An old boarding school friend of mine moved out to Iowa and she convinced me to visit her and at the same time, I thought this deemed a great opportunity for me to see what the Midwest has to offer. Having visited a few states already I was privy to the likes of Seattle, New York and Phoenix much larger cities by comparison with a fusion of cultures and cuisines. So I had no idea what to expect.
I got on board the US Airways from Chicago to Des Moines, which was an experience in itself. The plane was the smallest aircraft I’d been on with a capacity to barely fit 20 passengers, small to say the least.
Here was our itinerary:
After spending some time in New York City it was a refreshing breath of fresh air driving through the masses of open land comprised of cornfields after cornfields.
First off – Iowa National Guard – a hilltop viewpoint full of old Army gear such as tanks and spitfires. We timed it perfectly and went during sunset and gaze at the sky in the far distance.
A great highlight – State Capitol Tour – This building is one you cant miss whilst driving through the city. The dome of the building is covered in 23k gold and is an architectural delight one of only five-domed capitols in the country. On the inside you’ll be greeted with large windows, high ceiling and marble staircases. There’s even chamber for the Iowa supreme court. A particularly cool feature is the model of the USS Iowa with it’s ship bell!
My personal favorite feature – The Des Moines capitol building law library. It basks opulence and the renaissance style just had me fascinated. (Also great photo opportunities here) all in all its simply a beautifully constructed old building with an immense amount of history.
Since my friend works for NBC Studios – naturally a tour of the studio was most certainly in order. It was pretty cool to see the mechanics of a studio – from the newsstand set to the hundreds of lighting and cameras in position to orchestrate the entire show. A personal highlight was the role play of a weather girl and seeing the show come alive on the screen after!
Next up some COLLEGE FOOTBALL! – The Nebraska Cornhuskers. My very first experience of watching american football which involved a lot of stopping and starting. It took a while to understand the sport but the buzz of the arena is sensational. There’s a real feel of commendatory and passion which was entertaining to watch.
As a brit, my sports experience are somewhat different – the real cultural difference was the mass amounts of alcohol consumption taking place prior to the game right outside the stadium – Huge swarms of crowds drive up with cooler boxes and park up outside with the trunks of their cars open, TV’s set up outside the stadium and the game being watched from their cars throughout the whole game! Little did I know this was called tailgating!
Final stop for us was getting a feel of Missouri – we drove to Kansas City for the day, shopped, ate and explored the city.
The city of Des Moines was a rather fascinating one. I saw my first drive-through ATM and buildings connected via walkways to aid walking around in colder weather better which I thought was a genius idea! The Midwest isn’t particularly blessed with Vegan and Vegetarian spots and the style of foods predominately found in these states are somewhat southern style, nevertheless we still dug out some great places to eat – ate at ‘Zombie Burger’ a cool post apocalyptic style burger place with great Vegan and Vegetarian options available. Even managed to find a great Indian spot and maxed out on the Vegan Daal and rice combo!
Conclusively the Midwest has a lot to offer – its worth stopping by and exploring the many riches of the states.