Texas of the North … with the rockies next door.


Overall, Calgary is a lovely ‘midwestern’ city on the doorstep of the Canadian Rockies. Main motivation to visit were the National Parks ;).

5/18/19 – Flying over the Canadian rockies en route to Calgary




May 18 2019 – June 1 2019
14 Days


We stayed at an Airbnb:


I was really bad about taking photos of food, but honestly the food scene in Calgary, although good, is on a significantly lower level than other cities visited thus far. Hence, quite a few of my meals were cooked at the bnb.

DateNameTypeGoogle Maps
5/19Van SonVietnamese
5/20Jerusalem ShawaramaMediterranean
5/21Calan Beef Noodle
Mango Mania
5/22Cluck N’ CleaverFried Chicken
5/23Cooked at bnb
5/24Ramen ArashiRamen
5/25Junk food (Banff)
5/26Junk food (Banff)
5/27Rau Bistro
Szechuan Restaurant
5/28Cooked at bnb
5/29Cooked at bnb
5/30AnjuKorean Fusion
5/31Velvet CafeSandwich / Coffee


Downtown / City

Although more populated (metro) than Vancouver, the city is much more spread out and doesn’t feel crowded at all (surbubia). The downtown while wandering around was mostly empty.

5/22/19 – Downtown Calgary

The surrounding parts of the city have ample space and parks to wander around with little to no folks.

5/29 – View from Rose Hill Park

Banff – Day 1

If you don’t like the outdoors, then Calgary probably isn’t for you. This was the main reason for us to come to Calgary and the National Parks did not disappoint. Very glad we came right at the beginning of the summer season as it was just starting to get crowded however once you get away from Banff town, crowds died down quite a bit.

  • Driving in
  • Johnston Canyon Hike

Banff / Jasper – Day 2

  • Drive to Jasper and back with many many stops

Banff – Day 3

  • Sulfer Mountain Hike

Slightly challenging but this was probably the highlight of the trip for me. This hike was amazing the entire way with views that only get better the more I climbed. Summit, although crowded because of the Banff gondola with cafe as well, is well worth a visit for 360 views. (Free if you hike :))


Public transportation is not all that great. We mostly used Car2G0 with car rentals for trips to Banff/Jasper. Also Uber/Lyft is available but a little pricey.


As I mentioned before, the national parks are what made the trip worth it. Otherwise, city and some UNESCO heritage sites could be knocked out in a few days. We didn’t get a chance to go to the Dinosaur Park, however read good things about that.


Without question it may be said of Vancouver that her position, geographically, is Imperial to a degree, that her possibilities are enormous, and that with but a feeble stretch of the imagination those possibilities might wisely be deemed certainties.

A. N. Homer


Dwelling $729


April 27 2019 – May 18 2019
21 Days


We stayed at an Airbnb:

What’s interesting here about housing is that rent is significantly cheaper (from some quick craigslist searches and the locals we spoke to) than owning. Also its very evident that foreign investors and money has taken over the real estate in this city :).


As usual we ate out quite a bit. Vancouver is a haven for asian cuisine, particularly Chinese Dim Sum. Its also safe to say you really can’t go wrong with seafood, especially oysters which were surprising cheap if you go during happy hours. Although Vancouver to locals is considered a more expensive city, to us it seemed cheap for two reasons: (1) After living in SF, everything seems cheaper and (2) USD when writing this post was quite strong 1:1.34 (USD:CAD).

DateNameTypeGoogle Maps
4/28Spring Garden Chinese
Triplo Os
Dim Sum
4/29Cooked at bnb
4/30Cooked at bnb
Charisma Dessert House
5/2Celina Fish and ChipsSeafood
5/3Biejiang RestaurantChinese
5/4Sun Sui Wah Seafood
Bangkok City Cafe
Dim Sum
5/5Kirin Dim SumDim Sum
5/6Cooked at bnb
5/7Go Fish
Brassneck Brewery
Fish n Chips
5/8Cooked at bnb
5/9Harbor Oyster + Bar
East Van Brewery
5/10Sushi AjiSushi
5/11Mr. Sushi
Brassneck Brewery
5/13Paramount Fine Foodsmediterranean
5/14Cooked at bnb
5/16Teppan KitchenChinese Fast Fod
5/18Spring ChineseDim Sum


Drive around burbs to north Vancouver

4/28/19 – Driving around Vancouver

The first thing we did since we had a rental for a few days was pretty much drive around most of the city and suburbs. We were quite lucky with the weather … of the three weeks we were there, only had two cloudy / rainy days. Rest were absolutely beautiful.

Bloedel Conservatory

Bloedel is touristy but worth visiting since its free (except the birds conservatory) and also had an amazing view of thew city. Although some spots are touristy, in general all of them really weren’t crowded or required much wait at all … love that about this city.

University of British Columbia

5/4/19 – Garden at UBC

Its becoming a trend as well to visit some local campuses (mostly cuz Avi wants to :)). Wish my campus was this nice…

Cypress Mountain Hike

5/5/19 – On the way to St. Marks Summit

Had to get at least one hike in, and this was definitely worth it. Views were the best so far in the stay and also quiet a good work out since the snow wasn’t all melted.

Stanley Park

5/18/19 – Beach at Stanley Park

This park is very well known and an amazing place to spend a few hours walking, biking, hiking, or chilling. Probably the most crowded place we visited in Vancouver, the views are completely worth it.


Majority of time we used public transportation (Buses and SkyTrain) and it was extremely easy. Two weekends we rented a car for convenience and for hikes / area we wanted to get to. Still extremely affordable. No Uber or Lyft here so you’re stuck with whats available, however the city has quite good coverage so it wasn’t that big of an issue. Oh also, sometimes with mixed and matched Car2Go as well.


Vancouver thus far has been one our favorite cities. It really has something for everyone and the best part is it doesn’t feel congested or overcrowded. Asian food was the main highlight along with the outdoor activities. Also couldn’t have asked for better weather.

Would have loved to do more challenging hikes but ran out of time to get to those. Also, heard great things about Vancouver island, however the high cost of taking a car and ferry there, we decided to pass.


I miss everything about Chicago, except January and February

Gary Cole

Just so you know, I (Shy) grew up in the burbs of Chicago, so this city is somewhat familiar…but actually staying in the city just has such a different vibe.


Dwelling $726.50

Fyi, high cost of food might be a trend. Food is a large part of traveling for us (like it is for majority of folks).


April 13 2019 – April 27 2019
14 Days


We stayed at an Airbnb:


DateNameTypeGoogle Maps
4/13 Portillo’s
Elephant and Castle
Italian beef and hotdogs
Pub / Bar
4/14Andy’s Thai Kitchen
Legend Tasty House
Joy Yee
4/15JJ Thai Street Food
4/16Cooked at bnb
4/17Taqueria Traspasada 2
Fat Rice
Scooters Frozen Custard
Asian / Portuguese
4/18Yuzu SushiJapanese
4/19Black Dogs
Jarlings Custard
Lai Lai Wok
Frozen Custard
4/20Cooked at bnb
4/21Cafe CentralPuerto Rican
4/22Silli Kori
Dona Natys Taco
4/23Cho Sun OkKorean BBQ
4/24Au ChevalBurgers
4/25Cooked at bnb
4/26PortillosItalian beef and hotdogs


Walk around downtown

This city is very walkable and if the whether is nice, holy smokes it has a nice view. Chicago isn’t just the loop but rather about the neighborhoods that surround it, each with its unique characteristics.

More SNOW!

4/14/19 – Snowing outside the bnb

Wouldn’t be the midwest without some snow in April 😉

Day-trip to alma mater (UIUC)

4/19/19 – Train departing Chicago Union Station
4/19/19 – Main Quad at UIUC

Nostalgic seems to be the appropriate word to describe being back here. (Avi has a separate post for Urbana-Champaign with more details). Its funny how your perspective and thoughts change as you grow older and visit a place that had such an immense impact on your life. Obviously both of us had very different experiences here. Avi was, as Elsa from Indiana Jones would say say … “giddy as a school [girl]”. My most memorable times here aren’t about the education or classes, or even the walking around campus, but rather the time I spent with my friends and the relationships built here that contributed to the person I am today. I was going to write more about this journey, but I think Avi has more to say about it than me 😉 … food was still amazing and exactly how i remember, except much more expensive =(.

Walk the Lakeshore trail

4/21/19 – Lakeshore trail in Chicago

Damn … I wish I did this more often. If the weather cooperates, there are several amazing parks and trails around the city but this one tops them all. Walking along this route with the lake on one side and the spectacular Chicago skyline on the other is quite a privilege.


CTA and Uber were our primary modes of transportation. Along with a few friends we knew in town who were kind enough to drive us around occasionally. This city has amazing public transportation.


Chicago is definitely a foodie city! There really is food from all around the world here just like NYC and at a fairly reasonable price. Its very easy to get around with excellent public transportation, food is much cheaper than SF or NYC, and the lakefront is definitely worth a visit. For what you pay, I wished when i lived in Illinois, it was in the city and not the burbs.

We decided to skip the museums, aquariums, etc since we’ve already visited those before, but they are well worth a visit if you’ve never been.


Have you visited an art museum recently? Did they happen to have a Monet? Did it look anything like these:

Water Lily Pond 1900 – Art Institute of Chicago
Nymphéas 1905 – Art Institute of Chicago

I’ve got nothing against Monet but too often I see his water lily collection. I am at the point where I am really tired of seeing the same type of painting everywhere. In this situation I was happy to report that there was a bit of variety in this exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Minneapolis has two seasons: road removal and snow repair

Steven Brust

So it begins … our first stop is Avi’s hometown and he was very adamant about wanting to spend some time here. So we compromised on staying for a for a week 🙂 … because let’s be real, there are a lot more interesting places than Minneapolis.

April 5 2019 – SFO International

Since this is our absolute first post and we have never really written a blog or shared much of our lives on any sort of digital means I (Shy) wanted to cover how we are going to structure each post. For me, its really important to document the following (per person):

  • Cost of the total stay in the city
  • Amount of time spent
  • Lodging / where did we stay
  • What did we eat (eating out and groceries)
  • What did we do
  • How did we get around? (including flights)
  • Lastly, but not required, recommendations

Why you ask? Well this is a replacement at the moment to actually living in a city (based out of the US) and renting an apartment etc. Obviously this will cost more than staying lets say in a low cost of living US based city however it allows us to travel. To give ourselves some constraint, we enforce a budget.

Lastly, we’re working remotely while traveling, so some weekdays will be pretty boring :p


Dwelling $288.66


April 6 2019 – April 13
7 Days


Avi stayed with his parents.
I stayed at an Airbnb:

I think i got lucky with this airbnb, since it was on the cheaper side but was located in Eagan which is ~20 mins outside of the city center.


DateNameTypeGoogle Maps
4/6HobanKorean BBQ
4/7Wally’s Falafel and Hummus
The Red Sea
Greek / Mediterranean
4/8Cooked at bnb
4/9Simplee PhoVietnamese
4/10Cooked at bnb
4/11Doolittle’s Woodfire GrillAmerican / BBQ


Walk around Downtown and University of Minnesota

April 7 2019 – Shoe Tree at University of Minnesota
April 7 2019 – Drive to Downtown

Met some animals

I have to say this was definitely one of the highlights of this trip for me. Got to meet some snakes, rabbits, rats, and more. I’ll let pics do the talking but if you’re really interested in this one, ask us or or leave a comment.

Stayed in because … snow storm in April!

April 12 2019 – Slowly snowing in Minneapolis

Love the upper midwest 😉 … gotta admit I didn’t see this one coming but we got about 10″ of snow over two days. So, instead of wandering out in the cold slushy spring, we decided to just spend them inside and catchup on some reading. Global warming perhaps?


Avi had a car at his home base, so he was kind enough to take me places 🙂
We also knew a close friend here, he also put up with us.


Honestly, its hard to recommend Minneapolis as a visitors destination for more than a day or two. I didn’t get a chance to go up north towards the lake or be near the woods so can’t really speak to that but its really my only regret. Also not really a big shopper so I stayed the fuck away from Mall of America or any of the outlet malls (seriously those are everywhere).

Flying Taxes

One of the things I’ve started to notice when flying on points is the amount you pay in taxes when booking a flight. Usually when you buy a full priced ticket you tend to not notice the miscellaneous fees at the bottom of your receipt. Depending on where and how your flying these “hidden fees” can significantly increase the cost of your ticket. I once paid about $160 in taxes when flying to Paris from San Francisco (round trip).

San Francisco-Paris Round Trip Fee Schedule

You would expect that these sort of fees would be associated with the countries whose airports you fly in and out of… well I recently discovered that this doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s a domestic Canadian flight I booked from Vancouver to Calgary.

Vancouver to Calgary Receipt

The line marked Flight Segment Tax – United States really threw me off. Why would I be paying $4.20 to Uncle Sam when I’m flying domestic in Canada. This was clearly a mistake, I bought the ticket on the Air Canada US site and figured their software somehow bugged out on me. A few minutes of googling made me realize that this was not a bug at all and completely legal. It turns out US citizens are charged this tax if they fly domestic in Canada and Mexico over a designated buffer zone near the border.