Twin Cities sampler
After our week in Hayward, we only had two full days in the Twin Cities – we drove down Sunday night and flew out first thing Wednesday morning – but we managed to pack a whole lot into that time. Unfortunately, my dad had to work Monday and Tuesday, but my mom, my younger brother Will, Ben, and I wanted to have some time with my older brother, Si, and my sister-in-law, Kelly before we headed off.
Si and Kelly are amazing hosts and always have lots of suggestions for fun things to do and fun restaurants to try. Therefore, our Twin Cities visit felt a bit like a sampler platter. We explored several different parts of the city, and everywhere we went, we stopped in at least a few different places for drinks and/or food. (Even though I am not a big drinker anyway these days, and I am exceedingly cautious when it comes to driving, so I should probably clarify that we always had a designated driver – thanks Si!).
On Sunday night, we didn’t arrive until around 7:30pm, which, due to a combination of some residual jet lag, the fact that I go to bed early anyway these days, and the fact that Si had to work the next day, seemed like it would be just enough time to have some food and maybe watch a movie before bed. However, I should have known that my family would have other ideas, and we are on vacation after all! We headed out to a beautiful area on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, and we wandered along the lake on a walking/biking trail which was packed with people out enjoying the beautiful weather.
After taking in the views, we walked through a fun, trendy part of the city packed with cool shops and restaurants, and we went up to a rooftop patio for dinner. However, once we sat down, someone mentioned heading to a favourite burger restaurant, called The Nook, which is right near where my brother and sister-in-law live, and which Ben likes to visit every trip back. Therefore, dinner quickly turned into just having drinks and appetizers at that restaurant, and then after another wander, we were back in the car and headed to The Nook for dinner at 10pm. When everyone was sufficiently stuffed, we went back to the house for a How I Met Your Mother marathon, which was great for me, as I had some catching up to do. It was so much fun to have time with Ben, my mom, Will, Kelly, and Si, and I managed to stay up far past my normal bedtime!
Monday was Will’s birthday, and we started off the day with a celebratory birthday brunch at a favourite Twin Cities breakfast place called Longfellows. I should have taken pictures, as I had one of the best breakfasts I have ever tasted. It was a veggie breakfast burrito filled with scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, black beans and corn, and salsa, all wrapped in a shell and then grilled. It was absolutely huge but I finished every bite. The combination of spices they used and the combination of textures was outstanding, and somehow slightly grilling the whole burrito seemed to make a huge difference. I’m getting distracted, and also very hungry writing about that burrito…I’d like to go there for my next birthday breakfast!
Anyway, after brunch, we split up for a little bit and some people went for a walk and some people went to wander around the shops on Grand Avenue, which is another area with really cute shops and restaurants in St. Paul. Unfortunately we got caught out in the middle of an absolute downpour, but we were very lucky that it was only a brief storm which passed through quickly and then it was dry.
We hung out at Si and Kelly’s house for a little while in the afternoon until Si finished work for the day, and then we all headed out for a walk and to go out for Will’s birthday dinner. We went to a cool place along the Mississippi river called St. Anthony Main, and walked out on a beautiful bridge with nice views of the river and Minneapolis. The only downside was that we thought it was going to be cooler so we all changed into jeans, and then it ended up being very hot. I had nearly forgotten just what it feels like to be out when it is really humid, but hopefully the pictures don’t show how sweaty I felt!
We stopped at a restaurant along the river for drinks and appetizers, but the server took so long to come to our table that we decided just to head toward the area we were going for dinner and get a drink there. We ended up at a nice Irish pub with outdoor seating on Hennepin Avenue, where I had some of the best hummus I have ever tried. I’m not sure what they added to it or did differently, but I may have to go back to making more of my own hummus again and see if I can figure out a recipe which is similar.
After our drinks and appetizers, we headed next door to a Mexican restaurant and lucked out and got seats on the outdoor patio for eight of us. We had a really nice birthday dinner with Will, including fresh guacamole, and I had a fish taco which was outstanding. It was also really fun to have one of my good childhood friends and her boyfriend come and join us for dinner as well.
Now, this may seem like enough eating and drinking, but it was a birthday celebration after all, so after dinner, we headed to a nice little bar near Si and Kelly’s where we sat outside, followed by a stop at Buffalo Wild Wings on the way home!
Tuesday Kelly had to work, but Si was able to work from home, and we all went for a long run in the morning, followed by a nice lunch at Si and Kelly’s house and then a bit of shopping, and also a stop at Breadsmiths, which doesn’t seem to advertise this very widely, but is a totally dairy-free bakery. I should have taken pictures of all of the delicious treats in the store, or at least the huge sweet roll which I devoured when we got back to Si and Kelly’s, but I think I was too overwhelmed by having so many choices that I didn’t even think of it.
Around 5, I got to meet up with three of my old roommates from when I was studying in Madison who all live in the Twin Cities now. We only had a really short time to visit, but it was so nice to catch up with them and I’m so glad it worked out for us to get together!!
After my Happy Hour get-together with friends, I met up with my family again and headed to a St. Paul Saints baseball game, and my dad had driven down from Hayward and met us there. It was another gorgeous evening, and it was a really fun baseball game to watch.
We headed home, and I had some lemon blueberry Breadsmiths bread while we watched two more episodes of How I Met Your Mother, did some final re-packing, said my goodbyes to Kelly and Will, and then headed to bed around midnight after trying to squeeze every moment of fun out of our time in the Cities.
I felt so lucky to get to celebrate Will’s birthday with him, as I have missed it most years recently, and the day he was born was one of the most important in my life. I am so proud of him and I’m looking forward to seeing him when he visits us in England on his way back from Poland in less than a month!
Wednesday morning the alarm went off early, and Si brought us to the airport on his way to work for our flight to Seattle, where the adventures will continue!
Up next, the a re-cap of our west coast adventures.