Monday, January 6, 2014

Minneapolis / St. Paul Vacation

I'm going to break one of my rules for things that will bore me to death and tell you about my vacation.

December 29th

Sal and I found a dirt cheap hotel and decided to head up a night early. Once we had a list of things we wanted to do in the Twin Cities, we realized we didn't allow enough time.

The drive up was mostly uneventful. Iowa might take the crown from Kansas as the most boring state to drive through. (I hear Oklahoma is much worse.) It's flat tundra for five hours. Apparently in the summer it smells like cow poop, but everything was frozen.

We arrived earlier than expected, checked into the Millennium Hotel (which was a great place), and immediately checked out a brewery.

Rock Bottom is a franchise brewery which in some people's eyes sort of makes it a little worse than a craft brewery, but better than Anheuser Busch.

There were about 40-50 Vikings fans filling the place watching the Bears / Packers game. Apparently, in Minneapolis, you either love the Vikings or the Packers. Vikings fans hate the Packers. All of these people were in this bar just to hope the Packers lost.

The Packers scored with a few minutes left and I've never heard so many people curse at the same time as this. In fact, the server behind the counter spiked his pint glass into the sink, it shattered everywhere, and he scream, "G-D! I TOLD THEM NOT TO F-ING SCHEDULE ME TODAY."

We drank a bunch of beer, wandered the Sky Walk for a few minutes, and went back to the hotel.

December 30th

Mall of America / IKEA day. My god, I've never been a part of capitalism like this. The stores were huge. Some stores had two locations within the mall. It was honestly overwhelming. We had 4 things we wanted to find at the mall and we found none of them. I'm sure the things we wanted were there, we just didn't know how to handle it.

It snowed while we were driving home. A 15 minute drive to the mall, took about an hour and twenty minutes to get home.

That night, one of Sallie's old friends took us out to all the places you're not going to find on a Google search. We are fancy French food, I had the best beer of my life, we checked out an awesome bar, got to stand on a frozen lake, and was shown all of St. Paul in the snowy night glory it should be seen in.

December 31st

We woke up and drove to St. Paul to get breakfast a The New Louisiana Cafe per a recommendation from the friends the night before. It was huge, amazing diner portions with solid cups of coffee. Didn't need to eat until dinner after this.

We went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. According to our friends, this isn't even the best art museum in Minneapolis and it blew us away. I mean, we were greeted by a huge painting by one of Sallie's favorite artists, Frank Stella.

We had the hockey game to go to that night in St. Paul, so we wanted to work our way over to the Xcel Energy Center.

Summit Brewing was the first stop. According to the Google search, they were open. According to the girl at the front desk, they were not. So failure #1.

We figured we would get a parking spot earlier near the game and hang out at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub.

This place was great. Jersey's hanging from the ceiling signed by some of the greatest players of the past 30 years, Canadian food being served, Canadian beers on tap, essentially everything you would hope for from a hockey pub.

The Xcel Energy Center was an interesting place. It was designed well enough not to have bottle necking issues with fans coming in and out. It felt like it seated about 5,000 more people than Scottrade Center does, but it actually seats about 2,000 less. We didn't actually sit in seats, but my guess would be that the seats are more spacious.

The game was a surprisingly boring 2-0 win by the Blues. The thing that caught me off guard was how often people said, "I can't believe you made the drive" and "It sucks that our team is so terrible, good luck to you."

We went back to the hotel, took a quick nap, dressed up, and walked the Sky Walk to The Tangiers for a 1920's-style-New-Years-prohibition party. The moment we arrived and ordered our first drinks, we realized we're too old for this stuff. We'd much rather stay at home with friends and have some drinks. I think it's a single person's game to hit the party scene.

The costumes at the party were great. The music put 1920's style music to beats, which actually was pretty good. And there was this creepy guy that sort of had a crush on me and was somehow using me to get girls.

January 1st

We woke up relatively easily for having drank for about 10 hours the day before and went to Minihaha Falls expecting a really cool water fall to take pictures in front of. What we got instead was frozen falls that were even cooler.

We then went back to Rock Bottom after wandering downtown for a bit looking for a different option to watch the Winter Classic. I had a beer that was the worst beer of my life this time. It was brewed with evergreen trees. It tastes exactly how you think, like biting into a Christmas tree stump.

We then attempted to go to Fulton Brewing which was about a 2 mile walk from Rock Bottom. The website said they were open... and again it was wrong.

So we thought we'd hit the Prohibition rooftop bar earlier than we had planned. Pulled up the site, got it up on Google maps, walked 2 miles back to where it was, found the place, asked the front desk how to get there... and closed.

So then we try to get some Asian food. Three places were closed. Italian place, closed. Apparently, the entire downtown of Minneapolis closes on New Year's Day. We eventually found an Italian place open a block from our hotel that was a pretty OK way to end the vacation.