I’m privileged to travel to US twice. Both at a perfect time.
My first trip was in Spring of 2004. I was barely in my twenties and I was sent for our school’s Student Exchange Program to San Antonio, Texas. For one month. Oh that American University life – staying in a dorm, doing my own laundry, exploring Downtown on weekends (or going to Six Flags and Sea World) and attending classes on weekdays. No adult supervision. A unique experience I will never forget. And then my friend’s aunt was kind enough to host my stay in Los Angeles for another month.
Eleven years later, I flew to visit my best friend and another good friend of mine who had established their lives in US. Am so proud of them. My best friend works for Southwest Airlines in Texas and my good friend runs her own home care agency in Chicago now. They’re such a lovely host. Couldn’t thank them enough.
I’d like to share (and recount) my Top 10 Favorites in US – food, places, neighborhood, experience or just about anything nice!
1) Manhattan Beach, California – Well anything beach side, I love it. Such a beautiful neighborhood (of the rich). The Downtown is a stretch of cafes, shops, restaurants, surf rentals and souvenir stores. Beautiful houses face the beach. On weekends, locals hang out to swim, sun bathe, surf, play volleyball, bike and hang around. Everything just emits good vibes.
2) Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona – we took the Las Vegas route, rented a car and drove 4 hours to Tusayan, Arizona passing Hoover Dam on the way. Boy was it majestic!
3) Horse Shoe Bend, Arizona – Also within Arizona but boy we traveled 31/2 hours to get here passing Utah to reach Page, Arizona. But absolutely worth it.
4) Outlets – Who does not love shopping?! What’s fantastic is when they say SALE, they mean serious SALE! When you’re ready to purchase at discounted price then it goes 50% off more on the counter. Woohoo!
5) Chicago – My favorite city in this trip! I like big and busy cities. Especially if it overlooks a body of water! You can reach Downtown Chicago by train and you can go around by foot (and event by boat). I like their city parks. I like the arrays of cafes, restaurants and architectural buildings.
6) Shake Shack – That famous burger joint in East Coast! I’m not a burger fan but THIS is making me one. This is the best burger I’ve ever eaten. And I want to go back to US now for this. They promise to only use 100% all-natural Angus beef. No hormones and no antibiotics ever. Best part also is they serve mushroom burger for vegetarians. I hope they open in Manila.
7) Evanston – This is a city next to Chicago where my friend used to live. She brought me here and I’m in love. It’s a beautiful neighborhood — the sprawling Northwestern University, the beautiful houses, arrays of cafes and small shops. Furthermore, Lake Michigan extends here which gives this place a charming beach spot where you can swim or simply hang out.
8) Carnival – Nope, not the circus but the name of the Cruise Line that can bring you to Bahamas, Mexico, Alaska, Caribbean and the likes. It’s so easy to plan, book and get onboard. Because we couldn’t get a flight to NYC, we decided to go on a weekend cruise to Ensenada, Mexico. We were ready to book for Bahamas but unfortunately the departure date did not sync with my schedule. We booked just 3 days before the departure. I will share the cruise details on my next entry.
9) Tres Leches – I first tasted this cake in 2004 and it has not left my mind since! It’s divine. Seriously.
10) Whole Foods Market – Superfoods, organic products, vegan options housed in one place. Heaven!
There you have it, it’s not so much about the tourist landmarks. This trip has made me appreciate slow travel – taking my time and getting the vibe of the place more than rushing from one landmark to the next. This way, I still know what felt that very day.