Hey guys, I am finally back with new places and spaces for you to discover.
While recently visiting a friend in Los Angeles I wanted to do something different. My friend and I deciding to go somewhere off the beaten track hopped on a plane and headed to Utah to see what the state had to offer. Here were our highlights...
Salt Lake City
The capital and economic centre of Utah, Salt Lake City is one of the most intriguing cities in the US. Located in the middle of a vast desert that is hot in summer and cold in the winter, with few natural elements to curb the biting wind, it is a city of extremes both in climate and culture.
Salt Lake city is home to the Latter Day Saints, LDS for short and formerly known as Mormons, as well as entrepreneurs and professionals who are moving to more affordable American cities with more opportunities. Salt Lake City has thriving Latin and Asian communities and welcomes visitors from around the US who come to their state to ski in towns like Park City.
The wide avenues of Salt Lake City - so wide you can fit two smaller streets within them - were flanked by expensive car dealership and tattoo parlours. Utah State Capitol on a hill overlooking the city, the church on Temple Square, the grand hotels and vast government buildings of glass reminded me of Washington DC. I had the impression that Salt Lake City wanted to be considered a capital city of sorts.
The centre of the faith of the Latter Day Saints, Temple Square is in downtown Salt Lake City. It is a pristine and beautiful area where tours of are given on the hour by members of the Church or LDS. We were taken through the grounds of the square, visiting the Tabernacle with its vast organ and seeing the Assembly Hall. The one place we could not visit was the Temple with its 177 rooms. To enter it even members of the Church of LDS need a recommendation from their bishop that is valid for two years.
West Wendover, the Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake
We drove the hour and a half each way to see the salt flat. When we got there we discovered that the salt flats were covered in water due to recent rain. Even though we could not walk on them, the views and reflections of the mountains were spectacular. It was a typical American scene: vast, seemingly endless flatlands that surrounded us in every direction.
The salt flats are located at the very edge of Utah and so we drove 10 minutes to West Wendover in the neighbouring state of Nevada. It felt like a frontier town and was filled with casinos, which are illegal in Utah. We stopped at the obligatory landmarks of Wendover Will, a huge statue of a cowboy that is lit up by neon lights at night and the border demarcating the states of Utah and Nevada.
We drove back to Salt Lake City along the Great Salt Lake, taking in the mountains as dusk fell. We made one wrong turn and ended up on a mountain peak and discovered it to be full of horses grazing. They were friendly and approached us, thinking we were there to feed them.
An hour’s drive north of Salt Lake City, along the Great Salt Lake, is Ogden which is perhaps Utah’s hipster city. It’s main street, called 25th Street, leads to the city’s train station and the museums within and around it. 25th Street is filled with quirky cafes, restaurants and shops. One particular shop sold just socks which seemed bizarre to me until I realised that out-of-towners come to Ogden to ski and need warm socks. It was so cold in fact, that even I stocked up on warm socks. We found ate beignets (fried dough, powdered sugar, with blueberry lavender jam) at ‘A Pig and a Jelly Jar’ and browsed through the bookshop ‘Booked on 25th’.
The vibe of Park City is completely different from Salt Lake City which feels more religious and business-like, and Odgen which is very hipster. Park City is a home away from home for the trendy, out-of-towners, who fly in for long weekends of skiing. Just over a 30-minute drive east of Salt Lake City, Park City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics and the large chalets and state-of-the-art pistes prove that there is world-level ski culture there.
Even though it was mid-March, in Park City it felt like it was mid-December. It was bright and sunny and snowed over, perfect for skiing or drinking champagne or mulled wine outdoors with friends in trendy restaurants… that is if people weren’t skiing.
The branding for Park City was everywhere; on t-shirts and bumper stickers, on mugs and on posters. Walking around town, we weaved our way through coffee shops, art galleries, posh souvenir shops and restaurant where east coast Americans came to party at 3pm on a Friday afternoon with long lunches before hitting the slopes.