Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Chicago in a day

This post is almost a year overdue, but I'm going to go ahead and do it anyways. I mentioned it in my end of the year post in 2017 that I visited Chicago for the first time. I've always wanted to go. It was my first time traveling to a place in the United States and exploring it myself. Since it was almost a year since my visit, my memory will be a little fuzzy in some details, but I still remember a lot!

I arrived in Chicago on a Sunday morning. I think before 6am! Right after dropping my bags, I went directly to Maxwell Street Market since I saw that it opens at 7am. When I arrived, I saw vendors who sold stuff, which I wasn't interested in. I kept walking more down the street and found the food. I saw horchata, tamales, tacos, and other stuff. I got a horchata, which was good. My main goal was to get tacos from a place that had lots of raves about it on Yelp, but it took longer of a wait then I expected, so I grabbed a tamale first. The tamale was delicious. When the taco place was finally opened, I order a steak taco. When I was done I walked around a bit and then ordered a ride. I didn't realize it, but when I talked the driver on the phone he thought I was at Millennium park, so I just canceled it and ordered a ride once I took a look at the street signs.



Before my trip date, I did a lot of research of what Chicago has to offer. I knew about the bean because that's what everyone takes a picture of. What I didn't realize was that a lot there was a lot to see at the park. There was the fountain, the bean, and fountain where kids play. I did know that the park was huge because I decided to walk from Millennium Park to the Shedd Aquarium. It said about 25 minutes on the maps, so before coming I thought to myself that's a piece of cake. Little did I know that it would be so hot on that day. I wanted to call a ride to take me there, but since I was on the beach walkway, it wasn't close to a drop off section, so I just walked all the way there. When I finally got to the building, I was absolutely amazed at the size of the buildings around there. Those buildings were museums, aquariums, and planetariums and they were like State capitol size!

I already decided upon getting a Citypass before coming to Chicago, so I had some other destinations to hit up for the day. Shedd Aquarium was one of my choices. I decided to only stay an hour there due to my time crunch. The associate there asked me if I wanted to see a movie as part of the pass and I said no. I really like the choices of fish that they had there. Some of them were really huge and I've never seen them before.

Next stop was the Field Museum. When you walk into the Field Museum, you can see Sue (t-rex skeleton) immediately. When I walked around to explore, I had no idea the amount of preserved animals I would see. It absolutely astounded me. The collection at the museum is amazing. I was only imaging how much effort it took to preserve each of the animals.

Now that I was done with the Field museum, my next stop was the Art Institute of Chicago. I already knew how much of a walk it was from Millennium Park to Field Museum. But, what did I decide to do? I decided to walk because I believe that would be the best plan. It was another long walk, but it didn't seem so hot this time around. Studying a map really came in handy because I used it a lot when navigating my way around Chicago.

When I finally made it to the Art Institute of Chicago, I was amazed that it was another big buildings. There was so much art there. One of them was a really famous painting that I've seen before and had the most people there. There was also a lot of abstract art there. But since I was in a rush, I didn't take the time to appreciate all the art that the building had to offer, so I made my way to my next stop, which was Sears Tower. Being the person that I am, I had already looked at how far it was from Sears Tower and Art Institute. Since it was so short of a walk, I figured I had to do it. This walk was quite short. That particular area was the most run down I saw in Chicago with some homeless and less clean buildings. It kind of remind me of some places I been.

When I arrived at Sears tower, I noticed a huge line. The Sears tower was so popular, so of course everyone would want to go there. I over heard that fast pass could go ahead and skip the line, so I went up and they let me go since it was only me. When I went up the elevator,  there was another long line, they also let fast pass people skip that line and go ahead to the elevator to the tower. When I finally made it to the tower, I think there was like 4 glass areas where people were taking photos. I looked around and stared at it for 10 minutes. I left after that because I didn't want to face my fear of heights for a photo. After all that was over, I think it was around 2 o'clock. I was hungry and decided on getting pizza since it was so close to the building.

I chose to eat at Giordano's. When I arrived, there was only bar seating available, so I took it. When I ordered, I really believed I ordered it without onions, so when it came with it I told the bartender I had it with no onions because he said he didn't hear that, so I let it be. So, I just spent some time getting all the onions out. At the end of my meal, I finished the pizza and about 3 refills on ice tea. My bartender let me know he didn't charge me for the iced tea and said something about miscommunication about the pizza. I was surprised about it, but happy.


After eating, I realized that it was almost about time for the last tour at Driehaus Museum, so I really hoped that my ride could make it there on time. And yes, I made it in just in time for the tour. The museum looked like a house from the outside, but inside there was so much stuff worthy of being in a museum. There were Tiffany items and so many other elegant and priceless items. I also got to learn about art. This place is truly a gem of Chicago. I want to go back. The place reminded me of Hearst Castle and the Stanford Museum.

I finally went back to the hotel after Driehaus Museum. But, guess what? I was thinking that I already had so much stuff on my list that there was still things I can do. So, once I changed, I walked out and decided to walk to Navy Pier since it was a close walk. Navy Pier has a ferris wheel, restaurants, shops, boat tours. I didn't go on a boat tour, but I regret it. Next time I'll go on the a boat tour and see the fireworks.

Thanks to my research and map looking skills, I knew it was possible to walk to Navy Pier to John Hancock Observatory, so I spent some time walking. About this time, it was already cooler in the day and not as hot, which was good. The area where I was walking was relatively clean, although I did notice a sign about picking up dog litter since rats like to eat that stuff. When I arrived at the John Hancock, it realized that it was a fairly nice building. It didn't have the crowd like Sears tower, but it was a really nice view. I really enjoyed it.

I was hungry afterwards and really wanted to try something popular in Chicago, so I walked over from John Hancock to Portillo's. When I was walking it started sprinkling and that was the moment when I was most scared in Chicago was when I might get all soaked, but the sprinkles never amounted to heavy rain that got me soaked.  Portillo's pleasantly surprised me because it was more of a food hall with different options and a good crowd. I ordered the hot dog without onions of course, and I love their hot dog! Why don't we have hot dogs with poppy seeds here?

My last stop of the night was the hotel because I couldn't think of anything else to do. As I laid down in the hotel room, I realized it was one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed at and there was two beds. I was all by myself and no one knew my name, but I was doing more than ok.

The next morning, my first stop was at a cafe because I specifically wanted hot chocolate.  Chicago was the Chicago Zoo. What surprised me the most about it was that it was free, yes free! Since I went really early in the morning, there were no crowds whatsoever and most of the time it was just me and the animals in sight. There were also buildings I think I could explore, but they were closed. I will definitely want to come back to the zoo in Chicago. It's so tranquil and pretty.

I decided to hit up Chinatown because I wanted to see how it was different from all the other Chinatown's I've been to. There's the older side and a more newer side. As I walked down the older sign of Chinatown, I noticed older people catching up with others and asking them what they were doing there. It's definitely not as big as the one in San Francisco, but I liked it. I got a Totoro fan at one of the shops and ate dim sum. In fact, I didn't finish it, so I ended up bringing the rest on my flight back.



Next, I went to U of C. U of C is the University of Chicago. The reason why I wanted to go there was because I reading through the Yelp comments years ago and I wanted to see what college life was like there. When I arrived, I noticed that all the buildings look nice. I also noticed that I can practically not inside any of the buildings. I asked one of the people there and he said you have to be a student go inside, so I just walked around. It just so happens, that the solar eclipse was going on at the time I was there. I noticed some people around there watching. A lady I talked to offer to let me use her glasses her a bit, so I was able to see for a few seconds. What I saw was really small! I hope that was the solar eclipse.

I didn't take a load of photos when I was there because I took lots of videos. Not as much as my cruise trip, but enough to make a 4 minute video. If you want to see it, here's my Chicago video. I spent a lot of time editing it, but not many people were interested in seeing it. I'm glad I did a video though because it makes it easier for me to remember my Chicago experience and it's easy for me to share to friends and family.

I didn't spend enough time in Chicago! I spent about a day and a few hours in Chicago.  I wished I stayed longer for my first visit. But, I made the time worth it. I already have some things in mind of what I want to do next.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review

I felt like I haven't spent much of 2017 relaxing, taking things slow, or just simply enjoying things as they go. But, I still found it necessary to work, spend time with friends and family. I kept myself going through boba runs, my favorite foods, and trying to squeeze in moments with friends and family. I realized that although it's important to try to do as much as I can, it's also vital to make room for the little things, such as watching Netflix, learning a new hobby, or getting more than 4 hours of sleep a day.

What is some of the stuff that I been up to this year?

I wished I could remember more things that happened this year, but there's lots of things that are just a blur. But, here's a list of some of the major things.

I got myself a GoPro. I wanted a GoPro before, but this year I decided to get myself it. I used it for 2 of my trips so far and made videos. 

I went to Sly Park and Apple Hill on the same day.

I visited the California Auto Museum, which was really hot when I went. But, it was so nice seeing these cars I don't see everyday and enjoying some ice cream.

 I was given lots of makeup this year, which calls for me to really learn how to apply makeup.

I made a trip to Los Angeles (2x) and visited Universal Studios for the first time.

I went to Chicago for the first time ever. I've been wanting to go there for about 10 years now. I planned out just about everything I was going to do and how I was going to get around. My friends and family kept telling me to be careful and asked if I was scared. But, I wasn't scared at all. I was really eager to experience what Chicago was about. I was absolutely amazed by Chicago's museums. They were all huge and had impressive collections. I surprised myself by not only being able to navigate through Chicago through a map, but being able to walk it half the day. I really tried my best to do as much as I could in such a short amount of time. I'm really glad that I went to Chicago.

I went on a cruise with my siblings and had my first trip to Mexico and Catalina Island.

I went ice skating with my friends and family.

I tried to edit a music video for a contest. Going through editing all the footage taught me how hard it is to actually compile a music video and that it takes a lot of work and time.

I was able to see Ariana Grande, Chainsmokers, Nickelback and Ed Sheeran in concert.


I finally visited the California Railroad Museum, which was way more interesting than I imagined.

I finally visited the State Indian Museum and liked their collection, but really wished it was much bigger and had more things to show in the museum.

I visited the Powerhouse Science Center, which I didn't even know about it until this year.

I went to Disney on Ice with my mom and sisters. I felt I would have loved it more as a kid. But, I still enjoyed watching it.

I quit two jobs. That was a big deal for me. I was always afraid to leave my part time job because I was so scared that I would not find anything else. But, I decided it had to be done for different reasons and to my surprise, new doors opened up for me. That gave me hope that I don't need to hold on to anything. It gave me hope that an employer would want me for my determination, commitment, attention to detail, and willingness to learn anything to get the work done. What surprised me most was that the people in those jobs actually liked me and said I would be welcome back and I'm so very glad about that.

My 2017 Mix:

Something Just like This- Coldplay & Chainsmokers
Despacito- Luis Fonsi
Havana- Camila Cabello
Attention- Charlie Puth
Perfect- Ed Sheeran
Break up Every Night- Chainsmokers
River- Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran
Believer - Coldplay
Shape of You- Ed Sheeran

Memorable quotes:

Emily: "You'll know after you watch 7 seasons."
Eric: "You are the type of person who can't really just enjoy themselves at a party. You are the person who will ask if the dishes need to be done."

I waited until the end of this year to take things slow. But, my brain is still adjusting and trying to catch up to sleep. I know that it's only a matter of time until I finally pick up again and start making room for bigger and better things in life. I already have some plans in store. I'm just waiting for them to happen.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Los Angeles Trip with Friends

During Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, me and Chen went to Los Angeles from Sacramento. We both booked our flight together, so that we will have the same flight. We planned to depart from Sacramento on Saturday, January 14, 2017 around 10:40 am and arrive before 1pm. Unfortunately, for us, it was very foggy that day, which cause a terrible delay in our flight and we waited over 2 hours to board our flight. It also caused our friend, Lily who was waiting for us in Los Angeles after a flight from San Francisco to wait for us even longer. The plane ride was fine besides the fact that I was very sick and was having coughs here and there. When we finally arrived in Los Angeles, we took a shuttle to a rental station. From the rental station, Chen booked us a Uber to our hotel. It took about an hour to get to our hotel from the airport. I really did not expect it to take that long.

Lily decided to eat at the Korean restaurant across the street. Each of us ordered a dish. Chen suggested I order a soup because I was sick, so I did. We also ordered kimchi fried rice and pork belly with squid. When the food came we digged into mostly the kimchi fried rice and pork belly. I only tasted a little bit of the soup and didn't like it too much. It had too much of a garlicy taste, which I didn't like. I also didn't feel like eating much because I was very sick.

Afterwards, we headed to a very popular artwork, which was angel wings. Many people go to the angel wings to take nice pictures. Lily was very excited for it and took like what felt like a 100 pictures. Me and Chen didn't take too much pictures. One thing I realized when taking photos there was that I was very short. I wished I was taller, so the wings would look more like it was attached to me.

Our mid late night snack was at a doughnut shop called Dk Donut's. It has the popular Ube doughnut. I remembered Lily showed us a video of the place on FB and it looked very good. But, after trying the doughnut, I realized that the doughnut was just ok. I felt that I tried better donuts. Actually, I still think the do-nut place down the street from my house is the best tasting. Yes, even better tasting than Krispy Kreme donuts.

One of the places I really wanted to go to during the trip was the Griffin Observatory. I saw that it had so many good reviews on Yelp. I also really wanted to see a night view of LA. I love looking at night views. One day, I'll eventually go to that one in San Francisco too. When we arrived at the Griffin Observatory, we noticed so many cars and people. I just couldn't believe how many people were there. We also couldn't help, but notice the beautiful night view. I absolutely loved it! I would definitely go back there. Oh, and the Griffin observatory is a museum as well. I loved looking around there. One of my favorite parts of the museum was the weighing stations that allowed me to see how heavy I would be on Saturn or another planet.

We almost didn't go get dinner because Chen and Lily didn't feel too hungry. But, I felt that if I wanted to feel better soon I would need to keep eating and not skip any meals. Eventually, the two gained some appetite and we decided on a sushi place. We scheduled for  an uber to pick us up and that uber driver left us after only a few minutes of waiting! That was definitely a frustrating experience.

When we arrived at the sushi place, I decided to get a bento box. But, I immediately regret it after ordering because I wouldn't be able to finish everything. Gosh, I hate being sick. To our surprise, we each received a complimentary miso soup, which was also quite tasty! The sushi place was close enough for us to walk back and actually turned out to be a 10 minute walk.

On our second and only full day in Los Angeles, we headed to Universal Studios. I was excited for this because I've heard so many great things about it. I was also not excited about it because I really don't like going on roller coasters or any rides that causes motion sickness. Little did I know that the first thing that I would do is go on those very rides. We first headed towards the popular Harry Potter ride, which was waited in line for for over an hour. The 3D looked great, but I freaked out when it looked down sometimes because I was afraid of heights and I hated how the ride moved us. We also went on the Minion ride, which gave me a big headache afterwards.

When we had lunch, me and Chen decided to split our sandwich. We were both very shocked that the restaurant did not have mayonnaise. I mean... the restaurant had ketchup...but no mayonnaise? That sandwich wasn't even that great and was very plain. There was also no other sauces to enhance the flavor of the sandwich. I was disappointed in the meal since it was costly and didn't taste great, especially since we were at Universal Studios.

I would have to say that my favorite part of Universal Studios is the Universal Studio tour. Even though it might have caused me some motion sickness, I loved that it introduced us to buildings that were used in movies or shows. There was also some 3D stuff in between, which caused me the headaches, but I really have to say the King Kong one was very cool. I loved that we were able to see the Bates Motel. Although Bates Motel isn't my favorite movie, it's definitely a classic and one I'll still remember.
 
That night, I also finally visited LACMA. There was also many people there. The size of the place was how I would imagine it. We didn't stay too long since Chen and Lily already been there before. So, I took a few photos before heading back. 

Korean BBQ was the long awaited dinner that night. It was all you can eat, but we still had to make sure that we actually finished everything we ordered. It was good, but I wished they would give smaller portions.

On our final day, we packed up all of our belongings from the hotel to check out and left our stuff at the front while we headed to brunch at Blu Jam Cafe. When we arrived, we had to wait 45 minutes more because the restaurant is very popular. We decided to walk around and check out the shops. I found myself a shirt that says "Los Angeles" in it and has a city view. I thought it was so cute! I can't wait to show it off when it gets warmer. Although toast was the most popular item at the menu, I really didn't feel like eating toast for brunch. I ordered a Eggs Benedict instead.  I thought the food there was ok. I really expected more of the place because of the amount of yelp reviews it had. I was also surprised that the place allowed a dog to sit inside the restaurant.


The way back home was too fast. Going back home always feels rushed to me and I never feel ready to go back. I want to travel more. I want to go back to places I love and discover new places I'm amazed with.