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A Quick Vacation to Chicago, IL

A quick hello after a long hiatus is probably something no one really expected from me, but I am back. Phew, boy do I have a lot to update on that is long overdue especially since 99% of it happened in 2014. Not to worry, I will catch up with all of the back logged posts soon (all of which are probably going to be Instagram quality images - my apologies) but for now I wanted to go ahead and share with you my mini vacation that I took to Chicago, IL.

I have never been to Chicago, nor have I gone somewhere that is cold more than 50% of the year. The last time I even frolicked through snow was when I was in middle school so having a Southern California-raised gal travel to Chicago, where the weather is the most frigid (I am talking right at the beginning of the new year), is probably one of the more impulsive decisions I have made in a while. None of the less, I really enjoyed my time and I will do my best to describe what it was that I did in each of the photos. This time around, I did not shop as much as I was there for the sake of leisure and spending time with the beau. Without further ado, here are snaps of what went down in the cold, windy city of Chicago, IL.



What I am wearing (as shown): Waterproof Timberland Earthkeeper Trenton Booties (sold out but here's an alternative), no-brand socks, Uniqlo heattech tights, Forever21 drop waist skirt (sold out but here's an alternative), no-brand trench coat, J.Crew wool scarf (old, but here's an alternative) / Everlane twill backpack
 

Strawberry Belgium waffles to go for dinner from Elly's Pancake House
 101 W North Ave Chicago, IL 60610
It was too late to really grab a meal and I didn't want anything that was too heavy. Breakfast for dinner sounded like the best plan there was so I went ahead and called in and had our orders to go. Luckily the restaurant was near by and the order was completed really quickly. You can't probably tell, but this waffle was gigantic and it was so so good! I give it a 4.0/5!
 

Chicken and tofu pad Thai from Joy Yee's Noodle Kitchen
 521 Davis St Evanston, IL 60201
I have had authentic Thai food. Heck, I have had a lot of authentic Asian food from countries that they originated from. If you have not been to Joy Yee's, it is a pretty interesting place. Their menu has probably over a hundred different items and entrees that you can pick from. The first few pages of the menu are quite literally just photos of food with a number associated with it. The last few pages of the menu are descriptions of what each of the photos are and how much that plate would cost. On this particular day, I decided to go for pad thai and boy did it hit the spot. The food came out fast for a restaurant that serves Asian foods from an array of cuisines from Vietnamese to Malaysian dishes. I give it a good 4.0/5 (specifically because my chicken felt dry, but everything else was delectable)!


Hickory-smoked pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries, coleslaw and baked beans (classic nachos as a starter with a side of guacamole) from the Hard Rock Cafe
  63 W. Ontario Chicago, IL 60610
Walking to the Hard Rock Cafe in the middle of a snowfall was probably not the greatest idea, but no regrets were felt the moment I feasted on my meal. I was starving, but it was probably the nerves from the frigidity of the air that put my eating to shame as the nachos were not finished nor was I able to fit the remainder of my fries in my tummy. While you are waiting for your food, I highly suggest you take a walk to the second floor to check out some of the outfits that Madonna wore during her performances! I give the food and service a 4.5/5!


American breakfast at The Breakfast Club & Grill
 1381 W Hubbard St Chicago, IL 60622
This is a quaint little restaurant a bit away from the busy streets of downtown Chicago, where you can find yourself in the cutest seats with lights that hang over your table like they came out of a D.I.Y. Pinterest board. While I was too busy awe-ing the place to actually take photographs of the interior, the waiters were kind and the food was scrumptious. I had the American breakfast (without meat) which came with eggs however you wanted them cooked, potatoes, bread of your choice, the most mouth watering strawberry spread ever and butter. He had the french toast and lord almighty, that thing was delicious as well. I give this place (and for the sake of cost) a 4.5/5.


Smoked Gouda cheese and grilled onion burger from Frietkoten Belgian Fries & Beer; We also had a nutella crepe from FliP Crepes and a lemon bar from Delightful Pastries
 131 N Clinton St Chicago, IL 60606 (French Market Chicago)
Just as a fair warning, nothing in the French Market Chicago is considered "cheap". The vendors that work in this adorable, quaint food place specialize in particular food such as cheeses, meats, sandwiches, alcohol and desserts. What you are paying for is the experience and trying out new food. The upside to all of this is that parking is free up to an hour if you spend at least $20. Just make sure you have your parking card stamped and with a receipt as proof! Onwards to the meal review: This burger from the Friekoten Belgian Fries & Beer stand is by far the most delicious burger I have had in a while. The onions were perfectly grilled and the fries were absolutely delicious. I took a bite of his burger and the apples plus the maple bacon made your taste buds go wild in excitement. Unfortunately, I scarfed down the Nutella crepe and lemon bar so there aren't any photos of it, but rest assured it was delicious. For the sake of cost, I have to lower my rating, but it is definitely a place you should check out if you ever visit Chicago. I give it a 4.5/5!


Gifts: Levi's women wax coated acrylic/Japanese chambray anorak (not sold online, but here's an alternative), Assassin's Creed Unity for Xbox One, an iPhone 5S phone case, a teddy bear (to which he named Peter) from the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Chicago, and a gift card for Victoria's Secret (that I have spent well during their semi-annual sale). I am absolutely thankful and lucky to be spoiled with such amazing gifts.

I left for Chicago on January 2nd, 2015 and departed for Los Angeles on the 6th, making this trip one of the shortest trips I have taken in a while. After a long and stressful semester at school, all I really wanted to do was to take a trip somewhere to get my mind off of what has already happened and to look forward for a fresh new year. A lot has happened in Chicago from sight-seeing to watching fresh snow falling, to surviving a crazy Uber driver's inability to drive in snow and to the realization that United Airlines does not open until 4AM. So much has happened in Chicago, but through all of the adventures, laughter and memories made there I cannot see myself living anywhere else. I have left my heart in Chicago, but I will definitely be back for it soon enough and (fingers crossed) for good.

I wanted to give a quick shout out to the strangers that I came across while I was engrossed into the city's beauty and to The Hampton Inn located at The Magnificent Mile (160 E Huron St Chicago, IL 60611). The staff was amazing for letting me check in 3 hours early and for caring about my well-being the entire time I stayed there. The free Wi-Fi was amazingly quick and the free breakfast was totally worth waking up to. Not only did they give me one of the best views of downtown (as shown through the photos of the skyscrapers), but I was located on the 30-something-th floor and the elevators were fast. If you ever visit Chicago, I highly recommend you stay at that hotel (plus, no hidden charges - woot). Just note that parking is valet only and it is $60/night.

I cannot wait to be back again soon!