America · Diary · Illinois · Illinois · Living Abroad · Travelling

It is so loud here.

The downside of living in a city? Traffic.

You’d think that living 35 floors up you would become immune to it – especially having spent most of my life living next to a busy road. However it’s constant in the evenings – ambulances, police and fire vehicles, wind (despite the real reason for the ‘Windy City’ getting its name I can testify that it is definitely windy!). Add to that the defending sound of the L and you can barely hear yourself think. 

Also car horns. Why do drivers think that hooting really loudly and repeatedly will sort things? Does that ever work? (Asking as a mom driver here).

Today we went in search of some more tranquil areas and ended up in the prairie district in the south of the city. It was very green and tree-lined – reminding me a lot of D.C., particularly Takoma. I would like to go back to D.C. at some point soon but until then this was a nice reminder!




We then headed down to Chinatown and went to get a quick snack – possibly choosing the least Chinese items in the shop…


Custard tart (Max)


Cream bun (me)

Back at home, we have chocolate chips, blueberries and maple syrup. It’s finally time for American pancakes! 

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America · Travelling

San Francisco- Day Two

So this was meant to be one post about San Francisco, but it took far to long to write the first one – we clearly do a lot! This is now day two – our only full day.

The hotel we stayed in provided us with muffins and coffee for breakfast- I discovered that ‘half and half’ does not make nice coffee… 

Next we started walking through some of the districts including Mission, Castro and Japantown before heading towards the Golden Gate Park. 



(No guesses as to what Castro is known for!)


This is called ‘Alpine Street’ – well named!

Starting at the conservatory we then walked through the Memorial Gardens and towards the lily pond (weirdly foul-smelling) and the Japanese Tea Garden (expensive – $8 dollars if you wanted to go in!)


The conservatory at Golden Gate Park


The less-than-fragrant lily (never saw any…) pond

We then wandered down by the lake where I was surprised to find turtles! I didn’t even think about seeing them in the wild but was struck by how still they were – sat on sticks in the middle of the lake!




Afterwards we caught a bus back to the centre and walked back to Little Saigon to get a Bahn Mi from Saigon Sandwich – definitely the best roast pork sandwich I’ve had for a long time!


Then we walked back to the Piers, heading for Pier 43 and a half, and our boat tour! This took us out to the Golden Gate Bridge, around past Alcatraz and back to the mainland, but was very interesting. After a dodgy start the audio guide was fascinating – very well ordered and gave a good balance of information throughout. The weather was sunny but hugely windy – I was trying to take pictures and several times nearly fell over whilst balancing against the rail with the camera in my hand. I was struck with two things about the bridge – firstly it’s sheer size, and secondly the colour. It’s orange apparently. My whole understanding of San Francisco architecture is a lie.



I was excited to go around Alcatraz- I had wanted to go on a tour but they were all booked up. The boat trip though was great in this respect – it gave a lot of information, slowed down as you went past and circled the island almost completely. The stories of the children who lived in Alcatraz, going to school on the same ferry as the criminals coming to the island and the interviews with people on it were very interesting and I do want to find out more. They also talked about Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the West) and again, being something I knew nothing about did make me want to learn more about it. 


After the cruise we walked back through Chinatown, before aiming to find some supper! One of the most famous Chinatowns in the world, this clearly gave off the impression of being a living district, rather than one created for tourists. We went to a bakery where Max had a Chinese custard tart and I tried an unusual delicacy of a puff pastry filled with a mixture of ginger, yellow soy bean paste and preserved egg – unlike anything I’ve had before but very tasty!


Fisherman’s Wharf – reminds me s bit of Brighton



We then tried to find tea, which turned out to feature a LOT of walking – we had bookmarked several places, most of which were either closed, expensive or not what we wanted at the time. However, our last choice struck gold and we ended up at the Capital Restaurant which served huge portions or delicious food for good prices. If we were hungrier, they had a deal for $15 of spring rolls, egg fried rice, beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, tea and fortune cookies. If the portion sizes were anything to go by, that was probably a week’s worth of food in one meal! Maybe next time!


Thick noodles with cabbage and pork – not the most attractive looking plate of food but very tasty!