Getting In and Hanging Out


On my last day in Detroit (last Friday, Aug 22, as with previous night), we set out without much of plan, electing to wander around Greek Town and the surrounding areas. We checked out Saint Mary’s Church and had some eats at El Wood Bar & Grill.

While we were eating, we listed to the preparations for the Eminem and Rhianna concert going on across the street, including a sound check from Rhianna. At the gates, people were already lining up (it was only mid-morning).

Meanwhile, there were signs of people in jerseys, waiting for the football game that night. Since the arena is across the street from where the concert was being held, I can imagine how packed and chaotic the night would be — any restaurant and local workers were talked to just shook their head at what was about to enfold. Though Lori and I were well on our way out of there before the gauntlet fell.

Detroit - Saint Mary's Church
Saint Mary’s Church

The theme of the day seemed to be getting into places you wouldn’t normally be allowed, which started with our visit to Saint John’s Church. The door was locked as we were walking up, but as we were walking around the side of the building an old, young at heart woman came out a side door. We told her we were trying to see the church and she welcomed us in through the back offices, where she pointed out old photographs of the church whenit had been moved 60 feet back in order to allow a widening of the street out front. She also showed us portraits of the founder and his wife, let us into the original church chapel, and then let us explore the main church at our leisure.

It felt kind of strange to be in an old church without anyone else around, no one praying, no other tourists whispering to each other in front of the stained glass windows. Just the silence and the wood and the stone, which drew from me a quiet respect.

Detroit - Saint John's Church
Saint John’s Church
Saint John’s Church – original chapel

Wandering along some more, we wandered through an old tavern (well known in the area, but I can’t remember the name) and followed the walkway through to an old looking hotel lobby, which turned out to be a slightly seedy, short term residency hotel. The hotel provides furnished studios to business people and some other longer term residents. The woman at the front desk let us take a key and explore one of the rooms, which was full of quirks and odd bits and too much out-of-date furniture. The experience reminded me of when I was a kid and my parents used to bring my siblings and me around to check out houses for sale, sometimes sneaking in to a locked house through a half open back window, so that we could imagine what it would be like to live there.

At Cliff Bells, we were once again invited in. The door was closed and locked, but one of the servers was coming out as we walked up. She let us inside, which houses a beautiful circular bar and a distinctly 1930-40s feel. From what I hear, the place houses fantastic jazz performers on most nights. If I get a chance to return to Detroit, I’ll have to head out to one of the shows.

More walking lead us back to the Astoria Pastry Shop, where I drooled walking in the door just looking at all the tasty treats. One of my ultimate favorite deserts is baklava and Astoria has at least six different varieties. I chose a chocolate covered rolled baklava with pistachio nuts along with a latte, and then just sort of melted with pleasure as I ate.

An amazing array of sweets at the Astoria Pastry Shop.

For the rest of the day, check out my Corktown post.