Study Abroad Reunion: Chicago (March 9-11)

In 2016, I made the best decision of my life: to study abroad in Kalmar, Sweden.

I made THE BEST friends I could’ve asked for!  We all decided to have a reunion in Chicago because Alice (to my right in the above photo) was student teaching in Illinois for one month.  Mitch and Bethany (to my left) are from Colorado, and Taylor (far right) is from Texas.  We HAD to take a selfie at the iconic bean, obviously 🙂

During our first afternoon/evening, we were catching up at dinner, the hotel bar, and even played Uno for awhile in our room.  I hadn’t seen Taylor or Alice since I left Sweden in June, 2016, so seeing them meant the world to me.  Bethany and I, thankfully, have been able to see each other twice since we returned home (once in Chicago in June, exactly!) and will be going to one of my favorite places, Iceland, this May!  Spending time with Mitch is always great, and seeing him meant the world to me as well!

On our only full day together, we went to the Sears Tower (I STILL need to call it that…) and we took some obligatory Sky Deck photos!  It was worth it, but the crowds and heat were too much for all of us.  Thankfully, Giordano’s was right around the corner 🙂

All of us (except for Taylor – he needed a major nap after the deep dish!) spent time near the Water Tower place, specifically at Nike and Ghiradelli!  Mitch and I were OBSESSED with the store.  I have probably been in there at least 10 times and it never gets old!  Mitch, Alice, and I all got ice cream after, which also put us into a food coma, much like our dear friend!

You can’t go to Chicago without going to a comedy show, am I right? I am in love with Second City and Zanies; I have been to both three times I believe.  Bethany and I went to Zanies in June, and I’ve also been there with another friend from studying abroad in France.  I decided on Zanies this time because 1) the tickets were cheaper, 2) stand-up is hilarious and is rarely ever bad (in my opinion), and 3) it’s located on N. Wells Street, where all the best bars are!

Of course, we picked the best night to go!  It was Zanies’ 40th anniversary so we were able to have some mystery shots, more stand-up comedians, and many more laughs! I would tell you some of the jokes; however, they were NOT appropriate for this blog 🙂 Take my word for it: Zanies is the funniest club in Chicago!

Bethany and I are always thuggin’ it on Wells St…

Our coats got switched at Benchmark…oops!

Fun fact: Bethany and I took a similar photo here back in June.  Once we found the same bar, we obviously had to recreate our masterpiece 🙂

This goes without saying, but this was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time.  Seeing old friends felt so rewarding and I haven’t laughed that hard in SO long (both from the comedians AND my best friends)!  I can’t wait until our next reunion together.

I can’t wait for Taylor to have a Guinness at every bar he passes, for Alice to be as stereo-typically French as possible, for Bethany and I to laugh over nothing at all, and for Mitch and I to have the best conversations again 🙂

Three Italian Cities

Okay, Italy is one of my favorite places I’ve visited to date; HOWEVER, there is a huge difference between the three cities I visited there.

In 2014, I visited Milan and Genoa with my boyfriend. We both agreed that Milan wasn’t “all it was cracked up to be.” We enjoyed the food a LOT, and the cathedral in the city center, but that was really about it.

On the flip side, Genoa was breathtaking and the food was even better than Milan! There I ate the best ravioli I’ve ever had in my entire life, and the cappuccinos weren’t bad either 😊 Juan and I had gelato at least four times a day, went to various beaches, and had some of the best experiences with locals. Genoa was much more hospitable than Milan was, too!

In 2016, a friend and I visited Rome. Granted, I knew Rome would be touristy, but this was a little extreme! I love cities like Paris and Bangkok, but you don’t get that true authenticity that you would in Aix or in Chiang Rai; this is how I felt about Genoa as well.

As of right now, given the three cities I’ve visited in one of the most beautiful countries, Genoa is by far my favorite! Rome is second and Milan…well…didn’t live up to my expectations.

I’m not telling you not to visit Milan or Rome because both cities have a lot to offer a variety of people, but if you’re like me and want a true taste of Italy, Genoa won’t disappoint 😊

Teddy Bear Travels

Hello, long time no blogging!  Yet again, I have been MIA for quite some time; however, I’m back and ready to focus on blogging again!

When we travel for an extensive amount of time, it’s always nice to have something from home.  Some bring a photograph, others a keepsake…but for me, it’s always my teddy bear, Pierre!

Pierre is a 3-year-old Build-a-Bear who my boyfriend and I made for Christmas in 2015.  He is very loved, privileged, and fortunate to have seen all these incredible places!  I hope you enjoy his journey as much as he does (and as much as I do)! 🙂

Pierre loves to go boating on Michigan’s many lakes!

He and his wife, Claire, have even ventured to Chicago with me!

Pierre and his best friend, Chestnut, were my travel buddies in Sweden for my semester abroad.

Pierre has even been to castles, something that many humans haven’t even experienced!

He loved riding through Kalmar, SE with me!

Praha (Prague) was one place where Pierre could meet some cool cats 🙂

…but he enjoyed being in my dorm with Chestnut, Coconut, Barry, and Sandy!

Pierre was able to meet one of my best friends from Hamburg, Germany too!  She gave us a care package when we arrived!

I bought this bag in Copenhagen, especially for Pierre! He needed it for our weekend in London together 🙂

DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!

We enjoyed sunny days on the dock near the Kalmar castle 🙂

Pierre and I probably loved our time in Norway the most! 🙂 It made him feel at home with all the boating we did in those two weeks…

We love quality time with Juan!  Pierre loves Lake Michigan 🙂

Pierre was also my buddy on my train from Denver to Grand Junction to visit a friend from study abroad!

More traveling is in Pierre’s future, and mine as well 🙂