Janee, Jess and I flew to the states to begin our big American adventure. We arrived in New York at 8.30pm local time. It took us an hour and a half to go through immigration and we were exhausted by the time we hopped onto the subway.
Considering it was 3am London time, we managed to stay alert enough to navigate our way to the self contained studio apartment we booked and promptly crashed for the night.
New York’s subway system runs 24 hours which is I think it one of the coolest things about the city.
In the morning, we woke up early and grabbed breakfast from the coffee shop on the block. It sold a small range of items but we were pretty excited as that range wasn’t anything we were familiar with.
After breakfast, we walked one block to Union Square so that we could orient ourselves with our neighbourhood.
Along the way, we passed a hot dog stand and a farmers market.
We hopped on the subway to Times Square, which I find is more rectangular in shape.
It’s size makes London’s Piccadily Circus and Leicester Square look minute.
What I found incredible was the amount of advertising and neon signage on all the buildings.
There is so much to look at that we found it hard to concentrate on something as simple as crossing the road.
The pedestrian only areas was filled with tourists watching the various promotional displays.
We saw children sumo wrestling and dancing in the street.
Jess had a free massage while Janee and I accessed the free wifi available to people in the square.
We browsed in a super sized Toys R Us which had a Willy Wonka section in it.
We reminisced about this blast from the past but managed to resist buying anything.
Our end goal was to visit the Hershey’s store which we had heard so much about.
I was debating whether or not to buy some but common sense prevailed. It was very hot and the chocolates would have melted within the hour.
My sister would go crazy in this store.
Across from the Hershey’s store was the M&M store.
I didn’t realise M&M’s were so popular as to warrant a store that size.
The store mostly sold merchandise but they also had a section that sold the various types of M&M’s, much like a jelly bean section.
I have never been a fan of M&M’s but I have to admit, I can see why they appeal to the general masses. Brilliant marketing on their part.
My favourite items were their T-shirts and the larger than life sized models.
We continued walking towards Upper Manhattan in the search for Macy’s but we got sidetracked by a pay by weight meat and salad bar cafe. It was lunchtime so we decided to try it out. As the cafe was run by Koreans, they had a range of hot Chinese, Korean and Japanese options on offer.
I stuck with the cold salad bar area and was pleased when my lunch came to a bargain price of $6. Much better value than the place we tried in Brazil, although the reason for that is mostly due to us not overloading our places with more food than we can eat.
So far we managed to resist the temptation of hot dogs, bagels, pretzels and lovely looking snacks but when we passed a miniature cupcake shop, we had to go in a take a look.
They were so pretty that we decided to buy two cupcakes each to share.
The flavours we chose were peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly, s’mores (marshmallows), cookie dough, rice krispy and cookies and cream.
We finally made to Macy’s but we weren’t in the mood to shop so we went to see the Empire State Building which was a little further up.
We walked into the building but decided not to go up to the top and to go up the Rockafeller building instead.
I still have pictures and memories of going to the top of the Empire State Building when I was fourteen.
Shortly after I headed back to our studio apartment for an afternoon siesta but first, swung by Grand Central station.
Grand Central station looked exactly as it does in the movies. It was surreal to be standing there in the centre. I was half tempted to walk up to the ticket office and get the next one way ticket to the next destination out of there.
One of things I really like about New York is the architecture of some of its apartments.
After a couple of hours snooze, I woke up just in time to meet Jess and Janee for dinner. We headed into Chinatown and walked around before settling on a restaurant called Green Bo.
We selected it because it was full of diners and had copies of the multiple awards it had won.
Chinatown was abit disappointing.
It was large and sprawling but it was a run down and unattractive district.
Green Bo’s speciality are it’s dumplings. We ordered the crabmeat and pork dumplings as well as the pork and leek dumplings.
We also ordered szecuan soup, scallops and vegetables along with spicy tofu.
We were taken aback by the portion sizes. It was our first meal in the US and we had been warned about the portion sizes. We couldn’t finish two thirds of the scallops or the tofu and vowed not to over order again.
We browsed Chinatown and Little Italy as well as a couple of souvenir shops.
I took a special photo for all your iPhone users out there.
The next day we hopped on the free ferry to Staten Island, mistakenly thinking it would lead us to the Statue of Liberty.
The return journey was an hour long but we left the apartment early enough to make it back before 11am. The ferry ride provided us with fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline.
We were able to get a few photos of Lady Liberty, unhindered by hoards of tourists.
When we got off the Staten Island ferry, we hopped onboard the Ellis Island/ Liberty Island ferry.
We only stopped on Liberty Island and took shots of the Statue of Liberty from every angle.
It was lunchtime by the time our ferry landed in New York so we walked around the Financial district looking for another pay by weight salad bar.
There’s no shortage of places to eat in this area and we stumbled into one that had a huge array of drinks.
They had an impressive collection of no calorie, low calorie, no carb drinks. Whatever you can think of, they have.
After lunch we walked down Wall street, the street where according to the movies, it all happens.
The street was much quieter than we expected although there was a small gathering of tourists surrounding the New York Stock Exchange.
We visited the site where the Twin Towers used to be and had a look at previews of their memorial which they expect will be finished in 2016 along with the new World Trade Centre.
We walked towards City Hall, passing a snack stop along the way. As we had been walking for 3 hours, we allowed ourselves a little snack.
From City Hall we found the start of Brooklyn Bridge and walked across to Brooklyn Heights.
Brooklyn Bridge didn’t look like much from afar, especially as could see Manhattan Bridge in the distance, but as we approached the bridge, we found it was impressively designed and built.
The round trip to Brooklyn took us 45 mins but it gave us fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline.
On the way back, we passed a lady selling Obama condoms which we just had to take a photo of.
At 5.50pm, we started walking to Little Italy to grab some dinner but didn’t end up reaching there till 8pm as we got lost repeatedly. We walked up and down and across Lower Manhattan, crossing the City Hall area another 3 times.
We found a great Italian restaurant fairly quickly and ordered a seafood platter, salad and a side of mussels to share.
The next morning we caught the coach to Boston, where we would be visiting my cousin Nicole. The last time I saw Nicole was 3 years ago when she visited London shortly after I moved there.
The last time Jess saw her was 6 years ago when she came to visit us in Perth.
Nicole took us to central Boston where we walked along the Freedom Trail which covers 16 historical sites.
The atmosphere in Boston was fantastic as it was the 4th July weekend.
There were bands playing in different areas of the city, men in costumes and plenty of market stalls and food stands.
Nicole showed us the oldest restaurant in the state which coincidentally happens to be a very good lobster restaurant.
It was opposite the WW2 memorial which had the serial codes of all the men who had enlisted and lost their lives.
Just around the corner was Haymarket where vendors sold fruits and vegetables. As well as being very cheap (compared to the UK), it was tempting to buy something since it was a colourful display.
Quincy Market was our next destination and where we planned to have lunch.
I love markets anyway but even more so in another country due to the different stuff on offer.
The shops in this market had fantastic presentation.
Predictably, we chose to have lobster for lunch.
Boston is well known for it’s lobster and clam chowder.
We ordered two lobsters to share between three of us.
Top it off with a frozen yoghurt for dessert (of which their smallest size is equivalent to a large one anywhere else) and you have one satisfied customer.
We walked off our lunch by wandering around Boston Harbour.
Everywhere we walked was bustling with activity. It felt like a city gearing up for a celebration.
We walked through the Kings Chapel burial ground and pedestrian shopping mall before making our way to Boston Common.
Boston Common is the country’s first public garden.
It adjoins another smaller park known as the Boston Public Garden.
Walking through the parks led us to Newbury street, an upmarket residential and office street filled with cafes and boutique shops.
The street led us to the Christian Science Church and museum which my Grand Uncle designed when he was working as an architect for the famous Chinese architect IM Pei.
The project took him six years to complete and very nearly burned him out.
As I stood there in the central square, I felt immensely proud of my Grand Uncle and for the first time, understood the attraction in being an architect.
My Uncle also had the honour of working on a few other high profile projects for IM Pei, most notably the Louve museum pyramid and plaza and the L’Enfant plaza in Washington.
All this walking built up an appetite so we walked to Chinatown.
Boston’s Chinatown is small but compact, much like London’s though less ornate in decor.
Our choice for dinner was a Malaysian restaurant called Penang.
We ordered a range of dishes which included an oyster omelette, fried noodles, yam chicken, popiah and sambal okra.
Needless to say, we had leftovers.
Now that our bellies were full, it was safe to venture into a supermarket where we stocked up on snacks and breakfast.
The range of food in offer is incredible. The drinks aisle alone must have had over 150 different kind of products on offer.
Everything we saw just looked bigger and better. The only ‘bad snack’ Janee bought was a Twinkie. Other than that we managed to resist the call of the cookies and cakes and instead bought apples, blueberries and veggie chips.
In the morning, we paid a visit to a laundromat, and did our washing the American way. Their machines were industrial sized and only took quarters. The laundromat even had wifi!
After our chores were complete, we went to Harvard university to see where some of the smartest minds in the country spend their years studying.
Harvard University was founded by an Englishman called John Harvard. The University was quite large and the grounds were lovely.
Our appetites were whet from our lobster lunch of the previous day so we bought some fresh live lobsters from the supermarket to cook at home.
We bought three lobsters for a total of $36. You just can’t get those prices at home.
I was witness to the lobsters reluctance at being taken out of their tank so I couldn’t bring myself to pose with them for photos or to cook them.
Even taking them out if the pot made me a tad jittery.
Nicole, our local resident had to be the one to cook then and serve them out.
We still had leftover Chinese food in a box so I was able to tick ‘eating chinese food out of a box’ off my list of things to do while in the US.
The next day we embarked on a road trip to Maine, where my Grand Uncle Sai lives.
The drive was 3 hours long but in the standing tradition of all good road trips, included a couple of a food stops.
The first was to a huge supermarket called ‘Whole Foods Market’. It felt like a playground for adults. It sold organic food and its produce was fresh and of a high quality.
It had a few salad bars which we helped ourselves to, a sushi bar, gourmet pizza section. It even had peanut butter making section!
Our second stop was at Maine’s most famous and well regarded lobster roll roadside eatery.
I had heard tales of this lobster roll from my parents who ate it when they visited two years ago.
They had to queue for 45 mins when they were here, we only had to queue for 15 mins, partly because it wasn’t peak lunchtime but mostly because it was Independence Day.
Uncle Sai’s birthday coincides with Independence day so it was the perfect day to visit him.
Jess and I first visited him 16 years ago before we emigrated to Australia. His house looks as we remember it except with more clutter.
Uncle Sai lives in a town called Thomaston.
The next day he took us to Camden and Port Clyde as well as Rockland. They are all small towns about 15 minutes drive from each other.
Maine’s two main industries are fishing and lumbering.
Lobsters are abundantly available, even more so than in Boston.
Maine is often referred to as the Lobster capital of the world.
We went to see the Lighthouse at Marshall Point as well as a couple of tourist shops in the towns.
It was a relaxing and gave us some quality time with our Uncle before we caught the coach back to Boston the next day.
Our last few days in Boston were spent hanging out with Nicole, shopping and relaxing, in preparation for the remainder of our trip which was about to get very hectic.
After a sad farewell to our cousin Nicole in Boston, we flew to Los Angeles, home to Hollywood stars and business tycoons.
We stayed on the quiet end of Hollywood Boulevard where the Hollywood star walk of fame trail started.
For the first couple of blocks, I didn’t recognise any of the names on the stars. They dated back further than any of the movies or TV shows I had seen.
As we approached Kodak Theatre, some of the big names started appearing.
Much like Times Square in New York, Hollywood Boulevard is distracting to the eye although it is on a smaller scale.
The Kodak Theatre was not what I expected.
It’s where the Academy Awards is held every year. It looks very different without the red carpet and Hollywood stars in front.
The inside of the theatre has a list of Oscar winning movies for each year.
It also had Muhammad Ali’s star which made for a good photo opportunity.
We wandered inside the central courtyard until it was time to meet up with Gen and her sisters.
Los Angeles is very spread out so we figured the best way to see everything was to go on the Hop on hop off sightseeing bus.
We got on at Graumann’s Chinese Theatre which is the first bus stop.
Along the way we passed sights such as Chateau Marmont, Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo drive.
Rodeo drive had suits on sale for $15,000. We were told to keep a look out for the rich and famous in the shops.
We got off at the Farmers Market and the Grove for lunch.
The Farmers Market has over 100 restaurants and shops.
It also has a tram that takes you to the Grove which is a pedestrian shopping street that looks like Main street from Disneyland.
We spent about two hours there before deciding to hop back on the bus.
The bus is supposed to come every half hour but we spent an hour waiting for the next bus.
It was pretty hot and we spent a lot of that hour, trying to find shade.
Even so, once we got back on the bus, the sun didn’t stop us from sitting at the top.
Once of the nice things about LA was the tall palm trees lining the streets.
On the bus, we often had to look down at the sights since everything was flat and at a lower level. The palm trees were the exception.
We passed Paramount Pictures and Santa Monica Pier.
It was 8pm by the time we got back to Kodak Theatre and we made a beeline for a Japanese restaurant that had Shabu Shabu.
The next day, Janee’s friend Ed drove down from San Diego to take us out and around LA.
Our first order of business was the Hollywood sign where we spent half hour posing for pictures.
It wasn’t as pleasant jumping in the heat but our efforts paid off.
Ed drove us to Santa Monica Pier which at 11am, was already packed with beach goers and tourists.
Santa Monica felt so different from central LA.
It was laid-back, relaxed and had a great vibe. The beach had a memorial dedicated to American soldiers.
Santa Monica Pier had a small fairground and cute colourful food stalls.
The performers and people fishing added to the hustle and bustle of the area.
Santa Monica pier was the last stop on Route 66.
We had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp which had Forrest Gump advertising all over the place.
After lunch, we walked along the beach to Venice Beach.
A 30 minute walk took us over an hour as there was plenty of people watching to behold.
We passed Muscle Beach and I flexed my muscles for all to see.
The next stretch was basically one huge outdoor gymnasium.
There is even a special area for yoga enthusiasts.
Everybody working out looked tanned and toned. Some people seemed to be gymnasts.
Our favourite area to watch was the travelling rings and the slack line.
There were a couple of aspiring Cirque de Soleil performers out there.
We saw people roller blading and cycling, just like in the movies.
Santa Monica beach is where Baywatch was filmed. The patrol vehicles and helicopters set the scene.
Venice Beach was completely different.
It had throngs of people, street performers and lots of vendors selling their wares.
We topped off a great day with dinner at the Border Grill.
The cuisine was modern Mexican.
Simply delicious! We felt fortunate that we had Ed to drive us around on our last day in LA as we were able to see a side of LA that we really liked.
Our next stop was Vegas! Sin City!
We couldn’t wait to get there as we were going to reunite with a cousin that we hadn’t seen in 18 years.
Also we were going to stay in a nice 4 star hotel on the strip. It’s been awhile since we’ve stayed in a hotel like the Mirage.
Half of our excitement was the prospect of room service, housekeeping and complimentary toiletries.
By the time we checked in, it was dinner time so we tried out Mirage’s ‘Cravings Buffet’. They had a pretty good selection of food for $29.
After dinner we walked along the strip and marveled at the size and opulence of some of the hotels.
We watched the Mirage’s volcano show before wandering into Caesars Palace.
Caesars Palace is where the Hangover is filmed.
It didn’t look as good as in the movie.
I really liked the interior of the Bellagio, particularly it’s lobby and the ceiling lights.
The foyer was done up like a fantasyland.
I wasn’t sure what the theme was but it looked pretty, lots of flowers and balloons.
The strip looked better at night as all the hotels were lit up.
We watched the Bellagio’s fountain display and wandered back through Caesars Palace to our hotel.
We had arranged for our names to be added to the VIP list of Jet nightclub which is inside the Mirage.
There we had free drinks between 10pm and 12am and skipped the line to get in.
That evening we all partied until different times. I left the club the earliest, partly because I wanted to save my energy for when my cousin arrived and also because I could barely stand to be in my heels for much longer. All I wear in London are flats since I walk so much.
By the the time I got to the elevator, the shoes were off my feet! Jess was the next to tired, managing to party on till 4am. Janee was the winner and clearly had the best dancing shoes out of all of us.
First to bed also meant first to rise so I left the hotel room early in the morning and headed to the Venetian.
Although I’ve seen photos of it, I was still impressed and how well the hotel is built and how they tried to recreate parts of Venice inside it.
The ceiling was painted blue like the sky and you could ride gondolas through the hotel on a fake canal.
They had a section of the hotel that replicates St Marks square.
It had the hoards of tourists but it was missing the hundreds of pigeons.
Jess came out to meet me and we had lunch at the food court before heading back to our hotel to wait for cousin Jess (Jess Jnr).
We had a quick look at the pool as we wanted to spend an idyllic afternoon by the pool while we had such great weather for it. Turns out we ran out of time anyway.
As soon as my cousin arrived, we headed out to a restaurant called SushiSamba in the Palazzo.
The restaurant is a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian food.
We had Gen to thank for our fantastic dinner choice as she had heard about the restaurant on Sex and the City.
Not only was the food delicious, the decor was fantastic.
We headed out to the Lavo club after dinner where we had free entry and free drinks until 12am.
I was able to last 2.5 hours in the same shoes so I felt pretty chuffed!
Our third day there consisted of two activities, eating and shopping. In the morning we ate at Mirage’s buffet as $17 was cheaper to pay for a buffet rather than paying $15 for a set breakfast.
With plenty of energy, we went shopping at the Vegas premium outlet stores where all did some damage to our wallets. We arrived at 11am, skipped lunch and left 5pm, sore feet and all.
Back at our hotel, we put our feet up for an hour before making a beeline for the Bellagio Buffet.
We are not in the habit of eating two buffets in one day but the Bellagio is considered the best and we had to go there anyway to watch Cirque de Soleil’s ‘O’ show.
For a mere $32, we were able to help ourselves to endless servings of Kobe beef, Alaskan King crab, snow crabs, mussels, prawns, fish and a wide selection of hot and cold foods plus dessert.
Once we had our fill, we passed the time waiting for the show, watching people play craps and playing pokies.
Jess bought me front row tickets to the ‘O’ show for my birthday and I was really excited as I haven’t had front row tickets for anything.
The show was amazing! I’ve seen 3 other Cirque shows and this was by far my favourite one. It was so cleverly staged, the music was beautiful and the acrobatics had me on the edge of my seat.
In the morning, the two Jess’s, Gen and Claudette went on a Grand Canyon helicopter tour. There weren’t any seats left when we booked the tour so Janee and I opted to forgo it.
I’ve attached a few photos anyway for those of you interested.
In the afternoon, we hopped on a bus to Fremont street, which is the old Las Vegas.
It was cute but probably better seen at night when it’s all lit up.
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing tourist and walked through the other hotels such as the Luxor, Excalibur, New York New York, MGM and the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood.
In the evening we watched David Copperfield’s show which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I’ve been watching his stunts ever since i was a kid and watching his show was on my bucket list.
Our time in Vegas flew by and the expression ‘What happens in Vegas’ remains true.
We said farewell to our cousin Jess in what is hopefully not going to be too long a parting and made our way to San Francisco.
The weather in San Francisco was of a shock. It was grey and cold. We could have been back in London. I missed the heat of Vegas.
We wandered around Union Square before catching up with the Raymundo’s and Claire for dinner in Chinatown.
Chinatown was reputedly to be very large and we weren’t disappointed.
The next day we set off on a 12 hour day trip to Yosemite National Park.
We were short on time so this was the best option to see Yosemite without sacrificing too much time in San Francisco.
We were picked up by a mini bus at 6.20am and driven 3 hours to the park entrance. We had to queue at the entrance as there have been a high number of tourists this season.
Yosemite had record levels of winter snowfall this year, so much so that in mid July, the waterfalls had just reached their peak and were slowing down.
In prior years, the waterfalls usually dry up by the end of June.
We were extremely lucky this year as we would get to see the waterfalls.
Our guide drove us around the park to take photos at the ‘classic’ viewpoints.
It would be wonderful to come back, stay in the park and do some trekking.
We had lunch by the Yosemite waterfall after which our guide dropped us off at the start of the trail to the Giant Sequoias.
They are among the tallest and oldest trees on the world.
After a long 12 hour day, we arrived back in San Francisco as the fog rolled in.
The sun finally came out on our last day in San Francisco so we headed to Lombard Street, a colourful, twisted and very steep street.
Reaching the top of the street gave us great views of the city.
It’s no exaggeration that San Francisco is described as a hilly city.
Not so much fun when you have just been stuffing your face for the past 3 weeks.
We caught the bus to Golden Gate bridge and joined the other hoards of tourists enjoying the good weather.
It was lunchtime so we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for crabs.
Our first crab was so sweet and succulent that we went back for a second helping at a different crab shack.
Every city we’ve been to has one area in particular that I really like and Fisherman’s Wharf was that area for me.
The crabs beat the lobsters from Maine any day of the week although I have always preferred crabs to lobsters.
San Fran’s iconic trolley trams always had tourists and locals hanging out of them.
We’ve heard San Fran is considered to be one of the USA’s most liveable cities. We found the public transport very easy to use except the bus stops were poorly sign posted.
We had one final wander around Chinatown before making our way back to New York.
We flew back to New York for another 3 nights. We stayed in the same studio apartment by Union Square as it was comfortable and we are familiar with the area.
On our first day back, we headed back to Times Square, did some shopping and met up with Gen for a late lunch.
In the 10 days that we were on the West Coast, New York’s humidity seemed to skyrocket.
We took refuge from the heat in Rockafeller Centre. Jess was told to go up the Rockafeller centre instead of the Empire State Building so that we could have views of the skyline with the Empire State Building.
It turned out to be a brilliant idea.
The Manhattan skyline is pretty impressive. It looks like it should belong in a pinball machine or in a circuit board of a computer.
I had to hand it to the street artists and promotional staff who were still out there despite the scorching heat.
As we walked away from a lady who was having her body painted in Times Square, I heard a little girl tell her mum that when she grew up, she wanted to be naked as well.
Central Park was the last stop on our tourist trail but rather than lose anymore sweat, we hired a pedicab to take us around the park.
There are many ways to see the park.
You can walk, which would take 5 to 6 hours, hire a horse and carriage which costs $100, hire bikes for the day at $25 each or hire a pedicab for $50
Naturally we went for the laziest and cheapest option.
Our guide gave us tidbits of information about the park.
He seemed to know a lot about which stars owned which apartments and how much they paid for them.
The park receives many donations each year, Robin Williams donated $300,000 to help build children’s playgrounds.
Our guide was more than happy to take photos for us but we had reached that stage in the trip when we were less inclined to pose for photos.
It was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon and a good way to see Central Park.
We finished off our tour at the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial.
As we walked through the memorial, I could hear people singing ‘Imagine’.
After having dinner at Macy’s salad bar, we went to see Brooke Shields play Morticia in the Addams Family Musical.
We had third row tickets at 50% off.
The show was entertaining and I was happy to have watched a show on Broadway.
When the show finished, we took photos of Times Square at night.
We said farewell to the Big Apple, my favourite city in the US thus far, before catching the coach to Washington DC.
We arrived in Washington while it was in the throes of a heat wave. Thankfully we had booked a suite at the Hilton with excellent air con and two large flatscreen TVs.
On our first evening there, the hotel provided us with complimentary dinner so we stayed in and relaxed.
After months of backpacking, staying in an upmarket hotel was pure bliss. Of all the countries in the world, the standard of hostels in the US were the worst.
On our second day, we ventured out to check out the shops of Georgetown. It was 39 degrees and unbearable. We were only exposed to the sun for about half an hour but it was enough to cause us great discomfort.
Jess suffered headaches and nausea from heatstroke so we quickly headed back to the hotel.
After that we spent the evening and next day in our comfy hotel until it was time for our ‘Washington Twilight’ tour.
The tour ran for 2.5 hours and covered the most important memorials.
First up was a view of the White House’s South side.
Then we stopped at the World War 2 memorial.
The memorial has 100 stars each representing 4000 soldiers who died in the war.
Next was the Jefferson memorial.
In 2008, a woman was arrested dancing in the memorial as part of a celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. A group of five people did the same in a protest at her arrest and were consequently arrested for the same offence.
My favourite was the Lincoln memorial.
It was much larger than we expected and beautifully shown off by the early evening light.
It resembles a temple of Ancient Greece.
The Washington memorial is the tallest structure in the world dedicated to a single person.
It has 898 steps to the viewing deck and is surrounded by 50 flags, representing the states of America.
Nearby was the expansive Vietnam war memorial.
I also really like the US Marine corps memorial.
We flew to Chicago, fondly known as the Windy City, Chicagoland or Chi-town.
Chicago is the last stop on our great American adventure. We are at the point where we are tired and need a rest. My cousin has just had a baby and Jess and I are keen to get back to the UK to see him.
Despite feeling tired and ready to go home, Chicago has surprised and exceeded our expectations.
It is an extremely attractive city, with its impressive yet not overcrowded skyline.
Downtown Chicago feels clean and open.
Since it’s skyline is less built up than Manhattan, there is room to walk around and look at the towering buildings and beautiful architecture.
The Chicago river runs through the city, giving the business district even more of a relaxed feel. There were plenty of riverside restaurants and shops, not to mention an unusual carpark.
On our first evening there, we went to a Korean restaurant for dinner.
The next day we headed to the magnificent mile for some shopping.
The weather was on its best behaviour. Sunny with a cool breeze.
I left the girls and met up with my friend Angie, who I met in Africa. We went to the Purple Pig for lunch.
After lunch, we went to the Skydeck of the tallest building in the states and the fourth tallest in the world after the Tall Tower in Dubai, Taipei 101 and the Petronas Towers in KL.
The Skydeck had a wall display with tidbits on the history of Chicago and it’s notable residents.
We caught the bus to Millenium Park afterwards, which is the main park in the city, like how Central Park is to New York or Hyde Park is to London.
The park is home to the ‘Bean’, fondly nicknamed by the locals.
The bean was designed by British Artist Anish Kapoor and called the Cloud Gate.
Kapoor’s design was inspired by liquid mercury and the sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline.
Visitors are able to walk around and under the bean. Underneath is a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections.
Can you see us in the reflection?
We met up with Jess and Janee and headed to Angie’s area for dinner.
We tried out a well regarded Japanese restaurant, popular for their sushi.
After dinner, Angie’s drove us to have a look at Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain and the Chicago skyline by night.
Navy Pier is a long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan.
It’s primary purpose was as a cargo facility and warehouses were built up and down the pier. However, the pier is also for passenger ships and for public entertainment.
We managed to take some beautiful photos of the skyline.
The Buckingham Fountain is situated in the center of Grant Park.
It is built in a wedding cake style.
It operates regular water shows to background music and evening color-light shows.
We spent our last day in Chicago wandering down the magnificent mile, doing some last minute shopping at Sephora and lunch at Wholefoods after which I bid Angie farewell.
Angie wanted to me to see Chicago at it’s best but I had already fallen in love with the city. I’ll definitely be back to visit!