Take Me Out to the Windy City

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Finally made it to Chicago! It’s a city I’ve been wanting to visit for years. Here’s some photos to capture the weekend:

Cloud gate (“the bean”) is a popular tourist photo stop and after seeing it, I can understand why….plus, it’s housed in Millennium Park. This park is a must-see! It’s vast, green and lovely. The park contains several museums, fountains, art installations, bike trails etc. We also checked out Wrigley field. I’m not a sports fan but the history and enthusiasm of the ballpark is contagious.

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Barely pictured: The deep dish pizza I inhaled. To my surprise and delight, it was delicious. Also, Chicago seems to have caught on to the donut craze and now, the cronut phase. They called this a doughssant. New name, same great hybrid. Yum!

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Biking in Millennium Park. It was lovely and pedaling along the water, I felt like I was back in Los Angeles. That is, until the sky opened up and within minutes I was soaked through with rain. While in a tank top and shorts.  Well played, Chicago. Well played.

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See….just like  Southern California.

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Until the great summer storm of 2014 hit the city. It lasted about 7 minutes and nearly forced me to steal an umbrella from a child (see said child in photo below). In the end, there was nothing to do but bike through the rain laughing and strategically head towards a glass of wine. And a nice cheese plate. A perfect last meal in the city!

 

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Until next time, Chicago!

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A suitcase full of cheese and a head full of tulips… Part II

“Denmark is like a secret little place with its own special language.” H. Christensen

This is true. It’s a funny slippery little language. It makes you feel like you can almost understand it, and then in the next moment you are completely lost. It’s fun trying to follow along though. Delightfully confusing. The language just sounds happy. It sounds like a language that children made up to amuse themselves and confuse the adults in the room.

I loved my 24 hours in Copenhagen. It was just enough time to get a quick taste of the city and know that I need to return. The architecture and aesthetics of the city were captivating. Each little cafe we passed had the most incredible furniture and decor. It’s like the whole city was thoughtfully curated…modern, simple, warm and beautiful.

The pastries and danishes were the best I’ve ever had in my life. Seriously. I don’t particularly like cinnamon rolls in the states but our first morning in Copenhagen quickly turned into a delicious bakery crawl. I may have even bought a few extra danishes to enjoy on the plane ride home and again on my first morning back in LA. I couldn’t help but bring home food. I won’t mention how many pounds of cheese were stuffed into my carry-on bag.

Amsterdam felt like a sister city to Copenhagen. It was incredibly picturesque. Canals everywhere. All of the streets are winding, divided by water and linked by dozens of small bridges. Incredible. The people were very direct but not rude. Much like Paris, everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. The man we rented bicycles from actually gave us directions to where we were staying. The food was good here too-especially the chocolate. It’s tulips and cheese and beer….everything you’d expect from Amsterdam. Only so much prettier and more vivid in person. It reminded me a little of San Francisco and it would have been great to have had an extra few days to explore the different neighborhoods, museums etc.

Tips for Copenhagen and Amsterdam

  • Rent a bicycle. Bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation for the locals. For us it was a great way to cover a lot of ground in a short time. Plus, it felt like being a part of the local culture. Biking in Amsterdam is not for the faint of heart BUT cars do yield to bicycles. However, you do need to throw yourself into it and just go with the traffic (bike and car traffic). It would be unsafe to be too timid on a bike here. So, close your eyes, take a deep breath and pedal like a local with a purpose. It’s exhilarating!
  • As always, eat the local food. The cheese, salmon, danishes and chocolate were my favorites
  • Public transportant in both cities is excellent. Don’t worry about staying in the city center. We stayed a little outside of the more crowded areas of the city and had no trouble with the metro systems. Hotels and rentals also tend to be cheaper when you are outside of the touristy areas.
  • If you are there in the spring, go see the tulips in Amsterdam. It is a must do and a short train ride from the city. They are stunning.

Happy travels and happy eating. xo

 

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The tulip fields in Keukenhof outside of Amsterdam

 

 

Paris, Je t’aime…Part I

Images and memories of the trip are still sinking in but I wanted to write a little here while it is fresh on my mind.

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Paris.

It’s lovely. It looks just like it’s supposed to and I can understand why it has become the city of love. I loved it too. It seems impossible not to fall for Paris. The gardens and outdoor markets, the beautiful architecture and the food- the food, oh THE FOOD. It was amazing. This vacation, as all good trips should, quickly turned into a food focused trip- in the most marvelous way.

My first morning in Paris, I was wide awake by 5am. Thanks to the time difference, I found myself dressed by 6 and setting out to explore the city. The first one awake in Paris. I ended up at a quaint French bakery and bought freshly made warm croissants from the sweetest French woman in the world. Our limited exchange was in French. My part mostly involved gesturing, smiling and butchering her beautiful language. Nonetheless, I exited the bakery with a bag of warm croissants and was elated.  I practically skipped back to our apartment.

As a side note, I had only meant to order one croissant but somehow ended up with two. A happy French accident.

This set the tone for the rest of the trip and I was hooked.

What I would suggest if you are going to Paris:

  • Stop into all of the outdoor markets. They are a marvelous treat for the senses. You can buy all kinds of food there and it’s a great place to get what you need for a picnic. Some of the markets also sell household items, clothes etc.
  • Go to the gardens. All of the gardens. Any of the gardens. They are beautiful, lush and green. This was one of my favorite aspects of this city…I had no idea how green it would be and that around every corner waited a beautiful garden
  • Lots of things in the city are closed on Sunday (and sometimes Monday as well). It’s good to plan ahead of time to work around this- particularly if you are only in the city a short time. We discovered that the Marais district (which is historically Jewish) was a great place to go on Sunday. It was bustling and the shops and restaurants were all open. We had the most amazing falafel there (twice). It’s a a very fun and vibrant neighborhood.
  • Eat the bread, cheese and wine. This is was Parisians do best. Eat their food, the way they eat it and you will not be disappointed.

 

Part II coming next…..Amsterdam and Copenhagen!

 

 

 

Home sweet home.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

 

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Back! Photos and stories coming later this week. It was a wonderful adventure!

Also, I need to move to Copenhagen immediately.