Minnesota’s Twin Cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul

When my US visa was granted and plans to visit the USA were looking quite possible, that’s when it struck me that I had never traveled that far. Our KLM flight from New Delhi to Minneapolis was to stop at Schipol, Amsterdam, and I couldn’t be any less excited.

The Schipol airport at Amsterdam was beautiful, in one word. Huge in comparison to the Indira Gandhi International airport, it was the only other international airport I had seen in my life.

There are a variety of shops in Schipol and one can shop using US dollars as well; only they give you the change in guilders. You can get dollars exchanged, but that’s only advisable if you plan to shop a lot, which we didn’t.

After a four and a half hour stoppage, we boarded a Northwest flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where my sister was staying. The first thing that caught my eye after landing was the enormity of everything; the parking lot in at least five floors, the wide roads and the lack of populace making it seem bigger.

Minneapolis , the City of Lakes; and the Capital City of Saint Paul, located thirteen miles from one another along the majestic Mississippi river, have become known over the years as the Twin Cities. Although they are each interestingly unique, they both do share spectacular neighborhoods with homes of fascinatingly diverse and pleasing architecture; a multitude of postcard quality scenes of lakes, parkways, gardens, river valleys and skylines; rich histories; vibrant city centers; and such an amazing tranquility, that you are more likely to hear a loon call than a horn honk.

Minneapolis sustains a more modern hi-tech image, focused on buildings and progress, whereas St. Paul conveys a more ethnic historic background, similar in many ways to European cities. As befitting the “City of Lakes”, the boundaries of Minneapolis encompass 22 lakes. There are five clear blue lakes in a row along the west side Minneapolis: Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, and Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.

The average monthly temperatures in the Twin Cities range from -11 to 23 degrees centigrade, with December to February being the coldest, and June to August being the hottest months.

There are loads of places to see, especially if it happens to be your first visit to the US, like it was for us. The best way to get anywhere is to buy a map and rent a car, we had my sister to drive us around, so we only had to buy the map.

Minnehaha Falls, or the ’Laughing Waters’ falls translated literally from the Dakota Indian tongue, is the name given to this cataract plunging 53 feet in Minnehaha Park in South Minneapolis. This scenic waterfall is 16 feet high and several hundred yards wide. This area has been designated part of the Minnehaha Historic District and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

On a small island just above the falls rests Jacob Fjelde’s bronze statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, who were the subject of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha”, published in 1855.

Opened in 1905, Minnesota’s Capitol Building represents a fine example of Italian Renaissance Architecture. Designed by Cass Gilbert, a famous American architect, its cost was $4.5 million. Critics praised the Capitol’s huge marble dome, self supporting staircase and a richly decorated interior.