July in CHICAGO!

As summer approaches, I wanted to share our visit to Chicago last summer.

When hubby’s cousin announced her 4th of July weekend wedding in the Chicago suburbs, we just knew we had to make a trip of it to see the city! With his college bff as our tour guide, we had a trip with a mix of the best touristy spots and A LOT of food.

Day 1:

First priority was good food. Our destination, Butcher & The Burger. We were all so busy eating that none of us took the obligatory foodie pic, but just trust me on this one..you won’t regret it!

After entering into a food coma, we decided to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Comfort Suites on Michigan Avenue. It was a great fit for us because we were only in the room to change clothes or sleep. The rooms were huge! Included a kitchen and a sitting area. Our room also had a great partial view of the river! Highly recommended!

11Our Michigan Avenue room with a view

Dinner reservations were for Girl & the Goat. Usually am unimpressed by restaurants with such high yelp reviews (am I the only one who finds yelp can be unreliable lately??) but wow..we loved this place! We could not find a dish we didn’t enjoy. The place was packed and we received great service. We would definitely go back on our next trip!

12We were so busy eating, the only pic I have is of the napkin! oops!

Day 2:

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We had a very early start with plans to visit the Field Museum. I am personally not a huge fan of museums but I actually enjoyed this one. Lots of great exhibits! We arrived right when it opened which was the best decision ever. As we were leaving, the museum was packed with families and strollers. (Don’t get me wrong..there’s nothing wrong with families and strollers, but its just not my idea of fun to deal with on vacay.)

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After exploring the museum, we headed to Rick Bayless’s XOCO for lunch. Yum, yum yum!! The food, drink and sweets were all delish!

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Our evening plans included seafood and oysters at Kinmont followed by a laugh filled night at Second City. I’ve never been to a comedy club so I really wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but I loved their improv! So glad we checked it out!

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Day 3:

After grabbing a dirty chai from Intelligensia, college bff’s gf and I had a spa day with mani/pedis and massages.

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Then we met up the fellas and headed to the Navy Pier for the Architectural Boat Tour. This was another thing I was hesitant about at first, but so glad we went! The tour guides were entertaining and informative. Also some great photo-ops too!

6The skyline from the boat tour

On our last night in the city, our “tour guides” suggested Roka Akor for dinner. This place did not disappoint. Our table of 4 decided to do the Omakase Decadent meal. Basically a meal with 7-8 courses, with the most luxurious and creative dishes possible. From raw tuna to wagyu beef, this meal had it all! Our hearts were hurting just a bit after we saw the bill, but it was probably one of the best meals we ever had.

               

After dinner, we did a quick stop in Millennium Park to see the famous bean. I refused to leave Chicago without seeing it! It was after hours, and after about 5 mins we all (yes there were other tourists with the same brilliant idea too) were bombarded with flashlights and security asking us to leave. I didn’t get the best pics, but I was happy I got one without a ton of people in it.

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We were sad to leave our friends and this fabulous city! Until next time Chicago!

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What are your favorite Chicago spots??

xoxo – Fify

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Christmas In Dubai

In December, hubby and I were able to spend 10 fabulous days in Dubai. This was the trip of a lifetime. From a wooden boat ride along dubai creek to lunch at the luxurious Burj Al Arab we were able to see it all!

We started our journey from Houston with plans to fly to southern india to spend a few days with family and then to Dubai for approximately 10 days. When we arrived at check-in, we decided to splurge and upgraded our seats to Emirates Business Class. This move definitely was a splurge, but it was the best.decision.EVER. It was only for the first leg of our journey, but it was absolutely wonderful.

From the moment we were on the plane, we were greeted with warm towels, mineral water and beverages galore.

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We were served a 3 course meal which included this amazing tuna. (We were so busy eating I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the food. oops.)

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Just look at all the leg room! The seats were SO spacious and they reclined into a twin size bed!

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Okay so enough about the flight, let’s talk about all the fun we had in Dubai.

Day 1:

Our first excursion in Dubai was an abra boat ride along Dubai Creek at sunset. The view was spectacular. I would definitely recommend taking a scarf and a light jacket because the temps were chilly once the sun set.    

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Once the boat ride was done, we spent some time in the famous spice souk. The area is filled with all sorts of shops! Spices, souvenirs even clothing!

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Day 2: The next day was dedicated to seeing Dubai Mall. This mall has EVERYTHING you could imagine.

First on our list was a visit to the indoor aquarium.

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The aquarium is home of the famous King Croc, the largest crocodile in the world. He was HUGE!

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Also The Waterfall

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The reason why most people come to this mall is to visit At The Top. This is the sky deck to the Burj Khalifa. Always purchase tickets in advance to save money.. it gets super pricey to buy them at the entrance.  

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Once you have your tickets, you wait in line to go through security. For us, the line was about 45 mins long. When past security, you take the obligatory tourist picture and wait in another line to board to elevator. At the top (ha, get it?) you have an unlimited amount of time to enjoy the views.

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The views from the sky deck were breathtaking. Once you decide you have seen it all, you exit through the gift shop and are also able to purchase at those obligatory pictures you took before you entered.

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After At The Top, we stopped at the food court for a coffee break. I highly recommend the afogatto from Morelli’s.

Cappucino + Gelato = Heaven.

After our re-charge, we strolled outside to see the Burj Khalifa. Wow..that building was talll!

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You are also able to get a good look at the water where the famous Dubai Fountain show occurs. The fountain show occurs on the hour starting at 6:00pm. After strolling the outside, we went inside to wait for the show. We were back on the promenade at 5:45 and the place was PACKED. We could barely find a place to stand! The fountain show was wonderful (atleast the part I could see), but I would recommend claiming a spot extra early if you want to get a good view.

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 Back inside the mall we went to see the dinosaur..yes..there is an actual dinosaur in the mall.

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At the end of the day, we spent almost 10 hours at the Dubai Mall and probably didn’t see everything.

Day 3

This day was the ultimate splurge as we were able to have lunch at the famous 7 star hotel Burj Al Arab. The only way to see this hotel is by booking a room or having a lunch reservation.

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The Burj Al Arab is shaped as a sail boat, and its neighboring hotel is shaped a wave. Pretty clever!

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The lobby was SO luxurious. The entire hotel was filled with holiday decor!

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    Lunch reservations were at Al Muntaha. The decor, service, food and especially the view were all 5 star. You also have a great view of the famous Palm Island from your table.

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After stuffing ourselves at the Burj Al Arab, we drove to the Madinat Jumeriah.

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Here, we were to got even better views of the Burj Al Arab. We did another abra boat ride and were able to take the spectacular shots below.  This was a great way to see the entire area without having to do a lot of walking. Highly recommended!!

If you look closely you can see a helicopter landing on the heli-pad at the Burj!

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There is also a spot in the Madinat Jumeriah where you can take a pic which a great view of the Burj Al Arab behind you. There is a professional photog waiting there, but you can stand right next to her and take pictures with your own camera. That’s what we did =)

Day 4

You can’t leave Dubai without doing a Desert Safari. I was weary at first because I get ridiculously car sick, but I made it through our ride without any problems.  A driver picked us up from our home and we informed him to take it easy on the drive in the dunes so it was great.

When you arrive you are given ample time to take pictures.

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I wore my Hunter boots to the desert and was SO happy. I was the only one able to climb the dunes and take some awesome pics because my shoes could handle it. If you have the room, I would take some sturdy boots!

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You spend about 20 minutes out on the dunes with a stop to take pictures after.

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You are then taken to an area where you can see camels.  The camels they plan for you to see are contained, but this one happened to be roaming free. (I forced hubby to get real close to get a good pic for me).

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After seeing the camels, we were taken to the camp site. There we were able to ride camels, drink arabic coffee, take pictures with a falcon and also have someone draw mehndi. There was also dinner with a belly dancer show too! When we were ready to leave, our driver dropped us home.

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Day 5:

After getting a glimpse of the Palm Island from the Burj, I knew I wanted to see the Atlantis Resort. Just like the Burj, we made lunch reservations to gain access to the property.

This resort is gorgeous!! We spent hours walking around just admiring it! When you enter you are greeted by this beautiful Chihuly sculpture.

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They also have a HUGE aquarium..and its free!

We enjoyed this one much more than the Dubai Mall aquarium.

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                        Another thing to do is to ride the Atlantis Monorail. This is a cheaper way to enjoy the sights of Dubai. We were able to get some great views of the Dubai Marina and the actual resort.

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The Atlantis is also home to the Gold ATM’s Dubai is known for. If only I could afford to make a withdrawal.. =)

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We also were able to spend some time at the Dubai Creek golf course. Hubby’s uncle is a member there so while he was paying his annual dues, we enjoyed a few mocktails.

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 Even after all this, there is STILL more to see! We did not see the Miracle Garden, Dubai Museum or spend time shopping in the Souks. Oh well, that just means we will have to go back again =)

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Are there any places I missed?? I would love to hear your comments!

-xoxo, Fify