cars and plain old antiques.
The above truck looks like a ½ ton version of the truck, “Rocinante“, John Steinbeck drove around the US in 1960. He had a truck camper mounted on his truck and camped during his trip. Steinbeck wrote about his (mis) adventures in the famous book “Travels with Charley in Search of America.” The book is a good read even though it is a bit dated. I read it the year we bought our truck camper.
We were using hotel points to pay for our room. The unusually nice room assigned by the Courtyard had a commanding view of the GMRENCEN, Detroit Riverwalk, Detroit River and Windsor Canada. In the foreground, a section of the People Mover rail system passes over the sky-bridge between the Courtyard and GMRENCEN.
The early dinner in the Courtyards Applebees/IHOP restaurant was better than expected although I miss the standard Marriott Courtyard Bistro restaurant and its menu.
The sunset from the elevator lobby capped off the long day. See the People Mover tracks snaking their way between the buildings.
Tuesday morning, after breakfast, we overpaid for a People Mover token at the convenience store inside the Marriott Courtyard building. We learned later to pay 75¢ for a 75¢ token just outside the subway style turnstiles at each People Mover platform. From the Courtyard, the COBO Center was just a few stops away.
The COBO Center is where the 2019 North American International Auto Show was being held. Also known as THE DETROIT AUTO SHOW. The show will be covered in a subsequent blog post. Spoiler alert! It was both overwhelmingly awesome and slightly disappointing at the same time.
After a few hours at the auto show, Linda had seen enough. Hopped on the People Mover at COBO Center Station, then off at Greektown Station.
It took some time to get out of the alley into the street. The Greektown alley was like a maze and a wrong turn off the People Mover and a person could be trapped forever.
Linda knew of a place, Fishbone’s, where she had eaten at before that had a reputation for great food and atmosphere.
Fishbone’s interior architecture is unusual in that it looks like it was built in the 1920’s. The restaurant is huge with more tables than most.
This is, at least sometimes, a restaurant where you are seated and waited on promptly. There were only two parties seated. After a five minute search, no waitstaff was found. We moved on.
Linda suggested the moussaka, shown on the right, a dish made from thinly sliced eggplant layered with spiced ground beef with a Greek sauce poured over the top. On the left was a spinach thing that was complementary to the moussaka. Both Pegasus dishes were to die for.
The Pegasus seems less like a tourist restaurant in a tourist district (Greektown) and more like a neighborhood restaurant in the heart of a healthy community. Definitely a good place to bring best friends or the family.
After lunch, Linda went back to the hotel. I returned to the COBO Center for another three hours at the auto show.
Taking the People Mover from the COBO Center to Greektown then Greektown back to the COBO Center clarified the geography somewhat. Both the COBO Center and the GMRENCEN have entrances on the Detroit Riverwalk.
Above, looking downriver toward the COBO Center, Windsor Canada is on the left and a riverboat on the right. Then turning around and looking upriver is the GMRENCEN.
The GMRENCEN is normally an easy walk along the Detroit Riverwalk from the COBO Center. Snow and ice along the Riverwalk and its access points presents special walking challenges. Once in the GMRENCEN, it would be easy to get to the Marriott Courtyard.
Surprise, the GMRENCEN was built to face the Riverwalk! The large glass structure covers an area of the GMRENCEN called Wintergarden.
At the outside Wintergarden entrance doors, look up overhead. The view is astounding. This is a nice piece of architecture.
Not in any particular hurry, this seemed like a good time to find and browse through the GM Company Store.
As expected there were a number of GM branded items for sale. Clothing occupied much of the store.
A large collection of classic and current model cars made at different scales (sizes) were also available for sale. Prices were not unreasonable.
Back in the hotel room, I showed Linda my car show booty.
On Wednesday, I went back to the auto show alone, promising to be back before lunch. More on the auto show in a subsequent post.
Returning to the GMRENCEN food court for lunch, Zoup! seemed like a logical choice for a light wholesome healthy meal.
The sensational cranberry almond Sonoma salad bundled with a tasty bowl of black bean soup came with a hunk of excellent whole grain bread. Very satisfying. I wish Zoup! restaurants were more common. The food is really good.
Wednesday afternoon it warmed up briefly above freezing. It had been drizzling and everything was wet.
We wanted a fancy dinner place for our last night in Detroit but didn’t want to go outside. Again, the pilgrimage over to the GMRENCEN.
Off the Wintergarden, we found Andiamo and were seated at a table facing the Detroit River.
Andiamo was another restaurant that Linda had been to before.
Linda recommended the Rigatoni Giuseppe, a VERY spicy pasta dish. It was wonderful and kept me up much of the night.
Thursday, we got up at 3:00 AM thinking airport TSA agents in Detroit, a major airline hub, would tire of not being paid during the long government shutdown and not show up for work.
Our concerns were not realized. We breezed through security without any trouble. Other than sitting on the plane for an hour at the gate while maintenance work was done, we had another uneventful flight back to San Antonio. We were even on time. It turns out that Delta schedules an extra hour on flights originating from Detroit in the event that deicing is required before takeoff.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!