Select Page

Race Recap: Detroit FreePress Int’l Half Marathon | October 20, 2019 & Detroit, Michigan Travel Review

Sitting on the steps of the Iconic Motown

I signed up for this race probably a year ago, and totally forgot about it until maybe a couple months ago. Then totally forgot about it again until maybe 3 weeks ago when my friend said, are we booking flights to Detroit!

First up was the expo. It was at the TCF Center in downtown Detroit. Now, when I go to expos, I go to pick up my bib, and hopefully munch on some free food. Very rarely do I buy anything. Well there was no free food, and I actually did buy something this time. A cute little running pouch. I used it for the race, but will wait to reveal the name until I use it a couple more times to see if I really like it or not.

Joe Lewis statue inside the TCF center

When I travel for races its usually for the weekend only, so I try to see as much of the city as I can in the small amount of time that I have. So the first thing I always do is google things to do in the city. The Joe Lewis fist was one of the top things to see. It was located about a half mile from the TCF center, so that was my first stop.

Walking up to the statue

The statue is located on the median in the middle of a really busy street. If you’re visiting Detroit definitely get your IG worthy shot.

Next up was the Motown museum. Now, I have mixed reviews about Motown. I was so excited to visit, because if you’re black and living in America, you know the story of Motown. Well as soon as you walk in, there is a wall in the hallway with beautiful black and white photos. I took out my phone to record it, and I was immediately yelled out that no photos or video were allowed. The man with the cock eye working the door literally screamed it out. It was extremely off putting, and totally put me in a sour mood. So the tour starts in the hallway, and then we were taken downstairs to a teeny screening room to watch a 15 minute documentary on Motown. I thought it was a waste of time since I really knew most of what was mentioned. I was there to see the house doggone it! From there we went upstairs to another room that had memorabilia. Not a lot I must add, and I have no images to show because we couldn’t take pictures! Then we walked through a tiny hallway of Berry Gordy’s apartment, and downstairs to the recording studio. This was the only place that you could record and take pics. This was extremely odd to me.

Left side view of Studio A
Right side view of Studio A

The tour was led by a 17 year old. She was a bit too chipper for my liking, and I just couldn’t take her seriously. I’d give the tour 3 stars. You can probably find a tour of the whole inside on the web. Save your 15 bucks and just go and take pics outside, those are totally free!

This sign is right across the street. There is one right outside of the house as well, but the lighting was better over here!

Next up was a trip to the Belle Island Aquarium. Now I have to say, I enjoyed this way more than Motown. It was a small aquarium, they only had fish, but it was a good variety, the building was beautiful, and it was free! Here are some of the water creatures that I saw.

Inside view of the Aquarium

Pretty right! Right next door was Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. This place was absolutely stunning! It really is a hidden gem.

Next up was a visit to Eastern Market. Google told me that this was a part of town that had lots of artwork, so I wanted to check it out.

This is just a snippet of some of the artwork, there was a ton.

The infamous Detroit Vs Everybody store was in Eastern Market

After Eastern Market it was time for some grub. I opened up my yelp app, and searched for nearby restaurants. I came across LeCulture Cafe because their loaded mac and cheese with lobster looked divine, and it was only 5 minutes away. I didn’t know at first that they were black owned, so this was a huge bonus, and made me want to dine there even more. The wait was an hour, which is long, but I didn’t mind because I had a slice of pizza in Eastern Market and I wasn’t starving. Their service was a little slow, but our server was great, and the food was excellent, so they more than made up for the not so fast service.

Didn’t get a pic of the apps, but it was yummy too!
The food was reasonably priced.

Now, on to the race. The race started super early at 7am, so that meant a 4:30am wake up call, so that we could get into downtown early, and find a parking spot. We ended up parking at the MGM hotel which was free…score! The race recommended a bunch of lots through spothero. I’m sure they got some kind of kick back from it, but not from me!

Mandatory pre-race selfie
In the corrals headed to the start

The race starts off relatively flat, weaving rights and lefts downtown through the blocks. The first challenge came at the Ambassador bridge into Canada. It was a serious incline.

Ambassador Bridge

Once I got halfway up the incline I started walking and recorded some video for my Vlog. I could already feel my calfs getting tight because it was so steep, so I figured I’d take it easy because we weren’t even at mile 3 yet. The middle of the bridge was extremely shaky. I felt myself getting a bit of vertigo from the bouncing, so I was happy to get off of the bridge.

The view running into Canada

The Canada portion had great crowd support. There were people on every inch of that course in Canada. Yall did a great job ehhhh! The one thing I noticed and didn’t like, was by the time we got to mile 4 there was only 2 water station. After that the stations were spread out every 1.2-1.4 miles. New York has me spoiled, I like my sports drinks every mile!

After 2-3 miles in Canada, we headed through the tunnel back to Detroit. That tunnel was hot! I was sweating bullets in there.

Inside the tunnel

I don’t remember too much after this point. There was a lot of inclines heading up overpasses, but they weren’t so bad. I pretty much took it easy the whole race, documenting my experience, and enjoying myself. I had to use the bathroom from mile 3 on, but at every bathroom there was a line with a ton of people. I really don’t know how I held it in basically the entire race. Here are my splits.

My final thoughts, Detroit the city was OK, I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. To cross to the other side of a block you had to drive down the block and make a u-turn, there were medians everywhere, that totally annoyed me. The race was good. Plenty of crowd support, they could have used more aid stations, great amenities at the end of the race, and free race pics! Detroit is state #16 for me. My next state will be Tennessee in December. Another state that I have never been before, so I’m looking forward to it. Until next time…

About a mile from the finish-line
Thank you for the free race pics!
Done, sweaty and all!

Greece Travel Vlog Part 3: Crete to Santorini

Subsribe to my YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/2kSRcAw

We took a bus from Chania to Heraklio, to the ferry port. This was a 2hr bus ride and was €15pp. There is a port in Rethimno which is an hour ride from Chania, but the ferry runs every other day, and the day we were leaving it was not running, so 2hrs to Heraklio we went. The bus was just like a greyhound bus, but with comfy seats….I slept the entire ride.

Ferry Heraklio-Santorini €156 for 2 people

We took the Minonan Lines Santorini Palace and I splurged for the VIP tickets which were well worth it. The seats were large and comfortable, there weren’t a lot of people, and there was table service. Well worth the splurge.

VIP Seating

Transportation in Santorini

I booked ground transportation through Viator. It’s a great website for booking tours and transport. There was a man waiting with a sign with my name on it at the port. I booked shared transportation so I knew we’d be waiting for others, but I didn’t think we’d be waiting an hour! The company was Sunbird Travel Agency and the cost was €34 for 2 people. The car was a Mercedes van, it was very nice and comfortable, but the hour wait I could have done without.  My husband and myself, and another couple had to wait for a group of 3 girls who came in on a different ferry. That wait was entirely too long. Private transfers were like 150 euro so this was a bargain. I also booked them for our return back to the port.

Santorini Transportation

Hotel – View Hotel by Secret $466

This hotel was definitely a splurge, and well worth it. It just opened in May so everything was new, and it was a 10 minute walk to Oia. To stay in Oia was a minimum of like $700 per night. The prices were insane! So finding this little gem so close to Oia was a big score.  Breakfast was included, and they had a great spread.  They have lunch and dinner service, and their food was delicious, but everything on the menu is pretty pricey. The staff was so friendly. I would definitely stay here again.

Santorini is just so beautiful with all of the white buildings, and churches with blue domes. The sunsets were out of this world. I had never seen a purple and pink sky before. It truly took my breath away.

When I’m on vaca I always do a catamaran cruise. It’s a great way to see places you would never see on foot. I booked this through Viator as well, it was €171 for 2 people. The company was Sunset Oia. I have to say this was the best catamaran that I have been on. I have never been on a catamaran with flushing toilets! Usually you have to pump until everything goes down. They cooked the food on-board which I’ve also never seen on a catamaran. There was a huge grill at the back of the boat. The crew could have been more lively, but maybe that’s a Greek thing. We still had a great time.

We ate at Skiza our last night. The food was amazing, and we had a rooftop Caldera view. Our entire meal with drinks and dessert was only €54. I thought that was such a steal for such a great meal.

Days 7-8 – Santorini to Athens

We took the ferry from Santorini to Athens. It was a 5hr ride. 😩. I wanted to fly which was a little over an hour? But reading the reviews of the 2 airlines that flew to Athens had me terrified. There were a ton of cancellations and I didn’t want to risk missing our flight to Madrid, so ferry it was. We took the SeaJet ferry and it was €140 for the both of us.  This time I was cheap and didn’t go for the VIP, but boy did I wish I did.  While the seats were comfortable, albeit a little tight, there were a ton of people in the regular seating.  VIP is definitely worth the splurge when traveling the Greek Isles….Trust me!

Me in the Ferry seat

Once we arrived in Athens we headed back to the airport.  We had about 2hrs before our flight so we headed to the Goldair Handling CIP Lounge.  This lounge had a pretty good food and alcohol spread, and comfortable seating.  The lounge could use some updating because there were no outlets at the seats.  They were all at a pretty nice table that looks like it was later added to the lounge.  We boarded our flight and headed to Madrid.

Madrid Hotel: Vitium Urban Suites

I booked this room through Agoda for $70.78.  The room was quite small, but it was clean and had everything we needed for our 12 hour stay.  The best thing of all is it was located right on Gran Via.  The location was absolutely perfect, and right in the center of Madrid.  We had dinner that evening at a cute little restaurant, and my main mission for the next morning was to head to the Adidas store and score some swag; which I did, but I won’t reveal it now because it is my NYC marathon outfit!  I also hit up Primark of course for some souvenirs, then we hightailed it to the airport.  We didn’t get to visit the lounge in Madrid because we didn’t have much time after shopping.

I hope you enjoyed my Greece Vlogs, hopefully you had a chance to watch the videos as well.  I’ll be documenting all of my trips going forward, so hopefully I’ll get better at this video thang.  Thx for reading and watching!

Greece Travel Vlog Part 2: Athens to Chania, Crete

We took Olympia Airlines out of Athens Airpport for the short 30 minute flight. It was $159 for 2 people. This airline was super spacious, they gave us the entire exit row so 6 seats for 2 people. They served beverages, Greek cookies which I did not expect, and the staff was super nice.

My husbands co-worker is Greek, and his family is from Chania (pronounced Hania). He was vacationing in Crete last year and I saw the pictures and video and said we have to go there in 2019, so he is the reason we were there….thanks Nick! We got to experience Chania from a locals perspective which was amazing. We went to beaches that we would have never found on our own. Drove down mountains that had no edges, one wrong turn and you were toast. Ate amazing Greek food, it was really the highlight of our trip.

We visited Seitan Limania Beach, which is a newly discovered beach in Crete. The drive down to the parking area was terrifying. When I stepped outside of the car my legs were shaking, I could barely walk. The hike down to the beach was even more terrifying. I took 19 steps, looked down, and said there was no way in hell I was doing this. The beach was really beautiful and I am so angry I didn’t get to see it I’m close, but my life is worth more than an IG post. 🤣🤣🤣  Since our trek to Seitan Beach was unsuccessful, we headed over to Kri Kri beach instead.

Atop Seitan Beach

Kri Kri Beach

Hotel- Elia Palazzo Hotel-cost $198

This hotel was so beautiful, and in the heart of the Rimondi. It was a 10 room hotel, so we were lucky to nab a last minute room. The room was spacious, new, and had the cutest balcony. Breakfast was also included, but we didn’t partake since we were out so very early in the morning. The staff was very nice, I would highly recommend. You want your hotel to be located in the Rimondi, you’re in the center of Crete, with easy access to all the nightlife. This area is still lively at 2am.

The outside of the hotel with the morning bread delivery…so cute!

View from our balcony

Hanging out at night in the Rimondi.

We visited Balos Beach and Lagoon. We took a bus ride which was about an hour, to the ferry, another hour. This was €38pp. It was well worth the cost of not having to drive down another scary mountainside. This Lagoon was absolutely beautiful. I would highly recommended visiting Balos if you are in Crete. The ferry then went over to Nisos Gramvousa which was another beach. Not as pretty as Balos, but still beautiful, and there was a fort at the top. I was pooped so I just layed out on the beach and slept for an hour. Crete was so beautiful and I don’t see a lot of people talking about it. Definitely add it to your Greek island tour.

Laying on the beach in Balos.

View of the blue lagoon.

I just want to leave you with some pics of some of the Gyro’s and Greek Salads we had.  Gyros were super inexpensive.  No more than 2.50 euro for one, most times less than that.  Greek Salads were 4-5 Euros.  We must have eaten 3 of these a day.  I loved the fact that they stuff french fries inside of them!


Yummy!

Greece Travel Vlog Part 1: New York City to Athens

I knew since my bday trip in summer 2018 that I wanted to do Greece in 2019. I had been stalking air prices forever and it was always $1500+ for August, and there was no way I was paying that each for 2 people. Fast forward to July 9th, I received an alert that prices dropped drastically, and I scored 2 tickets for $ 1,400 on Iberia. I was elated! We only had 8 days, so I had to make the most of this itinerary, so here it goes.

I booked all hotels on http://cheapTickets.com. I had never used them before, and usually like to book my hotels direct, but they were running a 16% off coupon code, and an additional sale, which gave me the best prices of any site, so I booked all of our hotels the week of July 24th through them. We traveled Aug 2-10 so yes all of the booking was done very last minute.

We flew JFK-Madrid, Madrid to Athens.

Day 1-2 we stayed at Polis Grand Hotel, total price for the stay $167. This hotel was in the heart of downtown Athens. Graffiti everywhere, prostitutes 3 blocks over, but it was completely safe. The room was nice with a balcony, small (it’s Europe) but well appointed. They had an amazing rooftop with Acropolis views, and their breakfast spread was amazing AND included. I definitely recommend staying here. It’s a quick half mile walk to Monastiraki Square which is the place to be at night, and then a hop away from the Acropolis.

I am apart of Adidas Runners which is a global community. Apparently a lot of the European cities go on holiday for the entire summer, so there were no group runs scheduled. I asked the Athens faction on facebook if anyone was available for a run and received a bite from one of the members. It was 3 members in total, myself and my husband. They took us on a great tour of the city. We got to see so many things that we never would have had we been on our own, and I was eternally grateful. We visited the Acropolis, €20 per person. You get up there, walk around, take some pics, and your out of there. All done in 1hr or less.

Stay tuned for part to of my Greece Vlogs where we go from Athens to Crete.

Pin It on Pinterest