Notes from a Minnesota road trip, Week Four

'You're Gonna Make It After All'

The exterior of the Walker Art Center. It's filled mainly with American art from the 1940s to the 1970s. I enjoyed the paintings -- particularly a Georgia O'Keeffe barn and an Edward Hopper (I've included photos of both here), but the organization of the place was very confusing. Photo by Mark Baker.
This Google screenshot shows the route of my 30-day research trip through Wisconsin and Minnesota. I began and ended the trip in Minneapolis, first heading southeast and then north through Wisconsin and then from northern Minnesota back south to Minneapolis-St Paul. (And lots of other places here and there).
My Airbnb was in Minneapolis's Uptown district, where I ended up spending the most time. It took a while to warm up to Minneapolis (after hearing lots of positive hype), but by the end of the week I started to get into it. Photo by Mark Baker.
A view of downtown Minneapolis as seen from one of those over-street walkways of the city's incredible Skyway system. Photo by Mark Baker.
Lake "Bde Maka Ska" (say beh-DAY' mah-KAH' skah), the former Lake Calhoun, was just a short ramble from my Airbnb on Lake St. Photo by Mark Baker.
It seems like Bob Dylan has been following me for the entire trip -- and I'm not even really much of a fan. This is a larger-than-life mural in downtown Minneapolis. Photo by Mark Baker.
Good luck trying to figure out the pretzel logic of Minneapolis's Skyway system that connects most of the main buildings downtown. I can see where it would definitely come in handy from October to May. Photo by Mark Baker.
The view of the unique Bryant-Lake Bowl, which was across the street from my Airbnb in Uptown. A great restaurant and theater complex -- and yes, still a bowling alley! Photo by Mark Baker.
The IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis, the epicenter of the city's Skyway (or at least as near to a center as I could find). Photo by Mark Baker.
One of the many night-time rambles I took while I was here in Minneapolis. On this particular night, the clouds were hanging low in the sky and U.S. Bank Stadium looked like a big green barn. Photo by Mark Baker.
My daytime rambles almost always took me through Loring Park, and this pretty lake, on my way downtown. Photo by Mark Baker.
One of my favorite murals. This one is in Uptown, near the corner of Lake St and S Bryant Ave. Photo by Mark Baker.
Glam Doll Donuts on "Eat Street" (aka Nicolett Ave). Photo by Mark Baker.
Never had the chance to try the breakfast, but I liked the old sign. Photo by Mark Baker.
This retro theater and cultural center is now in the heart of the city's main Somali neighbborhood. Photo by Mark Baker.
Like Bob Dylan, Edward Hopper is another name that's been haunting me on this trip. This painting was from the Walker Art Center. Photo by Mark Baker.
See the Hopper in this? Photo by Mark Baker.
My favorite picture from the Walker Art Center was this painting of a barn in upstate New York by Georgia O'Keeffe. Photo by Mark Baker.
Two girls take a break to admire yet another disturbing painting by David Hockney at the Walker Art Center. Photo by Mark Baker.
One of my first meals in town was a 'Juicy Lucy' at Matt's Bar & Grill in South Minneapolis. It's essentially a cheeseburger but the cheese is injected into the meat (not placed on top). I eventually recovered. Photo by Mark Baker.
At Matt's, I was dining out with an old friend, Alex, from the Prague Post. It was great to catch up with him over a "Juicy Lucy." Photo by Mark Baker.
Just a random street shot from downtown Minneapolis heading over toward the Warehouse District. Photo by Mark Baker.
Wandering around in the Cedarwood-Riverside neighborhood not far from downtown. Photo by Mark Baker.
A glimpse of downtown on a stroll from the Walker Art Center. Photo by Mark Baker.
The LynLake Brewery, one of around 100 tap rooms around town, was hopping on my visit. Photo by Mark Baker.
The rooftop drinking area of the LynLake Brewery had an actual ring of fire. I could see myself hanging out here. Photo by Mark Baker.
One morning I traveled over to St Paul to meet another old friend from the Prague Post, Monte. He suggested we meet for breakfast at the Uptowner, a great old diner with amazing hashbrowns. Photo by Mark Baker.
On a walk through St Paul. I didn't get the chance to eat here, but it looks like a classic '60s' steakhouse -- my kind of place. Photo by Mark Baker.
On one evening, I had dinner with my old Lonely Planet colleague (and LP Romania co-author) Leif and his girlfriend, Liz. He suggested we try Somali food and that's what we did. This is his enormous plate of food. Photo by Mark Baker.
The view of the Mississippi River and the falls from the Stone Arch Bridge that crosses the river from downtown over to the University of Minnesota on the other side. Photo by Mark Baker.
A view of St Paul's historic Irvine Park neighborhood. St Paul is filled with really beautiful homes. People here sometimes say: "date Minneapolis but marry St Paul" and I can see why. Photo by Mark Baker.
Beautiful old houses in St Paul's historic Irvine Park district. Photo by Mark Baker.
A lone hotel standing in the neighborhood between Loring Park and downtown. Photo by Mark Baker.
A cool '60s high-rise in downtown Minneapolis. These buildings always look right off the drawing board and take me back to those optimistic post-war decades. Not sure I would enjoy living here. Photo by Mark Baker.
Just another pretty neighborhood, this one close to my Airnbnb in the Uptown district. Visiting a city always brings out the inner real-estate agent in me. I wonder how much these babies cost? (And how many books I'd have to write to buy one?) Photo by Mark Baker.
The best thing about Minneapolis (much better than the weather) is all of the cycling trails. This one stretches out for miles along an abandoned-converted railroad corridor. Photo by Mark Baker.
At Minneapolis St Paul International Airport and ready to fly back to Ohio (via Pittsburgh). This research trip is a wrap!

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About the author

Mark Baker

I’m an independent journalist and travel writer who’s lived in Central Europe for more than two decades. I love the history, literature, culture, and mystery of this often-overlooked corner of Europe, and I make my living writing articles and guidebooks about the region. Much of what I write eventually finds its way into commercial print or digital outlets, but a lot of it does not.

That's my aim with this travel website: to find a space for stories and experiences that fall outside the publishing mainstream.

You’ll find a mix of stories here. Some will be familiar “what to see and do” travel articles on particular destinations. Others will be tales of “adventure” (usually with a comic twist) from life on the road. I'll also share tips about living in my adopted hometown of Prague and stories from a more-distant (but seemingly ever-present) past, when Central Europe was the “Eastern bloc” and I was a full-time journalist trying my best to cover it. I hope you enjoy.

Tales of Travel & Adventure in Central Europe
Mark Baker