Seattle Highlights

A weekend in Seattle is never a dull moment when you have plenty of food choices and attractions to see. For 2 days and 2 nights, my boyfriend and I made sure to waste no time in venturing out to the city. I’m not stranger to Seattle but, it was my boyfriend’s first time so, I made sure he had a good time. Having purchased the Seattle City Pass, we were able to plan our day’s activities.

The first day in Seattle was as clear as it could be. The weather was warm and sunny with temperatures averaging between 70-75F without any clouds. Considering how often it rains in Seattle, we were very very lucky with the weather. 

Pike Market

The first thing we did in the morning was walk over to Pike Market from our hotel to grab fresh pastries at the Le Panier Seattle. Though there was a line outside, we didn’t have to wait too long (about 10-15 minutes) to get their chocolate and almond croissants with a latte and mocha. With our pastries in hand, we sat on one of the benches on the patio overlooking the waterfront area. Several other people shared the same idea and we found ourselves doing the same thing; enjoying the sun while eating.

Afterwards, we wandered around the Pike Market, where we saw the fish stands, craft stalls, produce stands, and small shops setting up for the day. The Pike Market is one of the oldest public farmer’s markets in the U.S. and is home to the first Starbucks. In a typically crowded area, it was nice to be there when it was still quiet. After an hour, we decided to head to the Space Needle and walk along the pier since it was a nice day.

On our way to the Space Needle, we passed a park called Gas Works. While walking around, we saw a few outdoor art exhibits, a mini botanical garden, and a view of the Space Needle from quite a distance. It was a good way to start our way to the Space Needle on a positive note.

Space Needle

Known as the city’s icon, the Space Needle is a must-see in Seattle. If you have a clear day, the view from the top of the Space Needle is breathtaking. We were able to see the city to its core. However, it is quite a tourist attraction, so expect to share the view with others.

There is a rotating floor on the 2nd level of the observation deck. I enjoyed the view equally, and I was a little frightened looking down at my feet because I could see the entrance where we started and it seemed so far away. While others lay on the ground taking pictures of themselves, I stepped off and on to the side away from the glass bottom and watched from afar.

There’s also a small bar and a restaurant onsite if you’re feeling thirsty and hungry. The restaurant, however, is only available via reservations as far as I know. With the Seattle City Pass, you can return at night. In our experience, the crowds were much less hectic, perfect for a date night or a place to schmooze.

Chihuly and Glass in Seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass

After our Space Needle binge, we walked just a few steps to see the glass exhibition at Chihuly Garden and Glass. With his glasswork sculptures, Chihuly presented a breathtaking display of his work. Both the colors and shapes were stunning. 

We ended the tour with a pizza and a rest in their garden. There was a small demonstration of how these beautiful sculptures are created using glass. I found it quite informative.

Boat Tour

The day wasn’t complete without a boat tour of the city with Argosy Cruises Seattle. As the tour was originally scheduled for Sunday, we had to make sure we got as much done as possible on a sunny day. I am so glad we changed our reservations because our cruise had a fantastic view of the city’s skyline; a rare occurrence for Seattle since they tend to get a lot of rain. That day, there were so many vessels in the water, kayakers, tour boats, and container ships that it felt like a city all on its own.

Seattle Skyline

Food

After running around all day, we were hungry. We ate at the Dough Zone Dumpling House right around the corner from our hotel and ordered their House Specials, Q Bao, and Garlic Noodles. This is a good place to eat or simply if you like Chinese food.

The rain began to fall within hours. Our time had come to head home.

Mexico City Guide

We began 2022 with a one-week vacation in Mexico City. There was so much to see that even a week felt insufficient. As North America’s most populated city, you definitely will need to know where to go. The city’s population alone is 21.9 million in compare to Los Angeles, CA. at 3.91 million. Luckily my boyfriend and I had friends who helped us navigate around the city during our trip. We couldn’t have done it without their assistance. Here are some things I learned.

Health & Safety

In any city, you must keep your wits about you, especially a big city like Mexico City. Whenever we were out and about, I rarely wore jewelry, and my purse was always inside my long cardigan or, at the very least, in front of me. Some areas, such as downtown Polanco and Condesa neighborhoods, I felt very safe walking around during the day and night. 

Covid protocols are strictly followed in Mexico City. Every main attraction, restaurant, or Uber either took our temperatures, sprayed us down with sanitizer, had an extra layer of protection between passengers, wore masks inside and outside, or did all of the above. When it comes to Covid, I felt more secure in Mexico City than in California.

Further protecting our sanity, we purchased health insurance for the trip. IMG’s Patriot Platinum Group costs $40 for both of us, covering theft, natural disasters, and more. We didn’t have to use it, but it gave us peace of mind knowing we were covered abroad.

The last advice based on recommendations from our local friends is to avoid drinking tap water. Throughout our trip, we only drank filtered water (including washing our toothbrush). It may seem extreme to some, but I didn’t want to get sick.

Altitude

Mexico City has an elevation of 7315.36 feet (or 2229.72 meters) in comparison to Los Angeles at 284.93 feet (or 86.85 meters). It was in the back of my mind before our trip that there was a possibility it could be a problem, however, I underestimated how much it would affect me.

On our first day, my night ended with a throbbing headache and vomiting whatever food I had left in me. The only thing I could do was go to the bathroom and then get back into bed. I was hurting.

Luckily, my boyfriend found a local app called Rappi and ordered Tylenol and food for me that night. Throughout the rest of our trip, we pretty much ordered all of our necessities through the app and had them delivered to us for a reasonable price.

I took Tylenol that night and immediately fell asleep. I felt completely back to normal the next day as if nothing had happened. Therefore, if you’re prone to altitude sickness like me, be sure to bring the right medications.

Accommodations

Airbnb offers a variety of options for finding accommodation at an affordable price. I suggest staying as close to downtown as possible in Condesa (near Parque Mexico) or Polanco (near Av. Pdte. Masaryk), especially if this is your first time exploring places to stay in Mexico City.

When we were looking for accommodation, we had no idea where was “safe” to stay, so we thought anywhere in Polanco would be fine. It wasn’t. Later, a local friend informed us (after we had booked everything) that we were in a sketchy part of Polanco, and that he had been robbed there once. We decided to stick with it, despite what he said, since our plans were pretty set. Despite the location not being the best, the airbnb experience was pretty good; we had extensive security in our building and had a decent view of the city from our apartment. While I wouldn’t stay there again since it was too far from the main attractions, for my first time being in the city, it was perfect.

Language

It would be helpful to know a few Spanish terms so you can communicate with the locals. Our experience was that most restaurants and tourist areas spoke English. Apart from that, we had to speak Spanish.

Transportation

There are a few ways to get around the city. You can take Uber, a taxi, or the metro.

Uber is the safest and most reliable form of transportation in Mexico City. We were informed by our friends that this is the best way to get around, and now I totally agree. Also, we find that it is affordable, as it costs us around $3-6 per ride in comparison with $16+ for an Uber in California.

Taxis are also available. However, avoid hailing one from the street because you might get scammed. To be sure, have a hotel staff member order one for you. 

Metro is also available in Mexico City. It’s a gender-segregated area, so it’s safe for women, but I personally didn’t want to be separated from my boyfriend. Thus, we bypassed the metro altogether. 

In case you plan to rent a car, be aware that drivers here are very aggressive. LA drivers seem aggressive, but they are nothing compared to those in Mexico City. It’s a totally different story.

Weather

During January, the temperature rose to the 70s in the day and dropped to the 40s at night. We experienced a drizzle once while there, but it was mostly pleasant. I wore long sleeves everyday with jeans and a light sweater that I could easily take off and put back on.

Foods & Restaurants

A trip to Mexico City would not have been complete without food, and we dined at plenty of top-notch restaurants. Reservations were required at most restaurants. There are also Michelin-starred restaurants like Pujol that require reservations two months in advance. While I was disappointed that we couldn’t go, I will keep it in mind for when we return to town. 

Here are a few restaurants I recommend:

Lardo
El Mayor
Galanga Thai House
Pujol

Rosa Negra
El Japonese
Tori Tori
Rosetta
Galia La Condesa

Basico
Brassi
Matisse
Maximo Bistro

There are a lot more places to eat that we didn’t have time to visit. See my Mexico City Guide here.

Sights & Museums

Mexico City had a lot of museums and sights to see. Some of them are free, but the ones that charge fees require cash. Only cash is accepted, and they prefer exact change.

Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
Zocalo
Templo Mayor
Basilica De Guadalupe
Outside Mexico City:
Visit Teotihuacan

Museo Anahuacalli
Museo Jumex
Soumaya Museum
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Chapultepec Castle

Anthopology Museum
Av. Pdte. Masaryk
Mercado Roma
The Angel of Independence
Biblioteca Vasconcelos

Mexico has been a unique experience for us, and we would like to visit the country again in the future.

Visiting San Antonio, Texas.

Door

As the 2nd largest city in Texas, San Antonio had plenty of things to see or do. I admit I was well prepared for this trip and created a list. To this day I’m certainly glad for that list because there were times we needed to make adjustments at the last minute due to weather, limited hours and travel mistakes.

I’m sharing you a few activities and food choices below but, my list is much bigger than what’s listed here as San Antonio had so many places to see and do that we didn’t have enough time for.

When visiting San Antonio for the first time, I suggest to rent a car. San Antonio as I mentioned is the 2nd largest city in Texas. Everything is spread out like it is in L.A. with the exception of The Riverwalk area. Now, unless you plan to stay in the Riverwalk area during your entire trip, having a car to get around is highly recommended.

Things to See or Do:

Natural Bridge Caverns & Wildlife Ranch
Address: 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd. 78266
Price
: $30 | Parking: FREE | Hours: 9am-4pm
Make reservations ahead of time

This cave exploration was one of my favorite experience in San Antonio given the fact that it was my first time in a “real” cave. Approximately 18 stories deep below the ground, the cave is home to bats, stalagmites, stalactites and will challenge your fit going up about 180 steps. You can choose individual Cavern Tours and for us, we decided on a combo tour to get more time in the cave. Personally, I liked the Hidden Passages tour better because it was a smaller group and it felt more personal. Additionally, we were also able to have a conversation with our guide, ask questions and came out with a better idea about the cave’s history and its current situation. If caves aren’t your thing, they also offer “surface attractions” onsite such as zip trails, ropes course, maze and much more.

The Missions of San Antonio
Price
: FREE | Parking: FREE
Reservations required to get in to the Alamo Church
You’ve likely heard people say that ‘You can’t come to San Antonio without visiting The Alamo’. It’s true! On our Mission expedition day, we started our way first to see the church of The Alamo and it truly is a sight to see. Photos and videos are not allowed inside the church but, it is well worth seeing it in person to get an appreciation for its history, its architecture and the major restoration efforts they’ve done to keep the historic site up to date. Our exploration continued to see the other 4 Missions nearby. We drove from 1 Mission to another eyeing each one intently, walking through their arches and simply taking in their beauty. Without a doubt all 5 Missions well-deserved to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

McNay Art Museum
Address: 101 Emporia Blvd. TX
Price
: $20 per person | Parking: FREE

At Pearl
Address: 200 E. Grayson St.
Price
: varies | Parking: FREE
A cool industrial open market style with a food hall, brewery, hotels, shops, eateries and apparently some apartments all right next to the River walk. This area alone we could’ve spent hours roaming around and still feel like we didn’t see everything. Let’s just say this would be the place I’d see again if, I am back in the area. The time we did have was spent on eating. We ordered food from Mi Roti located inside the food hall and ate outside their patio munching on some yummy Grilled Jerk Chicken bowl, a side of fries and salad. After that we walked over to La Boulangerie to order macarons with Panna Cotta desserts. Every calorie intake was worth it.

Pearl District

The Riverwalk
Parking
: Public Parking or metered spots (prices will vary)
Known as the “Venice” of U.S.A. It is one of the most picturesque spots I’ve seen in U.S.A. with one canal after another making this a hot spot for tourists. There are plenty of things to see or do in the area from hotels, restaurants to retailer shops on the river. We stayed at the Palacio del Rio Hotel with access right on the canal that I highly recommend. Moreover, in keeping up with the holiday spirit, there are over 1000 Christmas lights set up throughout the Riverwalk right now making the boat rides through the canals extra special.

San Fernando Cathedral (“The Saga”)
Address:
418 Villita St. TX.
Hours: Tues. and Sun. 7:30-8pm & 8:30pm | Fri. and Sat. 9-9:30pm & 10pm
If you want a break from The Riverwalk, walk over to see the laser light show in front of San Fernando Cathedral which depicts the history of Texas. It’s free and the light show takes about 30 min. long, so be sure to bring or wear something warm.

La Villita Historic Arts Village
Address: 418 Villita St. TX
Price
: varies | Parking: varies

The Japanese Tea Garden
Address: 3853 Broadway
Price
: FREE | Parking: FREE
You’ll have to drive to this location but, it is worth seeing. The garden was previously an old limestone quarry and it was converted to a garden with lily ponds, waterfalls and bridges. We strolled through the walking paths while stopping here and there to take photos. There’s also a small shop with a restroom onsite where you can buy souvenirs. It was quite a peaceful afternoon, a change of pace and bit of tranquility in compare to the busy life on The Riverwalk.

Tower of the Americas
Address: 739 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.
Price
: $14.50 | Parking: $8-11

Places to Eat:

Pharm Table
Address: 106 Auditorium Cir.
Price
: see menu

Originally, we never had this restaurant on our list but, I’m glad we found it at the last minute. It was one of the restaurants on the list that met our cravings for something organic. As a restaurant known for their “inflammatory” food, I knew I was in for something good. We ordered The Vegan Sweet Potato Waffles and Avocado Collar Bowl that definitely hit the spot. Overall, we enjoyed the ambiance of this place down to their food.

La Panaderia
Address: 301 E Houston St.

La Boulangerie
Address: 207 Broadway St.

Stay:

Hilton Palacio del Rio
Address: 200 South Alamo St.
I loved our hotel and its accessibility. Our room had a mini fridge, tv, and bathroom essentials we needed throughout our stay. Besides sleeping comfortably, the balcony was the main focus of our room providing us front row seats to sunrise and sunsets. There’s a balcony in every room of this hotel overlooking either the river side or the city and luckily, our view had both. The only minor tick we faced with their service was the umbrella availability. It rained hard for a day in San Antonio and the hotel did not have one we could use. Other than that, we could easily explore the city within the few steps from our hotel door.

Texan Experience: 5 Things I Learned.

San Antonio Texas

Our trip to Texas was suppose to happen two months ago but, due to circumstances we ended up changing plans and went to Colorado instead (which turned out to be one of the best trips we’ve been on). We decided that going to Texas was either to go now or it will never happen so, here we go!

Upon arriving in Texas, a few things that I noticed right away were the following:

  1. Gas Prices: Holy moly! I was shocked to see how cheap the gas prices were in Texas. I had to ask my bf out loud if I was seeing things correctly. I mean, I’ve never seen it in the $1 range…ever! I guess it makes sense as the major big oil companies are located in Texas providing major competition. Coming from California, $1 range is darn affordable to say the least.
  2. Humidity: This was another surprising fact about Texas. The minute we landed it looked cloudy outside and base on the weather app it was going to be cool. I wasn’t worried of being cold since I had my raincoat on and wore multiple layers. As soon as we stepped foot outside the doors the humidity hit me like stepping on gum. I started peeling off layers one at a time and wore light shirts for the few days it was humid.
  3. Traffic: not a huge surprise but, I found it interesting how very similar the traffic jams and drivers were in Texas in compare to California (specifically Southern California). The few times we drove on the freeway we always ended up hitting traffic (and I mean back to back traffic). I thought I was in L.A. for a hot sec.
  4. Friendly: I’ve never met one person in Texas that wasn’t the least friendly. Every single person we encountered were genuinely nice and ultra helpful.
  5. Food: This was the only trip that I can remember in U.S.A where almost every single food I’ve had was very good and quite memorable. Pharm to Table was my favorite one of them all. They have a nice outdoor dining ambiance and the food was very good! Highly recommended 🙂
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Highlights of Downtown Long Beach.

long beach harbor

I like my walks. I take them often usually on familiar paths but, today I decided to take a different route. A stroll in downtown Long Beach took about 2 hours long where I made my way down the boardwalk, to the lighthouse, around the harbor to the Shoreline Village, a walk through the artist town and back to my car. I was pleasantly surprised how I’ve never made it here before as downtown Long Beach offered more to see than what I knew.

What I saw:

The Shoreline Village is as colorful as they get. With shops painted in bright colors of yellow, pink and blue; you can’t miss this area as the waterfront boardwalk stands bright even from far away.

The view of the water was the focal point of my walk. There were boats parked at the harbor against the glimmering water that brought life to my walk. I sauntered my way around the village to check out what else was there waiting for me to see. I found a few shops selling ice cream, candies, knick knacks, benches placed all around the area, and a mini love lock similar to the one in Paris was stationed in a corner. It seemed this place was well equipped for tourists looking for a place to go for a day.

The Aquarium of the Pacific
On the other side of the village was the largest aquarium in Southern California. Although, the prices are a bit hefty, it is home to 11,000 animal exhibits. You can find ticket discounts here.

General Admission
Adult: $34.95
Child (3-11): $24.95
Senior (62+): $31.95

Tour the Queen Mary
From the point of the lighthouse you can actually see the Queen Mary, a famous landmark of Long Beach and a major attraction. The ship is docked near the shoreline where you can stay, eat, and participate in a ghost hunting tour. If you’ve never been I highly suggest going at least once.

The Pike Outlets Shopping Center
Across the street from the boardwalk was the Pike Outlet Mall. I walked through here and found several chain stores including Starbucks. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. However, it’s worth going if you seek for discounted prices on clothes and/or other items.

East Village Arts District
This was my favorite area of downtown Long Beach because of the art scene. I saw a few cool graffitis on the wall, loft buildings, creative agencies I’m familiar with, healthy juice stores, plenty of parking and the best part was that it’s walkable. If it wasn’t for work, I’d probably move here if given the chance.

Chicago, Illinois Guide

Chicago Selfie

Coming to Chicago for the first time was quite overwhelming at first because it’s a city and it has a lot to see. However, until I researched a few days before my trip and received several suggestions from friends who’ve lived there, I felt I had a grip on things I wanted to see and do prior to visiting. Therefore, I wanted to share with you the information I had both suggestions from friends and what I found online that helped me on my trip.

Things to See or Do:

  • Millennium Park: Cloud Gate| 201 E. Randolph St.
  • Magnificent Mile
  • Chicago Riverwalk
  • The Art Institute of Chicago | 111 S Michigan Ave
  • Architecture Tour: Wendella Tours | 400 N Michigan Ave Suite C100
  • Skydeck – Willis Tower 233 S Wacker Dr.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo | 2001 North Clark Street
  • Navy Pier: Lake Michigan, Crystal Gardens | 600 E Grand Ave
Read my posts on Chicago's Tourist Sites here and on popular attractions.

Restaurants, Coffee Shops & Rooftop Bars

  • Nutella | 189 Michigan Ave
  • Wildberry Cafe | 130 E Randolph St
  • Bienmesabe (Venezuelan) | 1637 W Montrose Ave
  • Devil Dawgs (hotdog) | 767 S. State St. 60605
  • Palmer House Hilton | 17 E. Monroe St.
  • RL Bar and Grill | 111 E. Chicago Ave., 60611
  • The Dearborn (American) | 145 N Dearborn St., 60602
  • SideDoor Chicago (Gastropub) | 100 E Ontario St. 60611
  • PetitMargeaux (coffee shop) | 11 E. Walton St. 60611
  • Floriole Cafe and Bakery | 1220 W Webster Ave.
  • Cafe des architectes | 20 E Chestnut. St. Chicago
  • Ella Elli (make reservations) | 1349 W Cornelia Ave.
  • Hayden Hall (new food hall) | 333 S Wabash Ave. (2nd floor)
  • Gather Chicago | 4539 N Lincoln Ave.
  • Maison Marcel Chicago | 3114 N Broadway
  • Girl & The Goat | 809 Randolph St. 60607-2310
  • The Publican (for meatlovers – make reservation) | 837 W Fulton Market 60606-1318
  • Loumalnatis (deep dish pizza) | 805 S State St.
  • Ginos East (deep dish pizza) | 500 N LaSalle St. 60654
  • Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken West Loop | 50 W. Randolph St.
  • Donut Vault | 111 N Canal St.
  • The J. Parker (rooftop) | 1816 N Clark St.
  • Raised Bar Chicago (rooftop) | 1 W Upper Wacker Dr. In Renaissance Hotel (3rd floor)
  • Z Bar (rooftop) | 108 E Superior St.
  • Skydeck Chicago (rooftop) | 233 S Wacker Dr. 60606
  • London House Chicago (rooftop) | 85 E Wacker Dr. 60601
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The Art Institute of Chicago.

Art Institute of Chiago

On my last day in Chicago I spent all morning at the Art Institute of Chicago, the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Several people have told me it is a must see when you come to Chicago and they were right. The museum has over 300,000 permanent collections of art works from modern art, classical art to chinese, japanese expositions. I spent most of my time in the Impressionism area, observing paintings from Van Gogh to Seurat.

Before I visited the museum I had researched which paintings or artworks I wanted to see because I knew that the museum would be too big to cover in 1 day. I’m glad I picked the areas I wanted to see first as I became restless after 2 hours of walking from one room to the next. I could’ve rested at their onsite cafe and buy food and drinks but, I didn’t want to waste my day and spend it all at the museum. Therefore, I kept going until I saw everything that I wanted to see on my list.

Ticket Costs: $25 – General Admission
Address: Michigan Avenue Entrance, 111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603

What helped guide me through the museum and learning about each artwork was this app called Art Institute. It maps out each floor of the museum plus indicating which artwork has an audio. I managed to learn a lot more of the artworks through this app and was a great resource for techniques and its history behind the work.

The coolest painting that I thought was A Sunday at La Grande Jatte by George Seurat. I liked the technique of the painting with the tiny dots as you get closer to it. I thought it was pretty interesting.

Lastly, the Nighthawks by Edward Hopper is another favorite painting of mine because of its moody and eerie feeling. Oddly, I saw a recent article from New York Times that used this same painting to depict the mood of our current state relating to COVID-19; a somber and unstable situation we are in.

What I learned after visiting Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Skyline

1. Friendly locals: One of the first things that stood out to me when I visited Chicago was how friendly and helpful the locals were. They were more than willing to help out lost souls (like me) while wandering around their city.

2. Food Halls: I’ve never seen so many access to food halls as much as I did while I was in Chicago. In Orange County, I only know of 1 which is the Packing District in Anaheim. Chicago had endless options from Eataly to Revival Food hall.

3. Cleanliness: Chicago keep their streets very clean. I was fairly surprised how they managed to keep it clean considering there are over 2 million people living there.

4. Rooftop Bars: I thought L.A. had plenty of rooftop bars, Chicago seemed to have more and with better views. Londhouse Rooftop Bar was one of the nicest views I’ve seen that overlooked the Chicago river and various points of downtown.

5. Architectecture: Chicago is famous for their architecture tours. Having been able to experience it, I’d say it is one of the best I’ve seen. Never miss this when visiting Chicago.

Day 2 in Chicago. (Video)

Chicago Rooftop

Another sunny day in Chicago started making me feel spoiled. The weather during my trip regarding the brutal cold weather has proven it to be quite the opposite.

I already started my day with a delicious breakfast at the well known Wildberry Cafe. Set in the heart of the Millennium Park, I met a few friends there and caught up over pancakes and toasts. The food was good explaining why the line is always long right out the door. I didn’t end up finishing half of my food before I started feeling full so, definitely make sure to order what you can finish.

Note: Add yourself to the waitlist at least an hour prior to coming here as the wait to get a table usually takes about 45-60 minutes long. The earlier you come the better.

After breakfast, I made my way to the zoo via Lyft. The Lincoln Park Zoo was a 10 minute drive from the loop. It is one of the oldest zoo in the continent and home to various types of animals from giraffes, crocodiles, a polar bear, monkeys and much more. My favorite part of the zoo was the African Exploration exhibit (don’t quote me on the name). They created a forest theme like experience including an open room with birds free to fly around. It was both cool yet, scary (because I’m afraid of birds) at the same time. I spent about an hour and a half before deciding to move on with my journey.

After the zoo, the weather stayed sunny for the rest of the day. I decided to head over to the Navy Pier to check out the “largest rooftop bar” in Chicago.

I thought navigating to the Offshore Navy Pier felt long. It was located all the way at the end of the pier, through the hallway and 2-4 floors up. Once you’re there, the view is quite good. I was able to see the skyline of Chicago from the rooftop including the Michigan River.

The ambiance of the bar is casual with seating all around. People are able to go indoors and outdoors, enjoy playing pool or relax next to fire-pits situated along the sides of the deck. It reminded me a bit of Hive and Honey rooftop bar in Irvine but, way bigger.

A few steps from the Navy Pier is the Crystal Gardens, a small indoor greenhouse that is connected to a small shopping center. It was a great spot to pause and relax with trees and fountains around. I stayed here for a few minutes before heading out to eat.

To be continued…

Chicago’s Tourist Sites. (Video)

Tourist Sights

Saturday’s schedule was jam packed with outdoor activities that I wanted to see or do. I originally intended to spread out the activities in a span of 4 days while I was in Chicago but, since the weather was fantastic, I decided to see as much of outdoor related activities as possible. Most of them, of course, were the typical tourist sites.

In daylight, I realized the vibe of Chicago is quite different compare to the walk I had at night. The buildings stood tall above me and lined up next to each-other which reminded me a little bit of downtown L.A. except with narrower streets, more buildings, less crowded and much cleaner. The weather, on the other hand, was still cold but, not freezing at all. I was very lucky.

Millenium Park

I made it to the Cloud Gate (a.k.a “The Bean”) around 8:30 am and was happy to find out that I didn’t have to fight my way through other tourists. I took several photos and videos here, taking advantage of the fantastic lighting I had. The Bean itself is a stainless steel sculpture, a famous symbol of Chicago and is one of the most photographed attractions.

Nutella Cafè

Down the street was a perfect breakfast spot called the Nutella Cafè. Yes, you heard that right. THE Nutella spread has a cafè location in Chicago. I ordered a toast with a nutella spread and boysenberries on top, strawberry crepe with nutella, and a cup of chia seed pudding with fruits and nutella topping. Yes, I was hungry and yes, it was good.

Chicago River: Windella Tour

By the time I was done eating, I made my way to the Chicago river where I would be taking the Wendella architecture tour. I had no idea what to expect on this tour, however, it turned out to be one of the best tours I’ve done. The tour is about 2 hours long where you ride a 2 decker boat along the Chicago river with the guide sharing facts about several of the building’s architecture history. You’re allowed to sit either at the top deck or below. Most people started off at the top deck since the view from here is top notch and made their way down to the heated indoor seating to warm up or grab food and drinks. I stayed most of my time at the top deck enjoying my view from my seat.

London House Hotel

After the tour, I walked over to the London House hotel right across the street from where our boat docked. I’ve heard about their rooftop view overlooking the river and the city so, I made sure to stop by and see it for myself.

The view here was pretty good. I was able to see the Chicago river bridges in the distance and the Trump Tower. At the time of my visit, there weren’t that much people around and I found myself, at times, alone. I took advantage of my view and stayed for 35 minutes taking photos and admiring the scene. Times like this, where I had this rooftop deck all to myself with a view of Chicago right in front of me, reminded me why I travel. That moment in time is an opportunity I’ll never get again.

To be continued…

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First night in the windy city.

Chicago at Night

Chicago was definitely a city that’s been on my list of places to see. However, due to their harsh cold weather (by California standards anything under 75 degrees F is cold), it was a major factor in influencing my decision of not coming to visit sooner. With decent flight winter deals, I could not turn away from this opportunity and bought my tickets (rain or shine, there was no going back).

I arrived late at night via Midway International airport and took the metro which dropped me off right in downtown Chicago. The weather, well, as expected it was cold (about 30 degrees F). My puffer coat I wore along with a beanie and boots certainly was doing its job in keeping me warm. It took me a couple of blocks to finally arrive at the Central Loop Hotel where I would be staying for the next couple of days.

The front desk clerk guided me through their online check in process and immediately provided me with my keys. My hotel room was small, nothing fancy at all but, it was central to everything I needed and that was more than enough for me. I settled in for a few minutes before deciding to brave the cold and get food.

I ended up at Giordanos, a restaurant known for Chicago’s deep dish pizza. The pizza was quite huge for my taste with layers of cheese and crust combined. I thought it was the most I’ve eaten pizza in my life but, it was quite good.

Note: Giordanos & Louminatis are Chicago's 2 popular deep dish pizza restaurants.

'The primary difference between deep-dish pizza and most other forms of pizza is that, as the name suggests, the crust is very deep, creating a very thick pizza that resembles a pie more than a flatbread. Although the entire pizza is very thick, in traditional Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas, the crust itself is thin to medium in thickness.'  
~ Wikipedia

After stuffing myself with the pizza, I walked around a few blocks to observe my new surroundings and tried to burned off all the cheese I had consumed. It was freezing and I found myself walking alone.

At first, I thought it was odd how quiet it was and not see too many cars around until I saw the Chicago river. The sight of it was breathtaking under the cool air. I took a couple of shots before heading back to my room and eventually realised that Chicago was 3 hours ahead from Cali. It all made sense now how I’ve been wandering around outside in the cold at 1am without people around. Silly me, I must’ve been tired from the flight.

To be continued…