I had to return to the US to take care of some stuff that came up. I sure didn't expect it to be so soon. I found really great airfare online so we decided to make a small holiday of it as well and visit my sis and Matt. Hooray for KLM/NWA.
The flight went by quickly as it was only 8 h0urs flying time from Amsterdam. I last saw my sis at Christmas time but it sure felt alot longer. Soon we were home at their cozy apartment in Oak Park. For our first meal, YL took us out to Penang, our favorite Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown. We had char kuay teow, cantonese fried noodles, satay and roti canai... all the staples... good stuff!
The next morning we all piled in the car to drive up to Wisconsin. We had been invited to spend the weekend at Matt's dad's house on Lake Delavan. It was less than 2 hours away (we stopped at a Mitsuwa along the way and I had ramen, mmm!)... and this is what we found when we drove up...
What a beautiful 'villa' right on the lake. Stef and I were impressed with the property on the huge lot, and their dock with three boats. We didn't waste any time going out on the lake and taking a dip to celebrate the first day of summer!
Me and my sis, chilling on the dock.
Matt and YL, chilling on the dock.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to drive up to the river (Wisconsin River?) to go canoeing. It was fun and relaxing floating down the river and soaking in the sunshine. It got a little windy at some points and we had to paddle furiously to stay on course so there was a little workout involved. On the way back we stopped at a Dairy Queen to get milk shakes, but they were out of milk! Unbelievable, considering we were in cow central.
During the week, YL and Matt had to go to work while we hung out around the house, in Oak Park and Chicago. YL bought us these awesome tickets to the Chicago Architecture Foundation's architecture river tour of the city. It was really interesting to see the city from a different perspective.
We visited Millenium Park in downtown. This was a cool art/water feature. All the kids were having a blast playing in the water.
And my favorite, the 'giant bean', aka as the Cloud Gate by British artist Anish Kapoor.
We couldn't resist taking pictures of ourselves reflected against a backdrop of Chicago's skyscrapers.
And there sure were alot of cool-looking skyscrapers in Chicago. One thing I realized is that the cities in Italy just don't have these kind of tall buildings. This is the view from my sis' office in the IBM building.
I thought this building was really cool with the cut-out in the middle.
Who says Chicago is land-locked? They even have wide sandy beaches!
The annual Taste of Chicago was on while we were in town. It's actually the world's largest food festival. I have a memory of visiting the Taste way back when I lived in Chicago, with dad holding up a giant bbq turkey drumstick with a big grin on his face.
And eating. I made sure to do alot of that. Authentic ethnic food is hard to come by in Italy. Mmm... Vietnamese grilled beef... I still don't know exactly what it's called, but Long has taught me well enough to be able to pick it out from the menu.
There was this cute fastfood chain in downtown called Wow Bao. Hot asian buns! We stopped by twice for a quick snack.
My sis lives in the nice neighborhood of Oak Park. It's really convenient, only 5 mins walk to the El. It only takes them 20 mins on the Green Line for them to get to work in downtown Chicago every day. This is their building, just across from a park and the library, and two blocks from shops.
We took a walk around the neighborhood one lazy Sunday morning.
Matt gave us a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area. Oak Park has the largest collection of homes designed by this famous architect, as well his home and studio.
Don't forget that Chicago is the home of Obama.
We ended that walk with a meal at MacArthur's. It was really good Southern cuisine, soul food, or as Stef calls it, food of the soul. I had smothered pork chops that were so unbelievably good and melt-in-your-mouth. I also tasted the bbq chicken and bbq ribs. So good and so heavy. We had sides of coleslaw, greens, beans, yams, mashed potatoes and peach cobbler for dessert. I had to take a nap after.
It was alot of fun visiting the city, eating, shopping (oh yeah, we did quite a bit of that) and spending time with my sis and Matt. We'll definitely be back.