Whenever I see this city code, I always say: "GRRRRRRAND RRRRRAPIDS!"
Like Tony the Tiger would probably say it.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, I received my schedule for September and every trip I was assigned had a layover in Grand Rapids. One trip even had TWO layovers there.
I am all about exploring new places, but there's a lot of territory I've not covered and eight thousand trips to Michigan really puts a kink in such endeavors.
Casually mentioning my future in Michigan, another flight attendant I was on a trip with excitedly informed me that it was one of the nicest hotels to stay in. I was intrigued.
A special thanks to said co-worker. Because she was right.
THE HOTEL WAS AMAZING. I absolutely did not belong there, but I quickly fell into the belief that I was the Queen of the Upper Peninsula for the day (yes, Michigan does have a monarchy that I just made up).
Those sheets! Those reading lights! The shower! The view!
Since I've always a strong hankering for good coffee, (even the finest of hotels can't compare to a fresh brew) I found a coffee shop that was just beyond a comfortable walking distance within a limited time frame.
Apparently there weren't cabs to hail or public transportation, so the concierge called a personal car service for me. Is this real life?
An older gentleman picked me up in a black luxury sedan. With bottled water and peppermint patties for my refreshment. And a tiny tray table that lowered from the seat (for all of my important business ventures). I was about to break out in hives, thinking, "Didn't the concierge know that I have holes in my shoes - and that I can't pay this man large sums of money to drive me a few blocks over?"
So when I asked him how much everything was going to cost, he said, "Whatever you feel like paying me!"
Only in Michigan.
So he drove me over to The Sparrows for some coffee.
The barista was genuine and approachable. My drink was fantastic (I'm a keep it simple with iced coffee kind of girl), and the ambience everything a coffee shop should be - with a robust aroma of rich espresso and a comfortable silence from its devoted patrons.
I walked up and down the streets, window shopping. What I loved most was that I had never heard of any restaurant or shop. Everything was locally owned and there was such care and attention to the service and product. A beautiful thing.
With lunchtime right upon me, I found Uncle Cheetah's Soup Shop. Good night.
It was food perfection.
Not only did they have pumpkin soft serve, but they offered eight types of grilled cheese. Eight!
And the soups - THE SOUPS!
Tomato saffron, potato goat cheese, ratatouille, red curry corn, sweet potato black bean, Greek lemon chicken, Reuben, roasted red pepper, and seafood bisque. All made from scratch in their perfect kitschy kitchen.
I chose the original grilled cheese: white cheddar and goat cheese with olive oil, sea salt and herbs on asiago garlic bread.
And sweet potato black bean soup.
And drool, all over my keyboard now.
Full of deliciousness, I made my way over to my favorite type of shop - a bookstore.
You've Got Mail is one of my favorite movies. Ever. I love that it's about The Shop Around the Corner. And that people knew the employees and felt like it was their special place.
If I lived in Michigan, I'd like to believe that Literary Life would be one of my special places. Walking in, it was quiet and I was greeted by a woman that worked there. Upon striking up a conversation, we shared our favorite books with each other. She wasn't trying to sell me books. She was telling me what she loved. I think there is a special bond people immediately have when they share a love for words and literature.
She recommended a recent favorite, and even gave me her email address to drop her a line when I finished it so she could know how I felt about it. The owner came in later and I was equally impressed by her. I left feeling like I had made new friends. She even gave me tickets to a garden show in case I came back to Grand Rapids soon.
Overall, I don't know that there are enough good things I can say about the experience. But to prove my love for it, I picked up a trip two days later and went back. All over again.