I got back from my summer holiday just over two weeks ago. It was a mixture of full on sightseeing in Chicago, followed by three of the genuinely most relaxing days of my life. These were spent on Cape Cod, and then three more days in Boston. My friend and I had both been harbouring a desire to visit one of America’s largest cities for some time, and I am so glad we did.
We stayed in a hotel overlooking Millennium park, home to ‘The Bean’ (formally known as Cloud Gate). The park is in the east of the city and is right next to the shores of Lake Michigan. This was an excellent base point as it was right near to the loop train. This made it easy to access any area of the city that we wanted to visit. We did a lot of walking on our first day, which included The 606 – a 2.7 mile trail designed for walkers and cyclists alike. It is elevated from traffic and gives a lovely view out across the neighbourhood. It is similar to the Highline in New York, which I wrote about here.
Chicago From Above
We rounded off the day with a trip up the 108 storey building Willis Tower. The viewing area which is open to the public is on the 103rd floor, but a super quick lift means you get there in no time at all. It is the second tallest building in the USA, and offers incredible views across the city. The landscape is so flat and you can see for miles and miles. We went just before sunset. It was great to see the city lighting up as the sun went down, and ti was the perfect end to the day.
The view from Willis Tower
One area that I would recommend to anybody to visit whilst in Chicago is Andersonville. This district in the north of the city (nearest Metro stop is Berwyn) is an old Swedish settlement. There are plenty of places to shop, eat and drink. We had lunch at Hopleaf, a bar with a Belgian inspired menu and plenty of beers on offer. There was a delightful stationery store and framers called Four Sided where we both bought ourselves some souvenirs.
We spent the next couple of days wandering the Old Town, watching fireworks at Navy Pier (Wednesday’s and Saturday’s in summer) and eating lots of food. The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra played in Millennium Park one clear warm evening, which was a lovely unexpected treat.
Jazz in Millennium Park
The highlight of Chicago for me was the architecture boat cruise which is run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. A docent volunteer leads the tour and our guide was incredibly knowledgable. We opted for a twilight cruise so by the time the hour and a half was up, it was dark and the tall buildings lit up the sky. The particular tour is listed in the top 10 on TripAdvisor in the whole of the USA!
More Places to Dine..
No visit to Chicago is apparently complete without sampling a deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s was our pizzeria of choice and it didn’t disappoint. A simple margarita with a pepperoni topping was delicious and I wish we’d had time for more!
Other food highlights included a waffle breakfast at Eleven City Diner on Wabash Avenue and the liquid chocolate drink at Goddess and the Baker which has three locations across the city, including Wabash Ave.
Goddess and the Baker cake and biscuits. My friend bought the birthday one despite her birthday being in March.Apparently it was tasty!
Eleven City Diner.
Thank you Chicago (and my friend), for a wonderful 4 days in ‘the windy city’.
I published a blog post last week about the work side of my trip to New York, so I thought I would write one about some of my personal highlights from the trip. Despite being in the city for work, we did get some time to sightsee, shop and eat in some lovely places.
We spent 6 nights at the Row Hotel which is on 8th Ave between 44th and 45th Street. This was really handy for a morning walk to the Javits Center for the exhibition. Although small, the room was very clean, with a good shower and comfy bed so I wouldn’t hesitate to book a room there again. That said, there are so many places to stay in NYC, it would seem wrong not to stay at different accommodation next time! City Kitchen was joined on to the hotel, which became our go to breakfast spot. It has a laid back vibe with numerous vendors, each offering tasty food. We enjoyed pancakes, waffles, pastries and donuts during our time there, all of which set us up nicely for busy days in the city.
We were lucky to have some fantastic weather whilst we were there, which made it great just for wandering around. I spend a lot of time sat at my studio desk, so it was nice to get out and about, doing lots of walking whilst taking in the sights.
One of my favourite bits of the trip was walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was my third time in NYC, but I hadn’t had chance to do this previously. We took the Subway to Brooklyn and joined hundreds of other walkers and cyclists and walked over this iconic bridge. The rest of the day was spent meandering all of the way back up to our hotel on 45th. We stopped off on the way for cake, wine in Union Square and food at delightful restaurant Boqueria (more info on that below).
The High Line is one of my favourite walks to do when in New York. It’s a 1.45 mile long elevated path, built on a disused railway line. It begins at Gansevoort Street and runs up to West 34th Street. It’s a really popular walk for locals and visitors alike, giving a unique perspective of the city, being elevated away from the traffic, but not too high that you can’t take in the sights the city has to offer.
I thought I’d include a list of a few of the places we ate, drank and shopped at whilst in New York. There’s so many more places I’d like to go, but I’ll have to save them for next time!
Shopping in New York
Shopping is never at the forefront of my mind when I’m away on trips, but there were a few outlets that we couldn’t resist visiting!
Anthropologie – beautiful fashion and jewellery, but the main attraction for me are their gorgeous homewares.
Fishs Eddy – just on the corner of 19th Street and Broadway. This store sells illustrative and quirky ceramics, glass and textiles for the kitchen. Reasonable prices.
Marimekko – right near the Flatiron building. Shop for fashion at homewares at this iconic Scandinavian brands NYC flagship store.
Papersource – contemporary greeting cards (including some of mine!), stationery and some gifts. Papersource can be found at many locations across the city.
Chelsea Market – largely food with some other outlets including Posman books and Anthropologie.
My card in Papersource.
Eating & Drinking
Tick Tock Diner – big portions and fast service – available 24/7! I’ve eaten here a few times before, and it’s part of the New Yorker hotel. I would love to stay there one day.
Rosa Mexicano – Mexican food with ridiculously more-ish guacamole and tasty cocktails. I’ve eaten here many times now. Rosa Mexicano is a chain restaurant but with an independent vibe, and it never disappoints.
Boqueria – a real highlight. We went to their 19th Street location, but they have 4 restaurants across the city. We had their Parrillada mixed grill, which I’d highly recommend. It’s a large portion and intended to be shared!
The Park Chelsea – good food to be enjoyed in an eclectically decorated interior. It has a glassed in patio and a rooftop garden that overlooks the High Line.
Bobby Van’s – recommended to us by a local and was right near the hotel (45th between 6th and 7th Ave). However, they have locations across the city. We enjoyed sitting at the bar for a post Surtex wine.
With so much going on before I flew out to New York, there wasn’t much time to research places to go before I went. I look forward to exploring more of what the city has to offer in terms of food and drink next time! After a brilliant six days, I felt a bit sad to be heading home. I was so focused on getting everything prepared, it seemed like quite a big build up. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to visit ‘The Big Apple’, which hopefully won’t be too far away!
I recently headed to mainland Europe for the weekend to spend time with some friends. The four night trip saw us explore Ghent, Brugge and Amsterdam. It’s obvious from my portfolio of work that I love architecture, so it was a delight to see some inspirational buildings in every location I visited. A group of us booked an air Bnb in Ghent, which was beautifully decorated from top to bottom.
Our stylish Air bnb in Ghent.
A sunny day in Ghent
Brugge had some beautiful buildings, and there is an image of some of my favourites below.
The final was spent walking around the quaint streets of Amsterdam. I love the reflection of the buildings opposite in this shop window.
I came back to the studio feeling inspired and continued working on an architecturally themed card collection for 2017. It will launch at my next trade show (Top Drawer, stand Y46) in January and the designs will have a gold foil finish.