Summer in Europe Part II

Summer in Europe Part II

I  hope you enjoyed my post last week recapping the first half of my trip abroad last month. As promised, I’m chronicling the second part now, including my time in Budapest, Hungary and a quick strop through London before heading home.

IMG_9649

After such a fabulous time in Croatia and Slovenia, it was time to explore Hungary, specifically the capital, Budapest. Budapest is an extremely modern and lively city, perfect for young travelers with plenty of shops and bars. On our first night, we had a much needed sit down dinner before watching the sun set on Danube river over drinks at a rooftop bar. Similar to Ljubljana, their are plenty of cobblestone streets with outdoor dining and gelato shops.

The following morning, we headed a little north to enjoy the famous Széchenyi Thermal baths for the afternoon. Budapest is known as a city of spas, with many places to relax, including this historic landmark.  I loved the architecture and culture of the area, with plenty of good people watching too. Budapest is also known for their “ruin bars” which refer to their bar scene of the old historic Jewish quarter. We headed to the very first Ruin Bar, Szimpla Kert to experience it all for ourselves. The historic district of Budapest has become extremely trendy and it’s the perfect area to stay in.

We broke up the trip to Budapest by doing a day trip to Szentendre on our last full day. The small beach town was full of great local vendors, dessert shops and colorful buildings. Even though I  love seeing the city life of a new country, often times I  can get a better taste of the local flavor in a smaller town. That’s where some of the best shopping is too! 😉

The last leg of the trip was a quick visit to our stomping grounds of London before heading home. With only 36 hours to explore London, we had to choose wisely. Plenty of walking around the city led to my favorite shopping at Spitalfield Market, followed by a tea bus tour. It’s the best way to see London while also enjoying a can’t miss activity! To finish off the last night of the entire trip we sat down to dinner at Duck & Waffle to look over the entire city.

The final dinner of any vacation is always a little bitter sweet, but it’s always fun to reminisce on the entire trip, talking about all the people we encountered and remembering our favorite moments. This adventure could not have been more perfect from start to finish! I can’t wait until the next, where new culture and experiences await.

More posts to come next week,

TW

Air BNB in Budapest

Restaurant and Bar in Budapest

Tea Tour and Dinner in London

Summer in Europe Part I

Summer in Europe Part I

It’s been quite a busy summer, specifically this past July! I’m still coming off a two week high from exploring eastern Europe with a close friend from my days studying abroad in London during our junior year of college. During our time abroad, we traveled as much as possible but knew that we’d need to make a return visit to Europe in order to cover all the ground we wanted to. 

With that being said, we began brainstorming on where we’d want to go on this return visit. We decided to start with Croatia, a coastal country that we’d both been eyeing for some time now. We decided to choose other neighboring countries and make this an eastern European adventure. I’ll be chronicling the two weeks of travel in a few blog posts, breaking down the trip in two parts! Part one begins with Croatia of course, followed by Slovenia. Part two, encompassing Hungary and London, will up shortly! 

 

 

Let’s get started, shall we? Like I mentioned before, Croatia was the first on our must list, as we’d been wanting to travel there for years. Surely, it did not disappoint. After what felt like a full days travel from Chicago, we made it to Split, a coastal town that I can only compare to as a lovechild of Greece and Italy. Split was full of charm, small shops and lots of outdoor eateries. 

The whole vacation was kicked off with a catamaran excursion around the Adriatic Sea, from sun up to sun down. We were given the chance to swim in the deep blue ocean and stop in Hvar, a ritzy island. (where I had the best pasta of my life) By the luck of timing, we got to watch Croatians celebrate their country’s World Cup Semi Final win. We loved watching the small beach town come to life that night.

IMG_9403

Although our time in Croatia was for only a split second, no pun intended, it was a great way to ease us into this adventure. From Split, we headed towards Slovenia. Some of you might be thinking, “what or where is Slovenia?” and I was right there with you up until planning this trip. Slovenia boarders the north of Croatia, and only gained its independence just 26 years ago. After being able to enjoy it for 3 days, it’s perhaps one of my new favorite places. 

 

 

Based in the capital of Ljubljana, we could not have loved our time there more. Unlike any other European city I’ve been to before, there was something about Ljbjanana that was unlike anywhere else. For starters, the entire city center was pedestrian only. Closed to local traffic, locals and travelers are free to roam the streets and enjoy outdoor eating and drinking. On our first night, we enjoyed a local street food fair and spent the night sipping on Aperol Spritz until sundown. Streets are full of colorful, Austrian inspired buildings. I felt like I had walked into a fairytale. 

The picture perfect surroundings didn’t stop there. The next day we took a day trip to Lake Bled, which was nothing short of stunning. The country’s lushest and ritziest lake town is centered around a tiny church, which you can only get to by row boat. For an even better view of the lake, we stormed the castle about Lake Bled. The view was breathtaking, and the photos don’t even do it justice. To unwind after such a busy morning, we took part in a wine tasting back in the city.

IMG_9541

The time we spent on this first half of the trip was fantastic, and we install fell in love with the charm of these two countries. There’s something about small European towns that feels effortless and begins to inspire me. More inspiration and photos to come in part two, coming soon!

-TW

Air BNB in Croatia and Slovenia

Restaurant and Excursion in Split

Day Trip and Wine Tasting in Ljubljana

Chicago Go-Tos

Chicago Go-Tos

For someone who enjoys traveling so much, coming home to Chicago is always an amazing feeling. As I  look out the window of my Uber, I always love being greeted by the skyline and know I’ve chosen a world-class city to call home. Between showing around out of town guests or receiving texts from friends asking for suggestions before coming into the Windy City, I  felt like it was time to chronicle my favorites over the past five years of living here.

Eat: If you’re coming to Chicago and you only have time to do one thing, it better be eat! I’ve been to some amazing places around the world with great food and Chicago is honestly my favorite food city. Some of my top picks include:

 

Willow Room for Brunch, RL Restaurant and Honey Butter Chicken for Lunch, and Little Goat Diner, Mott St. and Antique Taco for Dinner.

Restaurants here come and go, but the real winners stick around. Do you research first, or just come to me first. 😉

Drink: Chicago is also home to some spectacular cocktails and mixologist. Keep in mind a good drink is gonna cost you, depending on your location. The farther from the city center you go, the more affordable your drink will be. Think… $17 for the Grant Park view at Cindy’s or the $8 house punch at my favorite, The Whistler, in Wicker Park.

 

Other musts include The Broken Shaker (inside Freehand hotel), Billy Sunday in Logan Square, MoneyGun and Park & Field.

Do: You can never get bored here, another plus of the city. Even in its coldest months, there’s at least a handful of events or exhibits to check out. For a scenic views, try Field Museum, (featured pictured) the greenery around Garfield Park Observatory, or just walk around Lincoln Park Zoo!

 

For brunch and home inspiration, try Restoration Hardware and its 3 Arts Cafe.Shopping is just as good too, my personal favorites are UnaMae’s in Wicker Park, Festive Collective, and Gather Home+Lifestyle.

 

My absolute favorite part about Chicago is that it’s always changing. I’ve been here for five years and my list of new places to explore continues to grow! I’m always finding new murals to snap, bites to savor, or hidden gem bars in different neighborhoods.

Curious to hear what your favorite places in Chicago are, whether you’re a local or not! Comment them below if you’d like, just don’t forget to grab some Garret’s Chicago Mix on your next visit.

-TW

New York State of Mind

New York State of Mind

My trip last week to felt like it lasted a New York Minute, and no, I’m talking about the Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen classic, it was simply a whirlwind of experiencing the very best of the Big Apple in just four days.

I headed to NYC for the  first time in about five years to celebrate my 24th birthday and experience Thanksgiving with my best friend and it couldn’t have been a better visit! This would be the third trip this year where I’ve stayed with a local, which I’ve loved because it takes a lot of guess work out of getting around. In a city like New York, I can use all the help I can get.

On day one, we hit the ground running with a scenic ferry ride to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, which were both historical and great views of the city. We took a stop through Times Square before having dinner at Chinese Tuxedo and then finishing up the night for drinks at NoMo Kitchen in Soho. It was the perfect way to toast to the end of 23.

We painted the town red on my birthday and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. After donuts from Peter Pan’s, we hopped on the Gossip Girl site tour, a personal favorite, to act out our fantasies of the Upper East Side for the afternoon. Highlights included seeing Constance, sitting on The Met steps, and getting sweets at Dylan’s Candy Bar! If you’re a fan of the show, I’d highly recommend it. Following the tour, we headed to Soho, one of my favorite areas to window shop before getting ready for dinner at Peter Luger, one of the best known steak dinners in New York, and it did not disappoint. The night ended with a scenic view of the whole city from Westlight in Brooklyn!

I  had what I’d consider a true New York Thanksgiving by beating the crowds to Central Park and 72nd to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was really fun to be a part of the action this year, and after we strolled through Central Park. We took more photos at Dumbo and around the Brooklyn Bridge before having a laid back night.

 

On my final day, the morning started at Sadelle’s, a NYC bagel and lox institution adorned in Tiffany blue decor with the best french toast I’ve ever had. I  made sure to check out the Volez, Voguez, Voyagez -Louis Vuitton exhibit. (It’s free to the public and open till January 7th) If you’re a fashion lover, you’d enjoy it. Just steps from the 9/11 Memorial and The Oculus, it was perfect to check those off my bucket-list too! After the day in Manhattan, I  grabbed a slice of pizza at Williamsburg Pizza before heading home.

Like most of my trips, I squeezed a lot in a short amount of time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You can check out the map below to see everywhere I went!

This was an incredible trip to start 24 and catch up with old friends! Next week I’ll be sharing more fall to winter looks as the countdown to Christmas begins!

Happy Friday,

TW

 

TW Goes West

TW Goes West

I recently read that “a great trip sets you down a path that doesn’t end when you return home” and that statement couldn’t ring more true with my first visit to California last week. I’ll be diving more into that “path” a little later on in the week, but for now, let’s get into my adventure on the West Coast, shall we?

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

Inspired by both the need to see one of my best friends and the desire to live out my Ingrid Goes West fantasy, I made sure to see as much of Los Angeles as possible during my first visit to the West Coast. The agenda was jam-packed but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

My personal philosophy during a trip is to get a lay of the land as quickly as possible with a sight-seeing tour. It may seem traditional, but any sort of classic sight-seeing tour allows for you to get in some history and understand the layout of a city before you start exploring it on your own. Since LA is extremely massive and diverse, a StarLine tour seemed crucial. Although the tour guide was a bit…. redundant, there were some highlights. Photos at The Hollywood Bowl, lunch at The Farmers Market and strolling though Olvera Street were great first moments in Los Angeles. As an aspiring “Bravo-lebrity” my first full night ended at Pump and Sur in West Hollywood, of Vanderpump Rules fame. People watching has never been better!

 

Day two took a detour south, heading to San Diego! After a scenic two hour drive down the California coast, we finally made it. San Diego is stunning. With plenty of sunshine, boats and friendly residents, I could have stayed longer. Before heading into the city, we stopped at Liberty Public Market, a food hall style epicenter with plenty of flower shapes and boutiques too. The true mission was to see Hotel Del Coronado, the famous hotel and San Diego landmark. Charming and quaint, yet opulent, the “Del” was picture perfect. Coronado Island is lined with trendy shops and restaurants. Before heading out of town, we stumbled upon Solunto in Little Italy for a late lunch.

 

Back in Los Angeles for my last full day, the morning began at Gjusta, a Venice bakery and deli known for plenty of local flavor. Following that was a scenic walk around Abbot Kinney Blvd for shopping and photos, it was nothing short of a Instagram gold mine. The afternoon was topped off at Nobu for drinks in Malibu, while jamming to California Girls and yes, Malibu, on the way to and from. A delicious dinner at Osteria Mozza was followed up by a drive to Griffith Observatory. If you find yourself in LA, I believe it’s a must see. You’ll be channeling your inner Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the City of Stars.

Processed with VSCO with e2 preset

As my trip wrapped up, my last morning was spent in Venice and Santa Monica. Venice is home to the laid back surfers and skaters that I’d seen plenty of times in TV and movies. After a breakfast at Rose Cafe and checking out the vintage shops in Santa Monica, I made sure to get a sushi lunch at Sugar Fish before one final drive through Beverly Hills.

All in all, California did not disappoint! Never short on good weather or a colorful photo opportunity, I couldn’t have asked for a better first visit. Having a local show me the ropes made the trip even better. Check out this map to see every spot I hit and stayed tuned for more adventures. I’ll be writing about past and future travels very shortly!

Happy Monday,

TW

TexYass

TexYass

The old saying goes “Everything’s bigger in Texas” and a weekend in San Antonio and Austin proved that right! If you’ve had the opportunity to study abroad, you know the friends you meet during that experience are the perfect travel companions. This visit reunited some of my study abroad crew and just like our time in Europe, we made the most of every minute in the Lone Star State.

Processed with VSCO with e3 preset

Heading into this trip, I had very little knowledge of both cities, specifically San Antonio. Upon arriving I was greeted with warm weather and a prickly pear margarita at La Gloria, the perfect backdrop against San Antonio’s River Walk. We picked perhaps the best weekend of all to visit San Antonio, the last weekend of Fiesta, the city’s biggest event of the  year. Celebrating San Antonio’s heritage, Fiesta is full of colorful decorations, delicious street food, and live music all night long.

Other highlights of San Antonio included the Historic Pearl district, the River Walk, and brunch at Ocho! Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised with San Antonio. The never ending colorful backdrops and unique history left a charming taste in my mouth.

Luckily Austin is just a little under 2 hours away from San Antonio and well worth a day trip! San Antonio almost feels like a part of Latin America while Austin had a much more urban, American city feeling to it. Lined with trendy shops and even trendier residents, the highlights included South Congress, for shopping, and grabbing photos of the amazing street art throughout the city! We topped the night off with a perfect seafood dinner at Clark’s Oyster Bar.

Whether it’s BBQ or Tex Mex, margaritas or mojitos, Texans know the way to your heart is through your stomach! In my opinion, Texas is best explored if you embrace everything and every dish! It was a fantastic change of pace from the bustling city life that is Chicago. Southern hospitality never goes out of style!

Check out my Google Map here with every stop I made on my visit and check back for the next travel update.

-TW

O-Canada-Duh!

O-Canada-Duh!

After traveling outside North America in high school and abroad in college, I realized I had a lot of ground to cover in my own backyard. It shocked me that I hadn’t even been to neighboring Canada after all of these years. Last summer, I wanted change that! As a kick-off to adulthood, Vancouver became my first trip to Canada and I couldn’t have been more pleased with my visit.

Celebrating college graduation, Vancouver was the perfect combination of adventure, great hospitality and fantastic food.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I’m breaking down some highlights from my 2016 trip:

Where to stay:

Hotels ranged $200/night so it seemed more cost effective to stay in an AirBnB. It was my first experience but it was honestly fantastic! Clean, modern, and in the trendy Chinatown neighborhood, we loved having a place to ourselves. Having the option to play Netflix during downtime didn’t hurt either. I’ve attached the listing here.

Where to eat:

Bao BeiChinese is my absolute favorite cuisine, but I won’t lie, it’s because I love General Tso’s and spring rolls. This was no Panda Express. Bao Bei was a great trendy asian restaurant in Chinatown with plenty of noodles and spicy dishes and just steps away from our Air Bnb.

Miku– If you’re looking for fresh seafood and sushi, Vancouver is the place to do it. Every bite was fresh and full of flavor.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Where to drink: 

Belgard Kitchen After a long day of tours, Belgard Kitchen was like a brewery for wine. The rosé flight was a perfect refreshing way to end a long day of touring. There’s plenty of charcuterie boards too!

The Keefer Bar- Just steps from Bao Bei and our AirBnb, The Keefer Bar had amazing and unique cocktails. You could really tell the bartender knew what she was doing, asking what flavors and liquors we preferred to craft the perfect creation.

What to do:

Granville Island Pubic Market– Plenty of shopping and local markets cover Granville Island Public Market. Lots of great gift shops and breweries are perfect pit stops in between trying lots of local fare.

Capilano Suspension Bridge– Test you balance and photography skills at this landmark. The bridge and surrounding trails are breathtaking, and there’s a great cafe serving poutine after you’ve crossed back and forth.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Grouse Mountain– If you need to fulfill your sense of adventure, I’d suggest checking out Grouse Mountain. High above Vancouver, you’ll get a perfect few of the mountaintops while zip-lining in the summer, or skiing in the winter. You can also hike trails or watch Lumberjack themed games.

Gastown– The best shopping and dining is probably around Gastown! It’s a very scenic area, with cobblestone streets and old world charm.

I’ve chronicled every stop we made on this google map. As you can see, Vancouver is quite small, and extremely easy to travel around, by foot or even bike. **Uber was unavailable when I was there.

Keep in mind that Vancouver is quite expensive, but its kind locals and charm are worth it! It’s a great melting pot of many cities I’d been to before. Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, it’s part New York and part London with a dash of European flair and a sprinkle of Boston. It’s so uniquely like everywhere else, a tour guide told us it’s a popular filming location because it can easily be dressed as other metropolis cities. I can attest, as we walked through several filming shoots and even saw Seth Rogen on our first night out.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

So if the question is, should I visit Vancouver, the answer is … O, Cana-DUH!

-TW