Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Long Weekend in Chicago

Thanks to the Labor Day holiday, we had a long weekend and since I am never one to pass up on a chance to visit somewhere without using my PTO (Paid Time Off) from work, I figured we might as well take advantage of the holiday and take a mini vacation. I have been to Chicago before but this was years ago so I was looking forward to re-visiting the city plus my husband had also wanted to check it out so it was a win-win situation for both of us.

Where We Stayed:

We based our stay in downtown which is where the city's main attractions are located and this time we decided to stay at a hotel instead of an airbnb. We stayed at this hip hotel called Acme which had a cool vibe and interesting style that I liked, definitely not your typical stuffy downtown hotel.

What We Did:

Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile) - If you love shopping this is the street for you as it is lined with various shops to suit every taste. Shopping wasn't on our to do list even though the temptation was there but it was nice walking along the lively street checking out different stores and fashion.

Lakefront Trail - This is a trail that runs along the beautiful Lake Michigan where you can walk, bike, rollerblade, jog or just sit on the side enjoying good weather and people watching. I looked up online and the trail is about 18 miles long, we didn't walk the whole 18 miles along it but we covered a decent chunk. Is a mile considered decent?

Navy Pier - Have you really visited Chicago if you haven't been to the Navy Pier? it's an iconic Chicago landmark located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Here, you can catch a live show, go on a boat cruise or tour, eat, drink & be merry and top it all off by riding the Centennial Wheel. Honestly speaking I think it's a tourist trap but hey! it's still worth checking out.

This is what you get when you combine good weather and a ride in the Centennial wheel, beautiful aerial view of the city.

Boat Tour - Speaking of Navy Pier, while you are in the area why not take a boat cruise or tour? I had wanted us to do the famous Chicago Architect Tour that lasts 75 minutes, but the weather on the day that we went back to the pier was really cloudy and looked like it might rain so we settled for the shorter Classic Lake Tour. Included in the tour was narration about the history of Chicago and some of the city's famous landmarks. I'm I the only one who never remembers what the narrator said, afterwards? 

Millenium Park - Described as the heart of Chicago in some articles I had come across, it's definitely worth checking out. This park is a nice place to chill and have a picnic, admire some interesting architectural structures, take in a live show (there was a jazz festival taking place when we were there) and last but not least, check out the famous Cloud Gate sculpture famously known as "The Bean."

Hubbard Street - If you like nightlife then this is the place for you in downtown, at least that's what we were told. This street is lined with bars, restaurants, lounges and nightclubs. We went out for drinks on a Saturday night and it was very lively, we didn't stay out too late though.

Helicopter Tour: This was totally unplanned, we came across reasonably priced helicopter tours being advertised at the Navy Pier so we decided to check it out, neither of us had been in a helicopter before and we figured it would be one of those unforgettable "got to try it" kind of experiences, so we went for it.  The ride itself was very short, I am talking maybe 10 minutes if not less but the tour was pretty cool as we got good aerial views of the city and the pilot was very interactive and made sure to point out different landmarks and tell us about them.

PS: We took the tour with Chicago Helicopter Experience

Where We Ate:

Sunny Side Up - We were spoiled for choice but I have to give a shout out to this brunch and coffee shoppe. The food was good and the service even better, the hotel we stayed at recommended them and we found ourselves heading there for brunch everyday during our short stay. 

That's it folks! we enjoyed our short stay in Chicago downtown area. There was so much to do but so little time which was a bummer but all in all, it was a good mini vacation. I have an exciting solo trip coming up in November so watch out for a fun update on that.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Long Weekend in Nantucket

What happens when one of your friends moves out of state and invites you to visit her at her new home in Nantucket? if you are like me, you jump at the opportunity and book a flight months in advance knowing that the weekend you agreed upon is a holiday weekend and prices are going to skyrocket. That is how my husband and I found ourselves in Nantucket; a small island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Honestly speaking, Nantucket would never have crossed my radar were it not for my friend and I am so glad we got to check it out because it exceeded my expectations.......or rather lack of. Anyway, let me get started on the recap of our trip.

Getting to Nantucket

There is a reason this island wasn't in my radar, getting there is such a hustle and can be pricey, especially during summer which is high season. Of course we opted for the cheapest option we had which was flying into Logan airport in Boston then taking a bus heading to Hyannis in Cape Cod. We used Peter Pan bus to go to Hyannis and Plymouth & Brockton coming back to Boston (both go back and forth, it was just a matter of timing and that's why we switched companies). The trip took about 2 hrs and in my true fashion I blacked out through out the whole ride.

PS: Both buses can be found at the airport, just ask at the information desk to be directed to their stop.

From Hyannis we took the Hy-Line ferry to Nantucket, the ferry ride was about an hour long and it was actually pretty pleasant. I was scared of getting motion sickness but I didn't, thank goodness! 

We got to Nantucket when the weather was still bright and sunny so we were able to hit the ground running in order to maximize our short stay. The island is not big so that made it easier to check out what it has to offer in a short period of time, I will just go ahead and summarize what we did......

Day One

Technically this was half a day since we got to the island in the late afternoon. Majority of the time was spent at the beach enjoying the warm weather and walking around to get a feel of the island.

How pretty are these houses covered in flowers?! seems like that's the thing on the island, lot's of houses covered or surrounded by pretty flowers.

There was no shortage of well trimmed and manicured lawns.

Day Two

We had the whole day on our hands to explore more of the island so while my friend was at work, her sweet husband drove us all over showing us different areas and points of interest.

When visiting Nantucket and someone tells you, let's go to the mall. Don't expect a typical mall, this is where you end up. A place where people drop off what they don't need and others come to sift through the stuff to get what they need, everything is free and if you are lucky you can get some good stuff.

Oldest windmill in Nantucket built in 1746.

A trip to this island isn't complete without checking out their functioning lighthouses. There are 3 on the island: Brant Point Light, Great Point Light and Sankaty Head Light. I only got photos of two but you get the idea.

Sankaty Head Light

Brant Point

Day Three

We took a day trip to Martha's Vineyard which is bigger than Nantucket (it has 6 town while Nantucket only has 1). We took the first ferry out in the morning and the trip was about an hour long, I have always associated Martha's Vineyard with where US presidents take their vacations so I was imagining a stuffy, snobby place but we were in for a surprise! it was very touristy and packed with people from all over. Since we didn't have a lot of time, we decided to stick to Oak Bluffs and Edgartown (2 of the 6 towns in the island).

There are many ways to get around the island so we opted for a public bus which was cheaper, a whole day pass of $8 would let you get on any bus going to whichever town you want to visit for the day. There were long lines of people waiting to get onto the bus to Edgartown, which we had been told is the most popular town on the island. Fortunately the buses were frequent so we did not have to wait for too long. When we got to Edgartown we walked around, checked out some of the many cute little shops and basically just soaked in the vibe of the town, cute and quaint is how I would describe it. 

Since Oaks Bluff is where we would be departing the island from, we saved it for last. In my opinion I think Oak Bluff had a spring break vibe while Edgartown had a more relaxed and mature vibe to it. I liked both as each had its own appeal.

The popular gingerbread houses in Oak Bluff (google the back ground story). 

PS: Carry cash when venturing to Martha's Vineyard, we were surprised by how many places accepted cash only for payment.

We headed out of the island in the afternoon after enduring really hot weather. We were all tired and sweaty by the time we were getting back to Nantucket. We took it easy for a few hours before heading out to check out the local night life to end the night on a high note.

Day Four

We headed back home after having had the best mini vacation ever! I had zero expectations on this trip but it turned out to be one of our best vacation getaways. It's funny how certain places can surprise you, Nantucket was definitely a pleasant surprise!

That's it folks! I need to catch up on my sleep and get back to the regular routine........seriously can I just win the lottery and get to vacation forever? a girl can only dream, we have another mini getaway coming up at the end of August so watch out for an update.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Last Day in DC

Le sigh! all good things must come to an end and today is our last day in DC before heading back to reality tomorrow. We decided to check out Eastern Market which is a public market located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, our airbnb host had informed us that during the weekend they have an outdoor flea market which is pretty cool to check out so today being a Saturday, we quickly made our way there.

The flea market turned out to be pretty cool and there were lots of vendors selling everything from jewelry, clothes, art work.......you name it! it was definitely a perfect setting to start a Saturday. We walked around, got some brunch at this one restaurant that had horrible service and was over priced, before discovering food stalls tucked in one corner of the flea market serving dishes from different countries at very reasonable prices, I wanted to scream! (Well, I did scream in my head. I was like what the F**K?! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!" plus a lot of other expletives). To all those people who have told me I always look so calm in stressful situations, trust me........there is usually a riot going on in my mind, I just don't show it. Besides that restaurant fiasco, we had a pretty good time and even bought some stuff to take home with us. I would definitely recommend a visit to the Eastern Market on a weekend to check out the flea market that's held outdoors.

Inside the Eastern Market

After getting our fill of the market we headed to The Wharf, a vibrant mile long stretch along the Potomac river that has restaurants, entertainment and businesses that attract large crowds. I actually just found out that it was the first major waterfront development project aimed at transforming the area and it's only been open since 2017! not too long ago clearly. Anyway, it was hot as balls and we were both sweating like crazy so we headed into one of the restaurants in the area to cool off with drinks while people watching from our seating on the shaded rooftop. Seriously if it's possible to gain 10 pounds within 3 days I think I may have gained that much during this trip. We have been eating a lot of goodies and drinking more than we normally do but hey! we are on vacation so why not? we hang around The Wharf till evening before calling it a day.

Funny story about the photo below, I saw this photographer having a photo session with some clients. After he was done and packing up his gear, I approached him and asked if he could take a photo of us with my phone. My husband was so embarrassed but I figured who better to ask to take our photo than a photographer and what did we have to lose anyway? the photographer shook his head saying no politely. I just smiled before telling him, "that's ok I understand." As soon as I started walking away he called out to me and said he would take one photo. Let's just say my husband was not amused, but in all honesty was it really foul asking the photographer to take our photo? I travel alone a lot so I am used to asking strangers to take my photos. If they say no I retreat but if they oblige I jump at the chance, I mean......why not? the photo does make me laugh though because I look happy as can be while my husband looks so stiff and that's because he was so embarrassed. 

That's it folks! it was a day well spent and we are ready to go back home. We do have a trip coming up in July so do watch out for an update.