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Basque Country

TravelKelly Kennedy

Beautiful beaches, delicious food and laid back locals made Basque Country and ideal vacation. Located in norther Spain near the boarder to France, Basque Country is an autonomous region of Spain with it's own culture and language. While I stayed in Bilbao, I traveled around the whole region for a week and came back with some recommendations. 

The most beautiful hike I did while traveling was San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. The hike from the bus stop was about 7 miles round trip, so I would recommend wearing the right shoes. The end of this hike is a staircase (that you might recognize from GOT) that leads to a petite church dedicated to John the Baptist. It's said if you ring the bell of the church three times you can make a wish. This is an absolute must for a visit to this region. 


A wonderful over night or weekend trip in this region would be San Sebastian, which is a beautiful beach town. It has some of the most stunning views I've ever seen and the most scrumptious Pintxos I had my entire trip. I recommend taking the funicular up Mount Igeldo, this will give you THE BEST views of the city.  The bottom of Mount Igeldo is a 20 minute walk from the beach. The San Telmo Museum taught me so much about Basque Country but it's not a museum that will blow you away, if you're crunched for time or would rather enjoy the beach, you can skip this.

The best Pintxos in town are at Las Cepas, Mejollonera and Teberna Dakara Bi. My dinner was from Taberna Dakara Bi which had no seating inside but I stood at a table outside to enjoy my bites of joy. 


The Oma Forest was unlike anything I've seen, this beautiful hike through the quant countryside ends at Bosque Animado, a grouping of trees cleverly painted by Basque artist and sculptor Agustín Ibarrola in 1984. My favorite part was finding the spots to stand where images from multiple trees come together, like an eye or zig zag. It was playful, creative and really unique to this region. 


Most of my time on this trip was spent in wonderful Bilbao. The most important part of Bilbao  is the Guggenheim museum. This museum is what put this used-to-be-working-class-town on the map. It has a wonderful collection of modern art and is surrounding by public art on all sides, visible without buying a ticket. We visited during their Art After Dark event which had an incredible DJ and not too shabby bar to drink from.

For food I highly recommend eating at  Menu Del Dia, the wine and meal were incredible. Also the atmosphere was unstuffy but the building was intriguingly decorated. The best cafe I visited was Mami Lou, it had wonderful pastries and a great view (seen below).



TravelKelly Kennedy

Recently I visited my good friend from high school in her new city; Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is a wonderful city filled with great food, architecture, history and surrounded by natural beauty and I highly recommend a trip there. I'm also really happy I visited for a week, I was able to slow down and explore without any rush. I spent a day in Savannah and I honestly didn't enjoy that city as much. Below are a list of my favorite places to eat, visit and explore. 



The Battery


There is a long stretch of sea wall at the bottom of the Charleston peninsula called The Batter, it was build as a defensive sea wall during the civil war. Now it's a beautiful walk way with wonderful views of the sea and city and has a beautiful park; White Point Park. I would suggest walking along the walk way and spending a moment to do nothing at all in the park. White Point Park was lined with beautiful curling oaks and palm trees, it was a perfect place to enjoy a warm day. 





Gibbs Museum

The Gibbs Museum is a small fine art museum with pieces mostly made by American and some Mexican artists from the 19th century on.  The building it's self is beautiful, I'm a sucker for an interesting floor tile design. My favorite piece however was a a permanent installation by Patrick Dougherty. This piece called Betwixt and Between was made from local wood collected by volunteers and is inspired by Charleston many steeples.  



Boone Hall Plantation

This beautiful plantation is known for it's beautiful oaks covered in spanish moss that line the drive in. Many movies have been filmed on the property including The Notebook and hundreds of marriages happen there every year, including, more recently, Ryan Reynolds and Black Lively. This plantation is still a working farm, known for it's strawberries and tomatoes. But in it's heyday this plantation produced rice, bricks, pecans and cotton. 

There's a tour of the land and farm in a tractor pulled coach, a tour of the house and a Gullah presentation. All three are nice but the Gullah presentation was the most interesting to me, learning about the African American, specifically the Gullah history and culture was so informative. The pure beauty of the plantation is the main reason I would recommend visiting, trees and land are a site to see. 


Downtown Charleston 

There are a bunch of tourist-y things to do down town that should be a part of your trip, not matter how corny they are.  Some of those things include Rainbow Row (a collection of pastel colored homes in a row), City Market, Waterfront Park and the Old Slave Mart. You could include The Battery in this list but I think that's important enough to have it's own mention. The way I took in this historic and tourist-y area was just meandering around, getting lost in the back streets and stumbling upon a new historical site. The houses in this area are so beautiful it makes getting lost feel imporant. Click through the images below to see more of downtown. 

Angel Oak

This completely free attraction was one of the most beautiful. This tree is over 400 years old and is so large some of the limbs have grown into the ground and come back up. I can't emphesise how glad I am to have driven the 45 minutes to see this tree.


Bulls Island

I took a ferry from Coastal Expeditions that took about 30 minutes (the ferry was about a 30 min drive from Charleston) to get to Bulls Island. This is a remote island off the coast of the peninsula that has beautiful swamps and beaches. The ferry ride it's self was ecotourism and I learned about the ecosystem in the estuaries off the coast. 

Once you're on the island you can explore what ever you would like as long as you're back in time to catch the return ferry. The main attraction is Boneyard Beach, this beautiful beach with dead trees that have become like driftwood, but still stand tall as trees leaving the land scape to look like it's scattered with bones. I was also very fortunate to have run into an adult sized alligator and on the way home I saw a dolphin. This may have been my favorite part of my trip, highly recomended. 



Fast and French

Delicious french food that is fairly priced and, not surprisingly, comes quickly. The tables are shared so prepare to knock elbows with strangers.


An adorable cafe that has every hip food from acai bowls to avocado toast. I had the best chai tea latte (made with turmeric!), almond butter toast and roasted brussel sprouts. The seating is limited inside, but expansive outside, go on a nice weather day.


Vegan and Vegetarian food in a bohemian interior. They have some really interesting smoothy flavors and great pizzas. I had a berry smoothy and hummus plate. 

Back In The Day Bakery

This is the only place I ate in Savannah and it was my favorite part of my day trip there. I got biscuits and gravy (with an egg) and a lavender shortbread cookie. SO WORTH IT.


Lakeview/ Lincoln Park

TravelKelly Kennedy
Lincoln Park3.jpg

City Adventures 

After living in this city for a year now I feel the need to get a better feel for it's neighborhoods so I'm going to explore them on the weekends and give a little info on what I learned in these posts. 

Today I started in Lincoln Park and then ended in Lakeview. Right when I got into Lincoln Park I had a Glazed and Infused donut, thankfully this wasn't my taste of their donuts but it's still noteworthy. I highly recommend this donut shop, they're all over the city, not specific to this neighborhood. I then window shopped a couple different stores that caught my eye including Art Effect, The Tie Bar, Foxtrot Market and Vosges Haut Chocolate.  The Art Effect is great for gift giving, they have brands that are very much in style right now ( was around ever corner). The Tie Bar was a nice curated collection of mens clothing with a beautiful interior. Foxtrot Market caught my eye because it was attached to Jeni's Ice Cream (yummmmmm!), it had a small collection of high end food that made me want live off of $20 chocolate bars and $8 loaves of bread. Lastly Vosges Haut Chocolate had the most beautiful selection of chocolate and chocolate truffles I've seen since moving to Chicago, I can't wait to visit again when I have more of an apatite for rich chocolate. 

I then took the train four stops to Lakeview, kind of near Boystown. My first stop was at Belmont Army and I spend a good hour on the top floor which is entirely vintage. It was one of those vintage shops that had affordable prices and you had to search to find anything.  This would be a great stop for anyone looking for a costume. My last stop on the adventure was at La Boulangerie where I had two french macaroons (lemon poppy seed and salted caramel) and a chai tea while I read my book. The french macaroons were wonderful, soft and moist and full of flavor. The chai tea was from a mix, so it was average. 

All in all I really enjoyed these neighborhoods, they aren't my favorite in Chicago but I can certainly imagine going back, mostly to try more food though.