This is the beginning of my series of travelogues about Salt Lake City. I bet you weren’t expecting that title or the headline photograph! I have many beautiful photographs of the city and temple so worry not. I thought I would give you a funny story for the Sabbath.
So, I arrived in Salt Lake City and took my hotel shuttle from the airport. Joining me were a flight crew (my hotel was full of them) and the lady pilot told me I had a lucky escape from the airline that wanted to interview me for a flight attendant job. It is always nice to start a vacation with a bit of gossip! My hotel was across the road from the Sheraton (President Obama stayed there on a state visit) but it was also right next to State Liquor Store No. 1, along with most of the other hotels. I have been to State Liquor Store No. 4, in Moab and they look like stores from the Soviet era. Barely functional with many bottles of alcohol; they stock many shelves of quarter bottles which gives you an indication that it is a illicit pleasure.
For anyone that doesn’t know, Salt Lake City is the capital city of Utah and the majority religion is Latter Day Saints or Mormonism (they don’t like that term so much). Additionally, my family is half Catholic and half Mormon with a few atheists and ‘lapsed’ thrown in for fun. I went into State Liquor Store No. 1 and as in Moab, felt like a very bad girl leaving with my brown bag and quarter bottle of vodka! It’s slightly ironic that I couldn’t find caffeine free coke given that caffeine and alcohol are forbidden in the Mormon Church. Now that I think about it, the State Liquor store in Egypt was just the same but you had to get a permit to use it.
On my first afternoon, I went straight to the Temple and Catholic Cathedral – much more about that later. I walked everywhere and noticed there were both panhandlers and mentally ill people who were obviously homeless. As I walked the short distance from the Convention Center to my hotel, I was approached by many of them. They were very polite, “You are beautiful. Can I have some money?” One young black man, who was not homeless, approached me and asked me if he could ‘show me around the city’… Despite having visited many dangerous places (and lived in them), I had a feeling of unease in one of the safest cities in the US.
With slight trepidation, I walked a couple of blocks from my hotel to a Vegan bar to eat dinner and have an (illicit) drink. The place seemed funky and modern and at the hostess’s suggestion I sat at the bar. It didn’t have the friendly feel of a place in Texas nor were they unfriendly. I had just started my meal when a very well dressed man came in, stood directly behind my bar stool and ordered a shot of bourbon. The barman urged him to take a seat and I said “hello” since he was in my personal space. He threw back the shot, put cash on the counter and left. Shortly afterwards two young men and a woman came in, I moved along one seat so that they could sit together but like the first man, they just stood and started ordering shots of Jagermeister and tequila.
I couldn’t help but stare in fascination at them tossing these shots back while still standing. The young man closest to me thanked me for moving along. I said, “You know, even in Texas, we don’t drink like that”. He started laughing and said that they were at a Mormon wedding just around the corner where no alcohol was served. Then I started laughing because I have been to a family wedding with no alcohol. For some reason, he asked me if he looked Mormon because he had left the church. In my head, I was thinking, ‘You couldn’t look more Mormon if you had a big M tattooed on your forehead’ but slightly more tactfully said, “You look very clean cut and wholesome”. Then he said to me, “Did you see a man in a brown suit, earlier?” I said, “Yes, he was drinking like you”. It turned out that he was the Minister at that wedding. How bad can a wedding be if even the Minister has to sneak out for a shot of bourbon?? At least I had the good grace to wait until my Mormon family wedding was over before heading to a wine bar…😇
More Salt Lake City stories to follow.