Family Vacationing in Minneapolis & Adele Concert

So of course we give them as Christmas gifts and I let my wife and daughters go to the concert of the century!!! But hey, It’ll be OK. I’ll be fine, right? Well….keep reading through to hear about my adventure I had while they were at the “Best Concert Ever!

Before I take you on our little vacation I feel I should tell you why we took the vacation. Ella, our middle child, loves music. She will hear a song once or twice and know most of the lyrics. She may know lyrics to some 80’s songs better than I do. Who she really loves more than any other singer is Adele. Even when Ella was eight and Adele announced her European tour Ella proclaimed that if Adele ever comes to sing in America she has to go. Wouldn’t you know that a summer later she announces that she is doing an American tour, and as luck would have it, she starts the tour in St.Paul, Minnesota! A mere 5 1/2 hour drive for us.

So I waited for tickets to go on sale in November and 5 minutes before the box office opened I tried and I hit refresh every few minutes. Then the last minute I kept hitting refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh….BOOM! The screen pops up, “where you want to buy tickets?” I didn’t care,whatever was cheap and available. I did it as quick as I could before they ran out and I got them! I actually got Adele tickets! Four tickets!

Wait, isn’t there five in my family? Three daughters, a wife, and myself? I can’t buy FIVE tickets?!!!

NO!!!

Turns out Adele was really trying to keep scalpers away and one way to do that is to limit how many tickets a person can buy.

So of course we give them as Christmas gifts and I let my wife and daughters go to the concert of the century!!! But hey, it’s OK. I’ll be fine, right? Well….keep reading through to hear about my adventure I had while they were at the “Best Concert Ever!”

Hell’s Kitchen…..Damn Good!

We used to live in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul and miss it quite a bit. There is so much to do there compared to where I am now and we miss it. So we decided to make this our summer vacation and show the girls some of the neat places around the Twin Cities

I found a really great deal at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis and it was even cheaper if I became Hilton Honors member. I think we got the room for like $79 in what was a very nice hotel. The bad thing is it was 2 double beds. Remember, there is five of us. We had to push Sophie in between us for a couple of nights. But it worked. The hotel was really nice and the lobby offered snacks and drinks 24 hours a day. Decor throughout the hotel was elegant and the beds were comfortable. The girls enjoyed the pool, especially the first night when no one was in it. The staff looked like they really didn’t want to be there but tried to help when you asked them a question. The most friendly and helpful man was the guy outside in charge of valet.  He was very nice when we drove up that I almost wanted him to park my car for me just so he could get the business and the tip. Props to him!

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The first night we ate at Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. Now, I’m the worst blogger in the world cause I forget to take pictures, but this place was really neat. You go downstairs (or course cause you are going down to hell) and it has red decor everywhere with a few scary wood carvings and even scarier murals on the walls in the bathroom.  We get seated promptly but they can do this only if “we can be out of there by 7:30.” The current time is 6pm.  I say, “Well, that’s not really up to us, is it? If you are quick and efficient, I’m sure we’ll be outta here in plenty of time.” So we got seated right away.

The girls ordered their usual cafe, children’s menu items of grilled cheese and chicken strips. Heather and I both saw the same item on the menu and thought it looked delicious. A half sandwich and half salad, we ordered the Greek salad along with their famous Ham and Pear Crisp Sandwich.

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Damn Good Sandwich

The food was so damn good (that’s punny)!  The sandwich is smoked pit ham, poached pears, melted Swiss and Fontina cheeses on a sourdough bread. The combination of that great sandwich and the salad were perfect. You can pick between a Greek, Caesar, or House salad. Do  yourself a favor with this sandwich and get the greek. Mixed greens topped with rings of red and yellow bell peppers, pepperoncini, red onions, Greek olives, grape tomatoes, feta cheese and a garlic vinaigrette. All this for $12.95. I wanted to go back and eat there again and again and again.  In fact, my wife wants to figure out how to make that sandwich. I will say this as well, even the grilled cheese and fries were really good for something so simple. If you are ever in Minneapolis, I would highly recommend this place. Good Lord I’m salivating just thinking about it.

A neat little bonus which sort of compliments Hell’s Kitchen was the Angel Food Bakery, which of course….was upstairs. We decided to have something there another night so I’ll get back around to that place later on.

Fourth-of-July

We started off just grabbing something simple to eat from downstairs this day. We had a lot we wanted to do. We explored downtown a bit then decided to head down to the suburb we used to live in.

Apple Valley, Minnesota has one of the best Independence Day Parades that I have personally been to. When we lived there they would start the parade with fighter jets zooming over the parade route. It had plenty of interesting floats and it passed by at a clip that didn’t make it boring.  People would start putting down blankets and chairs to hold their spots a day or two in advance. We didn’t know if people still did this so we took a chance and went down. We saw plenty of saved spots with tarps and blankets and chairs however, after a while we were surprised at the lack of people showing up.  We got there at 11am, hadn’t eaten much and was approaching noon when we thought the parade started. So we sat and still we were amazed at the lack of people. Finally I look up the time again on my phone and find out, the parade doesn’t start for another hour!

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Waiting for the parade that would never come

Well, we abandoned that idea cause we also wanted to visit the Science Museum this day and we were getting hungry. We ate at Leeann-Chin which used to be a quick staple of ours. Nothing special but it was good quick food that we no longer have where we live.

Off to the Science Museum we went. I love those types of museums. I could spend the whole day there trying the different experiments and trying to figure out how they work and the meaning behind them. My girls, they aren’t quite as curious as I am, so I had to look at things quicker than I wanted. The Science Museum has 5 floors to explore from Weather (My Favorite) to how the human body works to even social sciences.

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They had a slice of the human body there. People of course donate their body for science and in this exhibit they cut the body into I believe 1/8 inch slices.  In the photo to the left you can clearly tell in the slice that this person had a brain hemorage (the black spot in the brain) and is probably what killed him or her. Other than that you can see sinus cavities, the tongue, spine…it’s amazing to me, hope it doesn’t grose you out.

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Above is a view from the balcony of the Science Museum and the Mississippi River that runs by it.

That night we took a 45 minute walk from our hotel to the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis and waited for the fireworks display. We heard it was supposed to be set to Prince music and there were supposed to be some really cool purple fireworks. We could not believe the crowd. There were thousands and it made it hard to walk or find a place to sit so you could watch the display. We found a sloped area with a few rocks but we brought a blanket with. All I could think about though is if a terrorist wanted to do something bad, here’s where they’d do it. Especially in the middle of the humongously large lines to the bathrooms. I did think however, given where we were sitting, we would have been protected.  So sad you have to think about that type of stuff now.

So a 45 minute walk, an hour wait for the show to start and…..

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POOF! It was done. 15 Minutes. No lie. No music, no special purple fireworks. Now we had another 45 minute walk back. So of the two hours total this excursion was, only 15 minutes of it were the reason we did it in the first place. That’s a mere 12.5% of the time. I’ve watched better fireworks displays in Lincoln, ND which is a little town just on the outskirts of Bismarck. That place looks like a battlefield on the Fourth-of-July and the displays are fantastic!

But I digress.  Kaitlyn looked out the window to watch was going on outside for a while and we all turned in for the night. Adele was tomorrow!

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Pre-Concert Activities

This morning we went to the Angel Food Bakery which was just upstairs from Hell’s Kitchen.

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As you can see, there were so many good things to try. One of the girls tried a peanut butter cupcake which was heavenly.  Heather tried a scone which was very good and I am not a scone person. I had to try an old fashioned glazed doughnut just to see how it tasted. I’ve tasted many other glazed doughnuts before so now I have something to compare it to. My doughnut was just OK compared to others. I will say however, that the other delights the girls had were really quite delicious.

Later we went to Minnehaha Falls.  This is a great area and I would recommend this area if you are looking to spend a day at the park. You can rent bikes or bikes for 2, 3, or a peddle surrey for four or five! We rented one of those big ones where four can peddle and one can just sit there and let me tell you, on that hot and humid day when really it was only my wife and I peddling and then sort of Kaitlyn and the fourth person couldn’t do much, I was sweating like a pig. I had to change shirts when I was done with that it was so bad.  It didn’t help we were out of shape either. Even with the smallish hills we had to climb, sometimes we had to get out to push it up the hill.  It was funny but tiring.

IMG_6959 Then there is the Falls itself.  It is so pretty in the summer time as you can see.. IMG_6961 IMG_6965

but here’s a tip, go in the winter time when the falls is frozen over. Now that is a neat sight to see.

Another tip, on the south side of the river, there is a trail that takes you back into the woods.  Follow that trail and you will cross a bridge and an area that opens up to trees everywhere and the water slows down to an shallow area that slowly flows further down stream. Here people kick off their shoes and walk around in the cool waters which is perfect on the hot, humid days. People let their dogs run around and people are throwing the ball or frisbee. It is a nice place to get away.

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So we haven’t eaten lunch and we figure on having something that is past lunch but before dinner so we go to St. Paul and eat at Cosetta’s.  The food was very good and there was so much to choose from. You walked with a tray and there different stations with pasta, pizza, sandwiches and more. The place is very big so you should not have a problem finding a spot to sit on most days. I don’t know if it was cause we were so hungry by this time but we all enjoyed our meals.

We checked into the Embassy Suites Hilton in St. Paul.So this hotel is different for this region of the country. It has some very well lit sky lights with plants and a water feature and fish. It makes it seem as though the roof was open. In fact, because it was so hot and humid this day, you would have thought the top was open cause it was warm in this plaza part of the hotel. This place is also nice because late in the afternoon it offers free snacks from popcorn to nachos and other small appetizers. My one complaint was the staff. They didn’t seem overly eager to help with things. They were nice checking-in but if you needed something extra, you may not get it. My wife was looking for pool towels and there were none. So she went to tell someone at the front desk and no one ever came. There is a sign that says, “No wet swim suites in the elevator. Please use a towel.” So Heather waited and waited and said something to someone else and he said she should tell the front desk. Well she had already tried that and no one came. Finally she said, “screw it” and took the girls up the elevator soaking wet. By the time we left, the water was still on the floor of the elevator and there were still no towels in the pool area, Heather made sure to check before we left.

Time For ADELE!!!!!!

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As we were getting ready, Ella sent an Instagram to Adele’s Instagram account that simply said, “Good Luck Tonight!” There was a reply from a fake Adele account that said, “Thanks!” Well, she thought it was real and broke down crying.
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We didn’t have the heart to tell her it wasn’t real.

So a storm was coming, doors at the Xcel Energy Center opened at 6 PM and the hotel offered a bus ride to the Xcel starting at 5 PM and my radar was saying the storm should reach the area before 5:30 so we had to make a decision of when to go. The girls decided to go right at 5 and I took off a few minutes before them. I had a three block walk right up the street to the light rail. I waited a few minutes and off I went and the light rail was heading right into the storm. I was getting texts from the girls about their route. They got there and were allowed at least into the lobby of the Xcel Center, in fact, I believe because of the storm coming, they opened the doors at 5:30 already. I head into the storm and this becomes my view  20160705_175637

Below is their, not so awesome but really excited anyway because they are there-view.

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The screen on the left is double-sided and her eyes are shut. Right when the concert starts you suddenly hear Adele sing…..”HELLO” and the eyes on the screen finally open and she slowly comes up from the bottom. Somewhere there is a dark video of the girls just screaming when she says this one word and you hear Ella bawling because she is so happy.

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Heather said it was probably the best concert she has ever been to. She does not dance and fly around the stage but she is personable and seems like “A person I could sit down and have a drink with” was what my wife said. There were things said that I wouldn’t do any justice writing about so you will have to simply take my wife and kids’ word that it was awesome, or go see for yourself.

Meanwhile at the ballgame…..

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I was hoping they would just cancel the game, but they didn’t. So I thought, “The Twins are the worst team in baseball. They will be losing and I will leave half-way through so I’ll stick it out and wait to see at least some of the game.” The game didn’t start until 9:50 and the Twins were in the lead the whole…God…Dang…Time! The game didn’t end until 1 AM and I still had to take the 50 minute ride back to St. Paul and my phone had died. The last text I sent my wife was almost 1 AM and I said, “I am about to leave for the train”.

LOST

So I get on the light rail and head back to St. Paul and get off at the stop I am pretty sure I originally got on at. I start walking down 10th St., the street I thought I came up on when I got on and I am very confused because I should be able to see the damn hotel. It’s now 2 AM. IN the middle of St. Paul. I AM LOST WITHOUT MY PHONE. SHIT!!!!! The first thing that runs through my head is….I got off at the wrong stop.

So I start jogging down a street.

I stop at an Emergency Room entrance and no one is in the entrance so I ring the buzzer.

“Can I help you?” the person on the other end says.

“I’m lost, I am looking for the Embassy Suites hotel!”

 

“There is no hotel in the hospital,” The person says.

“I KNOW THAT! I am LOST and am looking for directions to the Embassy Suites.”

“You go west a block and a half and then go south a block then west 3 blocks.”

I am getting very frustrated now because no one is coming down to help me but rather opting to speak through this damn speaker. I say to them, “I am not from around here, I have no idea what direction is south or west.”

They try to explain it to me using left and right, never opting to come down to talk to me. So I leave and start jogging based on the directions but I get turned around. It doesn’t look right to me so I stop and try different directions.

I am constantly jogging and I am not in shape AT ALL, but I keep jogging because adrenaline has taken over. I am nervous and clearly look like a tourist. At times I turn and see some people that I don’t want to run into so I stop and go a different direction.

I stop a street sweeper and cabby in trying to figure out how to get back and see a group of 3 people sitting outside a bar that has now closed but they are still there having fun. They finally get me back to the light rail station that I got off of and it FINALLY HITS ME!!!!!! Stupid me, when I got off the light rail, I went southwest and I should have went northeast. I went the wrong direction off the light rail. I find 10th St. again, this time go down the street the right way from the light rail and I see it immediately. I had been jogging around for nearly an hour in the middle of the night. My wife is up because she is nervous that I am not back yet. I am pissed at myself for doing this. It is now 3 AM and we have to be on the road early but I am sweaty and over-hyped and am in no mood to sleep so I take a cold shower and calm down and try to get some sleep. Try.

Head for Home

So we head for home the next day. It has been a lot of fun seeing some of the old places we would visit when we lived there. It ended with an hour of terror as I tried to find my way back to the hotel in the middle of the night.

The Hilton in Minneapolis was nice and the employees were friendly when you asked them a question but the didn’t look like they enjoyed their jobs. The hotel was very nice I thought however and everything looked to be properly up kept. The Embassy in St. Paul was nice and different but the employees weren’t overly helpful when you needed something.

When in Minneapolis there are so many things to see and do.We only did a fraction of things but we went back to what we really enjoyed and did things we knew we could make memories doing. We sure do miss living there. Maybe someday we’ll move back.

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