Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Visiting Indianapolis

Indianapolis was scheduled at the last minute, so I flew home from Minneapolis around 8pm, and then left the next morning before 8am.  I should have just slept at the airport!

I love sports stadiums, so I always go find them when I visit a new city.  After the airport, my first stop was Colts Stadium.  I even gritted my teeth and bought something in the gift shop for Tony's co-worker.  I just kept telling myself that I was supporting Addai, not the Colts!

Home of the NCAA!

It is located in a beautiful park area downtown.  I enjoyed walking around for a bit.  Also, downtown Indianapolis was hosting a national high school drum line competition that week.  It was fun to see the groups walking down the streets playing!

State capitol building of Indiana

Statue outside of the Native American museum

Indianapolis is less than a four hour drive from St. Louis, so I would love to make it a weekend trip with Tony.  I would love to visit this museum, but I just ran out of time.  Plus, it would be fun to see a Colts game at their beautiful stadium!

Coolest children's museum ever! 

After seeing the billboards of the dinosaurs, I knew that I had to visit this place and get postcards for the kids!

Bumblebee from the most recent Transformer movie.  The museum had it reprogrammed so that he rotates around and makes announcements.  The kids were all just mesmerized by him.

Mall of America

No trip to Minneapolis would be complete without a trip to the Mall of America.  It's hard to describe the sheer size of this mall.  When seven Yankee Stadiums can fit inside a mall, it's a little much!

A few quick facts about the mall -
  • More than 520 stores
  • It would take you 86 hours to visit the mall if you spent just 10 minutes in each store
  • 25 rides and attractions can be found in the indoor amusement park
  • Up to 14,000 people are employed at the mall 
  • More than 40 million visitors each year

I was chatting with a family at one of our events, and we started talking about the MoA.  From what they told me, locals really never shop there.  It's primarily a tourist thing.  Weekly flights arrive from China and Japan.  Shuttles take the passengers from the airport across the street to the mall.  They shop, stay overnight in one of the hotels that is in the parking lot or attached to the mall, and then fly back out the next day.

As you can imagine, the mall is made up of several floors.

I loved the crystals!

Tony's reaction when he saw this picture - "Oooooohhhhhh.  I've heard of these stores!"  He was quite sad to learn that I didn't even go inside.

Forget the carousel, this place has an entire amusement park complete with several roller coasters!

Dora and the Spongebob characters were out taking 
pictures with the kids.

What mall would be complete without an 18 hour mini golf course?

There's a little sign that says that more than 170,000 legos have been lost in the LEGO play area.  Maybe to discourage stealing?

He was my favorite of the LEGO characters.

Tony loves ninjas, so I had to take a picture for him.

No shopping trip is complete without a trip to the aquarium.  For your convenience  there are large lockers to rent all over the mall.  Just drop your bags off and head to the aquarium!

It's a 1.2 million-gallon aquarium that is sadly unimpressive.  Especially given the cost of admission, but everyone knows that I am a sucker for aquariums.  Honestly, save your money.

Monday, September 19, 2011

First Impressions of Minneapolis

My next stop for work brought me to Minneapolis.  This was my first time to visit the Twin Cities, and I must say, this is a gorgeous area.  I can see why so many people tolerate the miserable winters to live in such an amazing city.  While everyone else was experiencing 100+ temperatures, it was in the low 70's!  I was traveling with a colleague, and we made a pact to eat all of our meals outside while we were there.

The downtown area is beautiful and thriving.  Our first night, we had dinner downtown at an Italian restaurant Zelo.  http://www.zelomn.com/

They had a great outdoor area, so we enjoyed people watching.  I was surprised and entertained by how many pedicabs there were for the area.  Also, the food was amazing.  It is located in a very old, historic building that has been renovated with a distinct artistic eye.  If you ever find yourself in Minneapolis, I highly recommend this restaurant.  Order the bruschetta!

I was also surprised to learn how many major companies like Target and Best Buy were headquartered in downtown Minneapolis.  There is actually a Target store downtown that is connected by a sky bridge to the company headquarters.  I would drive out of my way just to not have to work at that store!

The Mighty Mississippi

I was surprised by how many people didn't realize that Minneapolis sits on the banks of the Mississippi.  The actual start of the river is still a few hours north of the city.  I actually drove across the bridge to St. Paul so that I could walk along the banks of the Mississippi, and take a few pictures of the downtown Minneapolis area.

Minnesota Twins Stadium

This brand new stadium just opened in 2010 and is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.  I have to admit that I can't stand the look of it.  I have futuristic looking stadiums.

More pictures from the Mississippi.

Lake Calhoun

Minneapolis is famous for their lakes, so I had to take some time to visit a few that were near downtown.  Lake Calhoun was a beautiful area with a developed lake front.  In addition to the bike paths, the area also boasted a small cafe, boat rental, and an outdoor theater.

Lake Harriet

Obviously, I had to visit Lake Harriet!  This area was closer to downtown. From what I understand, the area right next to it has become quite the hip area for young professionals in Minneapolis.  The streets were filled with cafes, boutiques, and bars.

I preferred Lake Harriet for a few reasons, but mainly because it had an actual beach front.  I kicked off my shoes and enjoyed wading in the water for a bit!