I’ve never been to this city much beloved of urbanists, ranking right up there with Portland as the coolest place that is so much better than whatever city we are currently living in.
So I’m waiting to be blown away. So far, wafting along pleasantly.
We took light rail in from the airport to our hotel: an easy walk from baggage claim, not too much of a Mensa test to buy tickets (something that I find often happens in other cities, where you can’t use cash on the bus or tram but you can’t figure out where to buy the tickets or tokens), tickets only $1.75, a 22-minute ride to our stop where I got to overhear three Somali/Ethiopean/? teens in traditional dress using the f-bomb and talking about their messed-up love lives at one end of the car and a bunch of very Norwegian-ancestry Minnesotans talking about their Harold Stassen campaign-button collections at the other end. Cool intro to the demographics.
After hiding out from the 100-degree heat for the afternoon, walked two blocks to the NiceBike station and, again, managed to rent two bikes without needing a computer-science degree. It was $6 for a daypass, with lots of warnings that the price escalates steeply with each half hour and, if we wanted bikes for longer, we should go to a rental shop. (Plus our hotel had given us the NikeBike map of bike streets, trails and lanes around the city.)
And off we went through downtown and then onto the Cedar Creek trail, yes, helmetless, as were most of the people we saw on the NiceBikes, though the many many commuters and racing-jersey cyclists were not. We wound our way through an industrial area and alongside several highways and eventually to a more forested areas down to one of the lakes for a swim, then hopped back onto the trail and then the Midtown Greenway — an AMAZING route that is separated completely from the regular street system and takes you all the way through town.
Finding a place to park the bikes at the end proved to be beyond our map-reading skills, though. The little dot was deceiving and we ended up circling around quite a bit.
However, thanks to getting lost in that part of Uptown, we discovered a gem of a small Italian restaurant where we sat outside (no railings to separate us drinkers from the regular folks! just a table and chairs and the sidewalk! and a bench along the side of the building where people could just drink if they wanted!) and had a beer and lobster risotto and roasted fresh radishes in the warm warm late-evening air. Not in Fargo any more, folks, no sir.