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Published: March 2nd 2012
View of downtown from above.
When I was planning my trip to the USA, I definitely wanted to go and see the Grand Canyon after the congress. As I did not know what the roads from Palm Springs to the Grand Canyon would be like, I decided to fly into Flagstaff, just 1.5 hours south of the Grand Canyon Village, and rent a car there. When I checked the flights from Palm Springs to Flagstaff, I found that they all went through Phoenix, and that I would have a stopover of three hours or more. I had not been to Phoenix before, so I decided to spend an afternoon there to get an impression of the city and continue to Flagstaff the next morning.
I arrived in Phoenix in the afternoon and knew that I would not have much time to explore the city. I took a taxi from the airport to my hotel that was situated somewhere between the airport and downtown Phoenix. It was already three p.m. when I finally left my hotel and started walking towards downtown. I passed a bus stop. There was no schedule and no overview of the bus lines that would stop there, but I decided to wait
Phoenix - Central Ave I
View towards the south.
anyway. On the map, downtown looked pretty close, but in fact it was a couple of miles away from my hotel. I did not have to wait for long and caught a bus that took my right to Central Avenue, the street in downtown Phoenix where most of the buildings worth looking at are. I was a bit disappointed when I started walking around. I could not find the sights that were described in my travel guide, and things seemed to be pretty far apart. There were no spectacular buildings or nice places. I walked around a couple of blocks, then walked the Central Avenue towards the north. I got to talk to a guy who told me that it costs over $100 if you cross a traffic light on red as a pedestrian. That was good to know because I am usually inclined to doing exactly this.
Finally I arrived at the Phoenix Public Library, an amazing building made entirely of glass. It has five floors and is protected from the sun by an impressive combination of blinds. Inside, there is an atrium with lifts made of glass and a fountain. I love the atmosphere books create, so
Phoenix - Central Ave II
View towards the south through the window of the Public Library.
I could not help but had to explore the library a bit. It offered a nice view of the surroundings. When I got out of the building, I caught a streetcar towards a museum, the Heard Museum, that was supposed to give interesting information on the native Indians in the region. But when I finally found it, I learned that it was already closed. I caught the streetcar again, intending to try out whether I would be able to get to Papago Park. There are interesting red rocks in the middle of the flat country. But again, it was a very far walk from the streetcar station. It would be dark soon, probably not a good idea to walk around in an unfamiliar area. I walked to the next bus stop, where there was again no timetable. Instead, a sign said that one could send a text message with the stop’s code and then receive one indicating the next connections. I tried, but it did not work. Fortunately, a bus came, and I hopped on. I got to talk to the bus driver, who was a Mexican. He said that he loved German cars and that he was very interested
in German history. Hitler, for example.
He dropped me off at the Arizona Center, telling me that there were nice places for dinner. I liked the Center pretty much, it was illuminated and decorated nicely, and there were a lot of people around. At the bus stop waiting for my bus back to the hotel, I got to talk to two guys. One of them, from Tucson, was struggling with the strange bus system just as much as I did. He was eager to learn more about Germany. The other had been to the city of Kaiserslautern (in the southwest of Germany) as an army soldier. He was more than happy to share his memories of Germany with a German.
The next morning, the hotel’s shuttle bus took me to the airport. I was glad I had reserved more time for check-in and security control than I do in Germany (more than 1.5 hours) because the procedure seems to take so much longer than here. I had to queue for the check-in kiosk. Then the computer did not work properly, and it took me a while to finally have my boarding pass printed out. Security control seemed to
Phoenix - Public Library I
Modern building with lots of glass.
take forever, there was a long queue. And of course, I was checked for explosives again. This happens to me before about every second or third flight. Nobody can tell me they are picking me randomly. Then you have to take your shoes off and go through one of the scanners that show you naked to the security officers. In Germany, this had been a big deal and still is, and you can always choose whether you want to use this one or the “normal” one. Here, nobody even asks. But the officers were always extremely friendly. This was in total contrast to the ground crew at the Phoenix airport. They were most unfriendly, and I did not at all agree with the text I could read everywhere on the airport: USA’s friendliest airport. It is the most unfriendly one I’ve ever been to.
But I made it onto my tiny little plane to Flagstaff and arrived at the Grand Canyon alright. But that’s again another story.
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