Day 16: Chicago to Detroit – on the road again

Distance: 490km (by car)

I had an early start with a quick breakfast in order to beat the traffic. I packed up, said farewell to Kathy, and was on the road by 6:45am.

In order to get to Detroit, I first needed to get by Chicago downtown where the traffic was already quite heavy.

Once I had passed the high risers in Chicago downtown, the driving was uneventful. I was working my way to a huge lunch package that Kathy had prepared for me and I got to Birmingham, a suburb of Detroit, by 2pm to drop off my pickup.

I got welcomed by my colleague Susanne, a German who lives in Detroit since 2010. Her husband Oli worked for Mercedes Benz and went over as an expat in 2008. Susanne had worked for Bosch for fifteen years before and followed him to start her successful coaching career in Michigan.

Susanne had spent her youth in Taiwan with her parents and speaks Chinese. What an amazing background in terms of intercultural experience.

After a cappuccino, we got my stuff into her car and drove to her place. Then she gave me a great tour through Detroit downtown. She knew a lot about the history of racial unrest that happened here, about Motown, Jazz, Techno, churches, politics, architecture and a lot more.

We drove down Woodward, a central avenue in Detroit which is also referred to as “religion hill” because of the many churches at the these street. This lifeline cuts through many different townships, some of them rich with old villas, others poor and worn down. It was amazing how these different worlds existed so close to each other.

Downtown, we parked and Susanne showed me her favorite piece of Detroit architecture, the Guardian Building, with a very colorful kind of Art Deco architecture.

We had a stroll through the city and reached the banks of the Detroit River which separates the US from Canada.

To get into Canada, you either have to get over a very high bridge or through a multi lane tunnel. Both was prohibited for bikes and probably also outright dangerous which Susanne had pointed out to me once she had learned that I was planning to cross the border here. So, She had offered to drive me across the border the next day which was great.

Then we took a sightseeing trip with the people mover, a high train running on a circular track above downtown.

My image of Detroit had been somewhat negative before. I had pictures of a totally rundown, dirty, and dangerous city in my mind. But thanks to Susanne, I saw the city in a different and more positive light now. Yes, this city has had quite a journey but it seemed to be on the rise.

We went back home and I disassembled my bike to fit in Susanne’s car whilst she was feeding her seven cats. That was quite a job! The cats I mean.

After a simple and delicious dinner and more good conversations I faded around 9pm and went to bed.

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