Pilsen is a unique neighborhood on the lower west side of Chicago that is brimming with art and culture. A major roadway in the area, Halsted Street, is home to one of Chicago's largest art districts. One of my favorite things to do in Pilsen is the 2nd Fridays Gallery Night. Check out the link below to learn more about that.
I had been reading and hearing about the incredible street art, so I finally went to check it out. I spent several hours capturing some of the astonishing art while trying to take it all in. There is so much talent decorating the walls of Pilsen and here is just a small sampling.
When you are done wandering and photographing, make a pit stop at Simone's Bar & Grill, located at 960 West 18th St. They have delectable food, a great craft beer selection, and unique cocktails that feature herbs from their very own rooftop herb garden. In addition, they support the artists and currently have the Pilsen Art Walk for September 2012 on display.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
I have lived in Chicago for six years now and just recently heard about this magical place called Osaka Garden. It lies behind the Museum of Science & Industry on Wooded Island. Once you enter this serene place, you will quickly forget that you are in a bustling and noisy city.
I don't think I have ever connected with nature like I did at the garden. Granted it has been awhile since I have made an attempt, but I really didn't want to leave. It was so peaceful and like being in another world. I took photos, sat on a few rocks to let my mind soak it in, and followed a bird along the shoreline. The bird was a black-crowned night heron and it was so content with searching for food, that it couldn't be bothered with me closely watching and taking photos.
I highly recommend visiting Osaka Garden whether you are a local or a visitor. I think the photos lend the reasoning behind my recommendation. I look forward to going back soon for some relaxation and meditation.
Monday, June 11, 2012
|Downtown LA in the distance|
One of the things I love about L.A. is the food, so let's start with restaurants. I have some staples that I always go to, as well as discovering at least one new place on every visit. My regulars are Hugo's on Santa Monica Blvd., Swinger's on Beverly Blvd. and Lucky Devils on Hollywood Blvd. (wow, that's a lot of boulevards).
|Tofu Saute and a Kir Royale at The Kitchen|
Swinger's is just what the name might imply, fun! It's a hip, old-school diner that goes above and beyond the typical diner menu. I sometimes just order from the plethora of tasty sides, or get the vegan wrap or tofu saute, which are to die for. Swinger's also has divine shakes and smoothies.
|The Cha Cha Lounge|
|The outdoor area of El Cid restaurant|
I also really like Toast Bakery Cafe, Buddha's Belly, Sharky's Mexican Grill, Caffe Primo, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, El Cid for their flamenco dinner show, and The Kitchen. My wonderful discovery in February was Truly Vegan, also on Hollywood Blvd. This place is vegan heaven! I dined there on 3 occasions in the same week. Two of my fave dishes are the grilled lentil loaf and the protein salad. They also have delicious breakfast combos.
|Grilled lentil loaf at Truly Vegan|
|A book signing of the "The Whip" by Karen Kondazian (read this book)|
|Beauty at The Getty|
|A view of the Hollywood sign hiking up Runyon Canyon|
|Very cool house hidden in the hills of LA|
Sunday, June 3, 2012
|Art and beauty at the Oberbaum Bridge along the Spree River|
I went to Berlin in April and found the city to be so alive and full of incredible things to see and do. I was fortunate to have chosen the perfect Airbnb host in the most ideal location in the Marienstraße area. She is as lovely as can be and I highly recommend staying with her. You can view her profile at http://www.airbnb.com/z/q/4397920.
One of the most appealing things about Berlin was the outdoor art. The street art was extraordinary, particularly at the East Side Gallery. Aside from the art, it's a lovely stroll along the Spree River that offers some interesting cafes and beach-style bars.
|One of my faves at East Side Gallery|
|What a great way to lounge|
Other restaurants that I recommend are Anand, Mövenpick Café at the Schönefeld Airport, and Oranium. My companion and I were quite surprised after leaving Oranium, which is on Oranienburger Straße. Unbeknownst to me, this street is well known for prostitutes, with prostitution being legal in Germany. After seeing the first one, I just assumed her attire was different from most (thigh high boots and a corset). It didn't take long to see there were many women dressed this way, and I have to say, they were all quite beautiful (sorry folks, no photos)!
|Beautiful art at Tacheles|
The list is way too long of amazing things to see and do in Berlin, so I will just name a few places that I highly recommend. One of them is the DDR Museum. It's the most interactive museum that I have ever been to with so many hands-on activities that I felt like a kid again. The Berlin Cathedral is an astonishing building from the outside, and simply beautiful on the inside. I really lucked out by going to visit during an actual service that was music to my ears. I also went to some excellent bars that include Bar Van Gogh, Bellini Lounge and BöseBubenBar.
|The Berlin Cathedral|
|One of the tombs in the Crypt at the Cathedral|
|A cool street surprise - a meeting of the States with the arrival of the President of Luxembourg|
|What a fun way to earn money - juggling at a red light. Put a big smile on my face.|
Thursday, May 31, 2012
|Along the River Liffey|
I traveled to Dublin in April and became very good friends with Guinness. I have friends in Chicago who tried to get me to like it for years, but I could never finish a glass. That is, until I arrived in Ireland. I couldn't wait to go to the Temple Bar, as I started following them on Facebook and knew I would be in for some good craic there! I had my first full Guinness at the Temple Bar and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Guinness definitely tastes better in Dublin.
|The one and only Temple Bar|
I discovered the next day that it tastes so much better because it's fresh. I learned this when I went to the Guinness Storehouse, which is an amazing and interesting place. It's informative with a lot of history and visuals. Once you make your way to the top, you will have stunning 360° views from the Gravity Bar, where you will receive a complimentary pint of Guinness while taking in the beauty.
|Atop the Gravity Bar at Guinness Storehouse|
However, there is more to Dublin than Guinness! I really enjoyed strolling around Trinity College, admiring the architecture and perfectly manicured grounds. There are remarkable churches and cathedrals all over Dublin. My favorite, though, has to be going to the coast to the lovely Irish Sea. I went to Dun Laoghaire - Dublin Bay to take in all the gorgeousness.
|The beautiful Irish Sea|
My bar/restaurant recommendations include Bear, Porterhouse Brewing Co, Fixx Coffeehouse, Port House Wine & Tapas, and JJ's Bar at the Old Jameson Distillery. Last, but certainly not least, I hope everyone who travels to Dublin gets the privilege of meeting the greatest street performer. I came upon Ross quite by accident on my last afternoon, and he drew quite a crowd with his quick wit, fire-eating talents, and unicycle riding. He is very entertaining, and I guess it was the luck of the Irish that I ran into him.
|Ross, the most entertaining street performer|
Monday, May 28, 2012
|My favorite shot overlooking the city from the Castle|
I had the privilege of traveling to Prague in April, as it has been on my travel "to do" list for many years. I always "knew" that Prague was a magical place and its splendor exceeded my expectations. I stayed with a very lovely Airbnb host that I highly recommend (www.airbnb.com/users/show/269662).
|The magnificent Prague Castle|
The best part of visiting Prague was wandering around and discovering. I couldn't wait to see the Prague Castle, and when I did, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was so magnificent that it didn't even seem real. The grounds surrounding it were beautiful as well. It was fun to see the changing of the guards, so be sure to check the schedule for that when you are visiting.
Another castle not to miss is the Vyšehrad Castle and Cemetary. It's off the beaten path and grand in its own right. The Cemetary holds the remains of some well-known people from Czech, and has the most unique graves that I have ever seen. The Castle is up on a hill that gives incredible views of the Vlatava River.
|Atop the Vyšehrad Castle grounds overlooking the Vlatava River|
I also recommend the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, and St. Henry's Tower. Within St. Henry's Tower, there are many interesting things to do for one low ticket price. In the Tower, I went to the very cool Whiskeria Cafe where I had my first glass of whisky on the rocks, the Galerie, the Prague Towers Museum, and the bell tower for stunning views of the city.
My restaurant/bar recommendations include Duplex Dine & Dance Club (amazing views on the rooftop), Masala - Manesova, Sofa Lounge Bar, and Sahara Café - Lounge Café & Restaurant. I also had the pleasure of meeting singer/songwriter Alasdair Bouch, and was delighted to see him perform a live show. You can check him out at this link - http://www.reverbnation.com/main/signup?kick=34719
My trip to Prague was a long weekend and therefore way too short. I will definitely return to this splendid city as soon as I am able. It should be on everyone's top 10 list.