Happy Birthday Chicago

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Wander Hour - Chicago

chicago 2013, taken with a Canon 60D 

Happy Birthday Chicago

Today is Chicago’s birthday; Happy 178th Birthday Chicago! I miss the city life so much and can’t wait to visit one day (maybe soon; who knows). I wish I took more photos while I was there. Around that time, I just graduated college and I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I kind of had a direction but it was a bit clouded by the craziness called life. More so, I just couldn’t figure out what to do with my degree. Obviously, being an analyst was something I thought I was going to be doing but the thought of crunching numbers would have definitely suppressed my creativity. So here I am, using every bit of creativity I have in me and pouring it onto this blog as well as other things in life. But at the moment, I have so many projects going on right now that I can’t wait for you guys to see them!

For more Chicago posts, click here!

And lately, I’ve been curating my Instagram photos meticulously and so far, it’s been going great! I’m loving the feed right now so if you’re not following me now and you love my blog, be sure to follow for more beautiful photos!

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 So you all on Friday!!

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Chicago

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Chicago

There’s a part of me that has been wanting to go back to Chicago for awhile now. Maybe, just MAYBE, I’m getting that island fever people have warned me about and I feel as if I need to get off this island and go to a city. But then again, even when I was living in California, I was day dreaming of my next destination. I will always have a strong desire to travel no matter where I am. Chicago was a year and a few months ago but it still feels fresh in my mind as if I was there not too long ago. It was a crazy adventure full of discovering Chicago, trying new places to eat, eating deep dish pizzas, and Chicago hot dogs (no ketchup here). I’d like to go back.

Looking Up

Chicago - Wander Hour

Chicago - Wander Hour

Chicago - Wander Hour

I’m always looking up trying to find unusual things to photograph. As a photographer, my eyes are always scanning. It can get tiresome sometimes but I end up with a great product (or at least I hope I do). These photos aren’t “amazing” but it’s always good to take photos of your surroundings to remind yourself what the place looked like at the exact moment. If these photos weren’t taken, not quite sure how I would remember Chicago besides the typical landmarks and deep dish pizzas.

Looking Down

Chicago - Wander Hour

A night time view of Chicago from the Willis Tower’s Skydeck. My boyfriend and I were supposed to go during the day as well but that didn’t work out because the weather wasn’t pleasant the day after (or rather, I didn’t wake up in time oops). I’m still glad that I go to go.

Millennium Park

Chicago - Wander Hour

Chicago - Wander Hour

Chicago - Wander Hour

Chicago - Wander Hour

Millennium Park is a gorgeous, gorgeous park. These photos are from in and around the park. There were movies playing, music from concerts, and the famous Bean (Cloud Gate if you will); it was definitely a summer in the city. Going off tangent for a second but I’ve never gone to New York in the summer, fearing the city’s humid summers BUT after going to Chicago in the summer, I think I might be all game for a summer in New York City.

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I know this week my blog hasn’t been on schedule so don’t forget to check out my previous post Mele Kalikimaka for what I had for Christmas lunch yesterday! I just came back from Target to check out their after Christmas sale buying ornaments and gift wraps to use for next year! We didn’t get a Christmas tree this year since I wasn’t willing to pay full priced for ornaments knowing that they were going to be half off after Christmas so I am excited for next year’s Christmas! Have a lovely weekend my friends and I will see all of you on Monday!

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things to do in chicago

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photos by me and charles

Can’t believe it’s almost been a year since Charles and I went to Chicago last year! To be honest, Chicago wasn’t in our plans last year. We always make an effort to fly somewhere new every year and we tend to fly towards the end of August right before school starts. Our initial plan was to go to Kaua’i. After having the best 9 days on O’ahu last year in May, I HAD to go back to Hawai’i BUT we needed to go somewhere new so Kaua’i was the plan. We’ve never been to the island of Kaua’i but it’s still Hawai’i. Win-win. The only thing that was stopping us from booking our flights was the fact that my boyfriend was waiting for a “clear” from one of his managers to go on vacation. I carefully monitored the prices of the flights and such and I was worried the prices were just going to keep going up since he still hasn’t heard anything from his manager after two weeks or so.

Finally, after getting his vacation approved the prices went up. I was bummed. But then we always try to make things work. We decided to postpone our Hawai’i trip until October and then I asked Charles, “How about Chicago?” His eyes lit up and we proceeded to check the packages from Expedia and found one for A LOT less than Kaua’i. Win-win. But enough of that, let’s talk Chicago.

 

Weather

Surprisingly, the weather was quite pleasant the first three days we were in Chicago. The fourth day was incredibly humid and the last day it rained the whole day. Because of the weather on the last day, our flight was delayed and we weren’t informed UNTIL we got the gate. Our fault I guess but anyway, on our flight back to California, our plane was flying near a storm which left the last few hours of our flight so bumpy, it would be on my list as one of the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced. Of course, this is no reflection on Chicago itself because we were way passed Chicago by that time but I thought I just throw it out there.

 

Where to stay

For this trip, we stayed at Hotel Blake in South Loop. It was a nice hotel in a pretty good area (but not close enough to some attractions). We were in walking distance BUT it was still a bit far. But the hotel was good. It was clean and pretty big.

 

Eat a Deep Dish Pizza

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The deep dish pizzas are phenomenal in Chicago and this is coming from a girl who is not a fan of deep dish pizza AT ALL. Like BJ’s is okay and all but man, deep dish pizza in Chicago is the way to go. Lou Malnati’s was delicious and so was Gino’s East. When we came back to California, we tried a Chicago-style deep dish pizza but it wasn’t the same. So bummed. So don’t forget to get a deep dish pizza when you’re in Chicago!

 

Chicago-style Hot Dog

While you’re at it with the deep dish pizza, why not try a Chicago-style hot dog? One thing about Chicago-style hot dogs is that they don’t use ketchup on their hot dogs. It’s against the law really to put ketchup on your hot dog haha. It’s against the law so much (and I say that with extreme exaggeration) that while dining at Max’s Take Out Restaurant for some hot dogs, a fellow next to us was secretly trying to eat his hot dog with ketchup. He was actually pretty good at being discreet but eating a hot dog with ketchup is usually frowned upon (hence why he was so discreet).

So what’s so different with Chicago-style hot dogs besides the “no ketchup” rule? Instead of ketchup, they use mustard as well as a beef hot dog, chopped onions, a pickle spear, tomatoes, some really bright green relish, a pickled pepper, and a poppy-seed hot dog bun. My thoughts on it? Different but very messy. I don’t know how you eat a hot dog here without the use of utensils but it was pretty good nonetheless.

We wanted to try Hot Doug’s but it was too far from where we were staying and to find out that they’re closing for good in October made me wish we made an effort to go but if you’re heading to Chicago between now and October, make sure you stop by Hot Doug’s. Prepare yourself for the wait though.

 

The Signature Room at the 95th

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Dine at The Signature Room at the 95th in the John Hancock building for the view. Even better, head to the Signature Lounge at the 96th for just the drinks only. The view up there is amazing. You can see the buildings that make up Chicago’s skyline. Also from up there, you can see how crazy HUGE Lake Michigan is.

 

Nike Chicago

If you are a Nike fan as well as a Michael Jordan fan, definitely stopped by Nike Chicago on Michigan Ave. You can see Jordan shoes on display and it’s pretty cool and it’s only appropriate that they have Jordan shoes displayed in Chicago! And it’s free. Who doesn’t love free-anything?

 

Skydeck

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For those who aren’t so scared of heights, or if you are like me, want to overcome your fear of heights, hang out on the ledge at the Skydeck. I know, they were recently in the news, but we had a ton of fun taking photos on there. I wanted to go both during the day and at night but since we were pressed for time, we only got to go at night. Still ended up with some cool photos. Be aware though, not a lot of people are “photographers”. There’s usually a line to go on a ledge and when we were there, the people before us in line turned around and ask us to take a photo so we figured we would do the same. We asked the person behind us to take a photo and it wasn’t how we expected it to be. They took a good photo but they didn’t take a photo of the bottom so it looked like we were just standing in front of a window instead of a ledge so keep that in mind. But what worked out for us is that we we waited in line for the actual photographers to take a photo of us and not only do you have a photographer taking your photo, but you have the ledge all to yourself. Sure it’s going to cost money since you have to buy the photos but I thought it was worth it!

 

Millennium Park 

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Don’t forget to stop by Millennium Park to see “the bean”. If you want photos with hardly anyone there, go really early in the morning. Otherwise, a lot of people go there throughout the day and especially if you go to Chicago during the summer months. That bean is actually called “Cloud Gate” and is a sculpture made by Anish Kapoor. It’s amazing up close since it looks so seamless yet plates were welded together to make it.

The last full day we were there, the park was showing a movie at the park and there were tons of people there. Definitely check out their website for events since they also held concerts when we were there!

 

The Art Institute of Chicago

If you love museums and art, head over to The Art Institute of Chicago. Their permanent collections consists of beautiful artwork from famed artists like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. Seeing these art up close was exciting (and I can’t wait to visit the Louvre Musuem in Paris to see Mona Lisa next year!).

When we were there last year, the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit was going on. Beautiful, and I mean, BEAUTIFUL exhibit. They featured huge Monet paintings and beautiful, BEAUTIFUL dresses to go along with it. I love pretty dresses and seeing pretty dresses from the past was exciting for me. The details: the pleats, the ruffles, the dresses were so grand and elegant I was in awe at this exhibit. So glad that we went.

 

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

This is probably one of my favorite things to do in Chicago. This place isn’t for everyone and I would know that because not a lot of people are huge economics fans. People always tell me how they dreaded economics in college. Charles and I both have a bachelor’s degree in business economics so this place was fun for us haha.

But anyway, this is one of the Federal Reserve Banks in the nation and inside is the Money Museum. It’s free and you need a valid ID to get in. You go through a metal detector because this is obviously a federal building and you enter a room full of facts of the economy. You can see a briefcase full of a $1,000,000, watch a video in the small theater, test your skills with spotting counterfeit bills, or learn that at one time, there was a $10,000 bill. $10,000. I know. I would hate to lose a $10,000 bill.

Don’t forget to pick up some shredded currency as your souvenir. They shred bills that have been taking out of currency and neatly packaged them for you in a small bag!

 

Xoco

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A friend suggested that we stopped by here (Thanks Diana!) and we are so glad we did. This place has some pretty good pistachio glazed churros. We went for breakfast but I wish we had went for dinner!

 

The Gage

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Our favorite place to eat in Chicago? The Gage. This restaurant is definitely on the higher end as far as price-point but until this day, we still talk about the amazing lunch we had there and I’m so sad that they got rid of the entrée that we loved so much! To top it off, we had an amazing waiter who made our lunch so pleasant. For our appetizers, we ordered a scotch egg and battered fried pickles. For our entree, I ordered some prime rib with steak diane sauce and it was too good. Don’t quite remember what Charles ordered because I was too busy enjoying my lunch haha. The Gage is definitely a restaurant we will be returning to the next time we’re in Chicago.

 

Cafecito

For a cheaper lunch alternative, head over to Cafecito. Voted one of The Top Cuban Sandwiches in Chicago from the Huffington Post, Charles and I found this place while looking for cheap, good eats. It wasn’t too far from the hotel we were staying and we dined here twice and ordered sandwiches and coffee both times.

 

So this is what we did in the 5 days we were in Chicago. There were so much more to do (like watch a baseball game or grab drinks at a bar) but it’s going to have to wait till next time!

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