When I mentioned to various people that we were going to Kansas City, they tended to look at me strangely. ‘Why?’ or ‘There’s nothing to see there,’ they might say. The main reason Sabrina and I planned a stop in the Midwest was to see our friend Isabel, who works there as a teacher. And Kansas City… as I’m about to tell you, it actually has a bit going for it.
We arrived from Orlando (via Atlanta) on a Saturday. This was a couple of weeks back; I’m a little behind on my blogging. Anyhow, Isabel picked us up from the airport, which was exciting of course. She drove us to her place, a lovely apartment which she shares with three other teachers. I don’t think I’ve ever learnt so much about the American education system as I did in that weekend.
We went down to the Plaza, which is probably the best known street of their downtown area. It’s quite nice; it’s designed to mimic Seville in Spain. There are shops, restaurants… all those kinds of things. And fountains. Among other things, Kansas City is famous for having heaps of fountains.
After exploring the Plaza, we went to this International Fair thing which Isabel knew about. It was a festival designed to showcase all different countries and cultures. So you had stalls from many different countries, selling all kinds of delicacies. I felt like this was a typical Midwest experience. The grass looked depserately in need of some rain, there were haystacks to sit on, kids running around eating snow cones, and everyone enjoying the day bathed in a cloud of dust. It wasn’t touristy at all and I really got a kick out of the whole experience.
Another thing Kansas City is famous for is BBQ. In writing about Saturday evening’s activity I’m essentially admitting that I became, let’s say, ‘flexible,’ with the dietary restrictions of Judaism I usually adhere to. But I have to write about this. I just have to.
Sabrina, Isabel, one of Isabel’s roommates and I crossed the state line into Kansas State (from Missouri) to go to this famous BBQ place. Oklahoma Joe’s, as it’s called, is in a gas station. But there were people lined up outside to get in. We waited an hour to order our food, yet all the while I was quite entertained by the whole spectacle of the Americans with their ribs and their BBQ chicken and their enormous drinks. And the food was worth the wait, too. Again, I feel like Isabel gave us a quintessentially Midwestern experience. She was a top-notch tour guide.
The following day we spent the morning at City Market. It’s set up in a big carpark-type area and you see the Kansas City skyline in the background. There’s plenty of fresh produce as well as unusual gourmet goods, many of which we were able to sample.
If anyone remembers Isabel from my London blogs, she’s the one who cooks like a genius. And you can always trust that she knows where to go for good food. She had raved about a particular bakery at the market, where the chocolate croissants are brilliant. I wouldn’t expect to have the best chocolate croissant of my life in Kansas City, but I did. That and a good coffee – which from a Melbournian’s perspective are few and far between in this country – made me a very happy camper. The market also had jewellery, antiques, and other bits and pieces which were fun to peruse.
Unfortunately that was about all we had time for during our quick stop in Kansas City. I am really glad we had the opportunity to visit a place a little off the tourist track, and of course, to catch up with another one of our London girls. It was a fun weekend.
Next, Las Vegas. Stay tuned.