“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Minneapolis

My dear friend Jeanie and I are aboard the Viking Sea on a coastal cruise from Montreal, down the St. Lawrence Seaway, and along the New England coast to New York City. I’ll write more about the cruise portion when it’s over, but I wanted to post about our three-day stopovers in Minneapolis and Montreal. Why Minneapolis? Well, it’s a family thing, but we had plenty of opportunities to see any sights.

I think I’ll let Jeanie tell the story.

Thursday

Minneapolis-St. Paul International is a beautiful airport and very easy to navigate. We decided to throw caution to the wind and take the Metro (the local light rail system) to the Hampton Inn and Suites, which cost us “senior citizens” just $3.50 to ride all day. And we were only three blocks from our hotel, so it was very convenient and a great deal! Our room was ready, really nice and conveniently located to just about everything — right across the Skywalk from the Target Center where the Minnesota Timberwolves play. There are numerous restaurants nearby. We have promised ourselves that we’ll get walleye fish in some form or another since it’s one of the local must haves along with cheese curds (I’m game if Jolynn is).

We set off after lunch to explore the area. First stop, the Mississippi River, which divides Minneapolis from St. Paul. Minneapolis is a mix of old and new and is the home of Pillsbury and Gold Medal Flour. After walking a half mile in the wrong direction, we finally realized our mistake and turned around.

We soon came to River Walk, a lovely area filed with pathways, benches, and scenic views of the Mississippi not far from its source. We had booked a food tour for six o’clock and figured we had plenty of time to explore the River area before that; how wrong we were. We got so lost and arrived, hot and tired at the appointed place ten minutes late. No one was there AND there was no number to call to let them know we were running late nor did the tour person call Jodi to ask where we were (even though they had her number). We were quite disgusted and disappointed, but we stopped for a glass of wine in a nice hotel, cooled off, and then proceeded to the Hampton with a stop at Whole Foods along the way. We were hot, sweaty and exhausted but freshening up made the day so much better and a bit of TV, some wine, cheese, pepperoni and crackers ended the day for us.

Friday

This was a long, hot day. When we first began looking at the weather forecast, it looked like highs in the 70s but that changed last week. Our first day was lovely although it was in the upper 80s and while it was breezy at times and downright blustery, we felt like wet dish rags by the time we got back to our room. Today it was a few degrees cooler and occasionally cloudy, but the humidity had increased markedly; thank gosh we had brought shorts and –with frequent stops in cool places and water bottles— we survived.

We began with the Hampton’s breakfast buffet and then decided to visit Nicollette Mall, which is really more like an outdoor shopping area. Did you know Minneapolis is home to Target? Well, it is. We hit the Target at Nicollette Mall and left with several bags each. Next, we took pictures at the Mary Tyler Moore statue just down the block. The pose and clothes were spot on, a perfect likeness of the opening part where she’s throwing her beret in the air. We then went on to Nordstrom and Marshall’s.

We dropped our packages back at the hotel and took a little break, then out to explore the city via Metro. We stopped at the University of Minnesota, a huge campus that actually spans from Minneapolis into St. Paul. It was quite a walk in the heat and humidity. We wanted to visit Dinkytown where many fraternity and sorority houses are located. What we thought would be short walk over the bridge joining St. Paul and Minneapolis, turned out to be much farther. The map I had sure was deceiving; it definitely didn’t look like such a long walk! Back to the hotel for more freshening up.

We wanted to do Oktoberfest at a local German restaurant, which we thought was a few blocks from the hotel. Having done plenty of walking in the afternoon mugginess, we Ubered and were glad we did –it was miles away! Our driver gave us quite a tour of the Northeast part of town. It’s a darling little neighborhood filled with bars, restaurants and houses from cottages to much larger Victorians. It was dusk, and he drove us by the Lowery Bridge which is lit up at night with blue lights, then past a bar with a real, live Ferris wheel going on the patio.

 

Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit looks like an authentic structure from Bavaria, inside and out. We were seated immediately in view of a glass enclosed room that contained about every kind of beer keg on tap; quite impressive. Becky, our server was just perfect! She was so darned cute and helpful; she seemed to really enjoy her job and soon has us laughing and enjoying ourselves. There was even an accordionist!

Dinner was wonderful; just what we wanted. Jolynn did Wienerschnitzel with sauerkraut and spaetzle and I had rouladen accompanied by red cabbage and potato dumplings. We finished about half of each dish. We would usually take the leftovers back with us, but we were leaving the next day and it would just get thrown away. We had no room for dessert (and besides we hadn’t finished our dinners so no sweets) but couldn’t resist taking a slice of their Raspberry double chocolate cake to go. We were glad we did – moist, chocolatey and the added raspberry flavor from Chamborg liqueur was scrumptious.

 

Another awesome Uber driver took us back to the hotel; just as interesting and talkative as the first and he gave us more history and pointed out other sites along with a bit of his own life story. Everywhere we went, people were so friendly and interested in where we were from. More than once we were stopped on a sidewalk, looking at our map, and a complete stranger would come up and offer to help.

Saturday

After breakfast, we caught the Light Rail for the Mall of America. You can’t come to Minneapolis and not see the Mall of America!  

We went to Nickelodeon Universe, the nation’s largest indoor theme park – pictures do not do this place justice!  It’s four stories high over seven acres with roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, a flume ride, and bumper cars just to name a few. They have a midway too with several different carnival-type games and all sorts of Nickolodeon-themed attractions. It was just overwhelming to see AND to think it’s inside a mall!  We wandered around some of the stores but probably saw less than a quarter of the entire place.

We tore ourselves away about 11:30, back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, then Metro to the airport in time for lunch. We got a walleye fish sandwich to share (tired of leaving food on the table to be thrown away). It was tasty, and I’d get it again. Maybe they’ll have some in Canada.

 

 

 

 

Finally, we boarded our flight to Montreal by way of Philadelphia of all places.