|Ola and I after she arrived in Minneapolis|
|Ola at the Mall of America|
|Ola and I at Gooseberry Falls|
- We visited the Mall of America (several times!).
- We attended the Minnesota State Fair and tried many "fair foods."
- We carved pumpkins at Halloween.
- We drove up to Duluth in northern Minnesota. We drove along the North Shore of Lake Superior, a scenic drive along one of the Great Lakes (check out the North Shore Visitor to read more!). And we made a few stops along the way at Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls and more. We couldn't miss having pies at Betty's Pies in Two Harbors, which had a wide variety of awesome homemade pies!
- We visited friends at their lake house "up north" in northern Minnesota a couple times.
- We drove to Lake City, a charming small town not far away, to see Lake Pepin and the scenic bluffs in the area.
- I hosted an American Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family to give Ola the “American Thanksgiving” experience, complete with lots of food and great company.
- We went to an excellent production of “The Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie Theater and visited a holiday market in downtown Minneapolis.
- We visited family near St. Cloud over Christmas. We even found a town nearby with a Polish name!
- We escaped the frozen tundra of Minnesota to visit sunny Florida in February.
- We explored Universal Studios (the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was Ola's favorite! It really looks like I had imagined. The train ride between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade was awesome, and the other rides were worth checking out too. I also enjoyed the butter beer!)
- We visited Walt Disney World – spending a day in the Magic Kingdom and a day in Epcot, where we visited many “countries” (Ola was disappointed there wasn’t a Poland). We ate at an Italian restaurant in the "Italy" area. And Ola tried her first funnel cake in Epcot.
- We took a drive to visit Cocoa Beach and see the ocean along the east coast of Florida, although we thought it was a bit cool to swim. Cocoa Beach also had a lovely downtown area with a wide variety of shops that we enjoyed walking around.
|Ola and I in Diagon Alley|
- Ola had wanted to visit Chicago while she was here. I took some time off during her spring break from school so we could go to Chicago. We grabbed the train in Winona, and ventured down to Chicago. Staying in a downtown hotel, just blocks from Lake Michigan and near Michigan Avenue, it was a perfect location to explore the city. I always think seeing the city by foot when possible is the best way to see it, and our location allowed us to walk most places. We had many fun experiences including:
- Eating Chicago style pizza at Giordano’s (an experience not to be missed!)
- Visiting the Bean (and taking many photos)!
- Meeting up with a friend of mine and her exchange student for some of the adventures
- Getting a birds’ eye view of Chicago from the Willis Tower
- Checking out Navy Pier
- Shopping on Michigan Avenue
- Exploring the Art Institute of Chicago
- Walking around a Polish neighborhood in Chicago, which had Polish bakeries, restaurants and shops. Ola found many Polish items in a Polish sausage shop, and the workers even spoke Polish!
|The Bean in Chicago|
|Ola outside Kurowski Sausage Shop in Chicago|
- And so much more! We had many adventures throughout the year. And Ola had the experience of attending an American high school, which I think she really enjoyed. She participated in a couple sports, went to football and basketball games, attended homecoming and prom dances, and even participated in the high school graduation ceremony.
|Ola and I on her last day in Minnesota|