3 December, 2016
Kate has the lowdown on our two days in Kansas City:
“One of the pleasures of touring is getting the chance to revisit places. This tour sees us returning for the third time to three favourite cities: St Louis, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Often this is a chance to return to favourite haunts, and sometimes it gives us a chance to reassess a place and discover new favourites.
“With every visit to Kansas City we have found new things to enjoy. I have something of a soft spot for these mid-Western cities – everything is so huge and so, well, American. But the cities are built for cars, and getting the most out of a visit requires a little forward planning. Kansas is not really a place that can be appreciated by an aimless wander, in the way that many European cities can. Apart from anything else, it is often too cold – on our previous visit the temperature dropped to -15 degrees Celsius! There is so much space that the city is very spread out, and there isn’t really a ‘downtown’ as such. But there are great things to do, if you know where to look.
“Fortunately Tom – our ‘social secretary’ for the trip – had planned ahead. We kicked off our visit in style with a visit to ‘Majestic’ – a truly fantastic steak and jazz place. Tom, a committed carnivore, had done his research thoroughly and many of us enjoyed the best steak of our lives. We try to have at least one really lavish meal on tour; with so many foodies in the group, it is an important perk in the touring lifestyle. No-one was disappointed with Majestic’s offerings!
“To help digest the large quantities of beef we headed downstairs to the jazz club. A brilliant trio entertained us and we met lots of interesting people, including other musicians (one of whom used to play in the LSO). We felt we had stumbled on a real ‘hidden gem’, and we were excited to be able to join in with the music-making, serenading the drummer’s partner on her birthday (with an added jazz twist….).
“The morning dawned bright and cold and we headed to Union Station. No longer used for train services, the old station now houses a planetarium, an exhibition space, and a cinema for 3D films. We enjoyed a fantastic feature on the National Parks. After spending so much time in airports and concrete jungles, it was inspiring to see the awesome beauty of places such as Yellowstone and Yosemite.
“From there a group headed to the Steamboat Arabia museum. A fascinating collection, the museum tells the story of the Steamboat Arabia, which sank on the Missouri river in the mid-nineteenth century, loaded with supplies for the frontier. In the late 1980s a group of Kansas citizens committed to discovering the wreck and excavating it. They were richly rewarded for their efforts, finding an enormous treasure trove of cargo which provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Pioneers.
“After a packed day, we were ready to get down to work. The fantastic acoustic of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the warm and enthusiastic Kansas welcome helped the concert go with a bang. The Kansas generosity extended yet further, with a reception at the wonderful Café Europa. Sadly the 6am alarm clock loomed, and we reluctantly said our goodbyes. But we hope to return soon to continue exploring the many delights of Kansas City!”