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.

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.