Chicago Quick Notes

One of the best cities in America/World.

Pizza: Piece Pizza was really good, though not your typical deep dish. Great ingredients and collab with Girl & the Goat. Home made beer too. Gino’s East: Really good and comparable to Giordanos (still my favorite). too much to eat for one person though. Lou Malnati’s was another great pizza spot. I made the mistake of going to the to-go place though so I’ll need to retry.

Italian Sandos: Al’s – Great sandwich although it’s a chain. Not my favorite but still enjoyed it. Johnnie’s Beef – man for $5 that is an amazing sandwich. Definitely the best (though it’s about an hour bus ride out of the city).

Kuma’s Corner: Death metal burger spot. Burgers were big and good but don’t think it’s necessary to go here more than once.

Crisp: Korean chicken sandwich spot. I thought it was pretty good so it was worth the trek to go here.

Au Chavel: Must go early if you plan to get a spot to sit for food. I had the bologna sandwich which was enormous and delish. Famous for it’s burgers so will have to go back for that or just get it in NY.

Sweet Mandy B’s: This place was alright. Don’t really remember a whole lot about it but don’t think I’d go back.

Mindy’s Hot Coco: The iced hot coco was pretty great. Love going through that area and finding spots like this. Would love to try the brunch here one day.

Chicago Skydeck: pricey for what you actually get here. Great views yes, but there are better things to see good views from.

The Bean: Obviously the biggest tourist thing you can do in Chi. Heavy crowds but right next to the Art Institute of Chicago museum which is great. Also close to the sports club which includes a great view.

Goose Island Brewpubs: If you’re a beer drinker, it’s fun to go. Worth stopping in and getting a real Goose Island as ownership was kept when selling the company.

Local Option Beer: Really enjoyed this spot. Great beer selection with knowledgeable staff.

Lawrence’s Shrimp on Canal: Headed all the way out to chinatown to get some shrimp, they were big and good but pretty normal to me. We also tried the frog legs which were not my cup of tea.

Wildberry: I love this breakfast place, though there are huge lines. French toast and all were amazing.

Do-Rite Donuts: Just normal donuts.

RSVP Gallery: High priced goods, they have cool things but nothing I’d really buy. Hype shit. See also: St. Alfreds for better priced goods.

Humboldt Park: This park is honestly whatever. Kind of bland and kind of a weird guy was there that creeped me out a bit but otherwise it’s a normal park with a lake.

Wrigley Field: Tradition at it’s finest. Really loved it, maybe just as much as Fenway.

Chicago Bulls stadium (United Center). Fun experience, super glad I was able to go and experience that.

 

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Taipei Quicknotes

Loved Taipei, thanks to a friend who showed me around.

There were many food places I experienced but did not get to write down (beef soup, breakfast burrito type thing place, etc).

Xilin Street Market: Of course the night markets here are amazing, there is so much to do and see and eat.

Chiang Kai Shek & Sun-yat Sun memorials: Both equally huge and amazing. Both not overly crowded also.

Elephant Mountain hike: nice short hike with a great view of 101 at the top. Totally worth it no matter who you’re with.

Din Tai Fung: Had to go to the original and it did not disappoint. I enjoyed it although it was pretty standard.

Overall just a really cool place and I would love to go back.

Athens Quicknotes

Athens was jaded by food poisoning but I was still able to enjoy it. Kind of plain feeling though, normal suburbish/city type of thing.

Keramikos Cemetary: I remember walking around here one day and seeing a lot of cool things. A lot of beautiful and old things.

Agora: Pretty normal touristy thing to do.

Pandrossou Street Market: typical street market, don’t think it was really worth seeing, didn’t buy anything

Central Market: Samesies with the other street market. There are a lot of them and they are all great but didn’t buy anything. Was looking for a greek olympics basketball jersey but never found one.

Constitution Square: Passed through here during the bus tour. Was just a normal square to me.

Acropolis: Of course this is beautiful and you should see it but there are tons of tourists and they were doing some work on the buildings so yeah. The museum was less impressive than I’d hoped, though it was tainted by the stomach sickness.

Theater of Dionysus: Super legit. Loved this. Beautiful Views and really incredible to see.

Temple of Zeus: I really enjoyed seeing this, so massive and just flat right in the middle of the city. Really cool and not so many tourists. Though it was hot as balls.

Food wise: Gyros were good and cheap, everything else was alright.

Istanbul Quicknotes

Istanbul was pretty cool, very cultural. Very crowded and warm but a beautiful place.

Hagia Sophia: One of the most famous things to do in Turkey and well worth it. Beautiful architecture and artifacts

Topkapi Place: Part of the main touristy things to do. Definitely worth a look.

Suleymaniye Mosque: all the mosques here are beautiful and worth seeing

Basilica Cistern: Definitely a cool thing to do while there. Game of Thrones esque. Would love to go here again

Grand Bazaar: Pretty much what I expected. Lots of goodies, though there wasn’t much there that actually caught my attention to buy

Galata Bridge: Lots of food and tourists here, leading to Galata tower.

Tokyo Notes

Staying near Shinjuku was a nice area, close to the action.

-Condomania : Small little store with lots of condom paraphanelia.

-Gyoza Lou – Gyoza spot in Harajuku, sure they were good and cheap but they’re gyoza, would have rather gone to gyoza stadium

-Tokyo Robot Show – pretty wild shit and pretty strange. Don’t think it’s something I would do twice. I enjoyed the first couple of ‘stories’ but didn’t really understand anything after those.

-Shinjuku Gyoen Park in Tokyo – a really nice park to walk around in and see the sights.

-Tonkatsu Maisen Aoyama Honten in Shubya – amazing meal, great tonkatsu, everything was fresh and tasty

-Buy a drink get 5 gyoza restaurant in Koenji was cool, smelt of smoke but it was a fun little spot

-Roast beef place was legit

-Ramen place with Krysta was amazing for under $10

-Other ramen place with Krysta was also amazing, it had the sardines in it, upstairs, tiny little counter but was A+.

 

 

Iceland Notes

Only pertaining to Golden Circle to Vik areas.

Trip timing: 1 week (this was plenty of time), you need basically only one day in Reykjavik.

Travel: Need a car (there is no other way)

Timing: If going in October as I did, there are only about 6-7 hours of daylight which makes it difficult and confusing to see landmarks. Sun usually goes from 10AM to 4-5PM.

Aurora Borealis: Don’t go in expecting to see it. We did not, other than a slight glimpse on the airplane in. Most of the time it was either raining and cloudy and therefore unviewable.

Blue Lagoon was an amazing experience though it was pretty crowded. Alcohol at 10am and hanging out in a giant heated pool is the way to go. Obviously great instagram pictures and a little bit on the basic side but who cares it’s fun.

Phallic museum was pretty funny but honestly not sure if it’s really worth the money to see. It’s literally one big room and maybe 4 small rooms of dicks.

Hallgrimskirkja is the giant church thing. Definitely a cool sight to see but also pretty anticlimactic.

Reykjavik Roasters: It’s dark at 10am so it felt a bit weird coming to a cafe but it was a ‘cute’ little spot. Prices are high but it’s iceland, what can you do. Anyways it was just a normal coffee shop to me and it was raining and I was miserably tired so maybe that also played into it.

Prikid: breakfast place in the middle of the ‘downtown Reyk’ area. Again, it’s expensive for a breakfast (like $15-$20) but everything in Iceland is pricey. It’s a good spot for a nice breakfast though, cozy.

Harpa Concert Hall was a cool thing to see, and right on the water (of course it is, it’s an island). Was quite the sight to see, especially at 6AM.

Grillmarkadurinn: Expensive dinner restaurant & grill. I went here to watch the chefs work and get some puffin/whale. It was very expensive (nearly $100) but it was more for the experience of things I guess.

Fish Company Fiskfelagid – One of the better meals had during the Iceland trip. Not even as highly priced as the Puffin place so I would recommend going here if looking for a nice fish meal.

Icelandic Fish & Chips – So I made the mistake of ordering something other than the fried fish and that was strange. It was still good but the menu was a little bit confusing. There is a cool geological store next door though.

Day trip from Reykjavik to Snaefellsjokull National Park. Definitely a doable trip and most of the loop has the things right next to the road. Early morning first stop was to Geirabakari Kaffihus to get some delicious pastries. Highly recommend making this stop! Starting the loop will be the Eldborg Crater. Wasn’t necessary to stop there so we didn’t. Same happened with the Gerduberg Cliffs. Vatnaleid, Berserkjahraun , Kolgrafarfjordur sights, and Kirkjufellsfoss are all beautiful things to see at the beginning of the loop. Followed by lots of mountains and horses until you get to the tip of the loop. Skadsvik Beach, Vatnshellir Caves, & Fjourhusid cafe are some nice things to see and of course anywhere here you can just stop off and explore the beautiful parts of Iceland. From there, it’s basically more of the same scenery as the drive in. Altogether it takes about 8-10 hours or more.

The Golden Circle Loop: Pingvellir National Park, Stokkur geyser, Gulfoss were all cool sights, though after a while the geysers and waterfalls become a bit repetitive.

Kerid is a giant crater with beautiful colors to it. I enjoyed it but it was a quick in and out.

Urridafoss was another big waterfall but again, at a certain point it’s just another waterfall.

The drive from Reykjavik to Vik: Unfortunately we went in the middle of a severe storm, making the drive hectic and dangerous as the winds smashed into our car and torrential rain poured down. Quite the adventure. But on the way are more big beautiful landmarks. Seljalandsfoss is the a good first stop, If you have time, stop into Seljavallalaug Sundlaug and hike into this outdoor swimming pool. The next big falls are Skogafoss where you can basically walk right up to it and get some great pics. Solheimasandur Plane Wreck  was a good way to differentiate between the falls and it’s quite a beautiful sight to see. It’s a bit of a hike in but it’s all flat hike so just do it.  Finally in Vik is the Renisfjara Beach. Beautiful black sands and incredible columns next to giant caves make for sexy pictures.

Would love to go again for summer time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Quicknotes

Baltimore was cooler than I thought it would be

  • Small city, somewhat walkable, although the Megabus drops you off about 30 minutes out of the city. Weather was hot and not much shade throughout. There are a lot of very nice areas and then there are also a lot of not so nice areas. The city seems to be riddled with beautiful abandoned spaces. i would not mind purchasing land here to develop + sell. Overall, probably would not go back as I felt i did everything there was to do here
    • Fells Point is a pretty cute little area near the water with great food, though the food is definitely not cheap in Bmore – even in relation to New York Prices. Thames Street Oyster house had delicious short rib soup and the lobster roll was one of the better that I’ve had. The ‘beach fries’ were good but had a slightly weird taste to them. Blue Moon cafe was a great brunch place to check out and I had the ‘Sweet Baby Jesus’. It was a ton of food, and a ton of crab, which filled me up for the rest of the day.
    • National Aquarium was beautiful inside but I felt it was not worth the $40 price tag, the dolphins were cute but it’s just another basic aquarium, I didn’t really see much that was out of the ordinary, especially in comparison with California.
    • Illusions Magic Bar I would love to go back and try to go to one day. Unfortunately was closed but is in a nice area and close to the ballpark
    • Orioles stadium is definitely one of the my favorites. It has a lot of characteristics and I loved seeing the graphics they’ve put throughout the park. I also would love to try more of the foods at the stadium.
    • George Peabody Library located in the John Hopkins area, right next to the George Washington Monument (which I climbed to the top of and got a couple of good pictures of the surrounding areas. Not sure if really worth doing though, you don’t get to go outside onto the ‘balcony’). The library was free which made it really nice to go to. I thought the library was beautiful and rivals the architecture space in LA (Bradbury).
    • Lexington Market was a wannabe Reading Terminal in Philly. It was big and had a lot of options but the space was pretty worn down and I didn’t feel like it was really the place to be anymore. I did have Faidley’s in the back which is famous for their crab cakes. It was a very big portion with a big pricetag to match. I enjoyed it but not as much as I’d hoped. Probably would not repeat this.
    • Seeing the grave of Edgar Allen Poe and others was a cool thing, especially since it’s so close in relation to the downtown area. Did not get to see the birth house of EAP or Babe Ruth though.
    • Fort McHenry is a bit far out and you do have to pay money to get in, though you can see the huge flag waving from afar. I did not think it was worth paying so I just walked back towards inner harbor.
    • Federal Hill Park is just a park on top of a big hill. On the bottom of the hill sits volleyball courts and the American Visionary Art Museum. That museum was pretty amazing and I’m glad I went to it. Pretty funky but I really had fun there and got to see some cool things. I especially loved the 3rd building with the cool mechanical art.
    • Baltimore Museum of industy was another cool thing to see. I am an avid fan of historical things so seeing all of these old artifacts struck a chord for me. I think museums like these are important to the culture of America and if you watch American Pickers, you get a sense of the types of history that is still out there. I would definitely recommend this.
    • The Bun Shop was my breakfast stop on the first day. There are I think 2 locations in BMORE and I thought that the pastries were very tasty. They also had vietnamese coffee which is one of my favorites (though it wasn’t quite the same as if you were to get it from a hole in the wall vietnamese shop). The guava bun was tasty and the ham & gruyere bun was tasty too. Would love to try more from here. Lots of space, cozy, industrial and beautiful gold leafing on the windows.
    • Chaps Pit Beef. This was a bit farther out, so I had the uber driver stop in on the way in from White Marsh. The Pit Beef special was a huge sandwich filled with pit beef, corned beef and ham, cheese and white bread. It’s no joke. Felt like I was having a heart attack but it was tasty. Get the pit beef done medium instead of well done though. Triple D approved and MVF approved. I would probably not stop in again but it was a cool experience to try it out.

Thats all.