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
($100 / day)

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.


The Quad at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Always great to be back in Urbana Champaign, a college town in the middle of rural Illinois where I spent four amazing years as an undergrad. The metropolitan area has been marketed as a “micro-urban” community formed a result of the college student population here.


Black Dog Smoke and Ale House

No trip to Champaign is complete without a trip to Black Dog Smoke and Ale House. Make sure to get their burnt ends because they do run out!


Well this was mostly a nostalgia trip but the blog is titled IlliniAbroad and we can’t have a post without UIUC (they’ve since rebranded to “Illinois”, but for those of us who were around during the controversial “Chief” era it’ll always be UIUC) in there.

The Alma Mater and Altgeld Hall

This post took way too long to do. I acknowledge this.


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
($115 / day)


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.