Finally it was time for another excursion. As a true architecture buff, Detroit had been on my radar for a long time, and I definitely wanted to explore this unique city in detail. So for the last few weeks I had been working with Visitdetroit, the city’s visitor and convention office, to map out a detailed itinerary of the city that would expose me to all sorts of unique facets of the Motor City.
The sun is setting behind the Ambassador Bridge
After a hectic day at the office on October 16, 2009 I finally got going at about 2:30 pm and arrived in Windsor, on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, shortly before 7 pm. I drove straight to the waterfront to catch the last few rays of sunshine that still lit up the skyline. Orange and purple hues formed the backdrop of the Ambassador Bridge that connects Canada and the United States. A stunning night-time skyline of Detroit was taking shape. Surrounded by various historic and contemporary skyscrapers, the impressive multi-tower headquarters of General Motors were glittering on the other side of the river. The squeeling of the wheels of the Detroit People Mover, an elevated light rapid transit system, could be heard wafting across the water.
View from Windsor across the Detroit River
I checked in at the Argyle Manor Bed and Breakfast, a historic Edwardian mansion built in 1923, actually the former rectory of St. Anne’s Church, in the Walkerville area of Windsor. My hosts Dr. Paul and Kerri Thomas welcomed me and showed me the entire mansion. Dr. Thomas filled me in on many of the historic and architectural details. My accommodation was in a beautiful suite that featured a private bathroom, a bedroom and a spacious living room with fireplace.
My cozy bedroom at Argyle Manor B&B
My stomach was growling by now and my local experts gave me a few ideas for dinner. Based on their suggestions I drove to Erie Street, Windsor’s Little Italy, but it was very quiet there this Thursday evening. Instead I made my way to the waterfront where I had a relaxing meal at the Keg, a large casual restaurant that was packed with people. My table was right in front of the panorama windows that featured an impressively illuminated skyline of Detroit.
Detroit’s brilliant night-time skyline
After a good night’s sleep I sat down to interview my hosts and learn a bit more about them and their business. But first I had breakfast, one of those really hearty breakfasts that you only get at a bed and breakfast. My first course was a fruit salad that was accompanied by freshly baked muffins made from self-rising flour and ice cream (today’s flavour was double-churned strawberry) as well as a “garbage bag omelette”. Naturally I had to inquire about the unique name of this dish, and Dr. Thomas explained that to produce a true “garbage bag omelette” all the ingredients are placed in a clear plastic bag and boiled in hot water. Accompanying the egg dish were different types of toast: seven-grain, brown and white.
Ready for breakfast
Dr. Thomas went on to say that he prepares a wide variety of egg dishes for his guests, including different types of omelettes and Eggs Benedict. In his dry humour, he explained that, with the help of his guests, he has done a double-blind study and scientifically determined that brown eggs do indeed have a better taste. He also uses Uncle Richards’ Maple Syrup and Barbecue Sauce, made by a farmer from Priceville, Ontario, who arguably makes the best Maple Syrup in the world (according to his own assessement anyway).
View across the Detroit River
Running a bed and breakfast always involves interesting guest stories, and one of Argyle Manor’s most interesting stories unfolded one day when a French couple came to stay in April a few years ago. Then the couple returned in July and asked if it was okay if they could bring a newborn. Dr. Thomas and his wife were surprised since the woman had not been pregnant during the couple’s stay three months earlier. Finally it turned out that the couple had found a surrogate mother in Windsor who gave birth to a baby in July, six weeks prematurely. The couple stayed with the Thomas’s for three weeks after the arrival of their newborn baby, much longer than the average leisure traveler.
My breakfast is ready, including the garbage bag omelette