Chicago, IL

What a great city! The first time I got to enjoy the city was back in 2017, got to explore and find some really awesome bars and restaurants. In the past I had only been here for work…blah…and on long layovers and didn’t get a chance to do much of anything. ย For starters, and most importantly, we came to visit my favorite brother. Also, my husband and I celebrated our 5th anniversary (a little early) during our visit. We went to a very special Japanese steakhouse, Roka Akor, which was an incredible experience!! I highly recommend if you’re looking for a special treat. We really went all out and ordered the chef’s choice of a multi course dinner. Sushi, sashimi, salad, small bites, noodles, steam boxes, mains, dessert and so so so much more. I really do wish I can find the pictures from this trip to show you.

For our anniversary celebration, we first stopped into Public House. It was busy and energetic with a lot of craft beers. We stayed for one and ventured to the next thing. We walked into Rick Bayless’s Topolobampo. It was just too crowded and couldn’t get a drink at the bar. It was neat to see and had a funky atmosphere.

After dinner we stopped in Rossi’s bar, which was a cash only dive bar. Right up our alley! Funky, relaxed place to have an after dinner drink. Finally, the bodaga…we found the prize…a goose island special edition bourbon county beer along with three floyds zombie dust gumball head and yum yum.

Now for our more recent visit. The highlight was going to The Second City. So much fun and hilarious. The improv is the best, although the whole skit was awesome and spot on with the current political climate. You can purchase a snack to eat and they have a full bar, which adds to the atmosphere. Totally cool. 3B71BE04-BAF0-49B1-9612-67A1ED96B5D8_1_201_a

There were some great breweries we visited including Revolutions Brewing and DryHop (definitely order the Poutine Fries). Totally solid places in cool neighborhoods.

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Although I was visiting my brother yet again this second time around, I stayed in the Renaissance Hotel downtown. It was gorgeous with super comfy beds. They have a convenient little pick up shop where I was able to grab a quick yogurt, granola and berries before a spa appointment one morning. If you have the time, check out The Spa at The Wit Hotel across the street from the Renaissance. It was beautiful, relaxing and just what I needed. Maria gave me an 80 minute signature massage and I came out of it feeling like a noodle. I then got a manicure with a newish style nail polish that was long lasting, not gel, with no UV required. Right up my alley. They said it would last two weeks but I got about 10 good days of it. That’s way better than regular polish.

You must visit the largest Starbucks in the country!!! It’s on the Magnificent Mile located at 646 N Michigan Ave…5 floors worth of coffee and food. Just be aware, your wallet will take a hit.

One tip I learned is, if you’re going to Chicago to party, don’t stay downtown though. It’s mostly a business district and places close early. Check out the north side area for that.

I hope you enjoy your stay as much as I did!

One more pic. Me and my bro ๐Ÿ™‚

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Portland, OR

I visited Portland for the second time this past September. The first time was a little over a year ago. Although the city itself has changed slightly in regards to its infrastructure, my experience was far better than the first. The reason? There are several. 

No. 1 – I met my beautiful niece for the first time ๐Ÿ˜ She made me an aunt!! #WednesdayFiona Isn’t she cute?!?!

No. 2 – The Pearl. I fell in love. The district is full of life with shopping, food, breweries, coffee, parks and more right out your front door. 

Check out that delicious, fall off the bone lamb shank from Deschutes!! Wow was it amazing! This was their special that day. My husband got the Elk Burger, which was excellent as well. 

And the parks!

No. 3 – The lifestyle. The housing and apartment we stayed in was beautiful. We rented a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom apartment on Hoyt Street in the district. It’s owned by a company called Stay Alfred. They own several properties across the US and I will vouch for this one. Also, everything in Portland is family friendly.  A lot is pet friendly too. 

We like our craft beer!! Although Deschutes was my favorite all around when considering both food and brew, Rogue is a must try as well as 10 Barrel and Fat Heads close behind when in the immediate area. 

One final thing I’ll say about the lifestyle is the city’s and it’s residents commitment to the environment. Great job Portland!!

No. 4 – Culture. There’s a little bit of everything and a true melting pot. My favorite melting pot is, no surprise, the shear number of food trucks you will find that literally took over a whole city block. If the group can’t decide what type of food they all want…Portland’s food truck alley has the solution…Thai, Chinese, Iraqi, Mediterranean, African, Israeli, Mexican, Vietnamese to name a few. There’s a host of vegan, vegetarian, organic, gluten free, paleo and other options available as well. 

I could not write this post without talking about Pok Pok. I’m salivating at the very thought of their chicken wings. OMG. 5 stars. This is a must when visiting and I will go here each time I’m in the city. 

Back to culture…this Chinese garden we found…

We ended our trip by relaxing on our roof top terrace the last night…of course with an adult beverage in hand…grilled some chicken to put on top our organic salad and called it a week. And what a week it was.

My husband and brother in law put the cherry on top by buying a gigantic box of Voodoo Doughnuts (balancing out the organic salad). This is one more thing you have to do/eat/visit while you’re here. Holy crap! I’ll miss you Portland and hope I’ll be back soon!