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By the Time I get to Phoenix

Jonathan van Bilsen



December 12, 2023

By the Time I get to Phoenix

A fantastic place for Canadians to visit during the cold winter months is Arizona, which offers a warm, semiarid subtropical climate. The main city is, of course, Phoenix, which as a tourist haven, offers endless days of warmth, sunshine and lots of fun. There are dozens of malls and golf courses, in the well-known Scottsdale area, the central hub of the shopping paradise. In Old Town, laid out as a timeworn western town, one can stroll around porch-lined shops, gaze at artistically carved statues, and sample the finest in cuisine.

The last time I was in Phoenix, I stayed in the south part of the city, at the Legacy Resort; a series of one-and-two room units, complete with many amenities. The grounds were spectacular and included a gigantic pool, a superb golf course and spacious gardens.

I met a few folks from South Africa and Chile, and we decided to play a round of golf. After nine holes we had to call it quits. The heat was too much, and we longed for the coolness of the great indoors. Once there, we relaxed with a cold beverage and some interesting conversations about the homelands of my new friends.

Having seen enough shopping malls, I decided to take my rental car for a spin. I found myself on the road to the Grand Canyon, located about three hours north of Phoenix. The drive was spectacular and when I hit the rocky hills in Sedona, my camera went into overdrive. Every turn was a photographer’s paradise. The vistas seemed endless, and the sun shining on the landscape was brilliant.

A stopover in Tlaquepaque is a must. With several restaurants boasting signature dishes, this village is well worth the visit. I found everyone friendly and the articles in the art shops were unique to the region. The entire area is laid out as a Spanish village of days gone by. There are several hotels and motels nearby, and an overnight stay in this area will make a memorable addition to any trip.

As I neared the Grand Canyon, I grew eager to see this fantastic ‘Wonder of the World’. When I finally arrived, I stood in awe as if struck by a bolt of lightning. The scene before me was unimaginable. The canyon is 16 km across and more than 200 km long. At a depth of 1500 metres, I had to strain to see the bottom, but finally got a glimpse of the small, silver ribbon - the mighty Colorado River.

Unfortunately I did not have enough time to venture into the giant crevice but saw adventurers on horseback and on foot, setting off to explore the vast unknown. The drive along the top edge of the canyon was fascinating, and the views with every turn were like a postcard.

I made my way back to Phoenix and my hotel, where I met up with my international friends. We decided to head to a famous landmark restaurant, the Rawhide Steakhouse, located in a reconstructed western town from the 1800’s. The experience was great, and as I walked along the dirt covered Main Street, I expected to see Wyatt Earp jump from behind a building, at any moment.

Dinner in the saloon was an unforgettable experience. Our contact, Cowboy Bob, greeted us, and although he was born in Türkiye, he certainly portrayed a convincing cowboy. Inside, along with heaping portions of beef, potatoes and veggies, was a Country and Western band. As we ate we sang along to tunes by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Rogers. Our waitress, ‘Diamond Lil', as she was known, was friendly and efficient. The boa around her neck added to the authenticity of the establishment.

After a hearty meal, a little dancing and some great conversation, I headed back to the hotel in order to pack for my early morning flight home. Phoenix surely is worth the visit if sightseeing, shopping, golf and a visit to one of the world's most amazing landscapes, is on your agenda. Especially when you wake up to a snow covered car and freezing temperatures.

Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit

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