What is there to do in Detroit you ask? Well, lots!
Over the holiday break, I spent a day in one of the most famous downtown areas in the U.S. with four EMU international students on a day trip. Upon returning from our day trip I returned with many new interesting perspectives.
To start to the day off we went to the DIA, Detroit Institute of Arts.
We entered the very impressive building that contains one of the largest and most significant art collections in the world. The museum has more than 100 galleries, such as modern and traditional American art, Greek pieces and collections, Italian paintings, German wall art and many more.
Some of the pieces are easily recognizable, such as work by Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse. We explored the DIA museum for about two hours before we all got hungry, and continued to our next destination, not before we took a picture with “the Thinker,” the sculptor that symbolizes the Museum.
Place: DIA, Detroit Institute of Arts
Cost: $8 for students, $14 for non students and adults, and free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties
Time Spent: About two hours
The second stop of our day trip was a short seven minute drive to Detroit’s Greektown where we stopped for lunch. We parked our car and at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and walked around exploring this area.
As we were walking, we realized a different view surrounded us. It was as if we walked into a different world, or perhaps a different time in a different country.
The Greeks first moved to the area in 1830 and left an impactful mark that stayed obvious to this day. Greektown streets are decorated with stores, coffee places and restaurants in a Greek theme, and of course the famous Greektown Casino.
Our tour guide for the DIA and Greektown was Ted Coutilish, head of University Marketing at EMU. He is an offspring of original Greeks that helped established those streets.
For lunch, Ted took us to a place called “Pegasus,” which is a traditional Greek restaurant that is like nothing you will ever experience in common American restaurants; the walls are decorated with Greek art and pictures, the ceiling is very low and has replica grapevine leaves hanging from it.
On top of that, the wait staff are mostly greek and the music is authentic Greek. This place had a very interesting atmosphere!
When we sat down we received freshly baked bread. We also ordered saganaki, which is kasseri cheese doused with brandy and lit on fire as the waitress yells OPA! The cheese was semi melted and the fire was put out with lemon. “We put lemon on everything,” Ted said jokingly.
The food was excellent, even the simple Greek salad I ordered was served just right and was yummy.
Place: Pegasus Restaurant in Greektown
Cost: $10-$30, depends on the dish
Time Spent: about 45 minutes
After lunch, we headed toward the Detroit Riverwalk overlooking Canada. The idea that the only thing separating us from another country is a river was funny, but the view was beautiful.
The river had a strong flow and big chunks of ice were being used as a boat ride for birds. On the river’s border are huge skyscrapers in an area named the “Renaissance Center,” where the heart of Detroit business is today.
On nicer days, people can rent bikes to ride along the Riverwalk as they enjoy the view, or they can go to the spring festival right in the middle of the park, but since it was closed for the winter we left for our next and final destination.
Place: Renaissance Center
Cost: free (When the festival is open, the tickets are $5-15 depends on the attraction)
Time Spent: about 45 minutes
In Detroit we road the “The People Mover”, a traditional transportation method in Detroit, and a very cool way to move around the downtown area without getting tired.
The People Mover is a train that goes through the main areas of Detroit’s downtown. Yes, the stations are INSIDE the building, which makes this ride experience very cool because you are riding high in the air observing Detroit from your window.
We stopped at Campus Martius Park, where an amazing holiday parade was happening. We saw an ice skating rink, a big decorated Christmas Tree, along with packed Holiday markets and little shops made out of glass with the best of samples from the area’s fashion stores, bakehouses, coffee shops and more.
This was an amazing site and the vibe was fun and positive. We enjoyed the spirit the people of Detroit brought to air and after hanging around till dark, we walked back to our car, and home to EMU. Some of us still had finals to complete!
Place: The People Mover throughtout Downtown Detroit
Cost: $7 for ice skating, around $5 for a hot beverage, and other shopping is available as well
Time Spent: about 90 minutes
Michal Liberman is an swimmer at EMU. She is a junior, majoring in public relations. Michal is from Israel originally, works part time in the EMU Division of Communications, and is featured in EMU’s #YouAreWelcomeHere banner campaign.