Friday, December 25, 2009

OK City and Alby


Wow... so it's definitely been a while. I am FINALLY getting to the OK City and Albuquerque legs of our summer road trip. So, here we go.

After STL, Yuri and I made a stop in Oklahoma City. We didn't really do much except stop by Mama E's Wings and Waffles, where we enjoyed some AMAZING soul food. I got the soul food special and Yuri got the wings and waffles. Honestly some of the best wings/waffles I've had in my life...

My soul food special: fried chicken, baked chicken, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes

Wings and waffles

Just one wall of the autograph walls

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Leaving our mark


The finished product

After OK City, it was a long and painful drive through Texas with zero scenery until we finally got to Albuquerque. Again, it was only a one night stay, but we made it memorable. We went to dinner at Macaroni Grill (a chain restaurant, but give us a break) and recapped special moments of our trip in crayon on the table. In the morning, we decided to hit up Sophia's Place for some serious breakfast eats.


Are we at the right place?

The interior

The menu

Amazing breakfast burrito... I believe it was carnitas (pork)

Huevos rancheros... I think this was also carnitas

After breakfast we were homeward bound, sad that our trip had reached its end, but full of memories to last a lifetime... and also determined to do something similar again!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 4 - STL


Sorry I have been a little remiss in updating. I'm going to catch up though.

Day 4 meant no more Chicago. Instead we woke up to beautiful St. Louis. Because we got there so late, we had trouble waking up early. By the time we were packed and ready, it was lunchtime. So, we went to Pappy's Smokehouse.


Left: beef brisket sandwich, green beans, baked beans. Right: pulled pork sandwich, sweet potato fries, cole slaw.

This BBQ house changed my life! The brisket was just the way I like it, the green beans fresh, and the baked beans sweet but not too sweet. The cole slaw was perfect and not watery like most cole slaws are, and the sweet potato fries were the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Also, I should mention that this place has the BEST BBQ sauce I've ever tasted in my whole life. They had bottles of it for sale; I don't know why I didn't get one! I definitely regret it now.

After lunch, we went to the Gateway Arch. Hey, you can't visit St. Louis for the first time without going to the arch, right? Following a lot of waiting and witnessing a crazy woman screaming at her kids (everyone has a bad day, but this girl was completely out of control), an enthusiastic tour guide greeted us and let us go ahead of the pack since we were only a party of two. Righteous. So, we were crammed into a tiny capsule that took us to the top of the arch.


View from the Arch

Yuri at an observation window

Anyway, that was that. It was time to be on our way and bid STL adieu. Onward to Oklahoma City!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day Three - Last Day in the Chi


Day Three was my last day in the beautiful Chi-city, which meant Yuri and I had to seize the day! And seize it we did.

We started out the day by waking up late and feeling hungry (of course). So, we walked to Giordano's for some Chicago style deep dish pizza and other Italian American eats.


The Slice: Green peppers, cheese, and sausage.

The pie.

Italian beef sandwich

Calamari

The food was SOOOOO delicious! I don't like thin crust pizzas, so I loved the breadiness of the pizza we ordered. The calamari was crispy and perfect, and the Italian beef sandwich was savory. The meat inside was so thinly sliced and the sauce really made it something special.

After lunch, we decided to take a bus tour around the city. Personally I thought the bus tour was a really good deal because it was only 20-something dollars to ride the buses and get on an off as much as you wanted. The buses stopped at all the main attractions in the city so it worked out really nicely. We also got a tour guide who was the funniest person I've met in my life. It was more like a stand-up routine than a bus tour!

Bus Fährt... hahaha!

We rode around on the bus for a while and decided to get off at Navy Pier because we wanted to see it before we left, and because our tour guide was switching out with another one. We're so loyal. Anyway, we strolled on the pier for a little bit and enjoyed some drinks and a snack.

People walking on the pier

Duck sleeping in the lake... I thought it was cute

So, after Navy Pier, we got back on the bus and took it to Sears Tower. After a lot of standing in line and feeling my soul being sucked out of me, we finally made it to the top of the tallest building in the world (which isn't really true anymore, but it's still freaking high!!!).


View from the 103rd floor of the tower

Another view

We were lucky to be visiting Chicago when we did because they had just added the ledges about a month ago. Basically some engineers (AKA badasses) thought it would be cool to have cantilevered glass ledges that visitors could stand on, so they built some and added them to the tower. We HAD to do it, there was no way we were going to leave without going on it!

Looking down from the ledge.. SCARY

Sitting on the ledge

Let it be known that the 103rd floor is really, really high. I mean REALLY high. Looking down from the glass ledge really put into perspective how high we were... and we actually started to feel physically ill. SO COOL!!!!

After we had enough of playing with death, we went down and looked around in the gift shops. I bought something for my brother and then we met Obama!

...Or rather, a cardboard cutout of President Barack Obama. Chicagoans are obsessed with Obama and hopelessly devoted to him.

After that, we had to get going in order to make it to St. Louis at a decent hour. On the way, we met some friends of Yuri's (the same ones from Day 1's tapas dinner) for Chinese/Korean food. Then we were on our way to STL, arriving around 2am. I'm pretty sad not to be in Chicago anymore, but as the Terminator says.... I'll be back.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day Two - Strange Waiter, Boat Tour, and Brazilian BBQ

Sorry I have been slacking on posting. I'm in Oklahoma now and there's free internet here, so I shall fill in the holes that I left since I last updated.

On Day 2, we woke up kind of late because we were so tired from the day before. After about a two mile walk from our hotel, we finally arrived at Yolk, which is a breakfast/brunch/lunch kind of joint. We had the most eccentric, friendly, chipper waiter who was cute in a really sad and pathetic way. He had a tendency to materialize out of nowhere, mostly to fill our water glasses, and scare the crap out of us. We joked that the next time he would come out from under the table asking, "More water?" He would always invade our personal space to ask us questions and apologized for the most random things, like filling up our water glasses. He even apologized for being too weak when he brought out my plate... his words: "Sorry I kind of threw that down at you... it was heavy...." It got to the point where every time he came around we would start busting up laughing because we were obsessed with his idiosyncrasies! I laughed so hard I cried. What a character.

I had a potato, bacon, and green pepper skillet with pancakes and Yuri ordered the eggs benedict. Both were downed with a glass of strawberry orange juice. DELICIOUS!

After breakfast (which was really more like lunch since we ate kind of late) we walked around Museum Campus trying to decide which museum to go to. I said all I really cared about was the Art Institute, so that's where we went!

I was surprised by how much I remembered from AP Art History! I recognized a lot of the paintings and remembered a lot about the artists who made them. We saw all kinds of masterpieces like Monet's Haystack series, Seurat's La Grande Jatte, stuff by Henri Toulouse de Lautrec, Fragonard, Goya, Manet, Gaugin, Delacroix, Watteau, and more! I never thought I would actually get to see this stuff in person. It was awesome.

Watteau

A really cool room in the museum

Just kidding! It was part of a set of insane miniatures that this guy made.

Goofing around in the kid's exhibit

We decided to go on a boat tour to learn more about Chicago's architecture, so we went down to the Wendella tour dock and bought tickets. The next tour didn't start for a while, so we went back to the hotel and propped our feet up because they were so swollen from walking everywhere. That's what I get for being from a driving town. Anyway, we went back and boarded the vessel, and Yuri hooked us up with some beers that we could sip during the tour.


Our super cheery tour guide with whom I kind of fell in love.

The bottom of the Tribune building. FIGURES they stick Arizona's lame contribution (the Petrified Forest? Really!?!?) behind a lamp where no one will see it

Sears Tower

Aqua (meant to look like water is flowing down the sides)

Corn Cob Tower... it's not really called that but it looks like one! Parking garage and condos in one building -- a city within a city.

For dinner, Yuri made reservations at Fogo de Chao, which is a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. WOW. They had a magical salad bar that always managed to be fully stocked no matter how many people took food from it, and the meats they offered were sooooo flavorful and juicy and tender.

video
Demonstration


My salad, some fried bananas (DELICIOUS), garlic mashed potatoes (ALSO DELICIOUS) and polenta (DELICIOUS AS WELL)

I should also mention that the service there was RIDICULOUSLY attentive. It was really funny because when we first were seated I was playing around with my card, halfway flipping it to the green side. No later than 10 seconds afterwards there were about 3 servers at our table trying to offer me a slice of their meat. We also got asked about 152450058072 times if we were okay or if we needed anything, and people would come by and fill our water glasses even if we had only taken a sip from it. Talk about service.

Anyway, after dinner it was pretty late, so we headed back to the hotel and crashed for the night, feeling so full that we wanted to throw up. Consider this day a success.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Announcement

So, the hotel at which I am staying does not provide free internet. I am currently piggybacking on some random signal, which means it's weak and the connection is SLOW.

So, yeah, I'm very much alive and having a GREAT time. I'm still writing, but I'm having trouble adding the bells and whistles (pictures and video) because of the slow connection. If I don't update for a few days, it's because I'm waiting to find a better signal. When I do, I promise the posts will be up in all their glory.

Day One - Hancock Tower, Millennium Park, and Other Things

I wasn't even here a full day and I'm already so beat. Blah.

Anyway, for a few hours this journal was in peril because I had remembered to pack everything EXCEPT the cord to connect my camera to my computer! But luckily, during our stroll down Michigan Avenue (which was the first thing we did when I got here) we spotted a Best Buy, which saved the day.

After window shopping along Michigan Ave, we decided to go up to the top of Hancock Tower. We didn't go to the observatory because that costs money (hey, we're cheap), so we went to the restaurant at the top which is free and has the same exact view. Here are some pictures I got from that.

Navy Pier


You can see the Sears Tower there in the back


There wasn't much to do up there except look at the view, so when we had our fill we went back down and walked around a little more. We decided to go to Millennium Park and Crown Fountain since we had some time to kill before dinner. Here are some pictures from walking there.

Obligatory river picture

Newlyweds trekking through the city

DA BEAN!

Obligatory bean reflection photo

In DA VORTEX of DA BEAN!


Thought I would get a little creative in photographing the Bean.

Ok, these people were such bookworms, and we weren't even sure they knew each other. We thought it was so hilarious that they were all reading on a bench together when there were plenty of empty benches nearby. I couldn't resist snapping a stalker picture.

Taking a break from walking before we headed over to the fountain

I said something to make Yuri laugh and snapped this. She'll hate me for putting this up, but I like it!

After we took a little rest, we walked over to the fountain.

I actually don't like this picture very much, but I'm having trouble uploading the very funny video I shot, complete with commentary by Yuri and me. I'll try to upload it again later, though.

Anyway, the whole point of doing all this touristy stuff was to keep ourselves busy until dinner. When the time came, we took a cab to the tapas restaurant for which we had made a reservation. We met up with some friends of Yuri's from law school and had a great time laughing while feasting on tapas and drinking some freaking delicious sangría. I remembered to take pictures of the food AFTER we ate it all, so I'm afraid I don't have any pictures of that to share.

After dinner, we went to a frozen kefir place (kinda like frozen yogurt) and then we came back to the hotel. And here I am, struggling with the stupid internet! But I am committed to making this the best travel journal ever!

I apologize if this entry is long and scatterbrained. I've had to write a lot of it in bits and pieces. I'm going to try to find better ways to share pics and video, because I'm really not digging the way blogger does it. At any rate, I'm gonna get some rest. It's a full day tomorrow!

Edit: Here is the video.
video