Friday, February 20, 2015

150110-150111 Chicago Part 2

We took the bus to Navy Pier, which is also payable by the unlimited metro card. I think I fell asleep on the bus because I don't remember the scenery or anything before we got there. Haha. Also, it was already dark so yeah. 

The one thing I didn't like at all is that daytime is way too short in winter. It gets dark around 4-ish onwards :( which makes it difficult for me to photograph anything. 

Us and our bands. 5USD admission fee and get to take a few kiddy rides. 
we didn't buy the full activity ticket, it was like 25USD, and you get to play everything there.

The huge Christmas tree that lights up so prettily! 

Kid's slide. super cute. I would be thrilled if I'm allowed to play that. lol..

You can find all sorts of Christmas Trees there. I was so happy because it's my favourite celebration, merry merry happy Christmas.

We rode the carousel! :D 
The best part is, this carousel is a lot faster than the usual ones at amusement parks.

I miss ice skating! One day, I have to skate in an outdoor park during winter. One day..

this is one super extreme ride for the children, they were screaming their lungs out.

I loved Christmas movies, well I still do. And you know in most movies, there's always the toy soldier. So much feels.

Shake Shack was just around the corner of our hotel. Teehee, was so happy when I found out on google maps. 
So, part of how I planned our trip is I literally look for places on google maps on my pc, read reviews, check their stars, add them to my saved places. And of course it's always a bonus when I find places I'm familiar with near our hotels. 

Shake Shack love!! It was so good T_T

Complimentary breakfast at the hotel we stayed (Hyatt Place, River North). 
It was good! Bacon, sausage, omelette, muffins, yogurt, cereal. I quote them "It's all Chia Yi's kind of food". lol lol. Needless to say I was really happy. Though my face looked really "pong" in the pic above, because I was so jet lagged I woke up at 3am and stayed awake till 7am... :S

Early in the morning, I decided to go to see the Chicago river. 
Walked around inside Grant Park too, I should have gone back to The Bean for more pics, maybe it's empty in the morning :/ dang it, why didn't I. 


Crossing the road. 

Everything about the place is beautiful beyond words. I wonder how it looks like in spring or fall.

Train. :)

Meeting Lincoln. 

A beanie and that hood makes all the difference. It was so cold but we were slowly getting used to it. hahaha

hehe. standing straight in every picture.... 

On the other side, there's a road and a harbor, which explains why there's no buildings in the horizon. 

Tried panorama mode on my Fuji. Not bad! click to enlarge :)
That's probably the closest-to-reality pic I can give you. We were like the only people there. haha

Also, while previewing this post, I realized that it 's too image-heavy so I moved some to the next post. Excited! I will be posting pics of the frozen Chicago River and our experience at the Skydeck next!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

150110 Chicago Part 1

Chicago! After 12 plus hours from Hong Kong transit, few hours from LA transit.

The one place I insisted we go when I did my planning. I just had to see the city myself, no matter what others say about how crazy cold it will be. Yes, it was very cold, when we arrived at 6am, it was -18°C. Crazy ikr. Drastic transition for all of us. Yet, we survived. haha!
It was also nice that the weather became slightly warmer for the next two days. 

This Uniqlo down jacket kept my body warm the whole time. Extremely thankful.The only cold body parts I felt were my hands and my legs.  I wish I bought those wind resistant pants at uniqlo... Chicago definitely lived up to the Windy City name.

Early in the morning. 
Empty streets. 

McDonald's is always a lifesaver when nothing is open early in the morning.
We had breakfast at McDs with our luggage straight from the airport, taking the Blue Line CTA. Then, some of us bought AT&T Prepaid cards because I need internet data to bring everyone around with Google Maps. It wasn't cheap. I paid 50 USD for a one-month prepaid card with unlimited talk/text within US and 1Gb data. Def wasting that unlimited talk/text thing. haha

I can't even begin to describe how beautiful the architecture of the city is. 
I love every single building, every corner, every glass window.
I took a lot of urban-ish pictures filled with buildings and I love every single one of them. You probably feel like they all look the same, but if you take close notice, the buildings are all structured differently, uniquely. 

Oh, another thing I love about this city is its transportation system. The CTA, the buses, everything is so well connected. Plus their roads are all straight, it's perfect for tourists. haha
As I always say, a good city is one that provides convenient and well-covered transportation system.

So many movies were filmed in Chicago, adding more excitement. :D

We stayed at Hyatt Place on River North. Safe to say it's the best place we stayed for the entire trip. 
I booked it on for RM620 for two nights after a master card discount of RM60.
It's a room for 4 with double queen bed and one sofa. 
We split among 5 of us so it's really worth it. Best part is that they didn't mind we have 5 (well, all hotels didn't), but they told us that all of us can go down for the complimentary breakfast. 
The breakfast was so good I was so happyy! 
Little did I know that it will be the best hotel breakfast I will get for the entire trip too. haha

I made us reservations on OpenTable at Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ on E Ohio St while I was planning the trip. So we didn't have to wait. And yep, it was well worth it too. There were two groups waiting while we walked straight in. :) 
Ohya, you should also go during Happy Hour for the Happy Hour menu!
Click below to check the happy hour time.

The salmon was so so good! 

I'm missing the Garlic Fried Noodles too.

The server kept persuading us to order more, but I guess we haven't got used to the USD MYR conversion. So we were like okay, we don't eat that much..

nom noms.

Heading towards Millennium Park.
Another fave spot of mine.
Love the contrast between park, trees and high rise buildings.
Just like Central Park and the Manhattan skyline in NYC.

 The Bean! Finally!
I walked back for a picture after all lights were turned on, while the rest hid out in Starbucks because they were too cold. As for me, I guess the photos were my only motivation to withstand the cold..

wish that the left girl didn't photobomb our pic...

If you can't feel it already, my excitement and love for this place is indescribable. It's the wideness of the place yet packed and dense, filled with city lights. It's not like super hectic crazy cramp. Just the right balance. 
I'm a city person. And everyone knows that. haha

I knew that the Art Institute of Chicago is just down the street.
So I walked. At that point, I wasn't able to feel my face and feet anymore.
It wasn't as near as I expected, maybe because it's getting dark and colder...
Anyhow I made it, just to take a picture of it. Haha

Now, I will bring you back to the pictures of Magnificent Mile and our hotel. 
I wanted to put the exciting pics up there first.

Mag Mile.

Arriving at the O'Hare Airport.
I was here the first time I came to the States.
Was reminiscing about my crazy time at the airport the first time around, and how I didn't know that will be the last time I saw my luggage.
So yes, I was really paranoid during this trip at every single airport we went, because I'm afraid it will be stolen/go missing again. 

So, I'm the one that needs charging ports literally everywhere. Because I need to make sure my camera had enough juice to take pics for everyone, myself and everything else. 
I have 4 Fuji batteries on rotation and I kept charging them at every opportunity I can.
If Fuji mirrorless cameras can have DSLR batteries capacity, I will be the first one to buy that cam. 
These are the charging ports I found, provided by verizon and those on a counter as below.
Everyone just leaves their phone, macbook, devices there and sit at the sofa nearby doing their own thing.

Can you imagine if it's a Malaysia airport, I guarantee it will be gone within seconds. It's so easy for anyone to stand at the counter, using their body to block and take someone else's phone and walk away. And yep, some of them were playing games on their phone while standing there. It's that easy. 

An advice I can give you is that, remember to bring all charging cables, USB cables, adaptors with you and not in your checked bag. The 12 hour flight from HK to LA also allowed me to charge my phone to 100% using USB entirely. 

on the Blue Line leaving the airport.
Another tip: We bought 3 day unlimited CTA card for 25USD and the machine only accepts exact cash and credit card. Was so reluctant to use credit card because the rate is so much higher, but we didn't have small change. So yes, bring small change if you want to use cash. 

Once again they were inside the warm McD while I came outside on my own to explore the tiny park beside it and take more pictures. 

 The hotel.

cute kids

 I wanted to buy these because they are so prettyyyy.

Things that can be seen often on youtubers vlogs..

 I like these kicks from Michael Kors.
Why didn't I even try it on -.-

sculptures that I can't understand.

 there is one huge difference having the hood up on my jacket. just saying, but that instant warmness on the back of your neck is heaven.

 the bean.

artsy artsy.
walking all the way towards the Art Institute. As I said, it was further than I expected. hahahah

I wanna gooooo innnnnnn.

Alright. I think this post is long enough. I hope you enjoy the pictures.
The next post will be about Navy Pier. 
We went to Winter Wonderfest on the first night itself. Really cute place. :D