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Travelogue – Kansas City, Missouri

Let me tell you the other night I ate the best barbecue food I have possibly ever tasted. The renowned Jack Stacks catered an event I was at on the final night of the conference held in the 95 ft high Grand Hall at Union Station, and it was truly finger lickin’ good.

Kansas City strikes me as a collection of neighbourhoods joined together to form a city, not unlike many in America. There was no obvious heartbeat to the city, although the Power and Light district is the beginnings of much revamping of the downtown area.

So called because of the close by Art Deco building of the same name, we ventured to a few of the bars there last night, although there appeared to be more bars than people. Although saying that when the circus turned out at the huge Spirit Center across the street the area was descended upon by thousands of excitable kids all with balloons.

It was starting to get busier in the bar we were in later, but sadly I was beginning to look like a pumpkin and had to get some shut-eye.

The first night we had dinner in the area of Westport, which from talking to locals was either the most happening place in the city or the most dangerous. Take your pick. We had a very nice meal in Bluestem, and there was definitely signs of life in this historic quarter, although I wouldn’t want to walk around late at night.

We stayed near Union Station in an area called Crown Center, most known as the headquarters to Hallmark Cards but although the area is slated as a shopping and entertainment complex, people were again hard to find. However the re-opening of the very upscale Halls, which I stumbled across during it’s soft opening should encourage more visitors.

imageThe night at the Kansas Speedway was a little disappointing, not because of the lack of racing as that was expected, but they held us in a pocket-sized no-mans-land in the middle of the track for a cold unimaginative dinner and despite it’s scale it was hard to imagine 70,000 people dressed in their leathers screaming at cars going around in circles.

The highlight of Kansas City for me was the National World War I Museum and Liberty Memorial a fitting tribute to the soldiers that lost their lives during histories first global conflict.

The Liberty Memorial was completed in 1926 and stands 265 ft high and is situated in the lush Penn Valley Park. You can climb to the observation deck, newly updated a few years ago. The National World War I Museum opened in 2006 and needs about two hours to do justice to the excellent collection of WWI artifacts and exhibitions.

On the way in you walk around stepped reflecting pools of water and a large sobering collection of plaques in the pavement paying tribute to lost ones. Then upon entering the museum you have to cross a glass walkway suspended over a poignant field of 9,000 faux poppies, representing the 9 million soldiers killed during the war.

imageThe Memorial sits on a crest of a hill and from here you can get the best view of Kansas City including the four Bartle Hall’s distinctive pillars that climb into the sky like ornate candles.

Of course I only tasted small bites (a single ribs as opposed to a baby back) of what the largest metropolitan area in the state of Missouri has to offer. A wider explore would have opened my eyes to it’s wide boulevards and more fountains, 212 in fact, than anywhere else in world, other than Rome!

There is more to Kansas City than just barbecue, although that would seem enough.

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