Detroit

Was in Detroit last Saturday, the same Detroit you can hear and read horrifying stories in newspapers and on the Internet. I’ll tell about my experience there, how the city presented itself.

I’ve got into the Greyhound bus with Toronto sign at the midnight between Friday and Saturday. I’ve supposed to get to Detroit in this bus, and leave it early in the morning. Once there, I’ve spotted that local Greyhound bus station has one very special characteristic – it haven’t water in the water taps, it’s definitely something new for America, because everywhere water was and still present.

During the first moment outside of the Greyhound station two beggars tried to talk to me and ask for some money, it’s too much, especially for the early hour of the day. Went through the city, navigating with help of paper maps, which I always do, I set the path toward the river, I thought it would be interesting to look at Canada. The very first impressions besides beggars is that city has a lot of hatches with hot steam going up in the air from those hatches. Also I saw some old buildings that was built sometime around 20es of the last century, and they are still the same as long time ago, maybe little bit worse looking.

While I walked, I noticed, that life is going in the city, even though city is bankrupt. City services continuing working – police works, trash and garbage being removed from the streets, fountains are working, lawns are being cut. The only noticeable thing from cities’ property is the roads, which sometimes in bad condition, and sometimes in very bad condition, I haven’t spotted any issues with traffic on the streets though.

In the downtown you can see that bikers are using their bikes at the river walk, joggers are jogging, life is going on. The river walk very nice, a lot of lawns there, green grass, fountains, tables, chairs, sunbeds. Even Chicago’s river walk doesn’t have public sunbeds. People are very friendly, as in other American towns I went to.

Interesting thing about the people. I saw security stuff in a lot of places there, and they looked interesting. First of all, majority of them were white, and second is that they had red t-shirts, so anyone can easily spot them. There are whites people in the town, but not much, in any case I weren’t the only white person, who can attract all the attention on the street.

About the border with Canada. The border goes through Detroit river, fortunately river is big enough, I guess about 200 meters, so there is plenty of space to be able to divide river between the countries. The border itself is buoys in the middle of the river, also there are lots and lots of notices, that forbids to swim in the river or use other ways of transportation. Also, city has the tunnel under the river and a bridge, you can find both of them by following the road signs with big green maple-leaf and text, that something Canadian pretty close.

The river isn’t so big, as I said earlier, so you can clearly see Windsor, which is much smaller than Detroit, you can see it basing on number of high-rise buildings. The small airplanes flying over the river, while I was at river walk, I’ve seen two of them, or the same one twice, I’m not sure.

Border is being patrolled not only by plains, but also Board Control guards in their cars.

If I’ve started talking about force structures of the city, I’ll tell more about it. Police cars and board control cars have bullbars, all of them, even sheriff and other security cars. Another interesting thing about police is that almost all police cars – sedans, I saw only one police SUV. And the sheriff, while I walked through Midtown, I’ve spotted that sheriff has interesting last name – Napoleon, I guess it is interesting to live with such last name.

I cant say much about animals in Detroit, I saw seagulls, not many of them, also I saw one unusually black squirrel, and that’s all that I’ve seen there. The squirrel was, definitely, unusual, I’ve never seen anything like it, maybe it was Canadian.

The city center is very nice, I haven’t expected it, wonderful, the only thing is that a lot of space for small businesses on ground floors are closed. Those places have “For lease” signs, and there are a lot of such signs in the city, starting in downtown and spreading to other places. Office buildings has interesting feature – connections between buildings somewhere in the skies, about 5th floor or higher, I’ve seen about ten of those connections, maybe more.

Once you walked about 15 minutes from the downtown, you can see buildings with blocked windows and doors, the owners clearly don't want to let anyone inside. Event further away there are empty slots of the groud, and some industrial buildings which are completely empty and dark, horrible view.

Public transportation consists only from regular busses and there are a lot of reverse bus stops in the city. I’ve seen a bus which was going to Dexter end stop, like the name of famous TV show. There is strange subway system in downtown, it is very strange. Some time ago was build a structure which holds the railroad for that subway in the height somewhere between 2nd and 4th floors. This structure located only in downtown, and has only one pair of rails. The system is used to transport trains consisted of two cars at the time, and all of them going in the same direction. Why they built something like that? Interesting thing with that railroad is that in at least one place the railroad going through building, in the southeast corner of downtown.

There are a lot of cars, like in other cities, and they have places to park the cars. I’ve seen a lot of built parking lots with multiple levels, some of them located in downtown, or less than 10 minutes walking from downtown. In the downtown there are some places that don’t have parking machines, so you can park for free. Another interesting thing is that automobile industry made some ideas into laws, which makes world a better place. All the local cars with plates from Michigan state doesn’t have plates in front of the cars, and it is so nice and beautiful. Some of the cars, especially American ones, have special front bumper optimized for being shown as is without the plate, so good.

Few words about poverty and safeness, or their absence I can say, that while I was there, about 5 or 6 beggars came to me. Also there was one guy, that was promoting himself, and asked people to vote for him in some Michigan actors poll on Instagram, strange things can happen. About safety? I haven’t noticed anything that could be considered as not safe or scary. I’ve seen some strange people and that’s all. There were no gangs on the corners of the streets selling some illegal stuff. You definitely can enjoy the city during the light day. On the other hand I walked in in one of the stores, and the department with hard alcohol had glass wall, so no one from outside can walk in, I don’t know why they are did it, may be it worth to be doing in some places.

About open business in the city, I think it is worth to tell about Casinos, which are located in the city, pretty much the same as in Cleveland, big and shiny with infrastructure that you can expect from Casinos. One more thing about city’s infrastructure, there are a lot of orange barrels on the streets, they are everywhere, but no work is going on the streets around those barrels.

When I walked out of downtown and walked towards Wayne University it was very strange feeling when surroundings are changing very quickly in a bad way. Roads getting worse, cars becoming older and more broken, some even with broken windows, repaired by duct tape. In midtown I saw first and the only one McDonalds in the city, which has special $3.13 menu, for 313 years of the city. There were advertisement in the city of that special Detroit menu.

Trip to Detroit began to end, and I was sitting on the lawn near Wayne University, was waiting for Megabus bus back to Chicago, which I decided to use because of tip of one guy that I know. So, while I was waiting, I saw one strange man, that was riding a car with flat left front tire. And that man wasn’t going to repair it, because I saw him again driving in opposite direction 15 minutes later. Megabus was late that day for about 15 minutes, after it arrived some additional time passed while passengers packed their bags and once all of us checked in with driver, so we started trip to Chicago 20 minutes later than expected, and I arrived to Chicago 45 minutes later than schedule suggested…

Photograph of Detroit, as usual.

Detroit

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Cleveland

I truly wanted to go to Detroit during 4th of July or weekend after that, weather, however, disagreed with that plan. Weather forecast showed rainy weather everywhere around 4th of July, so I went to my list of places to go, and chose Cleveland, with sunny weather. Another reason for choosing Cleveland was that I could return to Chicago to see holiday fireworks.

Departed from Chicago at 11 PM on 3rd of July, the bus displayed destination – Washington. The ride went through the night, which was okay for my plan, and seats was comfortable enough to deal with that. Interesting thing is that I came to the station and proper exit just few minutes before departure, and, somehow, I was lucky enough to take one of the first places in the bus – seat near window was my choice. They asked to show my ID while boarding, so annoying.

The trip went successful, however I wasn’t able to sleep or relax normal during the trip, something was against it. The good thing is that on the way back there were plenty of empty seats, so I relaxed as I could. Bus arrived to Cleveland about 20 minutes before sunrise, it meant, that I had plenty of time to walk around while city still asleep, while there are empty streets without cars or people, nice time to enjoy.

The city was quiet during all the time I’ve spent there, not only during early morning. The few places where crowd was present was in the center of the city, all other places – empty by default, and I’ll add to this, that instead of people there were quite a bit of little annoying bugs near the pier, lake, parks and other places with grass and trees. It is possible, that they arrived from Canada, because it is pretty close from Cleveland, and the Erie lake isn’t so big, I even have an impression that I’ve seen Canada from Pier at 9th street.

Except bugs, city has some seagulls, not many with comparison to Milwaukee, but more than Chicago has. The pier at 9th street is very interesting by being so simple and familiar, that I recalled pier in my pre-historical city, where I grew up. It is located near city center, quite big, but not huge, you can walk there, sit there, there is a small park, enjoyable place. Another similarity is that city located on pretty high shore of the lake, so from the pier, so you’re looking upward to get a look of the city. Because of that similarities and memories I’ve spend some time there, just relaxing and giving some time to relax to my feets, and while I was siting there, some dark beggar came to me asking for money to buy new ticket to home, he lost the original one…

I do have the feeling, that beggars specially selects me as a target, maybe because I don’t look like people around me due to my choice of clothes – shirts and pants, maybe something else, who knows. In my blog I’ve wrote about those event few times already, I with that women came to me that often on the streets.

Continuing with stories about pier, somewhere close to it, there is an airport, and between that airport and the pier at 9th street, there is some military ground with buildings, which has a lot of “Do not trespass” signs around it. Anyway, there were a few of loud claps there, and the strange thing about that, is that there were no visible consequences after that – no smoke or something of that kind.

Enough about pier, I’ll tell about the city now, similarly to Milwaukee and Indianapolis, the city has backwards bus stops, also city has another bus stops, that has two entrances – one closer to roadway and second one – closer to sidewalk. Also there are a lot of places, that were designed to have buttons for crossing the streets, however a lot of places have only sockets for those buttons, and actual buttons are missing. A lot of buttons, that are still or already exists have additional signs with information telling which street you’ll be able to cross after button is pressed. This information should be useful, but for tourists like me it almost worthless, I don’t know what streets where, so just press all buttons.

I’ve already said, that there weren’t much people on the streets, and those who were – were pretty friendly, sad greetings, one man even asked a cigarette. I should also mention one interesting behavior pattern of joggers that jog on “Hope Memorial Bridge”. The joggers were jogging from west side of the bridge to the east, once they’ve arrived to the east part, they started to returning, who just walking, who – jogging as well. Funny people.

Because there weren’t a lot of people in the city, and almost all the places were closed, except Starbucks and Hard Rock Café, there was no place to enjoy some meal. However I found interesting place with cool logo – Noodlecat, I do recommend to check out it’s logo, the place was closed though.

While walking down the streets it is impossible not to notice that city center is filled with offices of different banks, similarly to Milwaukee, however banks are different. I saw following Key Bank, First National Bank, Charter One, 5/3, Huntington and few smaller ones. Conclusion – if you want to work in downtown – get a job in the bank.

While wandering here and there I’ve found one cent coin, it isn’t a first time I’m finding money on the streets in America. Interesting is the place where I found it – in court district, where courts and police station located. Also there located bail bonds firms, a lot of them. It’s the first time where I’ve seen bail bonds firms in US – something new, nice.

One more new thing – I saw as person actually used the device in front of the bus. From changing the position to horizontal, to attaching a bike to the device. I’ve never seen anyone to use it in Chicago, it is usually in vertical position with advertisements displayed to everyone.

Concluding with the story, I’ll say, that I’ve made about 300 photos, and my camera showed a red signal about battery capacity left. A lot of photos this time, usually it goes somewhere around 200.

Cleveland

The last thing for today – when I discussed the idea to go to Cleveland, some people tried to scary me, that, the city isn’t safe, and it’s highly probable to meet people with guns. Instead, I’ve seen very safe and quiet city, lovely one.

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