It’s Always Sunny in [Philadelphia]

I’ve been watching a lot of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes recently, so I decided Philly is our destination for today’s Throwback Thursday!

After graduating UCLA back in March of 2013, my family and I spent 2 weeks exploring the East Coast. We flew from Los Angeles to New York City, rented a car, and drove all over the northeastern states. Philly was one of our stops!

Philadelphia is unlike any city I’ve ever visited before simply because of its significance in United States’ narrative. It’s always fun to explore a new place full of so much history and good food (who are we kidding)! We only spent one day exploring the city, which was surprisingly enough time to visit the major attractions: Independence Hall, Franklin’s grave, City Hall, Liberty Bell, and Philadelphia Museum of Art/The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps, and last but not least, Philly cheese steak at Ishkabibble’s Eatery.

We spent some time walking around Philadelphia’s Independence Historic Area, which was so incredibly charming! Such an East Coast vibe!

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What happens in [Vegas]…

I spent this past Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas to celebrate two of my girlfriends’ birthdays. It’s been at least 5 years since my last visit, so this makes it my first time experiencing Sin City not underage and not with family.

We rented a 7-seater van to accommodate our overpacked suitcases, and took off at 4:00 am in the morning to bypass the traffic. Our group consisted of 5 girls and 1 guy, which was incredibly convenient because he volunteered to drive most of the way.

I’m aware of the rule that “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but here are some of the pictures below of our epic weekend.

Highlights include:

  • me tossing out a pair of gray heels (the pain was not worth it)
  • the 6 of us taking at least 30 minutes just to find Em’s phone inside the van
  • making “Bye, Felicia” our motto for the weekend
  • open bar at TAO = ordering at least 10 drinks in a span of 30 minutes
  • witnessing Trey Songz perform for free at Mandalay Bay’s Daylight Beach Club (we were 10 feet away from the stage)
  • Em’s magic sunblock
  • fighting off three bees while eating buffalo wings
  • singing at top of our lungs songs by the Spice Girls and Nicki Minaj and everything in between during the car ride
  • Club Crawl — hopping from one club to another all over the Vegas strip in a party bus
  • frantically looking for my cousin at the Flamingo pool after she suddenly disappeared on us
  • the fireworks show at Drai’s
  • adding “i-push mo ‘yan!” and “Mag Zumba na tayo, Darla!” in my vocabulary
  • making friends with random Italian boys at the Venetian

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We arrived in Sin City around 10:00am, and our first stop was Aloha Kitchen. The weather was extremely hot and dry (over 100 degrees)!

Aloha Kitchen's adobo burrito!
Aloha Kitchen’s adobo burrito!

Because our check-in time wasn’t until 4:00pm, we decided to kill time visiting the Bellagio Garden, walking around the strip and hanging out poolside at the Flamingo!

Windy City [Day 2]

Summer Road Trip 2014

June 20, 2014
Chicago, Illinois

Two things come to mind when I hear the word Chicago. Number 1 is deep dish pizza, and number 2 is the image of the Willis Tower. Lucky for me I was able to experience both during my second day in the windy city! Our first stop was the world famous Sky Deck!

The Sky Deck is on the 103rd story of the Willis Tower, and the entire floor had floor-to-ceiling windows, showcasing a spectacular 360-degree view of Chicago.

Heights aren’t a big fear of mine, but I must say, I did still feel my stomach drop just a teeny tiny bit the moment I walked out on the ledge.  It was truly a unique experience! The panoramic view of the Chicago skyline combined with the view of Lake Michigan was breathtaking enough, but experiencing it in a glass box 1,353 feet up? Exhilarating!

Contrary to what every one was doing, all I did was look down! It was as if I was trying to convince my brain that my body was indeed, in fact, standing on a glass ledge… 103 stories up… in Chicago’s highest skyscraper. No big deal.

Watch my short video diary below for a glimpse of my Sky Deck experience!

After an unforgettable experience at the Sky Deck, my family and I went around Downtown Chicago to sightsee even more!

There is something about the Windy City that reminded of the Big Apple. Perhaps it was their subway system or the skyscrapers, but being in Chicago was almost like being in New York City. Almost.

Chicago to me is like New York City, but minus the grit, minus the hustle. It’s like a friendlier, cleaner, less crowded version of New York City.

 After a long day playing tourist, what better way to satiate our hunger than devouring the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza at local Chicago establishment, Lou Malnati’s?

Sidenote: An Italian friend of mine does not consider the aforementioned dish “pizza,” but rather “bread and stew.”

I truly wish I had higher-quality photos of the pizza, but clearly, my excitement got the best of me.

At first it felt unnatural to eat pizza with a knife and fork. Personally, I like my pizza’s thin crust and foldable, but hey, I’m Chicago! Eat as the locals do, right? Man, Lou Malnati’s did not disappoint! The crust was substantial, thick enough to support the lake of cheese and tomato sauce and sausage on top, all of which complemented each other harmoniously.

Also, another notable food trip was to Lezza Spumoni, which has the BEST cannoli I’ve ever tasted!

What can I say? This girl’s gotta eat!

Love,
Anicka Nadine


Lou Malnati’s
Multiple locations throughout Chicago area
http://www.loumalnatis.com

Lezza Spumoni
4009 St. Charles Road
Bellwood, IL  60104
T: 708.547.5969
www.lezza.com

 

Chicago, Illinois [Day 1]

Summer Road Trip 2014

Day #7 – 10: June 19 – 21, 2014
Chicago, Illinois

At last, 5 days and 2,000+ miles later, we finally made it to Chicago! With this trip being my first time visiting the windy city, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Given that this is the last leg of of our trip, my family and I reserved 3 days to explore the city.

As usual, sports arenas were first on our itinerary. We visited United Center, the home of the Chicago Bulls, and the historic Wrigley Field!

The first half of the day was incredibly gloomy and foggy, but thankfully, the weather cooperated as soon as we reached our next stop: Northerly Island.

Overlooking the great Lake Michigan, Northerly Island is a family-friendly nature area that features beautiful strolling and bicycle paths, casual play areas, and a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. A 91-acre peninsula, it is also the site of the Burnham Habor, the Shedd Aquarium and the Alder Planetarium.

A picnic under the trees would’ve been ideal to have in Northerly Island, but our tummies were craving dim sum, so Chinatown was the next stop of the day. Sadly, I was so hungry that I didn’t have the time to take pictures of our glorious meal.

Chicago’s tourist spots, much like in San Francisco, are all in close proximity from one another. Their attractions are conveniently concentrated within their downtown or just a  few miles outside of it. Our next stop after Chinatown is none other than the Buckingham Fountain.

Located at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway, the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain is the centerpiece of Grant Park. This stunning Chicago landmark was constructed in 1927,  inspired by the Latona Basin at Versailles. It is one of the largest fountains in the world, and it was made to represent Lake Michigan, boasting four pairs of Art Deco style sea horses to represent the four states that border the lake.

By far, it is one of the most impressive fountains I’ve ever encountered. It was ENORMOUS, yet so elegant! It jets out so much water that you feel the mist hundreds of yards away!

Merely a few blocks away from Grant Park is Millennium Park, one of the newest additions to Chicago’s many wide open urban spaces. It is an absolute must-see when visiting the windy city! Hosting a wide range of outdoor/indoor activities for locals and tourists a like, Millennium Park is a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design and art.

I could not get enough of this place! Although it was challenging (and expensive) to find parking, the visit was well worth it. The route we took lead us first to the Lurie Garden, an urban oasis located at the southern end of the park. The 5-acre garden is a wonderful palette of texture and color of various bulbs, perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees!

As if the Lurie Garden wasn’t enough to take my breath away, cue the Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion!

A M A Z I N G! The Pritzker Pavilion is a incredible outdoor performing arts venue. I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s so cool and innovative and futuristic! Huge metal beams (where speakers are attached to) criss-cross across a wide field of grass. There wasn’t a performance at the time of our visit, but I made a personal goal to return to Chicago just to attend a concert or music festival here with my friends!

With my jaws still on the ground, we walked over next door to another Chicago must-see: the Cloud Gate, or less formally known as “The Bean.” It is truly an amazing piece of art.

Enormous, metallic, reflective, image-distorting, pictures cannot do it justice.

Chicago is slowly stealing my heart. Stay tuned for Day 2!

Love,
Anicka Nadine

America’s Dairyland [Wisconsin]

Summer Road Trip 2014

Day #5 and 6:  June 16 – 17, 2014
Madison & Milwaukee, Wisconsin

When I hear Wisconsin, two words immediately pop in my head: cheese and tornadoes. We stayed overnight in Madison, and our brief stay in America’s Dairyland was quite memorable to say the least.

We arrived in Wisconsin late afternoon, and our first two stops were Humbird Cheese and Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet. It was heaven on Earth! A cheese paradise! Every kind of cheese I can imagine (and more!) laid before my eyes.

Between the two, I prefer Ehlenbach’s because a) they give free samples and b) the cheeses are not pre-packaged so you can purchase them by weight. It took a massive amount of self-control to not take home every kind of cheese they have. In the end, three ultimately stole my heart: mild brick, olive cheddar, and portobello mushroom and chive.

Fortunately, Ehlenbach’s ships nationwide so you too can try their heavenly cheese creations!

We spent the night strolling through Capitol Square, which definitely had a college town feel because of  its proximity to the University of Wisconsin. A noticeable aspect of Madison that I truly enjoyed seeing is it’s friendliness toward the LGBT community. Left and right, I witnessed same-sex couples holding hands freely and happily, and it warms my heart seeing how far we’ve come.

My family and I dined at The Old Fashioned, an All-American restaurant in the heart of downtown Madison. The food was satisfying, not to mention incredibly affordable (compare to Los Angeles prices anyway)!

Perhaps the most memorable experience we had in Wisconsin was the following day, where we were rudely awakened at 8:00 am in the morning by four different iPhones simultaneously ringing , warning us of a potential tornado. I’m sorry, what? A tornado?!

There was heavy thunderstorm that morning, and according to their local news, the storm had the potential to create a tornado. I would be lying if I said I didn’t fear for my life. I wasn’t ready to die! Not while I’m on vacation and certainly not in Wisconsin of all places! My imagination definitely had the best of me. Scenes from Twister flashed in my head. As Californians, none of us knew what to do. We’re familiar with earthquakes, but tornadoes are a whole different can of worms. Thankfully, the storm subsided, and none of us really had to take shelter in an underground bunker.

It was raining sporadically, but we were still able to spend a few hours in Milwaukee, our last stop before Chi-town!

Love,
Anicka Nadine


Humbird Cheese
2010 Eaton Ave
Tomah, WI 54660
|T: 608.372.6069
www.humbirdcheese.com

Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet
4879 Country Road V
Junction V & I-90-94
DeForest, WI 53532
T: 608.846.4791

www.ehlenbachscheese.com

The Old Fashioned
23 N. Pinckney St.
Madison, WI 53703
T: 608.310.4545
www.theoldfashioned.com