Como Zoo Conservatory! I decided that today should be a nice vacation day, during which I could do some things I never make an excuse for during a regular week. I’m not in the Twin Cities every day now, so why not use my time away from Hinckley to hit up a couple of my favorite places?
The first was the Como Zoo Conservatory — I find zoos kind of depressing (although I think many of the good ones are trying to make a real difference to the animal world at large), but the conservatory is a huge greenhouse, warm and humid and just what a person needs when it’s been below 0F more often than not. Many people who visit bring big SLR cameras, which I’ve done in the past, but there are actually a lot of lower-light areas, and I’ve wound up with blurry photos in the past. This time, I decided to shoot with my iPhone and Hipstamatic, and I’m actually pretty happy with the results. Only the fish below came out blurry, and that’s because they were so writhe-y around-y.
I think the photo above must be my favorite (photo-wise, not subject-wise) that I’ve ever taken with the iPhone. I always use Hipstamatic with it, because the lens just doesn’t cut it, compared to a DSLR. But it can take some nice stylized shots. I use the Helga Viking ‘lens’ and Blanko ‘film’. Not that that’s some great pro-tip, but I like the combo for a more subtle Hipsta-effect. I clip off the white edges in Photoshop. Anyway, the photo above: the camera didn’t even focus on the leaves I’d intended, but I love the shot anyway.
After I’d had my fill of humidity, I went to the Russian Tea House in St. Paul and ate borscht:
It’s completely silly, but I ate at the Russian Tea House for the first and only time about four and a half years ago, and I’ve been thinking about the borscht ever since then. Why not go back sooner? Well, it’s open weekdays only (Tuesday-Friday, maybe?), from 11:00am to 1:00 or 3:00pm. And it’s located somewhere I rarely find myself. Those are still terrible excuses, given how many times I’ve thought about going back.
The restaurant is in a converted Victorian-ish house. You order and pay for your food downstairs, where there’s a counter and the kitchen, and then you take your meal up the stairs on a tray. On one hand, it’s not what you’d expect when eating at a restaurant, but on the other, it’s completely lovely. It does feel a little bit like eating at somebody’s house. Also, there’s an accordion player.