Monday, April 18, 2016

Art & Animals - Chicago Day 3

Instaplace_20160418_122031And here's my recap for today. Figured I would post it in a separate post to try and keep Instaweather_20160418_160208 things more organized. :)

Had a really nice day so far today as well. Got up and decided that it was early enough for us to have a real sit down breakfast before heading to the Art Institute. Dropped off my postcards at the post office on the way and then had a yummy diner breakfast before eventually heading to the museum. 

There was a line at the museum to get in. They open at 10.30 and we were there at maybe 10.15-10.20. The line wasn't too long though and we had purchased our tickets online and printed them so once the doors opened we were able to bypass the ticket line and could go straight through to the exhibits. So that was a big help. 

First thing we did was go to the special exhibit (Van Gogh's Bedrooms) It's been very popular and at times can get very crowded so we wanted to make sure to go and see it on a weekday first thing in the morning when they open up. Worked out well as there was no line to get into the exhibit. Of course there were people there but all in all it wasn't terribly crowded. And I really enjoyed the exhibit and had a lot of fun with it. 

After we were done with the Van Gogh things we explored the rest of the museum. We had been there previously in 2007 and liked it then so I wasn't surprised to enjoy it just as much this time around. Lots of interesting collections. Loved the Impressionist paintings. Always my favorite anyway. Also checked out a bunch of the more modern art and various other things. 

When we were done at the museum we took the train to the zoo. The weather has been really nice so it was perfect walking around outside weather. Really no complaints whatsoever. We have completely lucked out with the weather. It's been in the high 60ies/low 70ies (18-22C) and sunny the whole time we have been here. So nice. Tomorrow it's supposed to get cloudy/rainy again later in the day but it won't really matter since our flight leaves at 1.30pm. 

Anyway, the zoo was a lot of fun, despite the fact that it's spring break here in Chicago at the moment which meant A TON of kids running around. The zoo is free (which is really surprising but cool) so of course a big attraction for people with kids. Anyway, we had fun either way and enjoyed looking at all the cute animals. 

Eventually made our way back to the hotel where we are now. Relaxed for a bit and are going to head out to dinner at another brewpub in a bit. This one's called Haymarket Brewing. Oh, almost forgot. At the zoo we had a super delicious Chicago hot dog (with mustard, relish, peppers, diced onions and pickles) Really like their hot dogs. Not sure I am a big fan of their deep dish pizza but their style of hot dogs I do like. :)

Mail Update: Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Charles/TN, Carmen/Malta, Laura/Spain, Lotte/Denmark and Jessica/DE. 

Posted by Hanna at 05:47 PM in Food and Drink, Outdoors, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago Meetup with Dave

IMG_20160418_160811Hello again. :) Having a really great time so here's a quick recap of yesterday so I don't fall too far behind with my posts. :)

Had a great day yesterday. After Starbucks and lounging around for a bit we met my friend David who came into the city from Indiana. Took the subway out near Wrigley Field to eat at the Julius Meinl Cafe in Southport. I was really excited to go back there again (we had also been there during our 2007 Chicago trip) and it definitely didn't disappoint. 

Everything inside the cafe (all the furniture, wall hanging, etc.) was imported from Vienna so it has a very authentic feel to it. And the food is just delicious. Had yummy Frittaten Soup to start with, followed by a ham & Swiss cheese croissant and Palatschinken (Austrian crepes) for dessert. Oh and a Viennese iced coffee (with vanilla ice cream) So delicious. 

After lunch Mike, Dave and I walked over to Wrigley Field. Took some pictures there and then continued on to a brewpub not that far down the road (Atlas Brewing Company) Had a couple of drinks there while relaxing and chatting. And eventually continued on back to the train/subway to go back to downtown/The Loop. Was really nice to be able to see Dave again. Always nice to be able to hang out with people in person you normally don't get to see all the time. 

After we parted ways with Dave we relaxed in the room for a bit and eventually ventured back out to check out a wine bar (Enolo) Turned out to be a really neat place. Had some nice wine and a few tapas style snacks before eventually heading back to the hotel for the night. Definitely a fun day. 

Mail Update: Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Charles/TN, Carmen/Malta, Laura/Spain, Lotte/Denmark and Jessica/DE. 

Posted by Hanna at 05:34 PM in Austria , Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chicago Update

IMG_20160417_104613Hello from Chicago. :) The weather has been sooo much nicer compared to the last time we were here in 2007. To be fair it was February then. And crazy cold. Sooo cold, even for Chicago. Record breaking cold snap. I remember being bundled up and still being cold. Even then we did have fun but I do have to say I am enjoying the nice weather on our current trip better. :)

Yesterday our alarm went off at 3.45am. Ugh. We parked at a closeby train station and took the train down to NYC. To Harlem - 125th Street where we caught the bus to LaGuardia airport. Pretty stress free all in all. LaGuardia is such a miserable airport though. Out of all the NYC airports it is definitely the worst. I know they just approved plans to pretty much completely overhaul and remodel it. It needs it - desperately. 

Anyway, our flight was fine. We had a crazy tail wind so we arrived super early. No turbulence either. Very happy with that. After we got into O'Hare we caught the subway (the El) to downtown which is about a 45 min ride. Really easy though. Gets you right to the Loop/middle of the city. We walked to our hotel, checked in and then headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. 

After lunch we walked over to Navy Pier. Really nice weather so it was fun to be near the water. From Navy Pier we walked along the water over to Millennium Park where the bean is. Such a neat thing to see in person. It's hard to describe. Anyway, we walked A LOT and by the time we were done we were both really tired, especially after having gotten up that early. But it was a fun afternoon.

Had dinner at Elephant & Castle, which is a British-style pub chain. Conveniently it's right downstairs connected to the hotel so that worked out well. 

Today we slept in a bit, grabbed something at Starbucks and are now just hanging out. Going to be meeting up with my friend David who is coming into the city from Indiana to meet us. Looking forward to seeing him again. We will be heading out to near Wrigley Field to have lunch at the Julius Meinl cafe there. Can't wait. :)

Mail Update: Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Charles/TN, Carmen/Malta, Laura/Spain, Lotte/Denmark and Jessica/DE. 

Posted by Hanna at 12:04 PM in Food and Drink, Travel, Weather | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Outlander - Season 2

IMG_20160410_144635Another week gone by already. Took a while to get through the week as we had somebody on vacation.  But we made it and got through the week without too much of an issue.  Now it's already  Sunday afternoon somehow. How did that happen?

Worked Saturday till 2pm. Then went for a late lunch in Oxford. Later in the evening I stayed home while Mike went out to watch the Mets game.  I caught up on some recorded things and then watched the first episode of the second season of "Outlander" again.  They had released it early on Thursday though streaming so I had caught it then but wanted to see it again.  

Been having fun talking it through with my friends, discussing changes from the books and how the show has been set up.  It's neat to see what they have done and how they are approaching the season.  I think it's a good setup and really enjoyed the first episode.  Let's see what the rest of the season brings.  Can't wait.  :)

In other fun news our trip to Chicago is getting close now.  Leaving in less than a week, on Saturday next week. Really looking forward to it. Let's hope the weather at least semi cooperates. 

Mail Update: Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Carmen/Malta, Laura/Spain, Lotte/Denmark and Jessica/DE. 

Posted by Hanna at 03:04 PM in Television, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Santo Domingo

IMG_20160221_210143Hello from the Caribbean. :) Having a great time here in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic so far. Been meaning to update since we got here on Sunday but time of course just flies by when you're having fun. :) 

We left Newark early on Sunday morning and got here a little before 2pm. It's a 4 hour flight from New York so not so bad. They are an hour ahead here so we lost an hour but we will get it back on our way home. :) Anyway, arrived without incident and managed to grab an Uber from the airport to bring us to our hotel. We decided against renting a car and seeing how the people driver here .. yeah that was probably the right decision. lol. It's pretty crazy. There are very few traffic lights and everyone just drives wherever they want, beeping their horns, motorcycles cutting in and out of traffic at random, people darting across the street. Pretty nuts. 

Our hotel, the Renaissance, is absolutely gorgeous. It's 4 star hotel that we managed to get through Expedia with a good air+hotel package deal. It was just renovated top to bottom last June and you can really see it. Everything is completely new and great looking. And the staff and service is amazing too. 

Sunday after getting settled in a bit we went into the old town and had dinner there at a tapas place. Yummy. Walked around a bit more and then headed back to the hotel. Yesterday, Monday, we went back into the Colonial Zone (old town) to explore some more of the sights. Walked around to see a bunch of the old monuments and streets. 

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and spent some time by the pool. Was nice to go for a swim after the crazy sun and heat and spend some time in the shade with a cocktail. Yummy sangrias here. Very dangerous. :) Later we went for a great dinner at a place close by called El Conuco. So good. 

Today we are going to head to a national park (3 Eyes) not that far away. Should be good. I will try and update some more before we leave on Thursday. 

Mail Update: Received letters/owe a reply to: Laura/Spain and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 08:52 AM in Food and Drink, Nature, Outdoors, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Anniversary - busy February

PicFebruary is always a very busy month for us and this year is no different really. 

Today, Feb. 10th, is our 15th wedding anniversary. I really don't know where the last 15 years went. It's crazy to think that our wedding in Vienna was really THAT long ago. I guess it falls in the category "time flies when you're having fun". :) 

I think it feels especially weird as we don't have kids. A lot of people my age/friends I grew up with now have kids and watching them grow up you can really see time pass. But it's different not having that. 

Don't get me wrong, neither Mike or I really ever wanted kids. It's just something I have observed watching everyone around me. Anyway, bottom line. 15 years = pretty amazing. 

February 14th is Valentine's Day which falls on a Sunday this year. As long as the weather cooperates we are going to be heading up to Hartford to visit a museum and afterwards we have brunch reservations at Rizzuto's in West Hartford. So that should be fun. 

Then next week Thursday, Feb. 18th, is Mike's birthday. Not sure what we will do for that yet. Nothing too big, most likely just going to get together with some friends. And just a few days later, on Sunday, Feb. 21st, we are off to the Dominican Republic. Yay for the Caribbean. Looking forward to some days off.  

Mail Update: Received a letter/owe a reply to: Laura/Spain, Jessica/DE, Celia/MA, Charles/TN. 

Posted by Hanna at 02:13 PM in Beach, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 04, 2016

Remaining Canada Recap

  Pixlr_20160104192656330Back to work and every day life today so just a quick update on the rest of our trip. :) Saturday we went to the art museum where they had a really neat Monet exhibit. 

Then had a late lunch back at Les 3 Brasseurs/The 3 Brewers. Yum. Picked up a few things at some stores along the way and eventually headed back to the hotel. For dinner we went to Vineyards Wine Bar in Byward Market and had some good wine and a delicious meat and cheese plate. 

Then Sunday morning we had breakfast at Eggspectations, a really good Canadian breakfast chain we first discovered in Montreal. Had the most delicious breakfast before heading back to CT.

Now it's back to real life and trying to eat a bit healthier. It's been a bit of a challenge but it's only day 1. I will get there.  :) 

Mail Update: Letters went out today to: Carmen/Malta, Charles/TN, Kimber/Canada, Tiffany/OK, Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA, Nina/WA and Caroline/Scotland. 

Posted by Hanna at 09:03 PM in Food and Drink, Travel, Wine | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year from Canada

Instaweather_20160101_155527Hello from Ottawa. Happy 2016. :) I still remember 2000 and the whole Y2K thing like it was yesterday and here we are 16 years later. How did that happen?  

Work was of course crazy as expected in the beginning of the week. Took Thursday off to drive up to Canada for our 3 night stay in Ottawa. It's about a 7 hour drive so not so terrible. When we got here we checked in at the hotel. Staying at the Indigo Hotel right in downtown which is convenient. Finding the parking garage for the hotel was a bit of a challenge but other than that no complaints. 

Went out for dinner to Les 3 Brasseurs/The 3 Brewers, a fun brewpub chain we first discovered in Montreal some years back. Had a yummy dinner and then headed back to the hotel where we had some more wine and warched the Times Square New Year's broadcast on TV. 

Today we had breakfast in the hotel (they gave us coupons for free breakfast) Then headed over to Parliament Hill and from there to the Canadian History Museum across the bridge in Quebec. Always a fun museum to visit even though they are currently remodeling the Canada Hall of History (my favorite part .. guess it will give us a reason to come back when they are done to check it out) Had a cool Vikings exhibit and also a special exhibit on the history of Canada. 

After we walked back to the hotel we relaxed for a bit and took care of some year end stuff for work. Now out to dinner at Lowertown Brewery. Very yummy place. 

Mail Update: So far letters have been written to (should be mailed Monday): Carmen/Malta, Charles/TN, Kimber/Canada and Tiffany/OK. Still owe replies to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA, Nina/WA and Caroline/Scotland. 

Posted by Hanna at 06:00 PM in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Xmas Update

Pixlr_20151227142931871Merry belated Christmas everyone. :) Hope everyone had a nice holiday. 

We had a nice quiet few days which was much needed after all the craziness at work. Christmas Eve we had to work till 2 so not too bad. Had dinner at Outback before heading to the movies to see "Spotlight". Very good movie and great cast.

Then Christmas Day we opened our gifts with Mike's sister, niece and nephew. Got a lovely Scottish tartan scarf and green ear rings from Mike along with a Bath & Body gift certificate, wine, chocolates, a candle, cute figurines and other stuff from family and friends here and around the world. 

Mid morning we went back to the movies to see "Joy". Another great movie, very similiar in style to his other movies "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle". 

Spent the rest of the day catching up on some TiVo recordings and eating yummy food (shrimp cocktail,  veggies & dip, chips & dip, cheese & crackers etc) and drinking wine. 

Saturday we had to work again till 2. But had a relaxed afternoon and were able to sleep in late today. I am fighting an annoying cold so it was nice to get some needed rest. 

Will have a few more crazy days at work Monday through Wednesday before heading up to Ottawa, Canada on Thursday. Will be nice to be away for a few days. 

Mail Update: Received letters/still owe replies to: Carmen/Malta, Charles/TN, Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA, Kimber/Canada and Tiffany/OK.

Posted by Hanna at 03:06 PM in Family, Food and Drink, Holidays, Television, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Almost Christmas

20151220_164258_resizedFour days until Christmas Eve. This weekend is already the 4th Advent. Where has the time gone? Can't believe it's already Christmas this week. I am mostly done with my shopping but just realized I should do something about wrapping some of the things I bought. Still need to pick up a few things and a few more things are coming in the mail as well, tomorrow and Tuesday. I guess maybe I will just wait and leave the wrapping for another night when I have everything together. Not a ton of stuff and I am feeling kind of lazy and content at the moment.

Spent the later part of the day drinking lots of tea, writing a letter and reading more of the christmassy book I am currently reading ("The 12 Days of Christmas" by Trisha Ashley) Very enjoyable seasonal read. My usual go to book for this time of year is "Winter Solstice" by Rosamunde Pilcher but I thought I would find something different this year and so far I am quite enjoying this book. 

Had to work Saturday but we got out a bit after 2 and were able to check out a winery not too far from our new office in Washingtonville, NY called Brotherhood Winery. Neat place. Really enjoyed the wines we tasted and were able to pick up a bottle of sparkling rose wine for New Year's Eve. 

Speaking of New Year's, not sure if I mentioned this on here yet or not. We are heading to Ottawa, Canada for 3 nights over New Year's. Really looking forward to being away from work for a few days. It will be nice to relax, check out some museums and have some good food. Will still need to take care of some things for work for year-end but it will still be nicer to be away rather than at work. 

Mail Update: A letter is going out tomorrow to: Laura/Spain. Received letters/still owe replies to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA, Kimber/Canada and Tiffany/OK.

Posted by Hanna at 08:17 PM in Food and Drink, Holidays, Travel, Wine | Permalink | Comments (0)