Sunday, October 27, 2013

Take Me Back: Chicago, IL

Back when Jason first started at Southwest (June 2011), we took a trip up to Chicago to see my cousin get married. I've been thinking back to this trip lately as we are headed to see her sister get married in less than 2 weeks.

We had a day to explore before the wedding festivities started. We started by walking around Millennium Park. We watched a bit of a concert at the Pavilion and took pictures at "The Bean". You can really spend a lot of time just walking around here!






 We walked along the lake to the Buckingham fountain. After this, we took a stroll around the city and ended up at Gino's East - one of the main contenders for best deep dish pizza. I was honestly more a fan of Giordano's Pizza, but don't really like Chicago-style at all...WAY too much cheese. 
 


 

 
Grabbing a drink at the Signature Lounge in the Hancock Building is a must as it affords some great views! We didn't get a chance on this trip, but I had been before and I loved it. The drinks ARE pricey, but I do think that it is definitely worth the price of admission.
 

 
If you have time, a nighttime "booze cruise" is also a great way to see the beautiful skyline.
 
 

 
The wedding was great and spending time with my family is always nice. We had to get up REALLY early the day after the wedding to catch a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico - the embarking point for our Southern Caribbean Cruise. I'll be detailing the cruise ship and ports between our other current travel posts!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Brooklyn, NY

I was so glad that my cousin asked me to join in with her bachelorette party fun in Brooklyn this weekend. I've never really spent any time outside of Manhattan, so I was excited to check out her new digs. I arrived late Friday and caught the end of the Cardinals' baseball game.

This might have been the most fun and unique bachelorette weekend I've ever attended. Saturday started with NY bagels (and a concert by their upstairs neighbor, haha) and was followed by a trapeze class at Streb! We each got about 5 chances to swing - with the big finale of being caught in the air by an instructor! Below are some shots of the bachelorette in action.




This class was amazing and honestly, much harder than it looks! We all left pretty bruised, but feeling super accomplished! The only really "scary" moment was when you are being held onto by the instructor before you jump off.

Click below to see the video of my back flip and catch and release:

video

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***Update - I totally failed to mention just how awesome Streb was. I honestly can't say enough nice things. Our instructors were amazing and made me feel safe and secure trying something completely out of my comfort zone. I felt encouraged the entire time and would LOVE to go back next time I'm in the area. I may even try to find some local place in Dallas!
 
After our class, we had a well-deserved lunch and drinks at Rosamunde Sausage Grill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Later we watched the Cards win (we ARE all St. Louis born and bred!).
 
That night we went out for dinner and drinks at Sidecar. The food and drinks here were amazing and we had fun sampling the entire cocktail menu. We continued the fun at various bars in Jenna's neighborhood of Park Slope.
 


This guy just HAD to take a picture from above...? One of probably 10 he took.
 


 
Sunday morning, we watched Pitch Perfect (only the best movie ever) and then we had to head to LGA.

While the weekend was short, I always jump at the chance to hang out with my family. It was also great to get to know some of Jenna's friends. I can't wait to see everyone at the wedding in a month! It's just 2 days after our 4 year anniversary, so it will just be a weekend of celebrating love.

Next up: The wedding related to this bachelorette. We'll be heading to Lawrence, KS (home of the University of Kansas) in a month to celebrate!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Albuquerque, NM {International Balloon Fiesta}

We've had so many Aggie football games lately that I was getting antsy for actual travel. I called up my friend, Robin and off we went! We had a few places in mind, but ABQ was our first choice since we both had the International Balloon Fiesta on our Bucket List. The Fiesta happens 2 weekends each year in October - we ended up going on the first day!

I've been to the fiesta before, but years and years ago, so I was really looking forward to it! Robin and I caught a flight from Dallas Friday night and grabbed a quick dinner and went to bed early knowing we'd have a very early morning to see the Mass Ascension. We were out the door the next morning by 4:30 and at the gates by 5:45.

We grabbed a typical "fair-style" breakfast of burritos, cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate - SO satisfying (and warm)! The morning "glow" was awesome to see. We were standing right next to the balloons as they were being inflated and eventually took flight.







As the sun rose higher in the sky, the views became more and more spectacular. Over 500 balloons took off that morning and it was amazing to be right in the middle of everything. I think the best (and most unique) part of this event is that they let spectators walk amongst the balloons.
















We decided to only stay for the morning session of the balloon fiesta so that Robin could explore Albuquerque, but there are nightly glows as well. We headed to Old Town to explore and looked into the many shops, saw a flamenco show in town square and grabbed lunch at Quesadilla Grille.


 


The only bad thing about going on this weekend is that there are SO many people in town. We attempted to take a ride up to the top of Sandia Peak, but the line was over an hour and 1/2 long. Waiting in that line is not what we really wanted to do when we only had less than 2 days to explore, so we passed on this.

We had a yummy dinner of green chile stew at a little diner, Frontier, next to the UNM campus. UNM was actually playing the New Mexico State Aggies, so we felt right at home amongst the maroon and white.

The next morning, we had a chance to workout and then head to The Grove Café and Market. There was a 30 minute line to order food at the place, but with good reason. It was really spectacular! Robin got French-style pancakes with fruit and I got poached eggs with asparagus, parmesan, and prosciutto. The most unique part of my meal was the toast with raspberry red chile jam - YUM!



There are a few things I would mention if you're thinking of going in the future:

One: Buy your tickets to the park/ride and fiesta in advance. Even online the night before will save you about 10 bucks!
Two: If you're not at the park and ride by 6:15, you may miss the burn and mass ascension, but truthfully, you'll want to get there closer to 5 am.
Three: Desert mornings and nights get chilly. Dress in layers.
Four: Check the weather before you go - the wind may delay (or cancel) that day's events.
Five: Eat the burritos (with green chile, of course) and drink the hot chocolate to warm up.

I think Albuquerque is a really underrated city in general, but ESPECIALLY during fiesta. I would definitely add this to your bucket list. Also, thanks to Robin for being a great travel buddy!

Next up: I'm heading to Brooklyn next weekend for a bachelorette party. Can't wait!