Day two in MN (wait, there’s more to do in MN?)

Some people might think, what are you going to do in little Minnesota on day two? Well let me tell you, there’s a lot to do. We woke up early Friday morning because I had work, and Melissa went with me. I actually got to leave work early, and I drove to the Walker Art Center with Melissa. Once we parked the car, we again consulted trusty Yelp to decide on a lunch spot. I’d been to Namaste Cafe before, and along with their yelp reviews, that’s where we decided to go for lunch. We walked the 20 minutes from the Walker to Namaste, and passed by the cool shops in Uptown. Uptown is a trendy spot in the lakes are of Minnneapolis. Once at our lunch spot, we chose a place to sit on the porch. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Namaste, it’s a house someone bought, and turned into a restaurant. Namaste is a cute, and cozy resturant with a great Uptown location near the Walker Art Center. Once settled into our seats, we ordered a cup of chai. I went with a soy sea salt caramel chai (say that five times fast!) and Melissa went with a soy vanilla nutmeg. Both came shortly after we placed our order, and every time I’ve been to Namaste, their cups of chai have never disappointed me. They have a wide variety of unique flavors, but it’s the froth and smoothness that gets me.

The nice thing about Namaste is they have a lunch menu with daily specials, which we ordered from. I got Friday’s Creamy Masala Fish, and Melissa got the Coconut Tofu. The lunch portions at Namaste are huge! If you are into desert, I’d recommend ordering the creme brule as an appetizer – life is short eat desert first. I normally leave that for the end, but am full by the time I get around to even think about consuming dessert. Don’t make my mistake, because the brule is lovely.


We had spent so much time conversing, eating, and drinking that we lost track of time. We decided to Uber back to Walker to save on time. Walker Art Centyer is a modern art museum and for an adult cost $14.00 to enter. Right now, the Walker Art Center has the Merce Cunningham exhibit. Mindful that we had to meet family at Dragon City Cafe for dinner, we had to rush through six exhibits in two hours. It’s not the best way to visit the Walker Art Center, but we made it through four  exhibits.


The exhibit was overwhelming in the best way possible. There were numerous costumes to admire, and huge walls of backdrop. They also had footage of the dances throughout the floors which I really appreciated watching. I enjoyed how the exhibit made it accessible, in my opinion to non-dancers, and how Merce Cunningham’s process was explained. The exhibit mention the famous Black Mountain College, and Melissa and I about a year ago were at the Hammer Museum in L.A. and had learned about the college together previously. Was it fate? or a mere coincidence? 


Regardless, it’s safe to say Melissa and I are compatible travel partners. Extremely cheesy, but it’s not everyday you have a cousin, friend, and travel companion rolled into one!!

Our time at the museum was up, so we headed over to visit my Grandma at the restaurant. Once at the restaurant we got a surprise!! More aunts than we had anticipated joined us for dinner. Two of our cousins came and joined us for dinner as well and we ate so much food. Basically, Melissa and I decided we wanted to eat our way through Minnesota.


Now, we had some big decisions to be made. What exactly were we going to do now that we’ve eaten dinner with my relatives? We all decided we needed coffee and made our way to a local coffee shop call Blue Moon Cafe. Blue Moon Cafe is a local coffee shop within walking distance of Dragon City Cafe. You can play scrabble, and if you go during the day, they have a record shop attatched. Outside of the Blue Moon on the corner, is a poetry book birdhouse. You heard me right, a birdhouse, for books. The idea is you take one, and leave one if you have a book readily avaiable. They are sprinkled throughout Minneapolis and it’s cute to see how different home owners chose to decorate their book houses. Now, not all of them are poetry, just the one outside of Blue Moon.

The final destination of the evening: Can Can Wonderland!

I’ve been to Can Can Wonderland once for a work party and I was pretty excited to be back. For those outside Minnesota, you must be wondering, what the heck is Can Can Wonderland? Well, Can Can Wonderland is located in the lovely city of St. Paul inside an old canning factory.  In addition to Can Can Wonderland, the old factory houses the BlackStack Brewery, Theatre Mu, Visat Bule, and numerous artists quarters – yes, it’s a hip place to hang out.

Can Can has an indoor mini-golf course, pinball machines, magicians, and karoke – lots of fun stuff. Be warned, if you go on a Friday evening like we did, you will most likely wait at least an hour to play mini-golf. We sat at the bar, and watched karaoke. Not only does this place have pin ball machines and mini golf, they also have karaoke. Yes, the wait was long, but it was worth it! When you get to playing mini golf, it’s a riot! We didn’t keep score, which I think made it better. All of the 18 holes were created by different artists – each hole was quirky and unique.

Full from lunch and dinner, everyone in the group got drinks. Can Can Wonderland has creative beverages and food. All of the beer they sell is from Minnesota breweries. They have vegan and vegetarian food options which I liked very much.


We stayed out until at least midnight, and ended up binge watching Riverdale on Netflix once we got back home. After a full Friday, we had an even busier, and early Saturday planned.

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Playing tourist in my State, day one of five. (Ooftda)

I knew my cousin Melissa, from California was coming to visit Minnesota during Memorial day weekend, and had known for about three weeks. A day before she arrives the panic finally begins. What the heck am I going to show someone who grew up in the Bay Area, and spent the last four years of her life living in L.A.?
Now, Melissa had previously been to MN to visit, but had been with her parents, and siblings. In fact, a little over a year ago, I had arrived in L.A. to visit her at UCLA and stayed in California as her, and her family’s guest for a month. We had so much fun, and there was so much to do and see in L.A., and San Francisco. Now, I love Minnesota but it just doesn’t seem to have that cool flair.
So here’s a recap of day one. On day one my brother and I picked our cousin up from the airport and promptly headed towards our family owned restaurant. We hung out at Dragon City Cafe, where my Grandma and Aunts stuffed us with homemade American Chinese cuisine. With round bellys Melissa and I turned to Yelp to help us pick a coffee shop as all three of us needed a caffeine fix. Yelp brought us to Black Waffle and Coffee Shop in St. Paul. Melissa and I decided to walk over the Lake Street Bridge that separates Minneapolis and Saint Paul; Melissa crossed over the Mississippi river for the first time! We had an impromptu photo shoot on the bridge, and being coffee deprived, sluggishly moved towards our destination. My brother, being wise and tired drove and waited for us while we goofed off. Once at Black Coffee and Waffle, with mocha’s in hand we sat and chatted while telling Melissa of our daily goals, two which we just completed, family restaurant and coffee. Next, we wanted to show her Highland Park, then Minnehaha Falls, and lastly, showing her the Longfellow Park neighborhood. In reality, my brother and I wanted to stop over at Mother Earth Gardens to pet the cute cat, Peaches.
Looking back and thinking about that day makes me tired! So now the question, what to do in Highland Park? First stop: Half Priced Books. My brother and I had some stuff we wanted to sell anyways, and I knew Melissa liked to read. It was also by Patina’s so I thought it would be a fun store to show her with all the MN trinkets. After looking at books and trinkets, we headed to our next sight to see on the list: Minnehaha Falls.
At Minnehaha Falls, the first thing my brother and I noticed after we parked was the fact that the Sea Salt Eatery had a non-existent line. Excitedly, my brother and I tell her how rare this is, and how we’ve stood outside for at least an hour in the summer heat for their seafood, that’s how delicious their seafood tastes. Just like that we were in line ordering a shrimp po boy to share along with an order of clam fries. Let me tell you, the food didn’t disappoint. The Po boy was spicy and all the seafood tasted fresh. Now, with even more rounded bellies we trekked along the falls and took some pictures, and eventually went down the stairs. We walked around for about an hour, and by that time our parking slot ran out so we headed back to the car. We spent around two hours at the Falls.
Minnesota has horrible traffic right now, so we opted to check out my favorite gardening store, and I’m amazed I didn’t buy a plant. Instead we browsed around and petted the cat. We finally got home at around 7:00pm. We even had plans to go out and drink in uptown, but once we put the face masks on it was game over. We were both exhausted, happy, full, and ready to turned in for an early evening.

Unexpectedly, Mexico

Sometimes, life doesn’t go exactly as planned. Right now, I’m supposed to be in Toronto, Canada, but instead I’m waiting for a flight to Mexico. From Minnesota, my two friends Fru, Matt, and myself drove 14 hours straight to get to the Ontario boarder, only to find out they couldn’t enter. Instead of admitting defeat and returning home we decided to go ahead with our trip. We watched flights on the app hopper, and on kayak.com. We saw an opportunity, bought plane tickets, booked a hostel, and cancelled our hostel reservations we had in Canada. Now, we are waiting at the Chicago O’Hare airport waiting to board our flight. By 6:00pm tomorrow, we will be in Puerto Vallarta, staying at the oasis hostel. But first, one whole day in Mexico City. 

Macqueripe, and Asa Wright Nature Center Adventure 

Two days ago I was driven to Macqueripe beach. I spent most of the day there, swimming by myself. It was very calm, and relaxing. Macqueripe doesn’t have a very strong current. I swam pretty far out to sea a couple of times. At Macqueripe, you can go zip lining, but I decided not to do partake in that activity. Instead, I swam out to an old cement skeleton frame. I climbed up slippery rocks, and onto a platform. Then, I had to maneuver up two more cement platforms. The third platform was my destination. It was very high, and I was nervous, but I’m so glad I jumped. I touched the bottom of the ocean, and propelled myself up. I felt exhilarated and, a little upset I had given up swimming.  

I could’ve pulled myself up by the rope, grabbed the beam, and gotten on the platforms that way. I decided I didn’t have enough arm strength. 

Yesterday, I went to the National Museum and Art Gallery. If you love art, and history, go! I learned so much. Did you know Trinidad broke off from Venezuela, which means it used to be a part of South America. Trinidad and Tobago is a new Country. They gained their freedom from Great Britain in August 31st, 1962. 

Here I am, in front of the museum. 


I enjoyed my time. Learning about the history, and seeing the artwork great. It was a nice switch from the ocean, because I was sore from all the swimming. 

Now today, we went to the Asa Wright Nature Center. One of my favorite activities!  First of all, I had an amazing cup of coffee. While on the walking tour, our guide informed us that the coffee was from the center. The last private owner, Asa Wright lived at the center until her death. Her one condition for handing over her land was to have it be kept as a conservation center. It used to be solely for research. Now, the house is open for inexpensive tours. My guide was very lovely, and she answered any questions we had. The tour for residents cost 30 TTD, and for non-residents, it was 60 TTD. I highly suggest taking this tour if you ever visit Trinidad and Tobago. Now, for the pictures! 


There are 17 different hummingbird species on Trinidad and Tobago. I took most of my pictures before or after our hour long tour. I wanted to be in the moment, and forget about my phone. Tomorrow is my last day in Trinidad and Tobago. I’ll be sad to leave, but I’ll journey around my home state. I think I know where, and what my next trip will be. However, I won’t say until it’s set in stone, so stay tuned!

Cake, coffee, and the ocean 

Jamal and I had visited Tablespoon Coffee and Dessert House two days ago. An intimate and cozy coffee house, with lots of options. You can order pizza, sandwiches, different types of coffee, and of course dessert. I went with a caramel latte, and a small chocolate cake. We had slept in pretty late, and I was craving something sweet. The cake was moist, and had warm fudge on the inside. My latte was sweet, with a decent amount of foam, as you can see. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience, and the service I received.

Yesterday, Jamal, his mom, and I went dress shopping in the early morning. I had packed very few clothes, and wanted one more article of clothing. I love dresses, and you’ll hardly see me in jeans. I figured it’d be the easiest thing to shop for as well. I had a really fun time, and afterwards we all went to Maracas Bay Beach again. 

 


Misadventure at Mermaid Pool, and tea time. 

A few days ago, I was informed that Jamal, his friends, and I would go to Mermaid Pool. Now, Mermaid Pool sounded like my six year old dreams of becoming Ariel were finally coming true. I had expressed googling Mermaid Pool but was told by a local not to bother, because it wasn’t popular enough, and wouldn’t show up. Naively, I believed that answer, with visions of floating in a majestic pool floated around in my head. Not googling the location was a mistake. Next time, I’m just gonna google our adventure spot anyways, and not get caught up in the grandeur of a name. I thought we would drive to a location, park, walk maybe 15 minutes, and get to our location. Get ready for a painfully funny trip.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. First of all, I wore a bikini, with a skirt, Birkenstocks, and a crop top. Don’t make my mistake. Wear water shoes that double up as hiking shoes. I wish I would’ve worn my Victoria’s Secret sport shorts with body wicking technology, and a tank top. Within the first 10 minutes of the hike, I lost my footing a fell backwards. I felt fear like you wouldn’t believe. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type three means I have loose joints. I was sure something popped out of place. Nothing did, but I began to have a migraine. It starts out in between my shoulders, and creeps up into my neck, and into my eyes.

We had a local, one of Jamal’s friends be our guide. He grew up in the area. Now, we ended up attempting to get to Mermaid Pool walking upstream through the river. It was extreme for me. I ended up going barefoot and put my skirt and top in the backpack we brought. It was physically demanding for me, and I asked the group to turn around. Going up current, with uneven ground hurt. I fell several times, and each time was worried I had broken or sprained something. Luckily, I didn’t, which is a miracle.

I can’t tell you how scared I was to speak up to a group of able bodied men in their 20’s. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they took my request to leave.They asked questions, and didn’t make me feel bad, or shame me for not being able to continue. I had help all along the way, with everyone doing their best to make sure I wouldn’t tumble. Everyone in the group was such a gentlemen, and even though we went the hard way, and didn’t make it to the pool, I had a good time. 

However, for me the experience was embarrassing. It’s hard not being able to do something at 23. I’m in what’s supposed to be my prime years. I am thankful that I made it as far as I did. I’m proud that I knew when to speak up and turn back. Two days later, and I’m still hurting. I’ve been taking it slow, and listening to my body. It’s all about managing my pain, and listening. Here are the three pictures I snapped on our adventure. 


Yesterday, we went to Dianne’s tea shop, located in Port Au Spain. I loved the tea shop! I had great service and food. I ordered the signature Dianne. It came with earl grey tea, three finger sandwiches, a red velvet cup cake, a scone, and a mini coconut cake. I was in heaven. I also ordered mineral water. Everything in total, including the tip was 200 TTD. Which is equivalent to 32 Amwrican dollars. It was worth the experience. 

Afterwards we headed to the Royal Botanical Garden. Which was alright, but nothing impressive. 


Overall, I had a good time, through all the falls. Now I can say I trekked upstream through a river. Trinidad is really great place, with pleasant people. 

Scarlet Ibis, the National bird of Trinidad. 

The Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus ruber, is a bird that can be found in the Caribbean islands. It’s a vibrant red, with black tips on their wings. 1962 is when is Scarlet Ibis was proclaimed the National bird of Trinidad.


This is the best picture I got of the Ibis, in action. I only brought my iPhone to take photos during this trip. It truly is a breathtaking sight to behold. To see the Ibis, one has to travel to Caroni Swamp. In Caroni, the population is several thousand. You have to call in advance to book a seat on the tour. You will get placed in a boat with several other people and a wonderful guide. The tour cost 60 TTD or about 10 American dollars. Bring bug spray, and arrive 30 minutes before the tour starts. It begins at 4:00pm and ends at 6:30pm. 

The swamp has a vast biodiversity, and it was an amazing experience to see a variety of ecosystems. Spot the boa constrictor! 


Up close and personal with an alligator. 

 Scenic boat tour. 

Overall, I had a lovely time, and highly recommend this tour if you visit Trinidad. Trinidad is a beautiful country, and it was a treat seeing the National bird in its habitat. 

Pitch lake and Vessigny beach. A day in pictures. 

Pitch lake is located in La Brea, which is in the southwestern part of Trinidad. 

It’s home to the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, out of three. Pitch lake is considered the 8th natural wonder of the world. 

Jamal and I walked around with a knowledgable guide. I’d advise against walking the lake without one. Pitch lake is estimated to be 76 meters deep. The tour cost 30TTD for me, that’s the equivalent to six American dollars.

The tour lasted about an hour and a half. You could feel the heat rising up from the asphalt underneath you. Be sure to drink plenty of water beforehand.


The top of Pitch lake is called elephant skin. It can easily be peeled back, and visitors may take some asphalt home. Walking around the lake had a strong smell of sulfur in certain areas. Some areas were very soft.  

Afterwards, we cooled down at Vessigny beach. 

Maracas waterfall, and macqueripe beach. 

Jamal and I had a full day. After breakfast we headed to his friends house. We hung out for a bit, and then headed over to Maracas Bay Waterfall. We could’ve hiked the road to get to the hiking trail, but instead decided to drive. 

Once we got to the trail, we hopped out, except for one friend who decided not to join us. He ended up driving the car back to his apartment, and picked us up after the hike. 

Now, Maracas Waterfall is accessible through waterfall road. There will be signs up. The waterfall is located in Saint Joseph, Trinidad. The trail was stunning. Vibrant colors, and a variety of trees. There were so many shades of green, and beautiful flowers. It was overwhelming to my senses, in the best way possible.  The hike only took us about 20 minutes. It was an enjoyable, and easy hike. I was worried this would be hard for me. Maracas waterfall is 91.5 meters, or for my fellow Americans, 300 feet. Seeing Trinidad’s tallest waterfall was amazing. The paths was clear, but slippery because we went after a mid day storm. 


On we arrived at the waterfall, my eyes seemed to be playing a trick on me. Surely, this couldn’t be real. The water cascaded down beautifully. The area was so open, calm, and peaceful. I enjoyed every second. Our whole group decided to hangout underneath the waterfall. 

Afterwards, we hiked a path to a pond, with a long drop off. Now, this trail was intimidating. Firstly, I am not an experienced hiker, secondly, the trail was narrow, and thirdly it was still wet. It wasn’t long, and was worth all my worrying the way. 


Did I mention I’m scared of heights? 

Afterwards, Jamal and I did our own thing.

Last on our list: macqueripe beach. 


Today’s journey has come to an end.

30 by 30. My inspiration, and day two of Trinidad. 

Today, we didn’t do much. We ended up not going out last night, because I was feeling unwell. Today I feel much better, and we decided to run errands. 

For lunch, I ate potatoe roti, which had a lot of flavor. My potatoes were in a lentil sauce, and had a thin bread wrapped around the dish. I dug into my food during our car ride to buy some groceries. It was difficult to eat in a moving car, and I’m proud to say I didn’t spill on my dress

After we ran some errands, Jamal picked up a friend, and we went to Trin City Mall. Trin City Mall happens to be the biggest mall in the Caribbean. We walked around, and I bought a caramel latte from Coffee Beanery, which reminded me of Starbucks. 

The first night in Trinidad I got bitten by a mosquito. I’m allergic to mosquito bites, and my left hand is still puffy.

 

Now, onto my inspiration. I have a girlfriend who’s nickname is Meech. We started out as co-workers a few years ago.  We slowly began to build a close friendship, and found out we both like to travel. One day, Meech brought up her travel goals. She said her goal was to hit 27 Countries by the time she was 30. This got the wheels turning in my head. I began to count up all the Countries I had already visited. I thought about my health issues, and tried to think up a number. Meech expressed traveling through Europe together. Suddenly, my wheels clicked together. 30 by 30 sounded catchy. 30 by 30 sounded doable for someone who was chronically ill. Thus, the idea was born. Meech has been there for me through a lot, and I know I can always count on her. She has a free spirit, and inspires me to see more. Without her, I wouldn’t have this goal. So, thank you Meech. 

From left to right, Sara, Julia’s Journey, and Meech.