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Published: October 27th 2006
So I left Chicago at Midnight on Monday night (well, tuesday morning if you must).
9 hours later, 6 spent crammed behind two large American women who, almost in unision with the start up of the bus engine, reclined their chairs and spent the entire bus ride that way, laptops out, movies playing and snacks out.
It was a shame that I was travelling at night because i missed all of the American Country side which would have been nice.
But!...The great thing about the Greyhound is that you get to experience very random country towns (albiet usually only for an hour at the most) that you would otherwise never get to see. Anyone been to Eau Claire, Madison, Middleton..anyone?
They are pretty interesting places, a provide a little more insight, however small, to the American culture outside the cities....the bus terminals unfortunatly are often filled with the homeless...consequentially when you walk of the bus for a 15 minute break you are immediatly hit with the smell of stale beer, cigarettes and the air is filled with the incomprehensible mumblings of these people crammed into the small plastic chairs, wrapped in tattered doonas and blankets.
In other places you might just stop at a gas station- one memory that stays with me is dashing off the bus to be left waiting by the stations occupied toilet, at 2 in the morning in the middle of Wisconsin in a freezing wind that tears through you.
I arrived at Minneapolis at 9 in the morning. To get there the bus travelled through Milwaukee, Brookfield, Maddison, Middleton, Eau Claire, St Paul and then finally Minneapolis.
Trying to negotiate a completely unfamiliar city, and work out exactly how you are going to entertain yourself for the next 9 hours is always fun, and I spent the first hour just trying to find a map.
Eventually i oriented myself, found a library (when you are travelling, Libraries are the greatest things in the world because they always offer free internet and nice bathrooms) and thus a 'what to do in Minneapolis' website.
I would have liked to have seen Mall of America but it involved a 2 and a half hour bus ride both ways. And once i was there, there would not have been a great deal to do given the budget i was on....so it would have kinda been like offering a cold homeless man in the street a Pot and a Parma, letting him smell it then wrapping a glass case around it and placing it just out of reach. I would not subject myself to such cruelty!
But I will tell you about Mall of America because it just so god damn big. Mall of Americas gross area is 4.2 million square feet, has 12 000 car parks, has an aquariam, a LEGO Imagination center, A Dinosaur Walk Museum, a Flight Simulation center, a NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway and then all the main department stores so, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Nordstrom and Sears. Plus, it has over 520 shops.
If a shopper spent 10 minutes browsing at every store, it would take them more than 86 hours to complete their visit to Mall of America.
Again, only in America.
So i basically spent most of my day puttering around Minneaplis trying to take in as much of the city. I had lunch down by Mississippi river and walked along some trail by the river. It was actually quite nice.
Got on a bus at 6 for the longesst bus ride I've ever been on, it was endurable at the time but is one of those experiences where in hindsight, it was horrible.
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