Dan and I just got back from the Museums and the Web conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. It's been a long few days and we are both completely exhausted. In the last two weeks we've been back and forth between Cardiff and London a few times, in Istanbul, Detroit and Indianapolis. We arrived in London yesterday morning at about 7 am. When we got into the flat at around 9 am, we made the mistake of allowing ourselves to have a nap until mid-afternoon before hunger propelled us up and out. As a result of this accidental sleep, we were awake much later than normal last night and were up at 6:30 am to catch a train to Cardiff where Dan has a meeting today. I am soooo tired! Tired to the point where my eyes are blinking funny. Tired to the point that I am basically just occupying space at work today despite loads of things I should be working on.
I've left my camera in London but will upload some photos and stories about Istanbul in the next few days. As for Indianapolis ... all you need to do is look at the above image, the view from our downtown, four star hotel room, to know that it was less than stellar. The conference itself was good and we met a lot of interesting and some not so interesting people but the city itself was bleak. I do not come from a place like London or New York or San Francisco. I am used to smaller prairie Canadian cities but I was not prepared for the ugliness and emptiness that is Indianapolis.
- The downtown core of the city looks like an industrial site. If you look closely at the picture above you can see a factory churning out smoke in the background.
- All they serve is steak, though admittedly I had one really nice steak while there. Still, how much steak can a person eat?!
- There seem to be no people in Indianapolis. Even though the greater part of the conference was during the week and the downtown appears to be filled with office buildings there is never anyone on the street. It very much feels like a ghost town or scene from a zombie film after the zombies have eaten everyone and moved on.
- There appears to be very little in the vein of independent shops or restaurants. The downtown is filled with obvious chain stores (Forever 21, H&M, Banana Republic). There is nothing unique, nothing local, nothing interesting.
- The neighbourhoods are on the verge of completely dying. During one insanely motivational moment, Dan and I decided to take a cab outside of the downtown area to an independent record store that was having a BBQ and promotional day with live music. The record store, Luna, was nice and all but it was a $25 cab ride away and contrary to what we were hoping, it was in the middle of nowhere. No little shops, nothing but urban sprawl. Taxis are hard to come by and it was a warm day so we decided to walk the two hours back to downtown in the hope of seeing some sense of a neighbourhood. It consisted of endless blocks of mostly boarded up, abandoned homes, empty streets and very rarely was there even anywhere to stop and buy a can of pop. Depressing.
Dan: "If you could sum up Indianapolis in three words, what would they be?"
I can only remember my first word, which was vacant. It really says everything there is to say about the place. I'm sure the recession has hit a place like Indianapolis quite hard, but my problems with this city went well beyond something that could have transpired over the last year. There were some high lights, including visits to some local art institutions, but they seems less innate to the place and more in spite of it.
On the way back to London we had a six hour stop over in Detroit and had the intention of taking a shuttle into town to look around. Turns out the only transportation into Detroit is a $50 cab ride (one way) or a cheap bus that takes an hour and a half to get you there so we didn't go. Didn't want to risk spending a fortune to be dropped off in another wasteland. Here's a little free advice Detroit: if you are worth visiting, you might want to think about providing visitors with a less expensive form of transportation into your city from the airport.
This is the first time I've flown to the UK and felt a little like I'm returning home instead of heading away from it. A nice feeling, though a bit disorienting.
Mom arrives in a week. Yay!