Feb142014

Chillin’ Minneapolis for Valentine’s Day

A hot winter day in California is not the type of weather conditions you would think create flight delays. Basically, yesterday was like summer weather in coastal California. My flight was delayed from Monterey to San Francisco due to fog. Typically fog delays are more of a summer months issue.

I learned from experience to route myself from Monterey to LAX after missing a couple of international connections over the years. I try and avoid the Monterey to SFO flights. More than once I have simply driven my car to SFO to catch a flight when the 20 minute flight out of Monterey will not fly due to fog.

LAX was not a flight option at the ticket price I purchased last month for MRY-MSP.

Monterey was gorgeous weather when I left home.

Half Moon Bay

View of Half Moon Bay, California. Maverick’s big wave surf competition was held off the point two weeks ago.

What should have been a 20-minute flight ended up taking 3.5 hours to reach San Francisco. It was like a Gilligan’s Island air cruise with a stopover in Sacramento.

San Francisco aerial

San Francisco was mostly in sunshine, however, the airport is located on the Bay under the foggy skies.

SFO was a mess upon arrival and my United flight to Minneapolis had left an hour before I arrived. Fortunately, I had been given a backup booking on Delta at 8:30am when I checked in at Monterey Airport.

There were about 100 people waiting in line at UA customer service, so I went directly to Delta Airlines check-in and picked up my boarding pass for a 3:00pm flight to Minneapolis. I arrived in Minneapolis at 8:30pm, about 2.5 hours later than originally scheduled.

My checked bag did not make the flight with me.

Fortunately, I had my parka and gloves with me. The temperature was 10 F. degrees when I arrived.

First Impressions of Minneapolis

An airport with a light rail train to downtown in 25 minutes for $1.75.

So European.

The guy working the airport information kiosk asked me if I was sure I wanted to take the light rail into town. Why wouldn’t I want to travel for $1.75 rather than paying for a shuttle or taxi or Uber?

First impressions would indicate Minneapolis is primarily a city of blacks and Asians. The 50 or so light rail passengers heading into downtown Minneapolis were fewer than 10% white and the passengers heading the other direction from the airport toward Mall of America were nearly all white. (Update: 2010 US Census gives racial profile of Minneapolis as 63.8% white, 18.6% African American; 10% Hispanic, 5.6% Asian and 2% Native American).

The light rail looked so clean and modern on the ride into the city.

Much of my time on the light rail was spent checking out people’s footwear. I do not have snow boots with me. Fortunately, the downtown sidewalks are clear of snow.

I have not been outside in the day time yet. In a few hours I will have many more impressions of the city.

Hotting up in the inner city

Upon exiting the light rail at Nicollet Mall Station, I crossed the street to pick up the bus.

I was standing inside a small bus stop kiosk, on the street alone, when suddenly someone asked me, “Is the heater not working?”

This white guy, who at first glance looked like a street vagabond, hit a button and heat lamps turned on overhead inside the kiosk. Immediately, my discomfort from a chill in my legs due to the cold air penetrating my skin through my jeans had some relief.

In ten minutes conversing with the local, I learned several interesting facts about the transportation infrastructure of Minneapolis/St. Paul and my new friend pointed out some pubs and restaurants from the bus that met his approval.

The one mile ride to the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis near the Convention Center on the bus was free with my light rail pass. The ticket is valid for transportation for 2.5 hours.

From the airport to the hotel was less than an hour for $1.75.

Exiting at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, I suddenly felt relieved at having made my way from California to Minnesota through one bad air travel day.

Walking into a top-floor hotel suite was pretty cool too.

Hyatt Minneapolis

This is like having an urban apartment for the weekend.

I feel like I should have a lonely Valentine’s Day party with all these empty seats in the house.

One of the things I love about being in a skyscraper in the city is looking out the window from bed at city lights. The view of Minneapolis outside was like watching TV with a multiple story light display on a neighboring skyscraper showing hearts in motion rising. The light show stayed on throughout the night.

Minneapolis hearts

Minneapolis is a heartwarming place, even if the air temperature is chilling to the bone.

Minneapolis Hearts closeup

Happy Valentine’s Day from Minneapolis.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. I live in Minneapolis for almost 10 years and this is an amazing place to live. People say that if we had San Diego weather there would be 10 million people living here instead of 3 million. Minneapolis is one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the US. People are nice and quality of life here is outstanding. We have a nice international airport with daily direct flights to Asia and Europe and you can fly almost anywhere non-stop in the US. Yes, it is very cold but people that live here don’t want to move to another place (well, maybe they would after this winter). Enjoy Minneapolis and come back in the summer. You will love it.

  2. Welcome to MSP, Rick!

    It is a balmy +14 outside right now. You should’ve been here a few weeks back for the high of -12 with plenty of wind chill.

    Coastal California this is not!

  3. That “neighboring skyscraper” is Target HQ. The images changes often.

    If you want a see some REAL interesting go back to where you got off the light rail at 2pm on Saturday. The Cupid Undie Run will be coming by on Nicollet right about them!

  4. It was -5 or so on Tuesday, so its actually warmed up quite a bit this week 🙂

    I’m actually stuck in Minneapolis for Valentine’s Day after my Thursday MSP-CLT cancelled and the earlier rebooking was Saturday morning. Fun times.

    Minneapolis has a strong craft beer scene with a number of breweries just north of the river. Looking forward to hitting a number of them tonight (Surly, the biggest name in town for craft beer, I’ve already been to).

  5. @MSPDeltaDude – Thanks for the info. I forgot to ask anyone today about the building.

    Cupid Undie Run is on my agenda. I’ll be a spectator.

    @Mike – Surly IPA was the first pint I tasted today. I read about a new punch card for 11 local microbreweries at a cost of about $3.50 per pint. My Surly IPA was $3 during the extensive happy hours at 508 Bar/Restaurant.

    I think I will be back there after the undie run.

    http://www.bar508.com/

  6. Ric, not sure if you’re going to do a full review of the Minneapolis Hyatt but I’d be interested in the state of the Regency club for breakfast and evening food. It’s a potential staycation spot for our family. The gym certainly looked more than adequate!

  7. @Brent – I will write up a full review of Minneapolis Hyatt. The Regency Club is the primary area that needs improvement. The concierges there are fantastic, however, the space is small and I did not find it too comfortable. Limited food selection. The living room of my suite is as large, perhaps even larger than the Regency Club.

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