May 31st, 2011
It turns out my boyfriend was right about Phoenix. But it wasn’t all bad.
The drive from LA was gorgeous. We stopped in Palm Springs for a late lunch and Joshua Tree National Park for a quick look. (I’ll upload more pictures later)
My friend told me about this website, airbnb, where people lists rooms or proerties that you can rent out for a night (or longer.) Based on our experience, I definitely recommend it.
We were lucky to find the very hospitable Kate. She lives in downtown Phoenix, in a wooden house that was owned in the 1930s by a circus performer! The house is a converted duplex and we stayed in the part that was once rented out.
Kate made us a beautiful breakfast and talked to us about being a progressive-minded Phoenician (pronounced like the ancient “Venetians”. This was particularly difficult for me to grasp). She also said the city suffers from an identity crisis. It’s got infleuences from the old west and the Mexican community, but suffers from “dick envy” for California.
The best part of our stay were her two cats and two dogs. They were so friendly — maybe TOO friendly. During breakfast one of her dogs brought in a pair of my underwear from my room.
I got a recommendation from the New York Times’ “36 Hours in” series to visit the Phoenix Botanical Garden and we decided to travel there using public transporation.
This turned out to be a bad decision. It wasn’t easy to navigate the Phoenix Light Rail, even though it’s one line. Maps, Phoenix … maps are helpful.
We knew it was a mile to walk from the light rail to the garden, but the big mistake was assuming the walk would be scenic. It was… a little. Highlights include The Fire Museum.
The problem was we couldn’t find the entrance to the gardens. We found the zoo, and we did walk alongside the gardens, but by the time we found the entrance we had to head back. Wayfinding signage, Phoenix. Look into it.
Another problem was that it was hot and we didnt have water or sunscreen. Yes, I am aware that Phoenix is in the desert, but I blame the city.
We rode the bus back, which took some time. Taking the bus and the tram allowed us to see the streetscape… but the streetscape wasn’t nice. It’s a city built for cars and most people live in the suburbs, so the city center is a lot of gas stations and car dealerships. Yich.
I want to see all the major league teams play in their baseball stadiums, so the game was the whole reason we came to Phoenix.
It didn’t disappoint. Despite the fact that Chase Field is one of the leagues newer stadiums (built in 1998), the fact that the organization seems to exclusively refer to the team as the “D-backs,” and that my team (the Marlins) lost, the game was great. The food is cheap (for baseball) and everyone we encountered was nice.
In fact, most people we encountered in Phoenix were nice. But that still couldn’t save the city.
Sorry Phoenix, you suck.