Monday, December 26, 2016

White Christmas in St. Paul, Minnesota

I just spent four days with the in-laws in the Upper Midwest. We usually meet up in Florida for Christmas every year, but with two family members pregnant (and having the exact same due date(!)), we decided to skip Zika Central. We all met in St. Paul, where my brother-in-law and his wife live.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood. Whenever I am in a new place, I wake up fifteen minutes early and stroll around the block. I was not disappointed. I spotted a nice Hyundai Equus with Oregon plates.

My plan this time was to have no plans. I just did what everyone else did. There were no tourist traps for me to check off my list. Someone suggested that we check out the Martin Luther exhibit at the Minnesota Institute of Art. So we did!

The showing had lots of artifacts and detailed descriptions. Here is a plague mask worn by "doctors" during the time of Martin Luther's life.

Chest for indulgences.

The pulpit where Martin Luther delivered his final sermon, three days before he died.

Moveable type!

Portraits of Martin Luther and his wife, who was a nun.

Martin Luther's beer stein.

Improvised weapons used by peasants during revolts. I'm not really up on the chaos within the Holy Roman Empire after Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation.

But apparently, a lot of Catholic art and architecture were destroyed by the new religion.

This was my first white Christmas, ever. It wasn't too cold, but it was very icy. Here is a view out our bedroom window.

We took a walk to St Paul Cathedral (in the distance). It is supposedly the third largest church in North America. I have no idea how they determined that. Membership? Height? Square footage? I do know this is why the neighborhood is called Cathedral Hill.

My wife and mother-in-law have both lived in cold climates. They are pros at walking on ice. I walked slowly and gingerly behind them, imagining my bleeding cracked skull on the slippery ice.

Very convenient way of donating to the church. Just swipe your card.

On the walk back from the church, we had lunch at Moscow On the Hill, a Russian restaurant. It's owned by a Russian doctor who moved to America with her husband and two sons in the mid-1990s. The vodka selection was almost overwhelming. You have a choice of having it served as a shot or in a martini. Going for the unusual, I ordered a dirty martini with Moldovan Exclusiv vodka. It was pretty terrible (and cheap).

The food, however, was fantastic. I had the Moscow cubano sandwich. It had braised pork shoulder, bujenina (Russian garlic roasted pork), gouda cheese, house mustard, and pickles. I debated whether or not to count this as a Cuban meal. I decided not to, as Cuban is not difficult to find in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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