Weekend in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City

It was the last week of summer ’17 and I was looking forward to beginning my third semester at Iowa State University. As the entire summer was spent in exploring Iowa and Ames, with my trip to NYC an added bonus, the last weekend had to end with a trip as well.

Three of my friends had bagged a co-op in Whirlpool, located in a town called Amana, Iowa. However, they were living in a nearby city called Cedar Rapids. During most of the summer, they would come over to Ames to spend their weekends. But this time our bunch in Ames decided to go visit them in Cedar Rapids.

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Empty Cedar Rapids streets

Cedar Rapids is an hour and a half drive from Ames. We reached on Friday at around 11:30 pm to be greeted by empty streets just like those in Ames, but the big buildings and lights told a different story.  The night then ensued with chats and planning for things to do the next day. The following morning a few of us set off to explore the neighborhood which was downtown Cedar Rapids. It was deserted on a Saturday morning but was fun to look around. Heading back home, hoping that the others would have been ready by the time we were back, only to be disappointed. Forcing everyone to get ready was a task, but it was done successfully.

 

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Saturday morning in Cedar Rapids

 

By the time everyone was ready, lunch was the need of the hour and we headed for the buffet at a local restaurant serving Indian cuisine. Good food in the tummy always makes me happy and this Indian restaurant was a savior from the self-cooked food in Ames. Gorging on chicken tandoori, spring rolls and other delicacies we returned home taking full advantage of the buffet and dozed off again for some time, heavy meals do make you dizzy.

 

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Lake McBride

In the evening we decide to go to Lake McBride, which was on the way to Iowa City. The lake is not super scenic but it checked the criteria for places to visit around Cedar Rapids. Walking around the lake had evoked the hunger inside us and we looked for good restaurants to deluge the hunger. After multiple suggestions and iterations, we decided on an Italian restaurant in Iowa City.

Baroncini is a small fine dining restaurant in downtown Iowa City with great ambiance. Initially, we were told that they were closing down early for the day, but seeing our group of 10 they “reopened” the kitchen for us. The fancy little restaurant and its pricey menu did give us second thoughts, however, it is not that often that we spend at elegant restaurants, so we decided to splurge. Trying to get the complicated names right, we ordered our food. The main course was delicious and the dessert beautiful, just like I had seen on MasterChef. However, it was also the most expensive meal I had in my life.

 

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Dessert extraordinaire

 

Iowa city is the home to the University of Iowa, our college football rivals. The student community here is vibrant and lively and therefore has a lot of places to hang out. After our dinner, we hung out at a few places and absorbed the nightlife around us.

 

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Picturesque Amana house 

 

Sunday morning was lazy and we got ready by noon and grabbed a pizza for lunch. The best thing about this pizza was that it was large enough to fill 8 hungry stomachs. Once the lunch cravings satisfied we then headed to Amana colonies. These are German settlements established in the mid 19th century. Now they are merely a tourist attraction but the original buildings are still intact. Entering Amana takes you to a new world in itself where the colonial buildings with modern interiors were a pleasant sight. There we visited Chocolate Haus and tried different chocolates and coffees. The coffee I tried was not great but the chocolates were good. We then sat on the tables outside the cafe in the calm environment and sipping our coffees and pondering about the semester ahead.

 

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Chocolate Haus

 

We spent some more time at the Amana general store trying to look through antiques and souvenirs to take back home. After that, we returned back to Cedar Rapids and set on our way back to Ames. A rather eventful end to a slow summer, all set to take on the new semester, here at Iowa State University.

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