Saturday morning we got up, went to The People’s Coffee for pastries and caffeine, then took our stinky dog to get a bath. Some vacation, right!? Turns out after two weeks of being in cars and hotel rooms together, a stinky dog is less forgivable than it might have been otherwise. We dropped the dog back off at the hotel and went to Pleiku, a “modern Vietnamese and tapas bar,” for lunch. I got spoiled for pho when I lived outside DC, and Connecticut just didn’t have the same offerings, so I was THRILLED to find some pho and boba tea on this trip. Plus a salad, obviously, because #healthy or something (disclaimer: nothing about any of this trip was healthy).
After that, Max said he had a surprise for me, so we drove over to Liberty Park, an absolutely beautiful park with gardens and greenery and a small lake and – surprise! – an aviary. I love birds, I am weirdly nerdy about birds (especially birds of prey – thank you, childhood obsession with the Animorphs series), I wrote a large portion of my poetry projects senior year about birds. I took approximately 3208726349620 pictures (rough estimate) so I won’t overload you with all of them, but here’s some favorites:
(I have no idea who Taco is, but Taco is THE BEST MACAW).
After the aviary, we went to the University of Utah stadium to see the 2002 Olympic Cauldron Park. I am a HUGE Olympics fan – my life pretty much ceases to exist during the two weeks of Olympic Games and I just try to watch as much of the Olympics as I can. So, given the opportunity, I was EXCITED to see some of the SLC Olympic sites.
Turns out that we were in town the same weekend as a bunch of Utah students moving in and there were some university events going on in the stadium, so the visitor’s center was closed, but I managed to get some pictures of the torch/cauldron from outside the fence.
We were in dire need of caffeination after our bird adventure, so we went to Blue Copper Coffee Room, a small local coffeeshop with some funky iced teas and snacks. It was very cute, and I said to Max “I want my kitchen to look like this” (subway tile! big chalkboard! open shelving!) on our way out.
Saturday evening was by far the highlight of Salt Lake City and perhaps the whole trip. I had heard somewhere that there were a couple speakeasy restaurants in the city, so I made it our mission to go to one of them. We managed to get reservations at one which I just happened to stumble onto via some stealthy internet research, and it was INCREDIBLE. I won’t say the name – speakeasies are supposed to be a secret, right? 😉 – but we arrived, told the bartender our names, and were led through a secret door, down some stairs, and into a beautiful brick and rustic lodge-y restaurant/bar area. Their cocktail list was incredible, creative and unique; their wine list had three options for each red, white, or bubbly: “cheap – decent – good,” and the FOOD. Oh, this food. Both of our meals were fantastic, and their house beignets are among some of the greatest things I have ever consumed. It was a great fancy date night dinner, which we followed up with a stop at BTG Wine Bar since we ate dinner much earlier than we normally do. They had a good, not great, wine selection in terms of glasses (from what I could tell, really only one glass of each varietal), but their small plates menu was great. We got a cheese board (I am a sucker for cheese) and enjoyed a couple of glasses before turning in for the night.
So, Salt Lake City. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. I knew that some of the liquor laws in Utah were funky, so I didn’t expect to be able to go to as many bars – and especially not as many unique bars! – as we went to. I don’t think of Salt Lake City as having a vibrant foodie scene, but it was certainly there if you looked for it. I didn’t think that Salt Lake City would be a place I would care about, and yet I found myself thinking about “next time we come here we’ll have to…”. It is hot, and it is very concrete-and-granite, but otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Hopefully next time we’ll be able to go to the Olympics visitors center!