Last Sunday, we broke away from our studies and busy schedules to explore the Circle City. What happens when you give two PPE majors, two Education majors and a Journalism major a free afternoon to explore the city? A gloriously book and coffee-filled Indy tour.
Here are a few people, places and things we loved:
Starting in the Old Northside Historic District, we walked down 16th Street, past falling leaves and the doors of Redeemer into Tinker Coffee Co. where we were greeted by freshly ground espresso and co-Owners, Jeff Johnson and Stephen Hall. Jeff set aside his coffee roasting to share Tinker's story with us, as well as his passion for coffee conservation. He brewed us some excellent Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (for free) and sent us home with a bag of (also free) Colombian roast.
We didn't want our mini-coffee tour to end, so we visited The Thirsty Scholar, also a staple Old Northside establishment. The interior is everything I'd wish an Ivy League coffee shop to be. It features sprawling marble countertops and tables, lamps (I believe) are borrowed from Zondervan Library study rooms, vintage travel posters, Parisian advertisements and good coffee. It's a place that makes me want to read Kierkegaard and listen to Vampire Weekend at the same time.
After spending a summer working in the city, I firmly believe The Thirsty Scholar has the best cold brew in the city, followed by a killer dirty chai. If you only come for the atmosphere, it would be a visit well spent.
Realizing that Central Library would close at 5, we raced down several blocks, stopped only by ivy walls and quirky murals which demanded photos. We reached the library with 15 minutes to spare, taking several moments to bask in the majestic facade, adorned with pillars representing great authors of the past.
Inside, the atrium fulfilled every dream I had of Belle entering the Beast's library. We scurried off to the West Reading Room, splitting up from there to explore. The reading rooms were silent, less because of library rules and more due to the weight of the rooms themselves. After interning in a historical building, a friend once told me, "You feel the solemnity just being in the building itself. You recognize its history and the great minds that cared a great deal about the people they impacted. Those spaces demand respect." I understood the sentiments behind that statement as I walked down the hallways of Central Library.
"The library is now closed," announced the intercom. We transitioned to a different literary venue on Mass. Ave. where we browsed Indy Reads Books and left with a small library of our own. I'm a big advocate of bookstores promoting bigger purposes like the books that line their shelves. A large promoter of adult literacy, Indy Reads Books does just that, giving profits to Indy Reads. I found a well-loved Kafka piece in the "pay what you can" section in-between a coffee recipe book and an old Atlas.
The bookstore closed in time for dinner where we ate lots of Cajun and Creole food at Yats (if you eat at one restaurant in Indy, eat there). Favorites among our group included: Spinach Mushroom Étouffée, Gumbo, Chipotle Chicken Alexio and Red Beans and Rice; but the bread beats all. Always order extra bread.
Afterward, we headed to the Old National Centre, housed in the old Murat Shrine, the only shrine temple in the world (according to Wikipedia ). Joining the line that stretched the parking lot perimeter, we estimated that 20% of the concert-goers were also Taylor students and then tried to guess whether they were, like us, going to see The Oh Hellos and Penny and Sparrow or the other show, Switchfoot and Relient K.
While the latter brought back fond childhood memories of "Sadie Hawkins Dance in my khaki pants," the Oh Hellos and Penny and Sparrow were phenomenal. There is something special about hearing an artist in person whose songs you've connected with for years. Here you are in the same place at the same time singing the same songs that evoked some sort of feeling that made you think about things differently, to deepen understanding and to realize that the questions and ideas you've been thinking are mutual.
A few Oh Hellos tracks to listen to:
- Soldier, Poet, King
- Hello My Old Heart (the classic)
- Bitter Water
- Like the Dawn
I've also compiled a playlist with some similar Oh Hellos and Penny and Sparrow music.
It was a study break to beat all study breaks. Below are a few more images that characterized the afternoon.