Category Archives: The USA

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The “Must See” At the Chicago O’Hare International Airport this Christmas Season

The Holidays season is always superfestive all around, and if you’re like me, you certainly enjoy going around taking pictures with awesomely decorated pine cones in honor of this holy, introspective and joyful season.

But today, while traveling through the Chicago O’Hare International Airport from Minneapolis on my way back to the Nature Isle, Dominica, I noticed (and gladly so) something different: Christmas Trees with a difference, brought to you by American Airlines. You see, employees from different departments at the American Airlines branch at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport decorated Christmas trees according to specific themes, to reflect their team’s values and what they stand for. 10 Trees/teams entered the contest, and travelers from around the world passing through the Chicago airport were invited to vote for their favourite tree. 

  

I found this particularly amazing, especially because this season goes beyond sharing joys, gifts and toys: it also fosters the spirit of humanity, togetherness, teamwork, mutual respect and equality. All the good stuff.

I was amazed by all the trees, but I had to pick only one! (Unfortunately I can’t tell you which one). So if you are traveling through the Chicago O’Hare International Airport this season, make sure to stop by and vote for your favourite tree!

Looking at them right now, which one do you prefer? Let me know in your comments below!

Two Traveling Texans

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The Medtronic Twin Cities 2017 Marathon: 5 Life Lessons You Learn from Running!

Let’s get one thing straight: “I did not run”.

Now that we have this out of the way…

The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is one of the top 10 marathons in the USA. Professional athletes, beginners, runners from all the continents travelled to the twin cities last weekend to take part in this amazingly inspiring event. And though many did it to win the Grand prize and dethrone the reigning champions, Dominic Ondoro (Kenya, 2016 male winner) and Jane Kibii (Kenya, 2016 female winner), there were a wide variety of inspiring reasons why people participated, according to my survey:

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  1. It was on my bucket list
  2. I wanted to do something that I was proud of
  3. It would be the greatest challenge of my life yet
  4. I love running

There are a lot more inspirational reasons why people run marathons. For my part, I was among the crowds of happy and enthusiastic cheerers on the sideline, and here are 5 key lessons that I learned, from attending my very first official marathon…

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Preparation is Key.

Practice Makes it Perfect. And this goes without saying, especially for a physically demanding event like the Twin cities marathon. Training is crucial for any challenge or undertaking you want to dive into. Whether you’re looking into starting a new job, picking up a new hobby, learning a new skill, whatever it is: it takes time, dedication, patience and training. Secondly…
Forget About the Speed. Focus on Endurance…

Some might argue this for a while, but let’s look at it from a “sustainability” perspective. If you use all your energy, your drive, your resources for the first mile, then you might not have enough left for the remaining 25 miles. That is why it is critical develop endurance. Endurance creates habits, that create consistency. Sometimes in life, it seems like it is better to get somewhere faster than to climb step by step and develop our endurance. But stop and think: the more you develop endurance and consistency, the more the methods you are using turn into habits (repetition) and the faster you become.

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… And Resilience.

Wikipedia defines (psychological) resilience as the “ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions”. I was dumbstruck to see that people who I did not expect in such a highly demanding physical undertaking were well present and close to the finish line: children (who seemed younger than 10), physically impaired, wheelchair-bound and people with disability. This just goes to say that while society might put a halt or a break on what you can or cannot do based on your a) background, b) social status, c) gender or d) race (or any other parameter), at the end of the day, the only limitations that matter are those you put on yourself.

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‘Wonder woman” doing her thing.

And even for physically fit people, resilience is very important. When I spoke to Erin, one of the Twin Cities Marathon finishers, she told me that it was her second marathon and at multiple times, she felt like giving up. She felt like stopping, going back. But she didn’t. She just had to continue., regardless of the fact that she still had a lot of miles to go. And at the end, the feeling of having accomplished that challenge was for her, something “indescribable”.

You’re Never Too Old, and It’s Never Too Late.

I was amazed to see more than one 70+ years old folks running the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon; and even better: close to the finish line! What type of lesson can you learn from that? All kinds of lessons! It goes without saying, those elderly people did not wake up one day and decided to run a marathon the next day. I would assume they had a dream, a desire, a vision and decided to go for it. So you might not be interested in running a marathon “ever”, but don’t be discouraged to chase your dreams because “it’s too late”. There is no such thing. Girl please.

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A courageous “Viking’ at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, 2017.

You need friends. No, great friends.

There is no greater feeling than achieving something overwhelmingly challenging and seeing the people who love you the most share that moment with you. When I looked at the faces of the marathon runners who saw their family members cheering for them along the twin cities marathon route, I nearly broke into tears myself. And I could see their sadness and physical pain transform into an emotion of joy and fuel a “I can do it” attitude!

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“Nora’s friends” cheering at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, 2017

I saw family members cheering, friends cheering, and even total strangers cheering for all marathon runners! One of the marathon cheerers, who had come to support her friend Nora (first time marathon runner), told me that for these reasons, the twin cities marathon is her favourite time of the year. Doesn’t that show that there is still some goodness out there in the world?

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Nora’s friends cheering at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, 2017

So back to the opening statement of this blog post: “I did not run. But I might, someday”.

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Me at a Fundraising run in September. Minneapolis.

Have you ever ran a marathon? Do you know someone who did? Share your experience in the comments section below!


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Dallas: The Foodie Who Ate on 54th Street

I had the privilege to spent some time with great company while spending the night in Dallas. There are cities where you can survive alone, and there are cities where… you won’t survive alone. And so, being able to reconnect with “Binta” was such a great, refreshing experience.

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We went to have brunch at 54th street (Restaurant/Drafthouse) and just to give you heads up (the address was a little bit confusing, because you can access the place from two different streets, but rest assured: it’s the same restaurant/drafthouse).

The place had a typical texan decor which, above anything else, shouldn’t be surprising. It was interesting, though, to see how much effort  they put in it.

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Overall, I was pleasantly pleased with the food options. I can’t remember what I ordered, but as you can see, though tired, I was pleasantly happy.

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Have you eaten at 54th Street before? What were your thoughts/impressions? I’d love to know.

Have you eaten at 54th Street before? What were your thoughts/impressions? I’d love to know.

In the meantime, if you’re planning to visit Dallas soon, here are some of my essential tips😎

Essential Tips for Visiting Dallas: 

  1. Travel with someone: the city is way too huge, and you might get bored alone
  2. If you can drive, rent a car: anyone else who has lived in Texas would support this. Otherwise, your experience will be a disaster.
  3. If you have friends/family/acquaintances/even enemies there, reconnect: not only is it good to keep in touch with people, but it makes a difference if you have someone from there who actually takes you around. I had never been to Dallas, but I have been to Houston and it seems to me that this is something very peculiar to Texas: the cities are huge, transportation system is not conducive to public transport, and everybody drives. So if you really have no one there, then you’ll be stuck with Ubers and Cabs for your entire trip.

Do you have any other tips for visiting Dallas? Share them here!

(And don’t forget to Subscribe)!😎

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai

Linking back to City Tripping this week!

Wander Mum

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A Taste of Hawaii… In Chicago!

Hawai is definitely a destination I intend to visit some day, so having a taste of Hawai “before” actually going there was an amazing experience!

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While in Chicago, my friends took me to the Tikki Terrace. It’s an awesome Hawaian restaurant located in Des Plaines (not really far from Chi-city).

One of the things I found interesting about this place was the fact that it’s like a needle in a haystack: a small gem located in the suburb, not downtown. Pretty precious.  The food was good, the drinks were better and the hosts and staff were the best! We also got to watch their famous Hula Show (ethnic dancers moving to the Hawaian beats!) and that was really entertaining.

And you know what the best part is? All of this was at an affordable price! Here is how we got the best deals for this place.

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Tips:

  • If you intend to go there, don’t expect to see a big display sign indicating that you have arrived at your destination. It’s at a pretty discrete location, so GPS is paramount.
  • Make sure you book in advance because the place is always packed and you can’t guarantee a seat if you just randomly walk in.
  • Make a reservation for a night when they have the Hula Show. It’s definitely worth it and gives you a better value for your money!

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Chicago: 4 Hours at Navy Pier

Category : Chicago , The USA , Uncategorized , USA

If you only had 4 hours left to spend in Chi-City, where would you go?

Navy Pier is one of the top attractions in Chicago, it’s almost like what Darling Harbour is to Sydney. You can’t go to Chicago without stopping at Navy Pier! (well, that’s the impression I got from going there). So I was pretty excited that morning.

And no, I wasn’t driving. Because you can’t snap and drive!

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From the city, you have three options to get to Navy Pier. 1) Take a shuttle, 2) Take a regular bus, 3) Take a taxi. The third option is not really necessary, as you have regular buses passing and shuttles that service the area. And if you’re stuck in traffic, a cab would really not turn out to be the most cost-effective option, so I recommend you take a shuttle or a bus.

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Then I met with these wonderful beauties! It felt awesome to reconnect, after such a long time. We were actually 4, but someone had to take the picture ^_^

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1+1+1 =3 . We were actually 4, but someone had to take the picture 🙂

After close to half an hour of deliberation and potentially convincing arguments, we decided and all agreed to take a ride on the Ferrys Wheel, which is literally the highlight of Navy Pier itself and one of the top attractions in the city. The 200-foot wheel celebrates the 100th-year anniversary of Navy Pier, which is also why it is called “Centennial Wheel.”It is also 150-feet high in the sky, which makes it pretty amazing – so we were definitely looking forward to an exhilarating ride.

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It was summer, and we went in the peak hours of the afternoon, so the waiting time was pretty long. So if you decide to experience this, I recommend that you go early in the morning…

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… unless of course you don’t mind spending some time taking selfies like we did! (Spoiler alert: can you see the tourist behind us taking a selfie of us backward? He/she should have asked us to turn back though… Just kidding. I am pretty sure we are obstructing his/her view).

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Being at Navy Pier is almost like being at a daily fun fair, fit for kids and adults. Of course, the big kid in me would want to stay close to the kiddies attractions, but have a lot more options of things to do like bicycle riding, watching a movie (IMAX Theater), taking a boat ride (Seadog Boatcruise), watching a play at the Shakespeare Theater, touring the Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass, etc. It’s the ideal place for a family fun day out, a date, or simply, just to chill between friends.

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If you go with kids though, you can’t really stop at Margaritaville… Can you? Unless of course, they take the non-alcoholic drinks. For adults, make sure you ask for one of their special Margarita cocktails! They are to die for (literally).

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Finally it was our turn to hop in! I got to say this: The view is as AMAZING as it is claimed to be! However, we were “a tiny bit” disappointed (and perhaps it was our fault for being too excited in the first place) because we thought the wheel would be moving very fast, but it was super slow. Nonetheless, the view was all worth it.

I can’t wait to go back (soon, hopefully), to experience the rest:)

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 Linking back to City Tripping this week!

Wander Mum

Clem’s Fun Moments!

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