Exploring: Skydeck Chicago, IL

Exploring Chicago, IL

Whilst visiting the fab city that is Chicago (more on that here), we couldn’t resist heading up to the Skydeck of the Willis Tower and seeing Chicago from above. Our last morning in the city was pretty clear so we hotfooted it downtown and up the 103 floors to the top before the clouds moved in.

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Food: Pizano’s, Chicago, IL

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When you’re in Chicago you simply have to eat pizza and not just any pizza, deep dish pizza! The city is famous for it and who am I to say no to pizza? This expat thing is all about exploring and trying local delicacies and this definitely has to be a good one. So, literally hours after landing in the windy city, we could be found in a pizza place, waiting for our deep dish!

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Exploring: Chicago, IL

Exploring Chicago, IL

Late last year, the German and I were lucky enough to head up to Chicago together to check out the Windy City. It’s somewhere the German goes to a lot for meetings and the like, but this time his wife was coming along too!

Chicago is a city I’ve always wanted to go to. I’ve heard such great things about it and wanted to check it out for myself. So, we headed up for the weekend in November. Weather-wise it probably wasn’t the best choice, it was so cold! We had snow and temperatures hitting a high of a whopping -11 degrees celsius – temperatures I have never experienced before. Add to that the wind and just walking from the car to the hotel left you freezing! That wasn’t going to stop us exploring though!

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Wow, what a year!

I’m back! How was your holiday season guys? Mine was jam packed, hence the absence from this little blogging space of mine! It involved trips to England and Germany and lots of catch ups with family and friends. Despite all my good intentions to give you some updates I just couldn’t find the time. I also wanted to post this earlier this week but, thanks to some sort of deadly virus from England (we’re talking a beautiful 3 week long cough and cold) I just didn’t feel up to it.

But I’m back now and taking a look back at one of the most amazing years ever! 2014 was very, very good to me indeed! I thought I’d pop together a few highlights for you to peruse over and for me to reminisce about.

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Home is where the heart is!

First of all this post comes with a warning…it may be slightly boring!! Don’t let the warning put you off though – give it a whirl and make your own decision…freedom of speech/thought and all that!

So we’ve been officially living in the United States of America for just over 3 months now but I think we’ve only felt finally settled here in the last couple of weeks! And this post will tell you why! So as you already know we lived in a temporary apartment for just over a month, then moved into our own apartment but didn’t get our container from England for weeks…not the best way to try to settle in when you don’t have your home comforts around you! Anyway it finally arrived in a Tonka truck (still love that fact!!) and my brother and sister-in-law were here (and made to help us unpack!!) then when they left the German trotted off to Chicago for a week!

All that jargon up there basically means that it’s only in the last 2 weeks that we’ve been able to chill out in our new apartment, on our own with all our home comforts around us! We’ve been here for more than 3 months!!!! But I’m pleased to report it’s all good!! I wouldn’t say everything is perfect yet…we do still need to buy some stuff but we’ve made some additions like this photo wall we created last weekend…

Homely!

Homely!

Yep we went to Ikea, Home Goods, Michaels and many more and came home with a shed load of picture frames that the German ever so quietly (who the hell am I kidding – sorry neighbours!!!) hung on the wall! We’ve got pictures of our families, my parents before they were even married (yep that was many, many, many moons ago!!) pictures of the two of us when we’ve been out exploring in places like Greece and…wait for it…some empty frames! We were so excited to get it on the wall that some of them are actually empty and still have those pictures in that come with the frame – technically we have random people on our wall! Never fear though – I think one of our jobs this weekend is to get some more pictures printed!!

We also made our balcony look a little more homely…

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Yep Ikea once again got our custom with some plant pots, plants and a watering can! Can you guess who picked the bright colours? A gold star is heading your way…it was me!! I decided to add a little colour to the German’s life seen as though everything he picks is either grey, black or at a push blue!! He wasn’t too impressed but decided to give in eventually!!

Things still aren’t perfect though…right now the weather isn’t amazing – it’s cloudy and windy but still quite warm. Now I’m sure you’re all thinking come on girl, you came from England so there’s no way you can moan about the weather! You’ve already had a fair few days that would pass as summer in England! This is all true, last Friday I even caught some more sun and have a slight watch strap mark on my arm! It looks great. So here’s where I prove you wrong…I’m not moaning about the weather – I’m gonna have a rant about the TV! So when we moved in we looked into setting up cable (it’s a staple over here in the States!) but as we don’t have a credit history yet because we’re little foreigners they wanted us to pay a $300 security deposit (that they’d pay back to us at $5 a month!!!) along with another $300 to have one of those box things that record the 5 channels at a time. Now if we had a credit history we’d have had both of these for free…co-incidently we didn’t choose this option and instead went for this…

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Yep you see that black thing on top of the sofa? That’s your bog standard aerial that picks up the free TV channels. Now personally, being a tidy freak, I’d like to have it on the table at the side of the telly but thanks to the trees outside it would appear it picks up a better signal when its on top of the sofa…doesn’t it look beautiful? Oh and every time it’s windy, or a helicopter flies over the picture is pixellated and cuts out. It’s great when you’re actually trying to watch something interesting!

Now hopefully this weather will do one soon because it’s Cinco de Mayo this weekend and I want to get involved in the celebrations!! There’s a huge one in the Centennial Olympic Park on Sunday that I want to go to but at the moment it’s looking like it might rain! Damn you Mother Nature messing with my Cinco de Mayo plans! I’ll keep you updated on that one – obviously if the rain holds off and we go there’s definitely a blog post coming out of that trip!!

So now Atlanta feels a little be more like home sweet home we have more guests arriving next week! Yep our friends from Germany are stopping by for 2 weeks and we’re all heading off for a week in Florida!! I’m sure there will be a lot of blog posts to come out of that trip! Brace yourself people!!

What a load of pollen!!

Literally.

So first of all it’s been a fair few days since my last post – for this I apologise. I won’t lie – I’m gonna come up with an excuse – my brother and sister-in-law were here so I was spending time with them, but they went home on Saturday and the German left for Chicago at the same time so now I have no excuse. I’m home alone! It is kind of weird going from a full house to nobody!

Right back to the blog post! So this one is all about pollen. Yep the stuff is everywhere in Atlanta right now and when I say everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE! We’re stuck in some sort of pollen haze/hell and it shows no sign of letting up!! ARGH!!

It would appear it’s currently pollen season. Now the German had heard about this and told me exactly what was happening as soon as my car starting turning a yellow colour! At first I thought it was kind of cool…now I’m thinking differently!

So this all started about 2 weeks ago, you first noticed it on the cars…

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OK so the picture doesn’t really do it much justice but you get the idea!! Yellow EVERYWHERE! Now I’m sure living in a place that is surrounded by trees doesn’t help but still…

So the car I could deal with – I’ll just get it washed once the pollen has stopped falling (which the German led me to believe lasted for a few weeks – more on that later!) but it was getting worse! Last week I went to Stone Mountain (You can check out what that is in my previous post about it!) and it was a very hot day. The pollen count was so high you could actually see it in the air, my ankles and calves turned yellow from my flip-flops flicking the pollen onto them. At points I felt like I was eating it. It was definitely not enjoyable! I felt disgusting and had a shower once I got home! Ewwww! It fell onto my bag which also turned yellow and like an idiot I wore a white top – yep that had a yellow tinge too!

Outside the house the ground is yellow. You can see footprints where we’ve walked in and out, the handrail is a lovely shade of dusty yellow and the steps have pollen in every crack…

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Anything you leave outside gets covered! The German’s precious bike is on the balcony (he actually does love the bike!!) and instead of being black it is a beautiful pollen shade. I’m sure he won’t be impressed when he gets back!! We have a table and a couple of chairs on there – they were brown but they now have a yellow tinge! And my black hurricane lamp…I’ll let you guess what comes next…

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Yep you guessed it – a nice shade of pollen yellow! I had the bedroom windows open the other day and despite them having screens over them to stop the bugs getting in the pollen managed to break through! It was all over the bedside tables, dresser and drawers. I was not impressed!

Now when it comes to cleaning this horrible stuff up it’s no easy job! You can dust it with one of those catch the dust duster things (if any of that made sense!) but it still manages to gather in big lumps of yellow in the corners. And within an hour of you dusting it away it’s back!! I was working on the laptop on the balcony last week and cleaned it before I started – you could see the pollen dropping onto it as I typed! By the time I’d finished there were two patches at the front where my wrists had been and the rest was – yep you guessed it – a shade of dusty yellow pollen!!

Now when I say the pollen count is high it is unbelievably high! The lovely people on Fox 5 News Atlanta give you a daily update on said pollen count – last Thursday it reached more than 8000!!!!! I think this could have been the highest on record! Now thankfully yesterday it rained which has brought it down massively – today it is just 1509! Phew! The yellow stuff is still there though!

Now speaking of the rain – when it rains it washes the pollen away! Yay! My car is slightly cleaner, the pathways are cleaner and the pollen count is reduced. Result! But it leaves behind the most disgusting looking puddles…check this beast out…

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See…vile!!

Now as I mentioned earlier the German reckoned this would last for a couple of weeks, a month tops were his words. Sadly I checked out a blog the other day and they reckoned it sticks around until July 15th!!! July 15th?! Do they really think I can deal with this until July 15th?! That’s 4 months! 16 weeks of yellow stuff everywhere! 16 weeks of constant cleaning! 16 weeks of fighting my way through yellow dust and turning into a big pollen mess when I go out! This I am not looking forward to at all! There’s only one thing left to say…at least I don’t suffer from hay fever!!