Honeymoon: Chicago Top 5

Andrew: The honeymoon entries continue after a long hiatus due to house-moving. At the rate we’re going, we will never ever get to anything happening this year. Here’re our Chicago Top 5:

1. Anand

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(Anand and I having a serious conversation… Not sure about what though – I think it’s food?)

Jasmine: Obviously, not an attraction per se, but Anand really went out of his way to show us his city through his eyes. A quick summary of some of the fun times we had (it has to be quick or we will never get to the remaining top 4 spots in Chicago!):

From inviting us to his home to try a Chicago classic –deep dish pizza:

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To introducing us to the best food spots in Chicago…

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Southern Food @ Wishbone (above 2 pics – Shrimp and Grits and beans + cheese with rice)

IMG_0515     An egg-themed breakfast place

To “guided” walking and driving tours around the city (warning: photo deluge ahead. Thanks Anand for also being our photographer!)…

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To getting us into the gorgeous Art Deco Chicago Stock Exchange where he works…

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To helping us find a better hotel because the one we’d originally booked was in a rather quiet and unsafe location (Andrew: This hotel had a fantastic gym too!)…

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(Sorry, could not resist showing off another pair of Betsey Johnson stockings, with stripes on one leg and floral print on the other)

…Anand was the last word in hospitality. Thanks Anand!

Andrew: As Anand would say, he couldn’t make it to Singapore for our wedding, so we flew all the way up to meet him instead. Heh. We really had a great time catching up and enjoying the sights of Chicago. Thanks Anand! We’re waiting for you to come back in December, so we can show you our place and go to Ja’an together.

2. The Bean

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Jasmine: To me, the Bean succeeds as a public art installation, as it is accessible, both in terms of location, and as a public art piece that can be enjoyed by both the art fanatic and the average tourist alike. We had fun walking around the Bean and finding the best spots to snap pictures, looking at how the iconic Chicago cityscape was reflected at different angles by the curved mirrored surfaces!

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Andrew: It was also only at the Bean where we managed to get a shot of the 3 of us:

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3. Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture

Jasmine: I’ve admired the work of the two “Franks” in architecture –Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry—since I was a young girl, and could not pass up the chance to visit two (very different) Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings in his birthplace, Chicago! Anand was kind enough to rent a car and come along with us for the day.

Jasmine: We drove out to the University of Chicago campus to visit Robie House, which is renowned as one of the most important Modernist buildings in American architectural history. Robie House may seem unassuming from the outside, but its low-hanging, vertilinear form made it a forerunner of Wright’s Prairie style (the first truly American architectural style), especially in an age where European buildings were ornate and tall, like the house with complex French scrollwork next door, which the tour guide pointed out for contrast. To the contrary, Wright believed that architecture should consider, complement and blend gracefully into its surroundings.

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Jasmine: Believing that the interior should connect seamlessly with the exterior, Wright also designed almost all the furniture and light fixtures in the rooms, which were much larger than expected.

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Jasmine: I was actually more smitten with the Rookery, and ironically it wasn’t even an original Wright building, but one that Wright had remodelled while preserving the ornamental ironwork of the original architects, Burnham and Root. Here’s a pic in which you can see the fantastically updated light court in the central lobby:

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 4. Entertainment: Second City and Blue Man Group

Jasmine: As Andrew has said, the entire honeymoon was like one extended date, so we also thought we would catch a couple of shows in Chicago.

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The front row seats we never asked for!

The first was Second City, which is actually a stand-up comedy club from which many Saturday Night Live (SNL) comedians are born. I particularly liked the segment tackling issues of privacy in the age of social media. This comedian came onstage and seemed like he was just getting to know an audience member by asking him a couple of innocuous questions. However, his questions became more pointed, e.g. “is that you girlfriend” and “were you guys discussing so-and-so game before this”, and he finally disclosed that he knew all this because he had put on a hat and sat behind them before the show started! The look of horror and utter befuddlement on the audience member’s face was beyond words.

Then in closing, even I got a mention, when he swivelled round to me (we were front row and now I know why they placed us there) and said, “Isn’t that right, Jasmine Ong from Ministry of Education Singapore who wants to honeymoon in Namibia?” (That’s all from my FB, by the way.)

Andrew: There was a mix of political satire of Obama (which was really hilarious) with downright crude slapstick humour – some hits and misses, but overall it was a new experience watching stand-up comedy.

Jasmine: For Blue Man Group, I was more impressed with the run-up to the show than the show itself. Andrew and I were remarking about the benefits of building your own permanent performance venue, as it meant you could customise everything.

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This was evident even in the lobby, which was decorated in a Steampunk, utilitarian way, which hinted at the show’s emphasis on our ever-changing interactions with technology and the world around us.

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Andrew: The show itself was an completely new experience that defies categorisation into any art form. The only word I can use to describe it is crazy – not in a bad way, but in a ‘out of this world’ way. Just to give a hint of how crazy it is, the whole performance ends off with huge beach-balls being tossed around the theatre by audience members, huge rolls of toilet roll just being pulled from the back of the stage to the front and a dizzying mix of music and lights that ends the show on a very absorbing and frenetic note. You come out of the show wondering what exactly you had just watched! We couldn’t really say if it was good or not, but just that it was something you had to watch because there was nothing like it ever.

 5. 1-on-1 photography workshop with Jason Wolf

Jasmine: I wanted to find an extra-special Christmas present for Andrew, one that would give him an unforgettable experience. When researching the trip, I noticed that Jason Wolf, a Chicago photographer, was the #1-rated attraction on Tripadvisor, displacing even the Bean and the Art Institute! Jason offers (more affordable) group workshops almost all year round- except in the dead of winter, which was when we’d be in Chicago. Haha! Thankfully, Jason was available for a 1-on-1 session with Andrew, who had told me months ago that he was curious about photography workshops. I was even more convinced when I realised that Jason Wolf conducts all his workshops outdoors, combining tips and tricks on photo-taking with seeing the sights on foot. I’ll leave it to Andrew to share how the workshop went, but I can vouch that Andrew’s camera skills have improved much since then!

Andrew: Thanks Dearie for the unique Christmas present! The workshop with Jason Wolf was an eye-opener indeed. We walked almost exactly the same route that Dearie, myself and Anand had walked the day before during our city tour, but with Jason Wolf around, he showed me different ways I could compose the same shots I had taken the day before and how I could play around with the various modes of my camera based on the lighting of the area.

Experimenting with Perspectives

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Conventional shot up front

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Two different ways to position and frame the signage to make it more prominent and striking

He really offered very good one-on-one service, with a follow-up email after the workshop with additional tips and feedback after our session.

IMG_0752Another shot of The Bean with Jason Wolf’s tips on using ‘focal lines’ and adjusting exposure/aperture

In addition to it being a very fruitful morning photography-wise, it was also a great time getting to know someone from the US. He was getting married soon so he was sharing some of the wedding customs and he was surprised at the size of our wedding dinners and all the customs we go through to get married in Singapore! He also shared with me his interesting journey of how he got into photography full time. I believe it’s the great service he offers that earns him that prime spot in TripAdvisor. If you’re ever in Chicago and want a photo workshop, make sure you book a tour with Jason Wolf. He does group tours as well 🙂 Thanks Dearie for the wonderful Christmas gift!

Jasmine: And in closing, we’ll leave you with some shots of the most amazing dark chocolate with actual bacon pieces, from Vosges (recommended by Anand) 

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and the Christmas market (which we went to on a freezing cold day) …

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Successful attempt at self-shot at the Christmas market

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