shopping

More of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Eat Pray Love Journey – Day 7 – Minneapolis, Minnesota

I’m pretty much a morning person. I don’t like to sleep in because I feel like I’m wasting time and the longer I sleep, my back starts to hurt. I know, I’m an old lady. I like to take advantage of the morning as best as I can because I feel most productive then. Going to school from elementary to college at 8am and working at 8am has trained me to become a morning person. On Day 7 of my trip, I didn’t sleep in like any other previous days. I got up early around seven in the morning to get ready for the day and to grab breakfast at the house I was staying at. AirBnB said that this house provides breakfast if you wake up early enough. They said it can be Chinese or American food. I was excited about this part of the morning because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get to know the family over breakfast. But! If you remember from the previous post, I learned that there was some language barrier between me and my host family. Even though there was this language barrier, I still wanted food. So I went over to the kitchen and said good morning. The lady smiled at me and directed me to milk and cereal. Unfortunately, no Chinese food for breakfast. There wasn’t anything too exciting about the cereal. It was just very bland Chex cereal. So bland that I only poured myself like 4 spoons of it. Then her husband came over and started speaking to me in Chinese. He gave me tea and explained how there were leaves seeping in the pot of hot water. He kindly gave me a thermo of hot water just in case I wanted more. There was no room for me to tell him that I didn’t know any Chinese so I just nodded, smiled at him, and continuously thanked him. The only thing I understood from him was when he said “cha” which means tea in Chinese. I only knew this because of Cha For Tea, one of my favorite boba shops. Once he gave me my tea, he and his wife left for the day. I hung out in the house for a little bit. As I was drinking my green tea, I noticed diagonally in front of me was a picture of cats hanging on the wall. I thought that was interesting… After much sipping my morning tea, I decided to explore the neighborhood before meeting up with Mark. Ah, look at all those tall trees lined up and the golden leaves on the ground! Do you see those brown bags on the right side of the picture? Those are bags of leaves! I know I sound ridiculous for being amazed by that but I just don’t see that in sunny SoCal. This neighborhood had a homey touch to it with a spacious front yard. Nowadays in Orange County at least, a lot of the newer homes don’t have a front lawn where kids can play outside. It was nice to see something different in this neighborhood. They looked like they’re from those classic American movies. I didn’t want my mini adventure in the neighborhood to end but Mark was on his way to pick me up! For lunch, we went to Macy’s at Nicollet Mall which is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. To be more specific, we ate at Sky Room in Macy’s. Did you know that Macy’s is a pretty big deal here? Who would have thought that you could grab lunch at Macy’s? Apparently it’s common that all Macy’s has a food court except maybe California. Mark was saying that Minnesotans would be surprised to not see a food court at Macy’s if they were to come to California. Sky Room currently has 4 stars with 54 reviews on Yelp. They have a wide range of food such as an all you can eat salad bar, noodles, Mexican food, and the list goes on. I got myself a chicken panini sandwich with a side of coleslaw for $7.20. It was surprisingly good as it was fresh from the grill and service was great there too! The Sky Room itself was all white and spacious. There was a white grand piano in the Sky Room but I think we just missed the pianist. We got there at a good time though when the crowd was dying down. A lot of businessmen and women come here for lunch since it’s pretty convenient to get to. I would highly suggest checking out the Sky Room for lunch because it’s a hidden gem and while you’re eating, you have a great view of the city. We walked around downtown Minneapolis and it was actually quite a peaceful walk. It wasn’t as busy as I was expecting it to be but I guess it’s because everyone was working inside. We went to this one building that was a shopping center but also where some big banks were housed. The interior design was quite eccentric it felt like you were outside in. Then we finally drove over to Mall of America! This historical touristy mall is known for having an amusement park! It was hard to capture a decent picture of the amusement park but here’s what I got: Yup, there’s a Peeps & Company store at the mall. I’ve never seen so many Peeps products before in one store. When I first got to the mall I was overwhelmed at how big it was and how there were so many stores. According to Mark it’s only big because there are two of the same stores.  For example, there are two American Eagle, two Journeys, two A&W, and two of almost all of the big branded ones. I was looking for postcards and found one store called “Love From Minnesota” and another store called “I Love Minnesota”. Funny, huh? They both basically sold similar souvenirs. Isn’t the picture below a little funny? Windows on the left side and Apple to the right. I wonder how the employees from both sides feel when they see each other so closely. Like I told Christian, I told Mark that I wanted to see anything scenic that I wouldn’t be able to see in SoCal. He took to one of the 10,000 lakes in Minneapolis called Lake Calhoun. This lake was unbelievable! The reflection of the clouds on the water was so clear! I didn’t realize how clear it was until I took a picture! I was so amazed at how clear the reflection was. Mark said that when it’s winter, the lake is frozen and people will drive on it! I think they will ice skate on it too. It’s just like in the movies! We went over to Minneapolis Sculpture Garden which is freely opened to the public. It has 4.5 stars with 95 reviews on Yelp. There are artworks scattered around this scenic botanical garden. You can probably finish walking around the garden within an hour or so depending on how long you want to stand in front of a sculpture and look pensive. I love seeing trees lined up. I’m not sure if it’s the OCD in me but I appreciate symmetry and structure. Yup, I love trees that are lined up. For dinner, I had Vietnamese food at Quang Restaurant! I know, I was surprised too that there was authentic Vietnamese food in Minneapolis. When we got there, it was so busy! I shouldn’t have been surprised it was busy because it has some good reviews on Yelp. It has 4 stars with more than 400 reviews! Sometimes on a cold day, I like to get cold food. So I got myself a vermicelli with beef. It had the fish sauce where you pour over the noodles. The fish sauce could have been a little sweeter and a tad bit less watery but overall it was good for the fact that it’s in Minnesota. Definitely, nothing can beat Vietnamese food from SoCal! If I’m back in Minneapolis and I’m craving some kind of Vietnamese food, I wouldn’t mind coming back here. After dinner, I went to go play kickball with Mark and his friends. Good thing I brought my workout clothes! (Yes, I worked out throughout the first half of my trip.) The thing was, I ended up not playing. The captain had all the positions assigned for the whole game so there was no spot for me. It worked out well that I didn’t play because I haven’t played kickball since forever ago and I was afraid that I going to mess up the game for whatever reason. When we got there, I didn’t realize how cold it was going to be! I think it went down to high 20’s or low 30’s! It was so cold that a few of Mark’s friends gave me a scarf and gloves to bundle up in. It helped for a little bit wearing those. I had my legs crossed like Indian style because I was so cold and I wanted to curl up but doing that was a bad idea. My legs got numb pretty quickly because I had lost circulation in my legs from the cold weather. So I stretched my legs out and had to shake them off to get the circulation going. I did that periodically throughout the game. I probably looked weird doing that. Note to self: Quadruple layer up in workout clothes when you’re in Minnesota in the fall at night time. Oh man, it was pretty painful being outside in the cold. I don’t know how I survived that night but I think it helped that the game was entertaining. Unfortunately, Mark’s team lost but it was a good game to watch! Afterwards, we all hung out at Yard House to stay warm. It was fun meeting new friends, seeing Minnesotan nature, and experiencing darn cold weather! I loved it all! Thanks Mark for showing me around!

Spontaneous Road Trip: Day 2

We slept in pretty late the next day like up until 10AM. This was considered pretty late for us but we needed our full rest to recover from the day before. We began Yelping places to eat for breakfast. We found one nearby called Rose Donuts and Cafe in San Jose. It’s a popular donut shop that currently has 4.5 stars with almost 400 reviews. They’re known for making ginormous sized donuts! No joke!

Kat and I saw these two girls sharing one of those huge donuts. The ironic part about them eating was that they were in their workout clothes. I’m not sure if they were charging themselves up with a big donut before working out or if they were rewarding themselves with a donut after a good work out. I wish I had taken a picture of them eating in their gym clothes but I didn’t want to seem like a creeper.

We shared one of the popular items on the menu which was the breakfast burrito with a side of salsa. With one bite, we were quickly satisfied by the whole breakfast burrito experience. The hot eggs and meat really hit the spot.

Even though I was pretty full from the burrito, I had to pick up a donut just because I was born with a sweet tooth. I was pretty curious if there was anything special about the donuts here. I got a chocolate twist for a little less than a dollar! I was a little surprised how it was cheaper by 10 or 20 cents compared to Orange County! The donut shop near my house charges $1.10 for any twists! In addition to the affordable donut from Rose Donuts and Cafe, it was good! There was more fluff, bread, and chocolate on the donut than my usual experience from my neighborhood donut shop. There was a lot of bread and chocolate that I couldn’t eat it anymore after a few bites. I had to save it for later.

Anyways, enough about donuts! Actually, one more thing about donuts. If you didn’t know, I love donuts. I’m pretty passionate about them. It’s not even funny. Feel free to check out all my posts where I’ve mentioned Donuts!

After breakfast, we drove an hour up north to go to San Francisco! We parked in the underground structure of Union Square where we paid $5.50 for one hour! Only between the hours of noon and 3PM, they charge you $5.50 an hour! Ridiculous, huh? Luckily, Kat and I only spent one hour in San Francisco so we didn’t have to pay more than $5.50. San Francisco wasn’t exciting as we were expecting it to be. There wasn’t much to do in Union Square other than shop and shop some more. I recommend that you check out Union Square between November and December at night when all the holiday decorations are up.

We walked across the street to Macy’s and went to the top floor to take pictures of Union Square. It was nice to see Union Square in a panoramic view with all the fancy stores spread out.

Then we walked around the block and decided to ride the Cable Car for fun. The line for it was pretty long and we felt like we were wasting our time just standing there. So Kat started researching pretty quickly on what we should do instead. She found a place with street art and we agreed upon it immediately. We jumped out of the line and took some fake pictures on the cable car as if we had been on it.

Like I mentioned before, Union Square is a lot more entertaining during the holidays. There are a bunch of stores in the area but you can check them out at the mall by your house. One store you might want to check out since it’s only located only in several cities across the nation is Uniqlo. It’s a popular affordable clothing store that originated from Japan.

We drove over to the Mission District for some street art. Right when we got there, we learned something new thanks to smart phones and Google. We parked at a broken meter but we weren’t sure if it was legal to park there or not. So we looked it up online and it said that we were allowed to park there for free! The time limit of parking there is dependent on whatever it says in the meter originally. Basically, unlimited time.

As we were walking around, we found Philz Coffee, a popular coffee shop in Northern California that everyone raves about. They’re known for their popular Mint Mojito Iced Coffee.

Note to everyone: Talk to the barista behind the counter first to order your drink. Then go to the cashier to pay. There are signs to help direct you through this process of ordering. I was not paying attention at all to the signs. I was just so excited to be there that I paid first and then ordered. It was a little embarrassing. Also, keep in mind that your cold drink will be in a paper cup! Not in a clear plastic cup! When I got my drink, I completely forgot that they were all about that paper cup. I gave the barista a confused look saying that he must have made the wrong drink. He looked back at me weird and then I realized he was innocent.

I got my drink and sat down with Kat at a table. I had a sip of my Mint Mojito Iced Coffee and fell in love with it! The mint was somewhat subtle and was integrated so smoothly with the coffee itself. There was a creamy, sweet, and obviously a minty taste to it. There was a lot of flavors going on when I drank it but they all worked together really well!

As we were relaxing at the table, the people next to us said out loud, “Hey Phil!” I somehow knew it was Phil, the founder of Philz Coffee. I did a double take at Phil and it sure was him! He looked at me weird because I did this whole double take action, but he continued his conversation with his friends. At some point, I was tweeting Philz Coffee that Phil was sitting next to me. They tweeted back saying I should take a picture with him. Encouraged by their response, I had to interrupt his conversation with his friends to take a picture with him. So we did! He was so friendly about it!

He noticed that Kat wasn’t drinking anything so he went behind the counter and made one for her! We kept telling him that he didn’t have to but he just went at it! He made a Mint Mojito Iced Coffee out of love for Kat! We were both drinking and we started talking to him. We actually talked to him for awhile, probably 30 minutes long. It was so inspiring to hear his stories of how he came about with the business and the future prospects of it. This man had so much knowledge and experience about business that I’m sure he has inspired so many others.

After talking to him, this is how we felt.

We really couldn’t believe that we had a full on conversation with Phil from Philz Coffee!

So after that craziness happened, we were able to finally start walking around! Here are some pictures we took during our adventure in Mission District. Major photo credit to Kat for all of her creativity in taking these awesome pictures!
Talking behind someone's back.

It just made sense to point up. It just did.

It just made sense to point up. It just did.

 

We could’ve stayed in the area so much longer because we were having so much fun just taking pictures but we had to head back to San Jose for dinner with Stacy. We ate Pluto’s for some salad! Oh man, Kat and I were craving some greens in us! This place did the job. You can make your own customized salad here but you can also order sandwiches. It was so nice to eat something healthy for dinner! Thanks Stacy for joining us for dinner!

(Please ignore the fries by our salad. Don’t judge. Thank you.)

Santana Row is a nice fancy outdoorsy shopping center with more of the high end stores and restaurants. It reminds me a little bit of The Grove or The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles. It was good to just walk around Santana Row after eating those curly garlic fries and them sweet potato fries. (Don’t judge us!)

I’m not sure why but I like this picture that Kat took of me and Stacy talking to each other in front of Madewell. It’s a picture of two tall Asian girls talking to each other.

After a long day of walking around San Francisco and in Santana Row, we were ready to head back to Stacy’s place for some sleep. We had to rest up for a long drive back home the next day!

Spontaneous Road Trip: Day 1

For a few months, Kat and I were talking about exploring and traveling for a few days. We thought about setting time aside to go to the airport and buy the cheapest flight. Somehow that didn’t work out. We then decided on Antelope Canyon in Arizona. That didn’t work out either. Then, finally we decided to go somewhere a little more local, Santa Barbara. The day before our adventure began, we met up to figure out our plans. We looked at hotels, motels, Couch Surfing, and activities in Santa Barbara. Our research wasn’t very successful since it was all last minute. We decided that we would just figure out then and there by downloading traveling apps on our phone. All we knew was that we were going to first stop at State Street because it has seven miles of stores and restaurants to check out!

Next day, we met up at 9AM, picked up some snacks, and were off to Santa Barbara!

It took us about 2.5 hours to get there which wasn’t too bad. The drive there was so scenic and beautiful especially because of the ocean!

Once we found a parking spot on State Street, we were off to the beginning of our seven mile shopping journey.

We first grabbed some food at Savoy Cafe & Deli which had positive reviews on Yelp. It showed 4 stars with 162 reviews. There was so much on the menu and on top of that, there was a salad bar!

I decided to get their popular Turkey Fritter that has been on TV before thanks to Guy Fieri from Food Network.

Kat and I both got the same thing, the turkey Fritter.

It reminded me of the savory Korean pancakes called buchimgae or neon. The fritter had a homey taste to it with the fried batter mixed with turkey and vegetables.

When I’m traveling, I tend to my lose my appetite easily for some odd reasons. So this fritter filled me up perfectly!

Afterwards, we walked over to The French Press to get some coffee for a tiny boost of energy. This coffee shop is pretty small but has a nice feel to it because of the hospitable customer service.

So I got a small Iced Vanilla Latte for $4 or $5. It was a little expensive for me but when you go to a hipster coffee shop like this, lattes are a little more expensive than your normal Starbucks.

We sat outside and relaxed a little bit before actually beginning our shopping excursion.

Actually, we found a historical courthouse nearby that we went to check out. It was so beautiful because of the architecture and the paintings all over. Though it may seem like a museum because the artwork and the many tourists inside, it’s still an actual courthouse!

Can you tell what the picture below is?

It’s a spiraling staircase! I’m in the middle of the spiral where it’s just hallow and took a picture looking up! Pretty cool, huh?

We found a courtroom that is more used as a display for historical reasons. There was a window that was perfect for a dramatic scene in a Korean drama. So Kat graciously took a picture of me in a pensive state as if I’m looking out the window to find the love of my life.

This window was awesome because it had natural sunlight just beaming into the dark courtroom. It was almost breathtaking to see such powerful rays coming into the room.

The courthouse is two or three stories high. On our way to the top, we found this tiled seating area that perfectly matched Kat’s outfit!

We got to the top and was able to see a good view of Santa Barbara.

While we were hanging out at the top floor, we wanted to take a picture. I asked a fellow stranger to take a picture of me and Kat. He respectfully responded with a yes. I thanked him and decided to start up a conversation with him since I enjoy meeting new people! So I asked where he’s from. He said South Korea and I excitedly responded, “I’m Korean!” With a little confused look, he said “Really?” I said yes and said hi to him in Korean. Still in disbelief that I was Korean, he continued to speak in his broken English to me and Kat. I don’t think he believed that I was Korean at all. Oh well but thank you stranger for taking a picture of us!

Afterwards, we finally went shopping. We both got something from Gap because they were having a 40% off sale! On State Street, there’s a lot of stores you’ll recognize from your usual malls but there’s also mom and pop shops where they sell little trinkets and such.

We were pretty tired from walking around for several hours. We sat down for a little bit and tried to figure out the rest of our plans for the day. By this time it was around 5PM and we still didn’t know where we were going to spend the night. I suggested to Kat that we should go to NorCal since we were only 4 hours away. My friend, Aaron, actually suggested it to me before I went on the road trip. He advised that I should maximize my time while I’m traveling since Santa Barbara is pretty close to San Jose and San Francisco. So I brought it up to Kat and she was down to go up north!

I started calling all of my friends (Stacy, Yesie, JennJi, Michelle, P.Sam) in the San Jose area and no one picked up! I told Kat, “Ok, we should just drive up even though no one picked up. Someone is bound to call us by the time we start driving.” So we got to our car and then miraculously Stacy called me back! We asked if we could stay at her place and she said yes without hesitating! We told her that we would see her in 4 or 5 hours.

We went to a Mexican restaurant to grab dinner but noticed it was too expensive so we walked across the street and went to a small burger joint called Chubbies Hamburgers. Cute name, huh? It was pretty cheap and good. I wasn’t expecting anything too fancy. My cheeseburger filled me up and I was content with that!

Once we had our Chubbies cheeseburger, we were off to a San Jose. We only made one stop because we had to take pictures of the open field.

Of course, we took a selfie by the 101 sign before getting back on the road!

We got to San Jose close to midnight! Praise God that the whole drive up north was a safe one and we were able to keep each other awake!

La Jolla Adventure

Amy, Chelsea and I finally reunited after a long distant friendship. Literally! Amy and I went to visit Chelsea down in La Jolla. We first went wedding dress shopping for Amy since she just got engaged a few months ago! We went to Here Comes the Bride which is where Chelsea bought her wedding dress. I can’t talk much about what she tried on because you’ll just have to wait for her wedding. The boutique had all the dresses organized by price range. There was great customer service and of course, beautiful dresses. Check it out if you’re looking for a dress. Wedding dress to be specific.
Here Comes the Bride

After Here Comes the Bride, we grabbed lunch at a well known restaurant that’s been on Food TV Network before called Studio Diner. It’s open 24/7!
Studio Diner

I got the monte cristo since I haven’t had that in so long. Ok, 3 years to be exact. It was so worth the fried and greasy sandwich mess with the raspberry spread! So good. I recommend it to everyone!
Monte Cristo

Amy got a club sandwich and Chelsea got the Boob Sandwich that has chicken breast with avocado and bacon!
La Jolla 010

The food there was so homey and made with heavy love.
La Jolla 009

From Studio Diner, we headed to Downtown La Jolla. I’d compare Downtown La Jolla to Orange County’s Fashion Island in Newport Beach and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. Downtown La Jolla had the outdoors shopping and high end stores feelings to it. It was too expensive to purchase anything but fun to just window shop.
La Jolla 022

We stopped by The Living Room for some pastries and coffee. It was a small and cozy place to hang out with the mismatched furniture. Kind of like Central Perk from Friends. I got an iced vanilla latte which is my usual at any coffee shop. It was kind of expensive compared to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Starbucks. But then their drink size proportion was huge for a small. The drink was creamier than what I’ve tried at other places which was nothing bad. I would have to say that the expresso was probably a tad bit stronger than my usual. Overall, I wouldn’t mind getting the ice vanilla latte again at The Living Room.

We walked over to the beach to see some waves and sea lions. It was such a beautiful day out there with the sun shining and the fresh air.
Lovely La Jolla.

Eric met a new friend there, a squirrel. The squirrel seemed pretty friendly.
Eric and the Squirrel.

We saw some sea lions just sun bathing out in the open with no shame. They were fun to watch though they were doing nothing. We probably watched them lay there so freely for a good 15 minutes. It was surprisingly entertaining.
Beach

We walked back to our cars from the beach so we could start heading home. It was so much fun reuniting with Amy and Chelsea like the good old days in high school! There was so much more to see in San Diego but not enough time. Amy and I are going to see Chelsea again soon for another La Jolla adventure!
Last picture of the day.