Since last year, we have planned to spend the 2-week Spring break of 2017 in Italy. We have obtained the Schengen visa and made all the related bookings. Surprise, surprise! We made a bold decision of changing the plan to visit the US instead (i.e. Chicago, Washington DC, New York and New Jersey). The second photo will tell you why. After our first visit in July 2015, we were really eyeing to visit US again in Spring of 2018. The short story is this — after considering all the other factors, that having had 2 to 3 weeks left to plan for the US trip — it pushed through. Whew!
Apparently, Little J is a HUGE supporter of Bangtan Boys (otherwise known as BTS). She had never asked anything substantial the past years for her birthday and whenever she deserves a prize for the several times that she did well in school and other aspects of and milestones in life. In fact, she begged not to have any grand celebration or spend a dirham/ dollar this year for her birthday. Hence, what she got was a labor of love consolidated video greetings from her closest friends since kindergarten — some of them are based at other continents. From her parents, she only got video greetings as well and something extra, a letter and an enclosed downloaded/ dummy ticket for a BTS concert from the internet, with a note, “This may come true someday.” Enclosing the dummy stuff was my idea. Hence, when she finally got hold of it and saw her crying, I thought she liked it so much.
It turned out that she was joyful with how her recent birthday celebration unfolded, except for the dummy ticket that (seemed to have) ruined the fluidity of genuine happiness + fun out of simple stuff. The dummy ticket misrepresented something. It so happened that BTS really had an upcoming concert which was happening during her Spring break. She thought the ticket was real. (Oh no! So, dear readers, learn from my ‘I thought that was a great idea’.) We had to re-evaluate everything, financial and non-financial factors. The point was I did not know that this Korean group, who has the largest international fan base, was going to have a US tour. However, since we have been planning for the Italy trip since last year, she did not want to bother or re-route anything.
Sure, there would be other BTS concerts in the future. Chances are they do not coincide with her school break (e.g. they have the Wings tour in Philippines on 6th May, as I write this) and you know, it is always best when one is at the peak of her ‘enthusiasm’ about the group. (Note: After the concert, she exclaimed, “My life is complete. I can die now.” Whaaat? A separate post/ entry about the BTS concert is underway.)
BTS was having (superb!) concerts in New Jersey, Chicago and Anaheim. We chose to go to the one held in Chicago because of date/ timings involved (the one in New Jersey coincides with our flight) and we have been to other nearby cities (e.g. Los Angeles).
Feel the breeze of Lake Michigan.
We are so grateful though because the 2-week Spring break turned out to be a worthwhile and memorable trip. Apart from visiting Chicago, we thought of visiting Washington DC for a few days mainly to meet up/ spend time with a long time friend whom I met during our old blogging days, who is based in Maryland and works in DC area. (In 2015, I have met up with 2 friends whom I met through blogging, too. I know I have remained ‘virtual’ to many for some reasons, but I am getting there. Meeting up with them in 2015 was among the highlights of that trip.)
How I wish I had a photo at Wrigley Tower with my friend whom I have not seen for over 10 years. We were re-united during this trip (with her husband and very amiable daughter) and I cannot thank her/ them enough for spending time with us for few days during our stay in Chicago. I remember we were walking to our hotel that evening and she said, “Look up, I really like this building.” I liked it, too, because it is really a great one + she likes it, hence, I liked it more.
I loved deep dish pizza! We tried the ones from Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s. I am also now a fan of Chicago hotdogs. Too bad we do not have all these in UAE. There is Shack-ca-go dog in Shake Shack Abu Dhabi, I have yet to try that though.
Founder of Chicago, John Baptiste Point du Sable, is mindful of Trump, err, the tower.
The fascinating architecture in Chicago made me feel that I was constantly in an open museum. We joined an official architecture tour though. What a twist, we thought Ed Sheeran was on the same tour. I could not help but asked/ told him, “Hi! Are you aware that you have so much resemblance with Ed Sheeran?” As a side note, he is going to perform in Dubai again this coming November. He was brilliant in his 2015 concert. He is a musical genius.
We went up to Sears Tower (yeah, like the locals I prefer to call it by the original name, instead of Willis Tower). I look forward to blogging in details how my hunger for photography (sometimes) can outweigh the terror of heights. Hahaha.
Did you know that there are free walking tours in Chicago (and other cities in the US)? We joined one on our last day and met at the overhang of Chicago Theater. I wish we had considered that earlier.
As I mentioned earlier, the main reason I wanted to stop by in Washington DC was to meet up with a long time blogger friend. We enjoyed her and her husband’s company; they made our Washington DC experience perfect. We had worthwhile stroll to Tidal Basin, White House, Pentagon, National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more. It was a treat that our stay coincided with the Cherryblossoms Festivities. This lovely couple also introduced us to DC’s foodie delights, like Toro Toro and Astro Doughnuts. I particularly miss the creme brûlée and cherry blossoms flavors of doughnuts.
On the days that there were rain showers, we enjoyed visiting the Capitol (including the Senate Gallery), US Library of Congress and others. I loved that majority of the tours and other attractions are free of charge.
The last leg of this Spring break trip was spent in New York and New Jersey. The highlight of which was re-uniting with some relatives and friends. We tried to explore other activities and points of interest that we have not done in 2015, like visiting the United Nations Headquarter. Very interesting.
Although we already visited Wall Street few years ago, I have been intrigued by the installation of Fearless Girl statue. ‘She’ started standing there to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day. Basically, it is a symbolism of women empowerment and not really to go against the charging bull. After the petition, her stay has been extended until February 2018. As a side note, the bull’s ass had been more photographed than his face compared with what we noted in 2015. Times are changing.
We also did campus tours during this Spring break: in University of Chicago, New York University and Columbia University (photographed below).
The Oculus was being constructed when we passed by World Trade Center in summer of 2015. The same with St. Patrick’s Church (beside Saks Fifth Avenue) which had an ongoing renovation then. Both are fascinating architecture. I found The Oculus overpriced/ expensive though. Nevertheless, it was one of the reasons why we enjoyed taking the connections to PATH to New Jersey via the World Trade Center hub.
While we have seen Les Miserables during our first Broadway experience, we chose to see Waitress the Musical this year. It was an awesome treat that Sara Bareilles is performing as Jenna (from April until June 2017 only!) She and the rest of performers deserved the standing ovation.
We explored more of Brooklyn this time. Thanks to my cousin for the snap inspirations, like the photo above where Empire State Building can be framed by Manhattan Bridge. Moreover, we have tried Grimaldi’s delicious pizza. No wonder there is always a queue. We also went to see the graffiti/ collectives in Bushwick.
Of course, there are some places that one will keep coming back to. Ours is Grand Central Terminal and nearby areas and Central Park. This park is so huge (as we have seen the macro view from Top of the Rock then) that we decided to explore the sections that we did not see the first time we visited. We were delighted by the beautiful sunset.
This trip has more details that I can talk about unabatingly, including the black swans (i.e. probability of improbables). One example was when Little J chose to visit the graveyard and house of Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore, Maryland over Niagara Falls.
Until the next posts about the more funny, some scary, always indulging and however it can roll/ be described stories about this trip. Chicago-related stories first.