Category Archives: Travel

How To Pack Light: A Girl’s Guide to Vacation Packing

This past weekend I took my last trip of 2016! And a great trip it was!

A girls trip to SoBe (South Beach, Miami, FL). Our trip was awesome and I definitely had some expectations exceeded.

As a lady (and I wouldn’t consider myself FULL ON GIRLY, but I got lots of clothes, yo!) The part that takes the longest for me to get ready is always picking out what to wear. This isn’t good when it comes to packing for a trip. I like having OPTIONS and I also feel like I am terrible at deciding what to wear for the weather (especially when you go places where you’ll be outside most the time and not in a car like at home). So, when the time came to pack for my Miami trip with the girls, lots of factors come into play, like with any trip:

  1. Weather (fortunately it was going to be warm–78 in day, but a few nights 59/60) hmmm I don’t really get cold though, but now we should go ahead and add a long sleeve item or two..a nice one and a casual one…oh and a comfy one too.
  2. Itinerary. Beach time. Working out. At least one fancy dinner. And duh-an awesome dress for New Year’s Eve will be needed. Bars. Clubs. Maybe something casual. Sleepwear.
  3. Time spent…So now I need clothes for a few nights of clubs or bars, a few beach days, a few days of working out, but what will I FEEL like wearing and what are my friends wearing? Can’t be over/under dressed!!


I consistently over pack. I tell myself:  “you only have to deal with the heavy pack or pull the suitcase a few times, it will be fine Ashley,” I tell myself. “At least I will have options.” And I always tell myself, “You have got to get better at packing lighter, you can always shop when there!” Fortunately I am strong for a chick so I think of it as a little work out too, walking from airport terminals or train stops with a 50lb+ pack on me…that I usually regret after the first few minutes. ha.

I have looked on Pinterest, watched YouTube videos on packing less. I know the “roll up method” and sticking socks inside your shoes and wearing your “heaviest clothing items.” I do.


So this girl’s trip rolls around and there I am…shoving 4 pairs of shoes (again…options) in a bag and can’t seem to fit everything else! Ugh, what’s a girl to do?!

Every time (ok mostly every time) I take my carry on suit case, they say it is too big and make me check it. So I scurry, text the closest pal I can think of, and go borrow her larger suitcase.

I mean, if I am going to check a bag-I may as well bring everything and the kitchen sink, right? So in goes the hair products, a few dresses, a few swim suits, a scarf, a light jacket, 20 earring options, 2 different size curling wands, jeans in case I feel like that, running shoes, NYE shoes, wedges, closed toed in case I am cold, (ha in Miami?!) work out attire, a few more options and a partridge in a pear tree.


I brought the suit case and I wore ALL the workout gear. The sleepwear. The swimsuits and ALWAYS the casual comfy stuff. And then wore 20% of all the other crap I packed. I also had to take stuff out and carry it on the plane so my bag weighed under 50lbs. Yep, I am terrible, and this task wasn’t comfortable at all.


Now, I am sure you are asking yourself–this blog was titled, “how to pack light” where is the part that she gives me a secret to packing light?

I was kidding. I actually don’t know the secret, but my goal this year is to get better at packing light for my other goal: Keep on taking trips.

Safe travels in 2017.

Happy New Year everyone!


How to do ACL Like a Boss.

Another fantastic double weekend, music packed, pretty damn hot, expensive-ish, chaotically organized Austin City Limits Music Festival has passed.

I am still alive.

I had fun.

And now, I am going to give you my tips on how to do ACL– Like. A. Boss!

1. Let’s talk Wardrobe.

Whether it be gold spandex pants, a referee outfit, a dinosaur costume, a swimsuit, an oversized sun hat, wedges with a maxi dress, cowboy boots or barefoot…You must be COMFORTABLE. Comfort is key!! Personally, I am a shorts and tank kinda gal myself (and I am a sweater, super attractive, I’m aware…so you know I have a towel, hat and extra shirt–just in case haha)


PS- Am I getting older or are what the kids are wearing these days just awful?? I saw so many white chucks with high waisted stone wash shorts with a$s hanging out and crop tops I just can’t even. “Who let you leave the house like that young lady?!”


If you don’t want to wear a shirt-that’s ok too.

Also, if you have a large group-Gimmicks are perfectly acceptable (see below):



She’s not sunburned (my camera was on “vivid” mode). No bra, huh? Work it girl.


No words.


Man or woman: You can never go wrong with jorts.


I don’t know if I would be comfortable in this outfit above, per say-but way to rock it, guys.


Saturdays it is customary to support your college team at ACL (TCU above) in Craft Beer tent.


And Sundays it’s customary to support your NFL team.

–And it is ok to take a break from music to watch the game in the Craft beer tent. Warning: That TV will turn off at 10pm on the dot, even if it is the 4th quarter and the Cowboys just tied it up with the Saints. What ensues after is not pretty, either.–

{Sidenote this photo above is also amazing because 1. That “face” is “Dad” we found him on the ground, carried him around all weekend to be ridiculous and 2. You can buy empty sunscreen bottles online and fill them with Fireball apparently}


Sunglasses-Ray bans, Fake Bans, hearts or freebies-they are a necessity!


Solids. Prints. Tight. Loose. Short. Long…Whatever makes you happy.

{Shout out to the ACLers of 2013 who all did “Caturday” on Saturday-loved ya’ll}

2. Noms.

If you eat at Torchy’s weekly, you can get it at the festival, but come on now!! There are: so. many. delicious. choices. I am all for trying something new at the festival though, and I encourage you as well! We have some of the best festival eats, I swear! (Not that I have even been to Coachella, Bonnaroo or Lolla ha) Everything from Hat Creek,  P Terry’s and Chi’Lantro to newly opened Lonesome Dove and traditional Austin staple, Stubb’s (mmm BBQ nachos are the bomb!) There were more than 3 Mighty Cone lines for quickness and I consistently ate Peached Tortilla this year for some reason (short lines, tasty tacos). I really wanted Tiff’s Treats, but I can’t have cookies without milk, and I can’t do the sun and booze WITH milk. Ew.

milk was a bad choice

I do highly recommend eating when you get to the festival or a good breakfast/brunch prior to arrival. If you forget, there are plenty of people passing out Kind Bars and Skinny Pop as you walk down to the gates, but you better hide that in your bra/pants for a snack later or eat it on the way in, because no food allowed. Boo.

kind bars

Above-KIND bars My personal favs: Coconut Almond, Sea salt & Caramel and Blueberry Vanilla


Tacos from Peached Tortilla above mmmm…


Saturday morning breakfast above…Kidding!…kind of.

{Side note: One year I was doing South Beach diet and tried to sneak in a bag of pecans but they busted me and threw away my pricey nuts. I was heart broken}

snowie ACL

The 2nd weekend: Sunday I have never seen so many people at ACL. What was the longest line at 1pm? Snowie was, of course.


3. Water Consumption

water station

This is not one of my stronger feats at ACL (or in life in general) but it is muy importante to bring a Camelbak bag or bottle, water bottle, a styrofoam cup, something to put WATER in! Water is free. It is hot outside and you are already going to be drinking God knows what-which will most likely dehydrate you. Drink in between beverages and get a lot in before you get there and before bed each night (also may help with hangover). You will surprisingly not have to use the port-o-potty’s as much as you think it is so hot out.


So stay thirsty hydrated my friends!


4. Essential Provisions.

First off a backpack is handy, but I prefer the over the shoulder bag for easy “reach-in” action when I am walking between shows or trying to find something by feeling around and on the go. Many prefer backpacks and the Camelbak backpack (too many zippers and pockets over complicates things for me) again whatever works best for you, but recommended.

2013-10-07 18.59.28

This ACL bag has been with me now for three years. Love it!

What to Pack?!:

  • Towel for sitting on grass/claiming space!
  • Sunscreen*
  • Mini/travel Hand sanitizer*
  • Chapstick w spf*
  • the KIND bar you got for free they didn’t find in that side pocket in your bag 😉
  • Fully charged Camera (it’s this small device where you take photos on a memory card, I know it is rare-also back up in case phone dies AND I like taking videos sometimes)
  • Extra sunglasses (cheapies-just in case I lose a pair!)
  • Portable charger (in case my phone dies ha)*
  • Bobby pins (I am not really sure if that’s on purpose, I find them everywhere)*
  • Hair tie(s) (for when I have had enough and I am too hot, bun time)*
  • Schedule!
  • A promotional fan they pass out before you get to the gates
  • Kleenex/tissue paper or a little toilet paper (because come 2nd weekend Sunday-you never know)*
  • And obviously wristband, wallet and ID
  • 2 “water” bottles (interpret however you’d like to)
  • Glow bracelets (because it’s ACL and it’s fun)


Yes, that’s my friend capping off Glow Bracelets (we aren’t amateurs, have to make the bracelet functional) so we can toss it into the crowd and dance around to the music like we are 16, best down before Sundown (and usually done before we head to park)

**Astricks** denote items I keep in a ziplock bag so when the search people try to bust me I can be like “What? Whatcha gonna do about it? Nothing.”


I take a photo of the schedule in case I lose it (I don’t use the app for sake of battery, blame Snapchat!).

Don’t forget obligatory photos of you and friends in front of: red sign in front of gates, Austin skyline backdrop, ACL frame with long line (confession I have never done it-too long to wait)

I put my phone on Airport mode when I am usually not waiting for someone to find me and vice versa, also battery save mode…or turn off location services.

Some people have been known to roll up their towel and stick mini bottles of alcohol. In it. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people have had their towel shaken out and seen mini bottles of liquor fly out of their towel when searched at the entrance. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people put booze in a flask and put it in their crotch. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people have been busted the second Sunday of ACL, and asked to pour out the flask at the entrance. Not me, but I heave heard stories.

Some people take camo caps to make their water bottle look resealable, but fill it with vodka. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people have been caught when they shake up the “water” bottle and ask if it is vodka, then had their “water” confiscated at the entrance. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people buy pocket shots and put them in their bra, shorts, boots and well…pockets and get through pretty easily untouched. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people pass out said pocket shots to people around them in the crowd who are fun, may need a pick me up or use them as a bargaining tool. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people roll their selfie stick up in a towel to bring into ACL because they aren’t allowed anymore. Not me, but I have heard stories.

Some people sneak in a handle of Tito’s by putting it in their chair bags. Not me, but I have heard stories. (I have not quite reached the threshold of wanting to lug around a chair at ACL and be at the “chair line” but soon…very soon).


My friend had his stuff ready to go, like a kid picking out clothes before the first day of school.

5. Transportation

Getting to the festival is no easy task. This is why comfortable wardrobe is important-you are going to use dem legs A LOT. Knowing people who live close is always nice, to shack up on their couch (what I do). Bless Lyft and Uber because I think they have now saved my life and my legs more than I can count. Sure there is surge pricing at high peak times, but if you can share with a friend or get down to a good point and walk the rest of the way, it is worth it. I have a car2go account, and in the morning I would walk to that, take it to the Car2Go drop zone (at Barton Springs and Lamar), then they arranged pedi-cab drivers to take you down Barton Springs (also equipped with free water, red bulls and KIND bars). Can we say GENIUS?? After the show, just plan on walking a few miles until you can get a friend to pick you up…or just walk to the bars!

car2go austin


6. Lost and Found.

You have a few choices at ACL. You can be lost, you be found, or you can be somewhere in between. Probably one of the best things about the festivals are the flags, posters and creations that people come up with to be “found” or “home base” Hashtags for your crew are perfectly acceptable as well.  (#DadDoesACL for the guy I found this year)


This guy above is there every year–pretty sure he has a hashtag and my friend’s daughter follows him on Instagram now. haha.

Or you can choose to disconnect and lose yourself and do whatever the hell you want–this can happen on accident and on purpose at times…either way, make the best of it (see below for example)



“Did I do thaaaaatt?”

Since the networks get bogged down (ok Verizon is apparently great, but AT&T sucks for me), if you REALLY want to see a show with someone else who REALLY wants to see a show your best bet is to go old school. Yep, no cell phone, no texting. MAKE. A. PLAN. “Meet me at the orange capital at 4 to walk to Samsung”


 Sign reads: “Thanks for visiting, please don’t move here”

Trying to get people to find you in the crowd? If only one text goes through it better be the most clearly communicated text on the planet, here is one from me this year for Florence and The Machine:

“We are left of sound stage 50ft, 30ft from no chair zone flag and 10ft left of Chicago Cubs flag.”

Little did I know they were at the Weeknd and phones were dead. ha.

I found my friends this year next to “Poop Emoji flag,” “Sparkly silver pom pon flag,” and “In between the no chair zone flag and Kim Kardashian blow up doll”


Your flag should be visible at night too-that is the key! I have some friends that have a light saber on a stick. You wouldn’t think you’d be able to see it in a park this big. But from the back of one stage clear across the park–there I spotted our friends, trekking through Drake. Who’d have thought?


6. Homework

Perhaps something I should have mentioned in the beginning is to do your homework. Sure, you can go, experience new music and float around with friends, however if you want the most out of your wristband, you should try to have a plan of a few shows you’d like to see, with or without others is up to you. I typically try to meet up with different groups of friends-this is difficult, but I have been known to lose people and see Kings of Leon solo.


Download and listen to a few songs from bands you aren’t sure about prior. I love having a paper copy of the schedule, unsure why, but I do. The app is handy however because you can connect with friends and make your own schedule and see which friends are doing the same :)


At the end of the day(s) it is all what you make of it…


Clap yo hands. Stomp yo feet….


Take a nap??

And have a wonderful ACL weekend.

See you next year (well, if the line up is good, and it probably will be) #taylorswiftcometoACL please!


As always thanks for reading!

Things I am Hearting–April

It seems as a creature of habit it can be hard to write/share about new things I like (I heart). March seemed to fly by, but over the past few weeks I have tried some new things and wanted to share with you a few items I am currently hearting once more. I even had a friend text me, “Umm have you tried the brownie at Snap Kitchen?” And yes, yes I have….so here we go, this month’s rendition of things I am currently “hearting”…


(heart above from recent trip to Portland Oregon found off Hawthorne St.)


GF brownie snap kitchen

It’s not the first time I have written of Snap Kitchen. I am almost ashamed that I just got to the “1000 point marker” that is how much I eat it. It is “healthy” (that adjective seems controversial these days so I will leave the quotation marks around it), convenient and portioned, what’s not to love? Did I mention tasty as well?! So this month, I heart Snap Kitchen’s Gluten Free Brownie. Yes, that’s right. I said gluten free. Am I gluten Free? Hell no. But this little morsel of chocolate is tasty. Is it low calorie? Not really. Is it low fat? Nope. It is just the right amount of chocolate when you want something sweet after a meal, but it’s “cleaner” than something you’d get out of a package and has a few grams of protein!. If you do not like coconut-you will not like these. But I am telling you, give it a try.




This past week/weekend I met a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year and a half. I flew SW (Southwest) one way to Portland, Oregon, met her there, then we went one-way (direct) to San Jose and one way (direct) back to Austin. After traveling in Australia and NZ a few months back I now realize the importance–and how much better I feel-when the flight attendants were NICE and understanding. When the people you have to deal with at your gate/on your plane are pleasant it instantly makes me pleasant. During all my flights there wasn’t one grumpy flight attendant (even at 6:30am) and they were sarcastic and funny. For example during our take off when they go over the TSA safety regulations one of them said,  “A reminder to put your carry-on bags under the seats in front of you. Ladies that goes for you and your designer purses-they need to go on the floor not in your lap, it will be ok, we know they are fake anyway.” And “There are 50 ways to leave your lover but only 6 ways off this plane…” They make the monotonous part of flying a little bit entertaining, and we were always on time, in fact-a few minutes early, bonus! I also don’t mind the boarding/no first class thing they have going on as well. Which reminds me, when we were boarding, one of the flight attendants said, “Now boarding Group C, Group C stands for Center Seat”  Indeed it does. Thanks Southwest.

And lastly…don’t hate me, but I am going there.

I HEART MALTI-POOS! — More specifically, my new dog, Molly. (#goodGollyMsMollyMaltipoo is her hashtag-yes. I have a hashtag for her, naturally).


(Above: Molly filthy after playing on the kickball fields)

I love dogs in general and can’t remember a time growing up that we didn’t have a dog (or two). After 2.5yrs without my black lab Jack (who I adopted when I had moved to Kansas City). Jack is  in Doggy Heaven…no, not deceased. He is living with my dad and another lab, roaming free in fields daily and eating steak and eggs or bacon grease atop his dog food with endless rides in the back of a truck and lots of belly rubs. So, literally: Doggy Heaven with “Grampy.” Since I don’t run outside as much as I used to and admittedly enjoy not having dog hair on every article of clothing I own;  I sprung for a low-maintenance dog that doesn’t need at least an hour of exercise a day and one that doesn’t shed. (Plus picking up poop the size of tootsie rolls ain’t so bad either!) I work from home a little bit more right now since she is a puppy, but it hasn’t been too bad taking her places either. Molly has gone to inspections, showings, kickball games, my workouts, a photoshoot, house warming parties and yes, even the dentist with me (where she slept on my feet the whole time). She plays well with others, loves all, and naps frequently.  It most definitely wasn’t hard to find a dog sitter when I went out of town. When I first picked her up from the woman I bought her from, she told me “She is the most outgoing one in her litter and she just loves to eat!” If that isn’t a perfect match. I don’t know what is.

(more Molly cuteness below)


Above: Molly kissing her “cousin”-I don’t think he was a fan.


Above: Molly with Halo on a photoshoot.


Above: Molly playing tug with Rainey.


Above: Molly compilation of her first week with me.


Molly with inspector Tim, and the seller’s sweet dog, Bella.


Molly meeting her first cat. Confused at first, then she was feisty and wanted to play.

As usual thanks for reading my blog about nothing. I at least hope you try the brownie (for those of you with a Snap Kitchen near you). Stay tuned for next time as I chat about getting adult braces-ay yi yi.

The Thirties Club

If you don’t follow me on Facebook–or have any idea who I am, one thing I will tell you, is that I just turned 30!

And while some may think that “sounds old” my “youth is now behind me” I am really embracing it. People keep telling me how much better your 30’s are than your 20’s. And this article even hits home a little bit with Oliva Wilde’s interpretation and advice for turning 30. Especially her first item “Don’t freak out by all the people who accomplish more than you by 30.” Often times I find myself comparing or feel as though I am behind. Life moves at my pace. And that is not a bad pace when I stop and think about it.


Another thing to know is that I don’t mess around when it comes to Birthdays, (I think it is because school always started on my Birthday or had to do family parties with the little bro-who is 6yrs and 5 days younger) this year I went big–two parties to be exact. Everyone keeps asking how 30 feels and this and that so I decided to write a little post about well, what I learned in my 20s…from social skills to career choices.

(photo below from my actual Birthday night at Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street)



1. You can only stay up late, eat crappy, get up early for work  with virtually no hangover for so long…until your mid-20s…then you start to feel it in the morning and really regret the night before’s festivities.

2. Breakouts and pimples really never go away. It’s not just a puberty thing.

3. If you get a parking ticket, just pay it ASAP (and the same goes for tolls-get a Tx Tag as soon as they build the road)!

4. In addition to #3 if it says they will tow, they probably will.

5. Getting out of America is good for you!   {Really never got a chance to travel that much when I was in college or my early 20s, I wish I would have done it sooner. Though it may have taken me a while to do it, I am so glad that I traveled for 3 weeks in Europe last year at 29 (see previous blog posts for cities I visited, I still haven’t finished up with Italy and Spain).}

IMG_1140(This is a pose we do at my Crossfit gym when traveling, I am no Yogi)

6. Stretch. This from the girl who pulled a quad playing kickball a few seasons back. Social sports are all fun and games until someone breaks an arm or leg, or gets a shoulder to the nose at a second base play at the plate (yes, this has happened to me-see below). So be careful out there!


7. If a guy is into you, it will be apparent. They will ask you out and they like the chase. Or do they? Crap, maybe I still haven’t learned anything about men…

8. I have learned that over-analyzing the crap out of anything is just exhausting. Let go. Let things happen.

9. On the contrary to #8, but mainly relating to the business sense: Be proactive. If you want something in life, you can have it. You can achieve it. But only if you want it bad enough. And it will not take over night.

10. was the key to success in college (it’s all about the professor and having 10 exams vs 2–for me anyway)!

11. Start saving your money and putting it into an IRA or 401k as soon as you can. If you don’t when you hit

12. If you want an item, it’s probably cheaper on Amazon…but be careful that you order the correct item-and read fine print!

13.Texting and driving is a bad idea!!

14. It really is all about who you know…(and how hard you work to get there).

15. Fake IDs during Spring Break or on 6th street that lack a hologram are a bad idea. (Fake IDs in NYC while you are an intern=good idea). Ah to be young.

16. Don’t put any clothing that reads “made of polyester” in the dryer (or anything that says hang to dry for that matter).

17. Taking your time to re-read emails and making sure they are going to the right person–>pretty damn important.

18. It’s not about your actual age, how you dress, what you have, what you do…it is about how you feel :)

19. That phase when you can’t stand your parents/fight with them will go away… once you move out of the home and off to college…then you will start to realize, appreciate (and feel bad for being a bratty terror).

20. Therapy is a good idea. No matter how strange it may seem at first or expensive. It’s worth it.

21.. Don’t break up with a guy/someone via text message…on accident…long story.

22. If Usher walks by you backstage during SXSW and you hold up your hand to high-five him and he doesn’t high five you, call him out on it. Then you will get a high five from Usher.

23. Living in regret is wasteful. (still learning this).

24. If Anderson Cooper wants you to be on his show, don’t do it. Actually, do it, it’s a free trip to NYC and no one will remember a year later!

And with turning 30, my list making self decided last year it would be a good idea to make up a 30 before 30 list. It was basically comprised of things from big to small, I felt should have a deadline, and could be achievable. Per usual I may have out done myself, as I did not get ALL 30 items complete #30before30

Here are some of the things I DID get crossed off my list. #30before30

  • Finally camped (real deal, in Colorado in June, it was 30 degrees at night!)
  • 2013-06-02 15.58.00Saw a Broadway show (Lion King was awesome)
  • Went to Europe!
  • getting on planeBob Armstrong dip at Matt’s El Rancho..mmmm
  • Went to an Improv Show in Austin (totally want to go back, try Cold Towne theatre)
  • Cliff Diving (I did this in Cinque Terre, what better place? PS- I look orange only due to camera settings, I promise I didn’t spray tan!)
  • IMG_0681Rode a motorcycle (only took 29 yrs!)
  • Tried painting with a Twist (this was so much fun)
  • Pork chop at Perry’s Steakhouse
  • Diversified my portfolio some
  • Help someone achieve their goal
  • Ran the Cap 10k AND  the Austin Half (finished in best time-including photo taking along the way)
  • IMG_3793Got paid for some of my photography (cutest family, ever)
  • 1Went to a US city I had never been to (Love you San Diego)


Things I have yet to do, perhaps I will make a #31before31 list? And add to it more items…

  • Horse back riding (I am from Tx and have NEVER been on a horse!)
  • Paleo diet for ONE WHOLE WEEK (this is near impossible as my love for cheese/dairy is strong)
  • Read a classic novel (thinking Catcher in the Rye?)
  • Visit 2 Austin museums I have yet to go to
  • Get my CRS designation in Real Estate (trying to find a good time to take those courses-it’s a high quality problem)
  • Sky Diving!! (Thinking Oct. who is with me?)
  • Cooking class-boy do I need this.
  • Do more yoga/me time (this is not easy for me)
  • Volunteer more!
  • 3 kipping pull ups in a row (I am only cheating myself, can’t seem to link these babies)

Overall, life is good. I really cannot complain and have been trying to practice gratitude on a more daily basis. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we don’t have, what we need, what we want, what would make our life better and it doesn’t even hit us that life could be a lot worse, and life is good.




I found Chivalry. It’s in Chi-town.

My first Trip to Chicago, IL.

If you go back to my blog in December, one of my new year’s goals/resolutions was to take more trips. Back in February my girlfriend and I booked a trip to Chicago. Finally, we visited this past May weekend. It was such perfect timing and bad timing all together. It is really hard for me to leave business in this busy market, but it was such a well needed vacation and thankfully I have this thing called a smart phone and wonderful colleagues :)  I did grow tired of people telling me to come when there’s a home game, however! ha

So off we went to Chicago on Friday. When we got there the weather was absolutely perfect. And you can tell it was great because so many people were out. It is like that first warm day after Winter in Austin that everyone goes running, to the dog park, daytime patio drinking or anything involving being outside. I believe it is usually in February. ha.


Thank heavens for facebook keeping people in touch, because before we left I hit up everyone from, lived in, or currently lives in Chicago for recommendations-it was a plethora, and we did as many as our time and budget and taste buds would allow for. Our first stop off the plane was not our room so much as it was deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s…tasty (note to self…not as good cold, like thin crust).

We then started walking. I love walking. I embraced walking when I lived in New York City and so long as it isn’t 103 degrees here (and I have time) I like walking here as well. Magnificent Mile, a little trip to the infamous H&M we don’t have here in Tejas (supposedly are getting one in Houston soon) and then grabbed dinner at the hotel and were on our way to The Signature Room at the John Hancock Center–which was recommended by so many, especially the view from the Lady’s room. Check! After that we went out and hit up the town.

Saturday was dreary, we still managed to see Wrigley (definitely not as cool without a home game I hear, and agree) and just walked Lincoln Park and ate there as well. My partner in crime didn’t feel well and went back to the hotel, so I took the El and did a lot of walking and exploring by myself, despite my lack of sleep. Checked out the art  museum, took a lot of photos, per usual and walked back to hotel for dinner. We then headed out for pizza (thin crust this time) and then made a pit stop after at another bar-it was randomly crowded, large, had a 90s cover band playing, flip cup game occurring in the back and best of all–a few groups of bar crawl groups. One themed “Justice”, the other “Oregon Trail” (brings back 7th grade memories). Hilarious.


Sunday was perfect again. This was our main designated tourist day. We did Millennium Park, The Navy Pier, “the bean,” officially named Cloud Gate. I hear it is the second most photographed object in the World. We mosied on up to Old Town Social for a delicious meal (found via Yelp! And kept hearing good things regarding this neighborhood on Sundays–hey it was our last night in the Windy City, had to make sure the fun never ends). After our meal we walked down Wells (I think) over to a bar and met a few more gentlemen (we had met some nice guys Friday night as well). We set at the bar. One set was left open next to my gal pal and of course the most odd man, flying solo came in and swooped in to set next to her. I really do enjoy talk to people at bars, bartenders, etc, and I am not trying to sound like a snot–but this feller wasn’t one I’d necessarily want to converse with. Ahem he was about my father’s age, but creepier in character. So, naturally the two young men at the bar perpendicular to us strike a conversation as they notice the awkward predicament my friend was in–and approach jokingly, only to indulge us for hour. A few hours go by where by then we had covered, sports, Austin, Chicago’s Winter, relationships, being single and dating theories (my favorite of topics ha), dabbled in Politics, alcoholic beverages, LaCrosse, Notre Dame, why they should visit Austin, what we had been doing in Chicago thus far and alas we find ourselves taking shots and headed to THE Sunday Funday spot according to them (and confirmed by the Yelp! Review I had looked up prior to our trip).

I can’t quite explain the difference in men in Texas and Chicago, but they’re different. And while I have lived in New York City before-and always said it was my favorite city-I may have a change of heart. My parents were born in the Midwest and most my family still resides there. I love how  nice people are. Don’t get me wrong, people are nice in Texas too-Austin especially, we love meeting people here bragging about our city, but so did the people there. I felt like when we chatted with the guys there about the most random of topics they really did want to get to know me and enjoyed conversation…and weren’t just thinking: “How am I going to get in this girl’s pants later?” And if they were thinking that well, they did a better job of hiding it than Texas men! Which is interesting, because one of my male friends that is a young, single professional gave me some tips regarding where to go and when we started to discuss the people and men specifically in Chicago he said. “You aren’t going to find a bunch of guys just wasted in the bar trying to take you home, guys here like to talk and network and get to know you. A lot of men in this town have drive.” Don’t get me wrong, I am not dumb enough to believe ALL the men in Chicago are sweethearts and a typical hard-workin’ man’s man, but there was a little truth to what he was saying, unless Courtney and I just lucked out with who we met? I will say I found disagreeableness in some theories between a few Chicago men. For example when I told one of the fellows we met Sunday about my friend’s theories on the women of Chicago, he disagreed. The varying differences: One said Chicago women are few and far between and there are more great guys than great girls and all the girls want to do is just marry rich and they aren’t hard working. However, the newbie we met at the bar disagreed and said he knows plenty of women that had to drive and were independent and more career driven vs money grubbing wanna be housewives.

So, with those two diverse opinions, I have my own opinion, which basically boils down to perception. Wear nice suits, have a condo in a fancy part of town, educated and driven can definitely score you some hot babes. Are the hot babes themselves career driven and independent and educate-sure some, but there’s also other women who want other things. But don’t think I am lady bashing because honestly it goes both ways. Brian, one of the fellows we met said one of the most honest things I have to give him props for. I said, “I just don’t get how some men can have a pretty girl with all these things they want and have commonalities with right in front of them, but when there’s a hot girl that they don’t have much in common with, but she is super hot and sometimes dumb and manipulative they are so dumb.” And Brian said, “That is so true, when it comes to hot women we are just retarded.” And those aren’t his exact words but pretty darn close.

Ok, enough about the gentlemen who opened doors, bought us drinks and made sure we got home safely and seemingly enjoyed conversation and exchanging witty banter with us in Chicago.

Chicago in some ways reminded me a lot of Austin. NOT THE WEATHER. We were hitting the 90s before I left, so the coolness was definitely a factor, and of course not the fact it’s the third largest city or all the high rises. But the charm. I liked how many parks they had (not as much greenery as here, but definitely more than other large cities). The appreciation and pride people have with their neighborhoods. “Check out Bucktown. Definitely do Old Town. Must go to Lincoln Park.” That is how we are here too. South Austinites won’t go North of downtown. Families embrace their neighborhood walk-ability or their charming bungalows as well as their East side hipness or DT trendiness. There is something for everyone here in Austin, as I believe there is something for everyone in Chicago, but you definitely walk a lot more (which I don’t know what people do in the Winter-sounds brisk!). I envy mass/public transportation in Chicago, we are getting better here, but I definitely appreciated the convenience (though I used to disagree that that word–convenience–went hand in hand with public transportation). Imagine doing work on your phone on the way too work–without having to worry if you are going to wreck. I enjoyed the people, the atmosphere, the friendliness, the cleanliness of a big city and honestly wanted to cry when we were leaving (sigh…back to reality and work etc). However, now that I am here, typing away, back into my groove of morning workouts, MoPac traffic, guys with skinny jeans next to me at the coffee shop I am happy again. It was 85 and sunny today. I know my way around, I still have so much more to explore in my own city, but Chicago…I love you, I will definitely be back…(in the Summer). Love you, Chicago.

And that’s all I have to say about that.