Detroit and Windsor, October 2014

After planning a trip for so many months, it’s always a little depressing when you return home and realize it’s over. That’s how I felt after returning from my trip to Detroit and Windsor. That trip was an incredible adventure that saw me visit many new places, including the state of Michigan for the first time, as well as some new parts of the province of Ontario.

As per usual, this was another bus trip for me, this time serviced through Greyhound and Greyhound Canada.

It took two buses and roughly nine hours to get to Detroit. Bus #1 left Buffalo around 7 a.m. on Friday, October 31. It took me to Erie, then on to Cleveland. I had about an hour to kill there, so I went out and found a Subway about five minutes walk from the bus station, got food and then ate it while waiting for my next bus. Why sit and wait at the bus station for that long? Why wait in the long line at the bus station “restaurant”, why not just get a little adventurous and find a place nearby? That’s what I suggest  for anyone traveling by bus, particularly if you have a lengthy layover.

Bus #2 left Cleveland after noon, stopped in Toledo and then at a rest stop in Ohio, then on to Detroit! We arrived a little late, around 4, but it wasn’t too bad. The bus terminal in Detroit is actually pretty nice, more modern than the one here in Buffalo, at least. From there, it was roughly 15 minutes walk to my hotel, the Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront. My room was on the 22nd floor with this amazing view of the Detroit River and Windsor right across the water. All I can say is…. wow. Beautiful. I could argue that was one of the best views I’ve ever had at a hotel… just this incredible 180 degree view of the river and a great location. Top-notch hotel that I’d certainly recommend.

I picked up a flyer at the hotel and discovered the Detroit People Mover, which is a subway that travels in one direction in a big loop around the city for just 75 cents per ride. I decided to take that to the Red Wings game instead of walk (15 minutes), and I’m glad I did. It was cold! So then I did the Red Wings/Kings game at Joe Louis Arena, which was pretty neat. They gave out free Halloween shirts to 5,000 fans — and I’ll always take a free shirt. I watched Kings warmups low, then went to my seat for the game. Picked up a puck, a program and a pocket schedule (of course). They also did a tribute to Gordie Howe and had big banners you could sign for him. The Kings won, and overall it was just neat to be there. Joe Louis Arena is a nice rink and there’s so many banners and history there, and I’m glad I was able to attend at least one game there in my lifetime.

After the game, I took the People Mover back to my hotel (so I had to take the whole loop, it took a bit longer but it saved me a walk in the dark and cold, and also allowed me to get a little tour of the city).

Saturday, I woke up, hung out at the hotel and then decided to go for a walk. I checked out the Riverfront area, which was nothing fancy but still pretty, and then walked down to the arena so I could check it out in the daylight. Pretty neat. I love how each door of the arena has a different Wings player on it! Though I could do without all the stairs……………. /is out of breath.

From there, I took the DPM again around the whole loop, which was cool because it gave me a day-time tour of the city and took me out to some other parts I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, including one of the libraries. Got back to the hotel, showered, packed up, etc. Checked out at noon and got my complimentary beverage in the form of Starbucks hot chocolate at the hotel. Then I just walked around…. visited Pure Detroit (a gift shop) in this gorgeous building called the Guardian Building and bought some magnets/souvenirs/etc. Also found a Jimmy John’s restaurant and picked up a (delicious) turkey sub for lunch, which I took to the bus station and ate there while I waited. Yum.

My bus to Windsor was a bit late, but it was a quick ride. We took the Detroit/Windsor tunnel and then had to go through customs, which was easy seeing as there were only six of us on the bus (and I was the only one getting off in Windsor, everyone else was going to Toronto). Going through the border at that one was a bit different than the bus crossings I’ve had in NYS, but it was still easy enough. (These are the times I despise looking so young, as border agents ask me “Do you travel alone often??” …. I’m almost 24, thank you very much.)

I absolutely flipped out upon seeing the signs for Windsor…. I just couldn’t believe I was finally there. We made a quick stop at the University before arriving at the bus station around 3:15.

Unfortunately, it took me about an hour to get to my hotel, despite the fact that it’s about a five-minute walk….

I decided to pick up my return bus tickets on Saturday, even though the line was huge, I figured I might as well do it rather than wait until Sunday. The girl couldn’t print my tickets, error, etc. Well eventually, I find out the schedules completely changed. So I had to pick new times and she issued me “comp” tickets that I had to pay $3 for (why, I still don’t understand). It was so frustrating that I was almost on the verge of tears. The entire trip was going so well, until that.

But I eventually got it and went to my hotel, checked in – 19th floor, with a good view of the river and now, Detroit! My hotels were almost exactly right across the river from each other, which is kind of neat. It’s nice to be able to say that I saw it from both sides of the river.

Because I had spent so much time at the bus station getting my tickets sorted out, it was already later than I wanted when I got to the hotel. I didn’t spend much time there before heading back to the bus station – only the regional bus side this time. I hopped the bus for a 40-minute ride to Tecumseh Mall. I walked around the mall for a bit, then took the Windsor Spitfires fan shuttle to WFCU Centre. I had planned all this out in advance, so I knew I could do these buses to the arena; a much better – and cheaper – alternative than trying to take a taxi from downtown.

It was only about 10 minutes from the mall to the arena. The game – Windsor Spitfires vs. London Knights – started at 7 and I got there right around 6, which left me plenty of time to walk around and watch warmups and all that. I went a little nuts and spent $40 in the store, but I got a shirt, puck, program and magnet. I also managed to find a pocket schedule AND a magnet schedule around the arena. I think one of my favorite parts of the arena was the Mickey Renaud tribute, so sad yet so touching. There were also many neat decorations of newspaper headlines from when they won the Memorial Cup and such, blown up and posted around the rink. The Spits lost 4-3 but it was a solid game and I had great seats, pretty much center ice four rows up. Perfect. After the game, I took the fan bus back to the mall, then the other bus 40 minutes back to downtown Windsor and then a short walk to my warm hotel.

Sunday morning, I had to get up early, as my bus left at 7:45 with the new ticket…. it was supposed to be 11:30 originally. We actually left around 8:15, stopped briefly in London and Yorkdale, then got to Toronto after 1. I had basically a four-hour layover there, so I walked around the Eaton Centre, did a little shopping, got dinner at Baton Rouge restaurant and just hung out. By that time I was pretty exhausted and just ready to be home. My bus left Toronto around 5:45, stopped a few places, quickest trip through the border ever and I pulled into Buffalo at 9.

All in all, I’m extremely glad I did this trip. I’m glad everything went smoothly for the most part, and even when it didn’t, I didn’t let it ruin my trip. I can knock another NHL arena off my list, another state off my list AND another OHL arena off my list. I also have so many wonderful memories to take with me.

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3 thoughts on “Detroit and Windsor, October 2014

    1. Thanks, Randy! I really did enjoy the Wings game, even as a Sabres fan. I love visiting other NHL arenas because each one is so different.

      Also, it’s funny that you mention ‘safe’ because as soon as I got home, someone told me they heard Detroit referred to as “The Murder City,” but I never felt unsafe there.

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