Minneapolis

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Eat Pray Love Journey – Day 8 – Saint Paul, Minnesota

I skipped breakfast and decided to go on a morning walk before meeting up with Mark. I said bye to my host family and went off into the neighborhood for a walk. Once again, I saw more quaint little homes that I adored.

There were train tracks in the middle of the neighborhood which I thought was odd. The tracks looked so old that I wasn’t sure if they were in use anymore.

After walking around several blocks, I noticed from my peripheral vision that a car was following me. I avoided eye contact with the car and tried to play it cool. They were driving so slowly next to me that I had to look up out of curiosity. It ended up being my host family in the car. Ha! I didn’t realize that I was walking back towards their house. The lady asked if I needed a ride or if I was lost. I told her, “Oh no! I’m exercising!” I didn’t know how else to explain exercising to her so I just moved my arms back and forth. She laughed and then drove off. Language barrier, I love it! That was somewhat sarcasm but not. It’s kind of fun trying to figure out how to communicate effectively when there’s no common language.

When Mark picked me up, we were off to Saint Paul! Whee! We grabbed lunch at a popular dive bar called The Nook.

Yelp gives them 4.5 stars with more than 450 reviews. This little place gets packed pretty quickly because of how good the food is and the service too! It’s such a popular place that even Guy Fieri from Food Network has made a visit here!

The Nook is known for their Homemade Wisconsin Cheese Curds for $7.95 that is always at the State Fair. What State Fair? Apparently, people in Minnesota will take time off from work and take their whole family to the State Fair! It’s a big deal there! Here in Southern California, we have county fairs. We don’t necessarily plan to go until the week before or maybe even until the day of!

So we started off with these finger food, deep fried cheese curds that were awesome! There was a crispy texture on the outside like onion rings or tater tots.

Then the inside was all cheesy like a mozzarella stick.

These little poppers can be addicting and fill you up easily so make sure to share!

For the real meal deal, I ordered their one of a kind Juicy Nookie Burger that is a stuffed cheeseburger served only as medium for $9.25.

The best part about this cheeseburger was this:

Dun, dun, dun! The patty was stuffed with cheese that was oozing out of it! The waiter told me that I had to wait for the burger cool down or else I would burn myself! Even after I waited for a few minutes, it was still pretty hot but it was darn good!

With the cheese curd and this burger, it’s really best to eat them when they’re fresh. Once it’s cold, it’s just not the same. Eating these two can be pretty heavy and savory, so make sure to treat yourself to some salad or some sweets to balance things out.

So we did just that! We got some sweets from Cossetta. I got myself a mini peanut butter chocolate brownie cake and a mini chocolate covered cheesecake. They were both pretty rich and sweet but it evened out our tastebuds from lunch. The bakery is a little pricey but the presentation and quality makes it worth the purchase.

Check out Cossetta if you want to make a one stop Italian shop. For example, they have a bakery, market, casual dining and a fancy restaurant all in one building! They have 4 out of 5 stars with more than 300 reviews on Yelp.

Ok, enough about food for now. We went to Cathedral of Saint Paul where it brought back memories of when I went to Europe.

 

It was peaceful to just sit there in the empty cathedral and be in awe of this building. We sat there and listened to the organist practice playing and then walked around the cathedral.

I think no matter how many cathedrals I’ve been to, I’ll always be amazed of its intricate artwork displayed in the stained glass windows or the sculptures of Jesus on the cross.

We went to Minnehaha Park for a mini walk. Minne what? Minnie-ha-ha. Yup, that’s the name of the park. I know, I was confused too. This isn’t your everyday park with a playground. It has the Minnehaha Fall that is a 53 foot waterfall. This Minnehaha Park is on Minnehaha Creek that connects to the Mississippi River.

We hiked until we saw the end of the Minnehaha Creek.

In the picture below, the left side is where the Mississippi River merges with the Minnehaha Creek from the right side.

I was definitely so much closer to the Mississippi River once I got here! On our way back, I saw these naked trees! They looked so eerie since they had no leaves!

By the time we got back to our car, the temperature had dropped down pretty drastically. I saw a group of kids running in shorts around this park! I have no idea how they were running in that kind of attire in 30 degrees weather! Minnesotans are so strong!

After the park, we had some time to kill before dinner so we went back to Minneapolis to check out a museum called Walker Art Center. Thanks to Target admission was free! This art gallery has 4 stars with 129 reviews on Yelp.

There were some artworks that may have seem a little too explicit where viewers’ discretion may be advised, but overall, the museum had some eccentric artwork that I myself would have never imagined could be created.

Afterwards we went to Fulton Brewery that has 4 stars with 69 reviews on Yelp. This brewery is in a warehouse where it has a pretty young and hip vibe to it. It’s a great place to hang out with friends after work to relax and have some beer. You can play a bunch of card games or board games with your friends which is just what Mark and I did. We played a few games of Scrabble. I don’t know any places that lets you play some classic board games while you drink beer in this kind of environment. Fulton Brewery actually reminded me of the American version of boba shops. People go to boba shops to drink milk tea and play board games! Well, at least in SoCal. Anyways, sorry I somewhat got sidetracked.

Outside of Fulton Brewery there was Hibachi Daruma, a Japanese teppanyaki food truck. Teppanyaki basically means using iron griddle to cook food. Because we didn’t want to drive elsewhere for food, we decided to get some food truck food. So I just got myself a simple beef teriyaki with rice and veggies for $9. There was a sweet and juicy flavor from the teriyaki sauce and the beef was perfectly cooked. It did the job of filling me up and keeping me warm!

One last thing we did after dinner was to drop off my post cards! We had the hardest time finding a mailbox throughout the day for some odd reason but thank you Cub Foods for having a mailbox in front of your market!

Thank you so much Mark for showing me around in Saint Paul and Minneapolis! I didn’t know Minnesota had so much beauty and soul to it! I’m going to miss the cold weather, the food, and the people!

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Eat Pray Love Journey – Day 6 – Minneapolis, Minnesota

I woke up little before 5 in the morning to get ready for my next adventure. I washed up, packed up, and took some food from the continental breakfast room for to-go. Christian picked me up at 5:45am to take me to Bellair Shuttle station.

Huge thanks to Christian for waking up so early to drop me off! Thank you, thank you!

The shuttle was taking me from Bellingham to Seattle-Tacoma Airport. I thought about flying out of Bellingham to go to Minneapolis but it was about a hundred dollar difference. I was like nah-ah, not paying that much. Instead, I paid $37 for the shuttle to take me to Sea-Tac airport at 6am.

The bus ride was about 3.5 hours long in the rain. We made some stops to pick up more passengers. I felt that I chose a pretty good seat where I could get my own space and no one would sit next to me. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The bus was pretty empty with less than half the seats filled but somehow, some lady just had to sit next to me. She was harmless but I just wanted my space early in the morning. I’m usually a morning person and enjoy socializing but like I said, it was early. I ended up knocking out majority of the bus ride. At one point, I tried to stay awake but I failed to do so. My head just kept bobbing. I only knew one thing to keep me awake. Listen to K-pop.

I’m not a huge K-pop fan in general but there was this one K-pop singer who’s American and did a remix of a classic American song with a lot of swag that I really enjoyed. I knew this was going to keep me awake so I listened to it on repeat. Here’s Jay Park singing When A Man Loves A Woman by Michael Bolton:

After listening to it a few times, I was finally at Sea-Tac airport by 9:30am. I went over to Sun Country Airlines to check-in my baggage.

FYI: If you check-in online 1-24 hours before your departure with Sun Country Airlines, you can save $5 for your check-in baggage.

If you’re a SoCal native like myself, you may not know anything about Sun Country Airlines. I was hesitant about flying with them because one, I had never heard of it. Two, it was cheap that it was too good to be true. From Seattle to Minneapolis, it was only $74. Three, I read some bad reviews about this airline. Some compared it to Spirit. If you know about Spirit, you know that it’s not good.

As I was boarding my flight at 10:15am, I noticed that someone was sitting in my seat. I guess the passenger who was in my seat wanted to sit with her family since they were sitting in that same row. As I approached the passenger about the situation, a flight attendant came to the rescue and asked if I could sit somewhere else since there would be some empty seats on this flight. I stood in the back until everyone was seated. Next thing you know, I got the whole row to myself!

I knocked out pretty quickly on this 5 hour flight. I don’t remember much about my flight except missing the opportunity to get some water from the flight attendant. I got really thirsty after my nap.

I landed in Minneapolis, Minnesota at 3:20pm. My friend, Mark, picked me up from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The real adventure began from this point on.

I booked a room through AirBnB with a Chinese family. I thought it would be interesting to book a room at their house because I was curious about how they got to Minneapolis since there aren’t a lot of Asians in Minneapolis. The journalist side of me made me eager to learn their story. According to Wikipedia there’s only 4.9% of Asians in Minneapolis!

I texted the girl who I was communicating with from AirBnB that I was on my way to her house. She responded that her uncle should be home to let me in. So Mark dropped me off at the house. I rang the doorbell and an older Chinese lady opened the door. Immediately, she started talking to me in Chinese and pointed at Mark’s car.

Let me remind you that I am not Chinese. I’m Korean.

I was so caught off guard by the whole situation that there was definitely an awkward moment. I quickly told her that I wasn’t Chinese. She said, “Oh! Ok!” We both kind of laughed it off. I think she was trying to tell me that Mark should move his car to the driveway but I told her he wasn’t staying. So then she carried my luggage to my room and that was that.

I unpacked a little bit and then went to explore Minneapolis with Mark! He showed me around downtown Minneapolis and gave me a thorough history of it. The area reminded me of the cleaner and less congested version of Los Angeles.

We went to the Gold Medal Park in downtown Minneapolis. It’s a spacious park to walk around or sit down and relax to enjoy the view.

Yelpers comment that it’s a great place to jog or grab some fresh air. When I was here, there was definitely fresh, cold, and crisp air. On top of that, it was so windy that my hair got all static-y and I had to tie my hair into a ponytail! Even though it was messing up my hair, I still enjoyed the Minnesotan weather!

I loved this park since I was able to see a bunch of autumn leaves. Apparently the week before my arrival, all the leaves were on the trees but majority of them were all on the ground by the time I got there.

Right next to the park is the Guthrie Theater. Yelpers love this place as it currently has 4.5 stars with more than 100 reviews. We didn’t watch anything here but walked around it. I highly suggest you to check out the beauty of this facility. They really know how to publicize and honor well-known entertainment figures from the past. These photographs make this theater like an outdoors kind of museum.

Here’s a better exterior view of the theater:

Aren’t those large photographs amazing? Do you see that rectangular portion of the building sticking out to the left? It’s actually a balcony at the end of it! The balcony is something to check out because it has a perfect view of the Mississippi River.

From one side of the balcony, you’ll see an iconic sign in Minneapolis, Gold Medal Flour.

This historical sign is the predecessor of General Mills, one of the largest food companies in America. There’s a lot of history about General Mills that dates far back as the late 1800s. This building is no longer a flour factory but it has turned into Mill City Museum that is opened to the public. With 51 reviews, Yelp gives the museum 4 out of 5 stars.

On the other side of the balcony, you’ll see an aerial view of Gold Medal Park that I visited earlier. There’s a trail that circles around the hill located to the left of the picture. The trails leads to the top of the hill where you can also see the Mississippi River!

It got pretty chilly hanging outside in the balcony but I loved it. I was enjoying every moment of the coldness because I knew that I wouldn’t ever experience that kind of weather in SoCal. Afterwards, we left the theater and walked closer to the Mississippi River where I had to get one last closer shot of it.

Seeing the Mississippi River was really something. It made me reflect on my elementary days when I opened up my blue history book. I remember looking at the US map and seeing how long the river stretched down from Minnesota to Louisiana. It was the one river you just could not forget because of how historical it was. I really never imagined that I would see it in real life but I sure did that day!

The walking and the cold weather made us hungry. So for dinner we went to The Freehouse. I would compare this restaurant to a hip and an upscale version of Yard House. They’re known for their brewery selection and the fusion of different cuisines for their entrees. I got the Pesto Pappardelle that had asparagus, spinach, tomato, and basil pesto for $12. I love pesto so this meal just hit the spot. I think pesto is one of those sauces that can do no wrong.

Though Yelp rates them 3.5 stars with 142 reviews, it wouldn’t hurt to give this place a try. The ambiance here is upbeat where everyone’s enjoying their time even if it’s busy and loud. I wouldn’t mind coming back here and getting the same thing or even trying some of their unique plates.

After dinner, we went to a Target Express in Dinkytown. What’s Target Express and is Dinkytown real? Target Express is a like a convenient store that is located near a university. This store in particular only carries products that are necessities for college students. And yes, Dinkytown real.

Did you know that the Target Headquarters is located in Minneapolis?

There was actually no real reason to check out this Target Express in Dinkytown but just to see something different from the norm!

To end the night, we went to one of Mark’s favorite spots, Izzy’s Ice Cream. It is literally right next Gold Medal Park. After a long walk around the park, it’s a great idea to treat yourself to some Izzy’s! This little ice cream parlor has 4.5 stars with 64 reviews on Yelp.

You know an ice cream shop is a keeper when they change their menu of flavors on a daily or weekly basis. Izzy’s has 150 different flavors but they always have 32 flavors available. For that time being, I got two of their most popular ones on a Kiddie + Izzy waffle cone for $4. It’s a little more on the pricey end for ice cream but keep in mind that these are some unique flavors. For the Kiddie, I got the Norwegian Chai and for my Izzy, I got the Salted Caramel.

Say what? Who or what is Kiddie and Izzy? Kiddie is the larger or normal scoop of the ice cream and Izzy is the smaller and cuter scoop that goes on top of the big one. Cute concept, huh?

Ever since I tried the Apple Pie ice cream from my trip to Bellingham, Washington, my life has changed. Just kidding, not my life but my ice cream life has changed. So going to Izzy in Minneapolis got me all excited. The Norwegian Chai had a subtle spice flavor to it. According to Izzy’s, “…norwegian chai is finely ground, sweet orbs of Norwegian cardamom toast.” The Salted Caramel had a light sweet and savory taste to it which was perfectly balanced.

For a short amount of time on my first day in Minneapolis, I feel like we accomplished a lot! Thanks Mark for picking me up at the airport and showing me around Minneapolis! What a great start to my Minnesotan trip!

Goodbye and Good Luck Mark!

Mark is leaving sunny southern California for a whole new scene. That is Minneapolis! Briana and I had to see him one last time before he permanently leaves. So we grabbed lunch at Greenhouse Cafe.
Greenhouse Cafe

The three of us all got a half and half lunch meal. Briana got half chicken salad sandwich. Half bowl of tomato soup. Mark got a classic BLT and tomato soup.
Briana & Mark

I got the tuna melt and of course like everyone else, the tomato soup. The three of us recommend that everyone tries the tomato soup. There’s some kind of magical ingredient that makes the soup taste so homey and addicting. I asked the owner of the shop how he made it and he wouldn’t share. That’s how good it is. Please try it when you go there!My half and half lunch.

I can tell that Greenhouse Cafe pours out a lot of love as they make the food. They really care about the quality and your experience. After our small yet filling meal, we got some dessert. The dessert is actually for breakfast but hey, it can go as dessert too. So we got a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whip cream, chocolate and syrup on the side.
Belgian Waffle

The Belgian Waffle became a beautiful mess.
Beautiful Mess.

Once we were completely done eating, Briana and I gave Mark a goodbye gift. We gave him pictures from the many times the four of us all hung out. The four of us includes me, Briana, Christian, and Mark.
Marks Going Away 006

Unfortunately, Christian was not able to say goodbye to Mark because he’s in Buffalo, New York. So we decided to Face Time him for a few minutes and make him jealous for missing out on the fun. Surely, he was jealous.
Face Time with Christian!

Greenhouse Cafe is quite a memorable place for the four of us. The first time we had a Secret Santa gift exchange took place at Greenhouse Cafe. Now, Greenhouse Cafe is also a memory of where we said goodbye to Mark!

Mark, we wish you the best in Minneapolis! We can’t wait to see what Target Corporate has in stored for you and we can’t wait to see you grow and be challenged there! We’re all proud of you for climbing up the ladder so quickly in short period of time! Good luck!