Chelsea in America …

Got up a bit more leisurely today as we were staying in Indianapolis.
We had planned to move on, but then found out Chelsea were playing Inter Milan at the Lucas Oil Stadium tonight and had bought tickets. A unique opportunity to see our team that we weren’t going to miss. I’d even bought a football shirt for the occasion.

First thing though was to check out Indianapolis itself. Its claim to fame was the Indy 500 race circuit, nicknamed the Brickyard, as it was originally paved with bricks, and now keeps a yard wide strip of bricks across the width of the track as a tribute. We paid it a visit, being very surprised that you could drive into the circuit to visit the museum.
After that we drove across town to the stadium to pick up our tickets for the game, and then into city to have a look around.

Indianapolis is a slow-paced city with wide streets, well-lit at night. It has a lovely relaxed feel with few tower blocks.
It is built on a grid system, which makes it easier to navigate and disperses the traffic, so it is never too busy. The roads alternate in being one way so I didn’t have to think too hard about which way to look.
The more major intersections are controlled by pedestrian lights too. You walk on the white man, stay put on the red hand, and it tells you how long you have to cross in a countdown. You aren’t supposed to cross after the hand starts flashing.
In America they have a rule at lights which says you can turn right, on a red light, if the way is clear. It makes the traffic flow much better because you don’t have long queues waiting for lights; you just have to watch for pedestrians as well as cars. You have to give way to pedestrians.
In fact Americans are immensely patient and courteous with pedestrians, the cars keep well back and wait whilst you cross even major roads.

We’d planned a walking tour starting with the Monument in the centre. This is surounded by fountains and steps and is in the centre of the city. We stopped for a coffee in the Chocolate Cafe near the Monument. I needed the restroom and went out the marked door to find it, straight into the lobby of an office building. Being told I needed the basement, by lift, I pressed the button. I went to 10, picked up two people, 5 picked up another one, 2 to drop one off and back to 1, where I’d started, to drop off 2 then down to B. Found the restroom, locked! Fortunately a lady appeared with a key. Graeme thought I’d got lost.
All the shops are in one shopping area, the Circle Centre; the rest is made up of office buildings, grand government buildings and other public ones such as musuems and libraries.

On one side of the city is the canal, a peaceful, pretty area with a static canal; home to ducks, geese and fish. There weren’t many benches to stop and have lunch, or just admire the view, but we enjoyed strolling along it. You can hire a pedalo if you like, we didn’t.
We made our way back towards the centre, visiting the city market, but it sold food and we weren’t hungry just yet. The day was hot, climbing to about 29 degrees, so suntan cream was the order of the day. I managed not to burn, an achievement in itself!
When we had looked at everything the city had to offer we drove to Broad Ripple Village, an artsy area our host said might interest us.
We had lunch in the 3 Sisters Cafe, also recommended by our host. And what a lunch. It would have done me breakfast, lunch and dinner. Graeme had an enormous toasted turkey triple sandwich and I had taco salad, a dinner plate with a mountain of white, red and black tacos interspersed with refried beans, chili, guacamole, sour cream, salsa and a side of ranch. The rest of the plate was filled with salad. Very tasty but way, way too much food. However the mango ceylon ice tea was delicious. It was our last meal of the day!
Afterwards we visited a fairly expensive clothes shop with a very nice lady, who’d visited England, and a vintage clothes shop where I bought a waistcoat. Then it was back to the hotel to get changed for the match.

We walked the 15 minutes to the Chatham Tap to meet up with the Indy Blues and had a drink before walking to the stadium.
Soccer isn’t a much played sport here. American football, baseball and basketball are more popular. Soccer is played in school, but interest seems to peter out after that, so it was both surprising and pleasing that 42, 000 attended the game.
The stadium can hold 62, 000 and had been specially turfed for the match. Free flags abounded and people were carrying a handful. We were given one by a kind gentleman. We had excellent seats, row 11 just near the halfway line, and because the seats stepped up at row 8, an excellent view.

Now Americans don’t watch much soccer, a fact that became apparent once the match started, as they all stood. Not much use when you have a good seat and wanted to watch. Thankfully a man with a very loud voice requested, very politely, that they sat and the vast majority got the idea and complied. A little group didn’t for a while, they were some of the Indy Blues. So excited at seeing their team for real I guess but they sat down in the end.
Of course everyone got up and cheered when we scored – twice.
We were sitting next to a local family on our right, who had been to the London Olympics, and the son was a Man Utd fan … On our left was a man from Milwaukee who always travelled to watch Chelsea play in America.

It was over far too soon, but we were the victors, and we joined the throng leaving the ground. By the time we’d got to the far side of the town it was down to just the two of us as we walked the two miles back to the hotel.

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