Tag Archives: Travel

Charleston, South Carolina

16th December 2015

Nick and I have the opportunity to get to Charleston about once a year (thanks to our sister and brother-in-law who live in Kiawah), and we love to just get lost in Charleston and wander around and eat amazing food. That is one claim to fame that Charleston has, delicious, southern food! It may not be a Chicago, New York or San Francisco but Charleston has humble chefs allowing tourists and locals alike to enter into culinary heaven.

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Charleston is also charming and romantic. The whispering Spanish moss hanging from above but reaching out to touch you, the historic cobble stone streets that harbor so much history, the gorgeous homes that line the street welcoming you into this wonderful world. It feels as though it’s a hidden secret that you’re able to stumble upon because you took the right turn. If you haven’t visited sweet Charleston, there’s no time like the present. It’s beautiful year round (although I would avoid high summer as the humidity and heat can be a bit uncomfortable).

If you’re planning on visiting Charleston soon, here are some helpful tips we’d love to share with you! But let’s be honest, our main focus is always food, so here are our best restaurants in Charleston!

Two Boroughs Larder: This casual eatery is a great informal spot to have farm to table eats and snatch up some of your provisions while eating seasonal dishes along with carefully curated wines and local beers. This is an awesome spot to grab lunch!

Minero: This tiny local gem has fantastic casual Mexican food with excellent street style tacos, guac, and cocktails at a great price. Not to mention the Chef is a James Beard award winner.

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Husk: Well if you haven’t heard this restaurants name thrown around yet, I’ll throw it out there one more time. This restaurant has been mentioned from Bon Appetit, to Southern Living, to Food and Wine so it’s no wonder this table is tough to snag. This Southern kitchen cooks up local favorites and focuses on local bounty.

Taco Boy: Ok, so obviously we have a thing for Mexican food. This staple started out originally on Folly Beach but they now have a spot in Charleston and you MUST go. Their tacos are amazing, their nachos are too and I’m always crying that we don’t have one in Raleigh..

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The Ordinary: “Fancy Seafood. Oyster Hall.” I could not sum it up better. Supporting local fishermen, crabbers, oystermen, and further local producers, this restaurant serves up great food, drinks and a great atmosphere as the restaurant is located in an old bank. The same people that bring you amazing food at FIG, their passion for serving great food in Charleston is evident.

167 Raw: Literally a hole in the wall, ok more like the size of a fancy walk-in closet, this ALWAYS packed oyster house is super fresh (that’s how you should want your oysters, obviously). Bringing the taste of Nantucket down to Charleston, providing only the most fresh seafood from oysters to their famous Lobster roll, it’s worth the wait!

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Edmund’s Oast: This off the beaten path Charleston eatery is serving up over 40 beers on tap, awesome cocktails and adventurous food. They even have a Charcuterie Program, and that my friends, can make our hearts skip a beat. Almost everything is scratch made, and that also includes their house cured charcuterie. A perfect place to meet friends and hang out for an afternoon on their outdoor patio on a perfect day.

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After your meal you must get lost in this beautiful city. Walking off all the food you’ve consumed on the cobblestone streets or wandering through the cemeteries is a perfect way to spend your afternoon in Charleston. Don’t forget about some shopping on King Street. Snag some beautiful antiques or get that purse you’ve been thinking about. Don’t forget to take a carriage ride around town and learn historical facts about this fascinating city!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

7th December 2015

I can’t believe it’s already December. I’m really not sure where time goes each year, but one thing is for sure, we love Christmas time. There’s nothing like the warmth the magical lights of Christmas bring, the smells echo memories of Christmas past and everyone is united in the understanding of this time for giving. If you’re lacking in the holiday spirit this year, we wanted to suggest ideas of how to get in the Christmas spirit!

In the Raleigh area:

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In North Carolina:

  • Grab your family and go cut down your own Christmas tree this year! Check out Watagua County’s map of Christmas tree farms.
  • Nothing could be finer than to see the United States largest family home, the Biltmore, decked out in its Christmas best!
  • See over 3 million Christmas lights the Charlotte Motor Speedway with their light show.
  • Be dazzled by the annual holiday light celebration at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens.
  • Visit Old Salem and glimpse the glowing Moravian stars, spend Saturdays with St. Nick or take your own self-guided tour.

We hope these ideas give you some inspiration for this Holiday season and we hope it’s a magical one this year and we are glad to have a great State to celebrate the holidays in as well!

Favorite Travel Resources: Finding Flights

5th October 2015

I realize that I’m always planning a trip for the two of us, so that means I use a lot of different resources to scour the best deal but also the most guaranteed deal. Of course you’ll see deals that seem too good to be true and a lot of times I’m anxious that they really are. If I have the opportunity to book direct with the airline or hotel, etc, I definitely prefer that just so that I feel more confident in the event something should ever happen. BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t look at other sites for help in finding the best deal. Today I want to share our favorites for finding the BEST flight deals!

Best sites for flights:

  • Fareboom – I love Fareboom because you can search multi-city flights, multiple days, international flights and pretty much any combination you can think of. It even has a fare-cruncher and flex search (if you’re flexible obviously). I haven’t booked anything directly through them but it really helps me narrow the airlines I’m interested in flying with and then I use that information on the direct airline site to compare. It’s easy and I really love this website!
  • American Airlines – I know this is odd to list just an airline, but I really enjoy booking flights through American. One of the things I love about American Airlines is that you can hold a flight for 24 hours without paying for it, and if it doesn’t work out you can release the flight! What other airline does that?! Plus American flies to many of my favorite destinations from RDU so it’s usually my airline of choice, so I don’t mind racking up miles on one airline either.
  • Orbitz This is probably my favorite of the “show me everything” sites. It’s not better than Fareboom for flights, but it’s not bad. I like it for hotels and domestic flights are pretty good as well. Of course you can’t search Southwest on these types of sites.
  • Travelzoo – I don’t use their search often, but I sign up for their emails and it’s AWESOME. I’ve nabbed amazing deals from flights to hotels on their site with their Top 20 emails, and occasionally they do send emails specific to RDU which is awesome. I highly recommend you sign up!!

Do you have any favorite sites that help you score the best deals? I’d love to hear what you use!

Our List of the Best Restaurants in Chicago

1st September 2015

We’ve been traveling to Chicago for the past five years of our relationship so we’ve discovered some wonderful spots in Chicago. We also have two wonderful aunts and uncles that help us navigate Chicago to the best of their ability (one being a food writer for the Tribune, the other a graphic designer, designing for Chicago celeb chef Rick Bayless). Needless to say, we are able to find amazing spots through them, but also a lot of our own personal network here in Raleigh.

Everyone who knows us, knows that we have a supreme love for Chicago and so we are always asked for tips and recommendations, so I wanted to compile them in one place for you all! Most of the restaurants we have personally visited, or they’re on our list to visit but have needlessly heard amazing things so I added them in case you have the opportunity to go!

Dillie&Dallie’s List of Best Restaurants in Chicago- yes, we’re going there!:

High End Dining (perfect for a very special occasion!)

Grace: recommended to us through Chef Duffy’s former coworker, this recently rated 3 Michelin star restaurant attracts celebrities and locals alike. Though the small restaurant makes nabbing a table quiet the task. Be prepared to spend a bit on this meal but it’ll be worth it. One of the best restaurants we’ve ever been to!

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Alinea: We have never had the privileged to eat at this world renowned restaurant but word from friends and food critics alike, this restaurant is one of the best in the world. Known for its innovative molecular gastronomy, it’s more than a meal, it’s a performance.

Spiaggia: A favorite of President Obama, this restaurant overlooks Michigan Avenue, The Drake Hotel and Lake Michigan and serves wonderful upscale Italian inspired dishes. We ate here after getting engaged in 2011! <3

Nomi: Located inside the Park Hyatt with excellent views of the famous water tower and Michigan Avenue, this restaurant serves inventive New American food and has a wonderful pastry chef! Had the privileged of eating here in 2010 for my birthday.

Next: Another super hot ticket from the chefs who brought you Alinea, this table is a tough score. Although we have not eaten here, the reviews seem like it will not disappoint. They constantly challenge what you see and what you taste by being overly imaginative and always pushing the envelope. We will taste test anytime!

Best Restaurants (that won’t blow the bank – perfect for birthdays and a special treat!)

Frontera Grill: Chef Rick Bayless’ long running hot ticket restaurant with authentic Mexican dishes that pay homage to his time spent in Mexico. Fantastic Mexican food, wonderful cocktails and an environment reminiscent of visiting for yourself. If you can’t nab a table here, definitely grab a bite around the corner at his other restaurant Xoco. I’m also very partial to all of his graphic design work thanks to Carrmichael Design, (shameless plug for family of course!)

Nico Osteria: One of the newer hot spots in Chicago, we were lucky enough to try out this past summer. An Italian-inspired seafood restaurant with authentic pastas, fresh fish and other samplings offering breakfast, lunch and dinner! Super hip vibe and not too stuffy to meet friends after work or for a romantic date.

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Longman and Eagle: We unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to personally visit but it comes HIGHLY recommend by Chicagoians. A very “farm to table” approach with the best local ingredients to highlight their American fare with an excellent whiskey selection and a beer list for all hipsters.  No reservations and usually a wait. They also have brunch!

Avec: Another one on our list to visit but renowned just the same. Part of the One Off Hospitality Group (known for some of THE BEST restaurants in all of Chicago, you’ll see me mention more, like the above Nico!) Avec serves Mediterranean and Midwestern influenced shared plates in a super hip and clean atmosphere.

Girl & the Goat: We had reservations a month in advance… for 10pm.. This restaurant is no joke in trying to nab a table. Unfortunately we did not end up going to eat here but word on the street is that it’s damn good. Chef Stephanie Izzard won Bravo’s Top Chef in 2004 and hasn’t stopped since. The food is family style with a menu of global influence and rotating craft beer showcasing Chicago breweries, this is a homey spot to meet friends or family.

Other Best Restaurants (at an even better price point, waiting still probably required)

BigStar: It’s one of our favorites. It’s a simple taco joint that is always slammed packed with locals more than tourists as it’s located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood which is so hip and trendy you’ll just want to move right in! Another restaurant from the One Off Hospitality Group, this easy dining experience is perfect for a summer evening on their open patio. Amazing guac, tacos and margaritas it’s a casual place that has lines every day of the week. We LOVE it and go every time we’re in Chicago.

Publican: One word: swine. Or pig, or pork, or however you’d like to describe it and it’s OH SO GOOD. Although the eclectic menu is also known for their oysters and beer, anything you order is bound to be amazing. Even Anthony Bourdain recognizes this! Their brunch is amazing and I’m sure dinner is too. They also opened up a butcher shop next door and I wish I lived in Chicago to take advantage. Also a member of the One Off Hospitality Group (of course).

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The Purple Pig: Cheese, Swine and Wine. I don’t know about you but we are very big lovers of all these things. Fresh sliced prosciutto, pork liver pate, pork jowl, pork chop… pecorino, cheddar, parmigiano, bufala… Adventurous and wonderful small plates allow you to sample many different options as everything sounds so delish it’s hard to decide. Good thing they’re open late so you can always go for dinner and stop by after many more drinks!

GT Fish & Oyster: Redefining the American seafood scene with shared plates that are always changing through seasonal catches. It’s been Michelin starred and raved about in Food & Wine it’s obvious you should probably visit if you have the chance! We haven’t been but it’s been on the list for quite a while!

Just Because You’re in Chicago:

Portillo’s, Gino’s East or Lou Malnati’s (be our guest to suggest your favorite deep dish!), Weiner Circle (because Hot Doug’s closed..), and before you head home grab some gourmet popcorn by Garrett’s Popcorn Shop.

Best Bars in Chicago:

Three Dots & a Dash: Feel like a cocktail in the middle of Chicago that transports you to the Polynesian islands? This is the place. The environment allows you to escape to a faraway land with fantastic cocktails and retro bites. It’s a great place to visit at least once and you’ll always remember your time here!

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Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association: One of the newest bars in Chicago boosting amazing views unique to Chicago thus far. Beautiful views of Millennium Park, the Art Institute and Lake Michigan. But this bar also has amazing cocktails! Although the bar is a bit small it’s a great place to visit, day or night!

The Violet Hour: This hip spot serves artisanal cocktails to more Chicagoians that tourists as this spot is located in one of our favorite spots of Chicago, Wicker Park. This bar has even won a James Beard Award! We haven’t been but word is, it’s great.

Signature Lounge at the Signature Room: Although the atmosphere of this bar is a bit dated and cocktails aren’t out of this world, I recommend it purely for the amazing view it entails. Take in every inch of Chicago from the 96th floor of the Hancock building. If you were to visit the observatory you’d still be paying, so why not just pay for a drink and enjoy the view?

What do you think of our list? Anything you’d add or remove? I love a good food discussion so dig in!

Summer 2k15 – Chicago Part 3

13th August 2015

Day 3 in Chicago was pretty laid back. We wandered around the Mag Mile again and were able to stumble upon Eataly, Mario Batali’s venture to unite the world over amazing Italian food, products and cooking through our love for food. In Chicago, it’s a two story mega-store with cafes, cooking classes, wine, gadgets and amazing cheeses and meats of course! We didn’t spend too much time because you can spend too much time! I do wish we had one in our city because it’s a great opportunity to get products you might night be able to find elsewhere and to snag some really great meats and cheeses for all the wine nights you have!

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After shopping we headed to The Purple Pig to grab some lunch with my aunt. The Purple Pig is described as “Adventurous small plates plus house-cured meats & a lengthy wine list in small, lively quarters.” It accurately lives up to this description for sure! We dined on beets with goat cheese, meatballs, the “JLT” with pork jowl, octopus with green beans and many other yummy small plates. As it states, cheese, swine and wine, and it is just that. It’s a great place to go any time of day but you’ll be sitting at communal tables so make sure you’re ok with that.

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Photo via The Purple Pig Facebook Page

The Purple Pig is conveniently located off the Mag Mile and just a skip from the river making it the perfect lunch spot for visiting Chicago. So naturally after lunch we used our Explorer Pass again and took the iconic Chicago Architecture Tour. The architecture tour is one of my favorites in Chicago. I always love learning about history and what makes up the Chicago skyline. Plus you may notice a lot of buildings from certain movies, such as Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon where they completely destroy Chicago.. shame! The tour really allows you some beautiful views of Chicago, and there are even cocktails on board. What’s not to like?! I’ll let you be the judge by the photos below!

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The Sears (Willis) Tower - where Hubby & I were engaged!

The Sears (Willis) Tower – where Hubby & I were engaged!

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The Architecture tour is so fun and the views are just incredible. I simply love Chicago if you cannot tell. It’s even better in the summertime when you have gorgeous blue skies and no snow!

After our tour we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and take an Uber to Wickerpark/Bucktown area to grab some delish tacos at BigStar! BigStar is one of the places you HAVE to visit and since it’s still super hip there is always a wait, and it’s always busy. It’s located in one of the most fun neighborhoods in Chicago (I think) and it has great shopping, restaurants and bars to visit and just a few miles outside of Chicago. But back to talking about tacos from BigStar… The guac! The margs! Taco de Panza! It’s all so yummy and they’re even open late night. They have great outdoor seating and just a great vibe all together. I HIGHLY recommend visiting!

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Post dinner, it was time for some drinks. If there is one place to go on your last night in Chicago (without having already visited the Signature Room) it’s Three Dots and a Dash. A totally unique bar, with equally unique drinks. One walk down the alley and you’ll think you’ve taken a wrong turn and once you head down stairs, you’ve definitely taken a turn to the South Pacific. Three Dots and a Dash is named after Morse code giving homage to their Polynesian past and contains epic rum drinks in unique tiki glasses. If you’re visiting with a group, go for the Treasure Chest No. 3 complete with a bottle of Dom Perignon and serves 6-8. Otherwise, any of their cocktails are great! This is such a fun spot and I definitely recommend it to visitors of Chicago.

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After Three dots, it was time to hit the hay. We had our last full day in Chicago, and tomorrow we were heading home, but not without one more stop with our Explorer Pass!

Summer 2k15 – Chicago Part 2

11th August 2015

Day 2 in Chicago has a forecast that didn’t look too promising. Possibly rain, so we decided this was the perfect day to visit the Art Institute and get a Chicago dog. We took a leisurely stroll down the Mag Mile (popping into shops that interested us) and headed to Portillo’s for lunch. Portillo’s is famous for the Italian Beef’s and Chicago dogs, so naturally we ordered one of each so mom could try them out. She almost ordered a hot dog with chili and IMMEDIATELY had to stop her! We were in CHICAGO after all!! The Chicago dog, did not disappoint. I recommend Portillo’s because it’s a cheap and easy lunch and you get to try some Chicago icons. I wouldn’t claim it’s the “best” of anything because I don’t have much to compare it to, but a tasty lunch that’s inexpensive and fast is always a good thing!

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After lunch we headed downtown towards the Art Institute. We had heard great things about the recently opened, Chicago Athletic Association, and since it was located across from the Art Institute we decided to check it out. The Chicago Athletic Association is actually the old Athletic Association that used to be men’s only. It was used for swimming and working out among being a place for men to gather and let off some steam. Now it has been renovated into a hotel with a vintage yet modern vibe. It pays homage to the past of the building, with pummel horses as foot stools, bocce ball in the bar, and staff dressed like a blast from the past. The bars are all open to the public. The 2nd story bar has indoor games, a beautiful fire place, and a great bar and area to relax. Apparently it has great food too! However, one of the best places in the hotel is the rooftop bar, Cindy’s. It’s beautifully decorated, has amazing cocktails but has a killer view of lake Michigan, the Art Institute and Millennium park. You can even see the Shedd Aquarium and Soldier field! It’s a great place to gather with friends, and the environment of the hotel is quite spectacular so I HIGHLY recommend you check out the hotel if you have a chance!

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Post Chicago Athletic Association we headed over to one of the best art museums in the country! I love this museum as it has wonderful artists, sculptures and amazing views too! It even has a fantastic restaurant (I’ve visited previously). If you’re in need of only ONE museum to visit in Chicago, stop at the Art Institute, you won’t regret it.

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The Art Institute is also conveniently located next to Millennium Park and has amazing views of the park and also an incredible bridge connecting them both. After the museum closed (at 5pm) we wandered around Millennium Park, taking selfies in the Bean and walking through the gorgeous landscaping! I’ve always wanted to see a concert in Millennium Park, so I’ll add that to my bucket list for future visits to Chicago!

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Walking around the city is exhausting but wonderful at the same time. Whenever I visit a city I try not to pack TOO much into the day because you’re going to get tired and need to relax. So after our day out and about we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at a hip and new spot near our hotel. It’s called Nico Osteria, and is managed by One Off Hospitality Group (who manage some of the BEST of Chicago, ie: Big Star, The Publican, Avec…) So naturally it had to be good! Nico is an Italian-inspired seafood restaurant with amazing fresh pastas, crudos, and of course seafood. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so I highly recommend visiting for any of these occasions.  We went for dinner and had the crudo sampler, roast chicken and the rigantoni. It was delish!! The atmosphere is outstanding and on a beautiful day I recommend nabbing a table outside. This is a definite must visit on your trip to Chicago!

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Do you have any must visits to eat at when you visit Chicago?!

Summer 2k15 – Chicago, Part 1

7th August 2015

When your hotel in Chicago is on the Magnificent Mile and your flight is arriving at night, there’s only one thing to do for a first timer visiting Chicago, take them to the Signature Room and visit the Lounge for drinks! The Signature Lounge is on the 96th floor of the Hancock building with the most amazing views of Chicago (the best, being from the ladies room). Our hotel, the Whitehall, was a three minute walk across the block and we were there. We arrived around 9pm on Saturday night and had a small wait but scored a table for two next to the window. We couldn’t have been more giddy to end up with this spot. Although the drinks are anywhere from $10-$16 for wines and cocktails, the price is worth it for the view that is so iconic. I recommend anyone stop by, day or night, as you will be guaranteed a great view, and a drink is just an added perk!

IMG_1410The next day it was time to explore Chicago! It was a Sunday so we decided to take a Divvy bike down the lake shore and headed to Seven Lions for brunch. The ride was pretty hot and humid. We were pretty sweaty by the end but it is such a beautiful ride down the shore and around Millennium Park. Divvy bikes are great from getting from point A to point B but they are not for leisurely strolls as you have to check your bike in every 30 minutes. But I do recommend them for getting to locations quickly and using a different form of transportation that many cities aren’t as lucky to institute.

(P.S. both of these photos were taken while biking, and is not as easy as it would seem! Use extreme caution!)

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Once we got to Seven Lions we cooled down with cocktails before noon (take THAT North Carolina!) and it was a basic brunch spot with all your classics and conveniently located across the Art Institute. Although there are SO many good brunch spots in Chicago, my mom isn’t the most adventurous so we chose Seven Lions (I highly recommend The Publican!). We did have a gorgeous “green eggs and ham” and a delicious bacon eclair!

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Post brunch it was time to explore the city. Before we left we purchased the Chicago “Choose 4” Explorer pass through Costco because they had the best price. For $70 you had access to four major attractions in Chicago. One of these included the Art Institute and a Architecture Cruise, two MUST do’s upon visiting Chicago. Together these two attractions cost around $60 for ONE adult, so it was a no-brainer to get the pass and have access to two more attractions.

Since we were graced with a beautiful day we looked for something outside that we could do. We decided to save the Architecture tour for another day, and settled on trying the Tall Windy Ship, with an hour sail on Lake Michigan. Setting sail from Navy Pier makes you think it could be really cheesy and the pirate dressed crew lends to this a bit but honestly, the ship is beautiful and to sail on the lake with the skyline in the background is so relaxing and it’s such a fun experience on a beautiful day. The pirate clad crew even gave lessons on important maritime facts of Lake Michigan, like the fact that there were REAL pirates on the lake! Who knew?! I’d definitely recommend a trip on Tall Ship Windy, she’s a beautiful ship and it was a nice way to view Chicago.

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After our tour we headed back to the hotel to change and get ready to meet our family for some pizza at Parlor Pizza Bar, and enjoy our first day in Chicago. It was a great first day with beautiful views and tired feet! Stay tuned for more!

Summer 2k15 – Chicago, the details

5th August 2015

“Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
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Nick and I have a supreme love for Chicago. Nick’s family is from outside of Chicago and he has an Aunt and an Uncle that currently reside in the great city, so we have a family connection. But we also have a culinary love, architectural appreciation and a shopping addiction.
We even got engaged atop the Sears (Willis) Tower in the summer of 2011, so naturally we will always be attached to the city, but it is truly magical! It is relaxed paced city considering it’s so large, but the river and the lake make it so beautiful. It feels like you’re next to an ocean and you can even swim on the shores with the Hancock shadowing your body as you tan.
This summer I decided to show my mom finally what Chicago was all about! #girlstrip
Chicago is an easy trip from Raleigh and this summer, it has been a CHEAP trip! Between $100-$200 round trip! Unheard of really, but I love my weekly emails from Airfare Watchdog and Travelzoo (I recommend you sign up for both, usually my weapon for scoring awesome deals!) We paid $132 R/T on American Airlines (my personal favorite, so I don’t mind racking up miles!) But numerous airlines fly into the two Chicago airports, O’hare and Midway, normally non-stop but some with a connection. I’ve flown into both airports and O’hare is definitely a giant! It does have great food options though if your flight is delayed. Midway has been recently renovated and I’ve had great experiences there. The one thing that definitely sets them apart is the Blue Line that goes directly into O’hare making it cheap and easy to get to and from the city. You could also take a cab or an Uber. We took an Uber from the city to the airport and it was about an hour travel time, and around a $35 trip. Not too shabby!
Hotels are plenty, but finding a good price has been a little more difficult this summer. We booked one of the original boutique hotels, The Whitehall, for around $170 per night for a king bed. We had a very large room with an amazing view of the Water Tower and Hancock, right off the Magnificent Mile. We stayed on the North side of the Mile, which is a great location. I’ve stayed here before and next time I’d like to consider being closer to the loop, but as far as selecting a hotel in Chicago for location, we’d highly recommend the Whitehall hotel! (Plus I trust my fellow traveler reviews on TripAdvisor).
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The ease of accessing Chicago with two great airports, super easy public transportation, great food, culture and shopping make this city an excellent choice for a quick weekend getaway or even a longer trip. It’s great for couples, families and friends! Depending on what you like to do, there are plenty of options. Stay tuned for how I showed my mom one of my favorite cities in four days!

Summer 2k15 – Busch Gardens Williamsburg

4th August 2015

Summer time is slowly slipping away.. It seems like it does more so when you’re working your 9-5 (if only I was so lucky..) and your routine is constantly the same. Oh to be a kid again! Although it is slipping through our fingers, we are our busiest during these hot months.

At the end of May I requested to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg for my birthday present from Nick. He of course obliged my request and we bought a flex ticket that is valid through the rest of the summer! Hooray! I’m hoping to get back up there but we used our Sunday and Monday off and spent the night to be able to have two days at the park.

IMG_1270 I love Busch Gardens, it has amazing roller coasters and it’s such a beautiful park! And their Fun Card allows you multiple visits through September 20 for one price. It’s an awesome deal and you’re allowed to leave the park during the day and come back. So you can save money by even packing a lunch! We HIGHLY recommend the fun card!!

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IMG_1269We did not get to explore historic Williamsburg this time but we stayed in the Doubletree barely a mile from the park for under $100 bucks and we were able to take advantage of the shuttle to the park for $5 per person.It was a fabulous deal especially for the convenient location.

We loved our time at Busch Gardens, and I personally think that they have some of the best coasters in the nation! Plus it’s clean and beautiful which is hard to overlook and not appreciate all the beautiful flowers, water features and details the park entails.

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Do you have a favorite theme park?! We’d love to know!

The Dillmans

Rome: Day 4

19th March 2015

On our final full day in Rome we wanted to tour the Colosseum so we had booked a tour online and headed off to begin our tour. We really only did tours in Rome because I don’t have much knowledge about Roman culture and its history is so in depth and ancient it’s hard to grasp the reality of it sometimes! The tours tend to be decent, but usually lacking and really short. You learn a few facts and wham, it’s over. I think if you can find some tours for a good price I’d look into them, or even look for apps and things that you can do on your own. I really loved the private tour we listened to at the Louvre and I’m sure there are things out there that I just did not look into.. next time though!!

This is actually the REAL name of the Colosseum, Amphitheater Flavim.

Then of course we had to get lunch after our tour. We found a little pizza shop off the beaten path and had wonderful pizza! Fresh buffalo mozzarella for me!!

After lunch we continued to the ancient ruins as our ticket from the Colosseum included free entry into the ruins of the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill. A lot of this was overwhelming for me, but it was neat to see the final resting place of Julius Cesare!

I also looked up Anthony Bourdain’s recommendations again and was able to get gelato from one of the best gelaterias in Rome!! YAY! Gracchi! It was also close to our b&b!!

After an exhausting day of walking around Rome we headed back to our hotel to gather our thoughts and decide on dinner. Of course I start searching and searching the internet for a really unique meal for our last dinner in Europe. I came across a restaurant called Romeo that was near our hotel and we thought we’d walk by and see what we thought.

 YES WE WILL EAT HERE! HOW AMAZING IS THIS CHARCUTERIE?!

Below is the most amazing prosciutto and FRESH buffalo mozzarella and they gave us complimentary FRESH ricotta that tasted like absolute HEAVEN.. OMG it was SO good!!

A classic Italian cocktail, the Negroni!

Amazing fresh pasta!!

Sausage stuffed calamari!! YUM!

We also realized we never had tiramisu in Rome so of course we ordered it, and this is what came out!! We made a video of how this bad boy opened but I can’t find it, but let me just tell you, it was amazing!! It really did taste like tiramisu too, even if it doesn’t look remotely like the cakey substance we’re accustomed to here in the U.S. Ultimately, if you couldn’t tell, I would HIGHLY recommend you visit Romeo if you’re ever in Rome. Even though it looks fancy, it wasn’t over priced and it was amazingly delicious!!

The next morning it was off to the airport to leave Europe and end our 2.5 week trip.. I was definitely sad to give up our relaxed lifestyle of eating when we wanted, drinking when we wanted (at every lunch!) and just doing what we wanted. It was also nice getting to spend every day with hubs. Although Rome really tested my patience with him, but it wasn’t just him it was also Rome testing my patience.. As you can tell Rome was not my favorite city we visited. To be honest it was my least favorite city. It just didn’t agree with me and I wouldn’t be in a hurry to visit again. I knew I wasn’t too found of going in the first place so I hate to think it was my preconceived notions, but it was just the lack of hospitality, the overwhelming amount of tourists and the overall amount of garbage and broken glass everywhere making the city dirty. I know people love Rome and I can see potential I really can, but it just didn’t capture my heart. I really wish we had visited Florence instead, but we can save that for next time. We did get yummy pizza and gelato so that’s a win in my book. But the pictures prove it is a beautiful city!!

I just can’t wait to get back to Europe though. I want to explore France more, I’d like to visit Germany, England, Austria, Belgium, Greece.. the list goes on and on!! And hubs and I agree we’d go back to Venice in a heart beat! Of course we’d love to go back anywhere in France.. We still can’t get over how much we loved it! We actually just bought a learn French CD too so hopefully we can brush up with the French visit Raleigh in September!!

What’s your ideal Europe trip?! Where have you been that you’d recommend? Where do you want to go? I’d LOVE to know your thoughts!!

Hope you enjoyed #dillmanstakeeurope #dillmanstravel 😉