Minneapolis is actually the first place on my trip that I visited for the first time. During my previous travels in the states I visited Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison and already visited all the tourist destinations, so I didn’t have any conflict between what parts of the city to explore – the obvious sites to see or more hidden neighborhood life that’s not so shiny but has some additional value for me. This time I actually needed to prioritize, especially considering the fact that I had to spend only 2 nights and 1 day there. And even if there is nothing special about this city, just another typical place in the Midwest with huge metropolitan area full of boring suburbs and small city in the center with small neighborhoods full of interesting people. But I already shared my thoughts about that in the post about Chicago.
What made it different this time is exactly what makes everyplace different from another – people and plus the understanding that it’s the last big place before Seattle. It’s means almost 2 weeks of being in the middle of nowhere, probably without nights out and or any cultural events.
I arrived to the city pretty late because it took me a while to put myself together after the fun night in Madison and it was pretty long ride and I didn’t calculate the time correctly. But the ride itself was pretty fun: hot but with a good cooling wind, nice views of Mississippi river and of course good music from my iPod.
I directly got to some coffee shop near university while waiting to my host to come back from a play and I was lucky to be inside when suddenly huge storm hit the city. It lasted very short time but made a lot of noise, and after it was over I wanted to get some pictures of lightening, but failed. Instead of it I saw downtown after the storm.
I stayed with Piotr, a friend of my friend Suzy, kind of couchsurfing but through common friends and not through the website. He is a Ph.D. student here, but he came here for grad school from New York. His life story reminded me of my own: he was born in Soviet Union in St. Petersburg and moved to the states when he was young, so I enjoyed talking with him about questions of identity, definitions of home, etc. On this journey the question of home and where is the right place to be is very important to answer to. I hope I’ll figure it out.
Many of Piotr’s friends are actors, so I had a chance to hang out with them quite a lot and learn a lot about the world of theatre. We had a small house party with fun acting/drinking games and good conversations. They invited me to the play next morning; it was “The Comedy of Errors” and the stage was very interesting, it was at one of the beautiful parks of Minneapolis. I very enjoyed the play and the atmosphere there, most of the people who came to watch where just regular visitors of the park, people with children and dogs, and I was impressed how respectful they where: no cell phones or other noisy things, dogs where kept quite and even children behaved themselves, I guess they where fascinated with the play. Seeing events like that makes me even bigger fan of art that accessible for everybody, instead of expecting people to come to the art, art comes to the people. The contributions where collected after that and I was surprised to see how many people are willing to give.
Later I was lucky to experience another example of art for people: first Saturday of every month is the free entrance to the Walker Center of Arts. It was great! I enjoyed there even more than in MoMA of New York. The sculpture garden right by it was very interesting too and was nice to see how many people come there.
The rest of the day I spent just chilling by the Cedar Lake, it was great to swim in the lake and because it surrounded by trees I had a feeling that I’m not in the middle of the city.
The night out was fun and surprisingly similar to Columbus scene. My visit ended next morning with nice brunch at one of the nice local breakfast places (did I mention that brunch is my favorite meal already?) and was surprised again by the menu, in additional to the regular items they served Shakshuka (delicious Israeli breakfast dish).
I was about to leave to Marietta, MN, probably the smallest town that I’ve ever visited (population 162) and I knew that I’ll not see to many people till Seattle. Interesting how it will be.