Phoenix is a vast, expansive city. You will see what I mean when you land there. The lights go on for an eternity! The only way to truly enjoy this city is by renting a car. And preferably a convertible. The distances are so far that if you take a cab everywhere, it’s going to cost you just as much, if not more.
There is one thing that I have to mention about Phoenix, or Arizona for that matter. The light! Seeing the magnificent sky, with the barren mountains in the background, at any time of the day is magical. There is something about the desert sky in this state that emits light so soft, yet brilliant, that it is quasi transcendental. And wait till you see the sunset. The shades of orange and blue, the soft browns on the mountains, the long shadows from the cacti … I’ve never seen quite anything like it. Completely surreal!
THINGS TO DO
> Taliesin West – house of Frank Lloyd Wright: There is something about Frank Lloyd’s Wright architecture that strikes a chord with me. I guess it’s his wholistic approach to architecture (so called organic architecture). Unlike today’s architects that just design the building, Frank Lloyd Wright also did the interior design, designed his own furniture, did the landscaping, carefully selected the plot of land, integrated the building into the surrounding landscape … so when you view his houses, you will notice that every detail has been thought off and he is in absolute control of you, the visitor, as to how you’re going to experience his project. He was a perfectionist! And he was obsessive! Chicago is a great place to see his architecture. From the impressive high-rises of downtown Chicago to Oak Park (suburb of Chicago) where he resided and designed many of the houses. Some of his most exceptional and experimental work has got to be the two houses in which he lived for most of his life: Taliesin in Wisconsin and his summer home Taliesin – West in Phoenix/Scottsdale. Even if you’re not a fan of architecture, I highly recommend you tour these two properties, for once there you will experience what it means to live in a wholistic environment, where every smallest items stimulates your senses to create a beautiful and peaceful abode. Although I do recommend that you see Taliesin in Wisconsin first, if at all possible. Moreover, when you learn about his life story, you will see that he was a man of extremes, living and conducting his life in complete excess. He was supposed to have said that one should focus on the luxuries of life first, and that the necessities will fall into place by themselves. That says plenty about his character. Sounds like me!!
> Scottsdale Centre: Although Scottsdale is technically, I think, a different city … it has now become one with Phoenix due to the rapid and never-ending expansion of the two cities. Drive to the centre of Scottsdale (around the intersection of Indian School Road and Scottsdale Road) and visit all the galleries, art shops and boutique clothing stores in the area. It’s designed in true Arizona style – hues of earth brown, low-rises with stucco earth-tone facades, intriguing design, vast spaces and beautiful art.
> Scottsdale Fashion Square: Now that the US dollar has plummeted, this is the time to go crazy and buy all those clothing items that you always deemed unnecessary ☺ Fashion Square has it all. European and American designer stores, big department stores and a great food court for that much needed lunch break. Every time I come to Phoenix, I come shopping to this place.
> Tour around: I just got home from touring around in my rented convertible. The sun was about to set, I found myself a radio station that was blasting dance music, the colours in the sky were playing their magic on me … it was perfect! Go ahead an experience this. I guarantee you’ll have this mental image impressed in you till … well … you start loosing your memory. Ha!
> Other recommendations: The quintessential American experience involves the car. Thus driving around the US is to me the best way to get to know this vast, exhilarating and diverse country. Arizona is definitely one of those states where you will experience the wind in your hair and feel the freedom. So use Phoenix as a jumping board to discover this beautiful desert state. Go to Sedona and Tucson, visit the Kitt Peak National Observatory, or check-out the hundreds of planes that are displayed at the Pima Air & Space Museum or are in retirement at the ‘boneyeard’ next door. Drive through the desert at sunset. Visit Biosphere 2, the controversial science experiment from the mid-80’s that got the whole world talking. Touring around this beautiful state for 10 days will definitely recharge your batteries and get your mind of any stress that you may be experiencing.
> J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort: We stayed in this beautiful Marriott property north of the city. Like many of the big resort hotels in Arizona, this has it all. Spacious rooms, perfectly manicured lawns, desert setting, golf course, spa, meandering pools, fire sticks at night … you name it. And the setting is spectacular, set amidst the desert landscape and the big Arizona sky.