Traveling: 3rd Time in Chicago

In the last 2 years I’ve been in Chicago 2 times already and this March I was once again on a client visit for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm went away when I got a severe cold, which made me lose my voice completely for the first 3 days and cough my sole out for the next week and a half. By the end of my trip, I was once again feeling like a human, but I didn’t want this to shadow my time there, so here are the main things I did while I was, again, in the Windy City.

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If there was one 100% experience that I wanted to have while here, it was going to a game. While in high-school I was in love with basketball and one of my favorite shows ever was One Tree Hill, where, obviously, the main subject was the basketball game. Therefore in the first week, even if I had no voice and I was feeling like crap, I went to a Chicago Bulls game. Initially, I thought I was there to see a game of basketball, but when the show began, I realized that it’s a lot more than that. Every minute you get to see something new, also at the beginning when a girl came onto the stage and sang the national anthem, we were left speechless by the fact that everyone raised up and start singing with her.

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Since Chicago is famous for it’s Chicago Blues and the live music bars, I couldn’t leave the city the 3rd time without going to one, even more since Blue Chicago was across the street from the hotel I was staying in. I have to admit that I hate myself for not going to this type of show last time I was in the city, it was amazing. The voice of the singer was great and also hearing the band play live. Highly recommend the bar if you find yourself in Chicago, they have shows every night and the bands rotate.

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One of the best things to do as a European in the US is to go shopping since the prices on the other side of the Atlantic are so much lower than on the old continent. Last time I was here, I only had one week, so I didn’t get the chance to go to the Fashion Outlets from outside the city. This time I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. Even if I didn’t make as many purchases as I wanted, I have to say that if you are passionate about fashion you should visit it.

The last experience, was more of an accident since we were just lucky to be in the city at this time of the year. I’ve heard about the river being painted for St Patrick’s but never did I thought that it would be such a huge celebration. Unfortunately, I was leaving on Saturday, so I didn’t get the chance to go to the parties, but at least I got the chance to see the river getting painted and it’s indeed an extraordinary experience. The radioactive green makes the city a huge attraction for a lot of people. the downside of this was having to miss three subways until there was enough room to get in.

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If I were to suggest a time NOT to visit Chicago, that would be the wintertime, yet I saw that during St Patrick’s day, all the US is visiting. As a personal preference, I think summertime is a lot better, but even during the cold time, there is a lot of things to do and see here. If there will be a 4th time for me in Chicago, I can’t tell, but if there will be I will definitely go to Blue Chicago again.

Shopping in Chicago

Given the fact that I am living in Europe, there is no greater joy than coming to the other side to do some reckless spending. Even if I wouldn’t trade Cluj for a different place just yet, it’s nice to see what the US has to offer when it comes to a good session of well-deserved shopping.

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When I left home, the only “must” from my list was a Kate Spade purse, I’ve been wanting one for a while now and in the tragic recent events of her death, prices have been going up, unfortunately. Having also a budget and not so much time on my hands for shopping I went on a crazy hunt for both gifts and things for my little sole.

One of the best places to shop in Chicago is TJ Maxx, Bloomington or Marshalls, usually, there are 2 together, or at least this is how I saw them in this city. If you have the nerves to go through all of their items you will get some really great deals. In the week that I’ve spent in the city I think I went there almost every day, I could say that I am able to do all of my shopping in this amazing place. Yes I know there are others and I’ve heard of the big outlets near the O’Hare airport, but when you don’t have the time or a car to go there you just have to stick to what it’s offered.

 

Same as last year, I’ve spent a lot in these shops, but walked proudly out of them with 3 purses, one of them was the colored Kate Spade that my heart desired, the other 2 were just pretty, 2 Fossil watches, his and hers for me and my boyfriend, a blanket as an mermaid tale (you’ll get it once you see the picture), a pair of Sketchers (best shoes in the world, if you don’t have a pair yet, run to Bloomington now!), 3 pairs of sunglasses one from Guess and 2 from Tommy Hilfiger, a Tommy Hilfiger wallet, that I am still debating if I should keep for myself or offer it as a gift as initially intended, and a set of t-shirts from Polo for my boyfriend. Since the limit of the budget was reached and also the maximum allowed for a number of purses I could buy, I had to give up on a Guess and Michel Kors bags that I fancy, but there is always next year. 😀

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Having done the heavy shopping in the places I mentioned, there were just a couple of more stores that I love in the city: Sephora, brought the Kat Von D eyeliner(not as great as I’ve hoped), Old Navy, a cute top for a few bucks, Victoria’s Secret, you can all guess what I brought from there and Walgreens for some drugstore makeup.

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While in the US I don’t usually go to the stores that are also found in Europe, like Zara, Forever 21, etc, since these have more or less the same prices everywhere. Same for the European designers, Burberry, Michael Kors, Louise Vuitton and so on, most of them will have higher prices in the US compared to what they are offering in their country of origin.

Since Chicago is not a very touristic place, any souvenir that you want to buy will cost you, even a magnet can reach up to 10$, compared to a touristic place where you can get the same item for about 2$. Last year I replaced the magnets with panties from VS for my girlfriends and sweets for the others, this year I preferred bringing them wallets, t-shirts, miniature cars, sunglasses or shot glasses. Keep in mind that Chicago has 10% taxes and in the US the prices are displayed without them, so when you will reach the counter you will pay 10% more, in Europe the prices including the taxes are always displayed.

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After 8 days in the US, 14 km walked every day, a suitcase that just wouldn’t close and so tired that I could sleep a week, I was happy that I managed to check everything on my list while still visiting and doing all the activities I’ve planned. I already started the list for the following year, even if I don’t know 100% sure I will be returning to Chicago. If there is one thing that I love about shopping in the US is that you will find about anything if you just do your research in advance. With the new GDPR law in the EU, many of the online stores stopped shipping in Europe and unfortunately there is no sign of them changing their mind.

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Traveling: Unlocking Chicago, Part II

New year, new me, and of course a new visit to the Windy City, Chicago that is growing on me, I am even starting to know my way around it, which says a lot about this place. If you are curious about my first visit to the city, you can find it here.

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To give you a bit of inside, I am working for one of the companies that have the headquarter in downtown Chicago, so once a year me and my team we do a visit to their office for about a week. If last year we went in October, not a very good time to visit this place, by the way, this time we went in July and it was AMAZING, great weather, great atmosphere, and some pretty cool events. So here is a list of things to do in this great place.

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If you are lucky to find a sunny day, make sure you look it for a visit to the beach, you can either take a bus there or you can walk there. The view of the city is amazing, the water is blue and the ice-cream is present everywhere, so do take advantage of it.

 

While you are in the neighborhood, you can reserve a day for Lincoln Park, there you will also find the zoo. The entree is free, the animals look cared about and it’s a place you can lose yourself for a few hours. Not my favorite kind of place, since it’s a zoo, but I cannot complain about what I’ve seen here.

If we are talking about doing touristic activities, then the architecture tour is a must. You can find so many boats along the river from where you can purchase the tickets, I don’t exactly remember the amount I’ve spent on them but it was around 35$, and the tour took us into town and on Lake Michigan. The best time to go is at dawn to get a peep of this amazing city when all the light is getting lit.

 

One of the not so known facts about Chicago is that near the Millennial park the original beginning of Historical Route 66, maybe this a fact only for the automotive fans but I think it was worth mentioning. Also, another place to visit in this part of the town is Bundy’s fountain, even though I know it has a different name to me it will always be at the beginning of the Married with children series promo.

 

Depending on when you are visiting Chicago you can also take part in Taste of Chicago, the biggest food event in the area. With 10$ you can buy 14 tokens that will grant you a full meal or 2 “bites”, basically half a portion. I cannot say that I was impressed by the food but the overall feeling and the diversity of the food are impressive, maybe you will have better luck than I did in finding the good stuff. Since we are on the food topic, I strongly recommend a visit to the Cheesecake Factory, because cheesecake, if that didn’t convince you with that magic word, then maybe the following picture will make sure you bring your appetite with you the slices are HUGE, it is a good idea to share it with someone.

 

While in this amazing city don’t miss out on the opportunity to go to a pub where they play live music, especially the Chicago blues style. It will complete the amazing experience that you can have in this place. Even if it was the second time that I got to visit and my time was pretty limited by the fact that I also had to get to work, I am already dreaming of my next trip and I am starting to gather my list of things to do here for part 3. IMG_5002.JPG

Traveling: Unlocking Chicago, The Windy City

For the second time in America, I got the chance to visit one of the most famous cities in the country, Chicago, home of Chicago blues and “Chicago-style” Dixieland jazz.

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Although the buildings are not as big as the ones in New York, there is something about Chicago that makes you feel like you are living the American dream. Most of the tall buildings had a pink light on the top in October for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in the city center, the Cancer Survivors’ Garden is placed. It is a good place to visit and read the survivor’s stories, a beautiful tribute that the city has brought to its people.

In the Millennium Park, the Cloud Gate is found, but most likely everyone will be referring to it as “the bean”, a modern sculpture that attracts thousands of tourists each day, The stairs in front of it are usually filled with people having coffee and enjoying the sun. For me it was amazing to see a mix of cultures all together having fun, it is the absolute vibe that a city can give me.

During the night the city lights up, the clubs open their doors and line gets formed at the entry of almost all the bars. If you have a chance try a Malicious, Maligned Malört shot, it is probably the worst shot I ever took, but it was definitely an interesting experience. If you had too much to drink, make sure you grab a “Chicago Hot-Dog” before you go to sleep, trust me when I tell you, it is not your usual hot-dog.

Another dish that you have to try while you are here is Giordano’s deep dish pizza. Tastes nothing like pizza, but more like a lasagna on a pizza dough. One slice was enough for me and the boys couldn’t have more than 2 slices, so make sure you are hungry when going to Giordano’s.

The most breathtaking view from Chicago will be from the Willis Tower, a 110-story skyscraper from where you get the 360″ view of the city.  Also, you will get the chance to walk on glass and see the city right under your feet, make sure you are not afraid of highs, it is a rush to walk on glass.

On my only no-work day, I manage to go to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. In the museum, the Jurassic World exposition was held, so I relived one of my childhoods favorite movie. I highly recommend both places for a cold day when you want to learn some new stuff.

Since my time in Chicago was limited to a week and a half and I also had to work in 5 of the days, I didn’t get the chance to see all that was to see. Furthermore, the weather wasn’t on my side and I had rain in 4 of the days and I couldn’t take the architectural boat tour, but it is definitely on the list for the next time.