couple of options, alt-F1 open up gnome menu which you can use or alt-F2 open up 'run application' which you can select the terminal from the known applications list.
If you can add a panel, why don't you just do that? thats what the 'taskbars' are called in Mint! Then just add mint menu, notification area, clock and window list from the right click -> add to panel menu
There is a shortcut straight to the terminal, i just cant remember it!
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