Now nicely settled in at the historic Hotel San Carlos and with a little time to kill before the start of the NACAS C3X expo, I decided to head out for a stroll around the downtown Phoenix area, and I have to say, managed to stumble upon quite a number of interesting sights and attractions in the process, including giant graffiti murals, historic architecture, and even two big human celebrations – and all this on one big circular walk!
My path took me past the gleaming Chase Tower (the tallest building in Arizona), the Herberger Theater Center and its collection of playful outdoor human sculptures, the ornate St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Basilica (official name being “The Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary”) which just so happened to be holding its big Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) gathering, the University of Arizona Mercado campus, and onto the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
Rounding the corner, I walked into the historic Heritage Square, part of the Heritage and Science Park, which is home to the only remaining group of residential structures from the original town site of Phoenix. Dating back to the late 1800s, the block serves as a reminder of the city’s vibrant Victorian past, and is anchored around the historic Rosson House museum. The park is also home to Phoenix’s impressive Arizona Science Center, and as it just so happened to be on the day, the site of quite a large Pride festival. (In other words, I now have a lot of photos of historic buildings all fronted by large swathes of rainbow colour flags.)
Next my stroll took me past Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks MLB baseball team, and then on to the gleaming Talking Stick Resort Arena (now known as Footprint Center), home to the Phoenix Suns NBA basketball team, and then finally there was the imposing Phoenix Symphony Hall and Phoenix Convention Center, the latter being of course the building that Erica, Johann and myself would be spending a fair bit of time in over the next couple of days…
Honestly, its a beautiful downtown area, with lots of good looking buildings, bustling businesses, public art, and surprisingly a lot less grime than what I was expecting from a central business district based on the ones we have back home. Even more surprising though was the Cornish Pasty Co. across the road from our hotel. Who would have though that pies and beer would work somewhere as sunny as Phoenix, Arizona!?!