Indiana. Internationally recognized with moans of "ahhhh Indiana Jones?" or maybe that was just some of my Korean friends, locally it's the Hoosier state, the crossroads to America, oh yeah and they have that big race. I've been once before, for a conference while in college, after which I had no immediate plans of returning. That all changed however after building a great friendship with Sara, a girl I met halfway around the world in Korea. Now that both of us are back on American soil, her working and me umm...well...doing this, it only seemed appropriate that I visit.
Sara lives in Bloomington so I arranged a night of Couchsurfing in Indianapolis before she came to fetch me and take me back to her old college town. My host (and his girlfriend) are grad students at IUPUI and lived just off-campus, placing me in a good location for exploration. There isn't much in this city, so I think my hosts were confused with my being there just to 'check it out'. I spent the morning walking along the canal before playing dodge the thunderstorms, using TJ Maxx for shelter. My timing to go back for my umbrella was perfect as my hosts were just reheating some Ukranian dumplings and offered to share. I spent the afternoon at Foundry Provisions studying Spanish (I thought I would soon be traveling to S. America) and biding time until Sara came to get me. Hanging out in random coffee shops tops my list of things to do while traveling, especially in cities.
Once reunited with Sara (and two of her friends) we made our way to Broad Ripple(one of six cultural districts in the city) to meet her sister for dinner, where we proceeded to gorge ourselves on pizza and beer, good life choices. I appreciate Sara coming to pick me up from the city because after dinner it was still an hour + drive back to her place, an adorable apartment in the heart of Bloomington. Unfortunately Sara had to work on Saturday but she made sure to offer plenty of suggestions for the day, including a hand drawn map and friends who would pick me up for lunch and some rummaging, no seriously we went to a massive rummage sale.
After work Sara and I met her mom at the 'local pub' for an early dinner and live music, the entire scene felt like something out of an old movie or sitcom, small town charm. Sara and I also took a walk around IU campus which is beautiful, but I'm biased as I love college campuses. While dipping our feet in the fountain we were also graced with a quick downpour but thankfully it didn't last long. The evening was spent back at Sara's where her friends rejoined us, rounded out with ice cream at the Chocolate Moose, Shakespeare in the park and gin and tonics.
My final day in Bloomington started with one of my favorite activities, brunch. Sara's parents treated us to a meal at one of their favorites, The Runcible Spoon where I wound up with pancakes the size of my head. After brunch we decided to check out the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center just outside of town, is it obvious we both spent some time in Asia? The grounds were peaceful and gorgeous, but the best part of the visit was definitely the energetic boy that quickly befriended us.
Before making the drive back to Indianapolis for my afternoon bus Sara and I had some time to kill so we made our way to her old employer, Butler Winery. A few glasses of wine, cheese, peaceful scenery and a good company rounded out my weekend in Indiana perfectly. Like every other place I visit, I said goodbye with promises and plans of returning, when exactly that will occur has yet to be determined.