Monthly Archives: October 2014

Exploring Ukrainian Village: St. Volodymyr Cathedral

Chicago - Photography

On a cloudy, cold day I decided to get out of the house for a bit and see what Open House Chicago was all about. It was a great, free way to see many churches, mansions, and meeting rooms. These two cathedrals in Ukrainian Village inspired me the most out of all of the spots that I visited. The day did not go exactly as I planned (I did not get to see as many of the Open House spots as I wanted), but I’m glad it went the way it did. Even though it was chilly and gloomy, I’m glad I stayed close to home and decided to visit these cathedrals anyway.

Weekend at the Art Institute

Chicago

This past weekend I visited the Art Institute. It’s one of my favorite places in the city, and a place that I don’t go often enough, if I’m honest. I love museums and old houses. Oddly, they are both places I would rather go than the beach or a concert (barring classical music in the park, or a venue like Ravinia– who could say no to that?) no matter what season it is.

When I do visit I try to see the new exhibit, whatever is in the photography wing, something that randomly catches my eye that I have not looked up beforehand, and the Thorne Miniature Rooms. In this case I did not get to see Magritte, which was very disappointing as it’s been there for months and I have no excuse. But I did get to see an exhibit of Japanese prints that were very cool. They were quite scary and I loved it. See the gallery below to get a taste of what I saw.

I like the museum because there is a mix of those things that never go away and never get old (Thorne Miniatures anyone?) and things like Magritte which only come along once in awhile, and which are invaluable. The museum has something for everyone, whether you like European art, like the kind that you see in old churches, or modern art. There is something for the photography buff, and tons for kids as well. When I travel, I don’t think twice about going to see as many museums as I can, and see as many exhibits as I can, because I’m trying to take full advantage of where I am, and I want to make it valuable. This changes with age of course. The trip I took to Williamsburg when I was 12 is a lot different than the one to London at age 21 and will be different from ones I take in the future.

But while I’m home, I can still create that sense of taking in as much as I can, and taking advantage of where I live.

eDLHCtzRR0yfFtU0BQar_sylwiabartyzel_themap

Travel Bunny: Being an explorer in your own city

Chicago

About two weeks ago, I was walking south on Wabash ave, and I passed the Richard H. Driehaus Museum and St. James Cathedral and I was struck how easy it would be to be an tourist explorer in my own city. I have wanderlust in the classical sense. It’s been over a year since I have been overseas, and it’s the longest I have ever gone without a trip of that kind, and just like other people get sad in the winter when there is no sun, I get sad when I cannot travel. Not in a spoiled princess kind of way…I just love to travel. I feel like I become a fuller, better version of myself when I’m exploring the globe.

Life (and finances) being what they are I have had to cut back and I have not been overseas in a long while. But passing this museum, and the church, and thinking about all the times I could be using my Art Institute Membership but don’t, and I thought why not start visiting these places and the wanderlust, the “travelbug”, will be satisfied, at least in the interim.

This past weekend I visited Geneva, Il and I had the familiar feeling I get when I travel, especially when I travel somewhere by myself (my favorite). It’s excitement mostly, but also a kind of calm. A bit dramatic, but there it is.eDLHCtzRR0yfFtU0BQar_sylwiabartyzel_themap

I took the Metra for the first time, and a little over an hour later, I was in a small town, walking up a quaint street, toward Penrose Brewery. I’d never been to Penrose before, and I’d never been to Geneva, IL either so everything was new and even though it was ‘just the suburbs’, I had a fabulous time shopping the historical district and walking around town. When I arrived back home I felt like I’d taken a mini trip and I savored the feeling.

This post is to introduce a the new direction my blog will be taking. I will be exploring Chicago, and on occasion other places too — spas, museums, art galleries, churches, cafes, boutiques, parks,  landmarks, and restaurants. Winter doesn’t have to drive you inside, and now that festivals are winding down, and the pool is no longer an option, revisiting you love for modern art, 60’s fashion, or art-deco housing seems like a fantastic idea.

Follow me around Chicago and learn to love home just as much as you pine for the exotic locations abroad.

Gym Rabbit: One Month of Classpass

Chicago - Women

This past month I got to try Classpass for 30 days, and I have to say it was pretty amazing. For the first two weeks of the month I pushed everything but my 9-5 job to the side to work out almost daily, at different gyms. My body, which was previously only used to doing barre workouts, got a cruel reminder about what it is like to be out of shape. I’d gotten into a sort of rut. Not that I don’t love my current gym, and not that I will not continue going there, but I liked the ‘reset button’ aspect of going to different gyms, and getting reminded and retrained and ready to return to my gym with a renewed attitude to push it to the next level.

The best thing, for me, about Classpass is it kept things interesting. I couldn’t get bored with one type of class, because I was doing every kind of class– and I didn’t have to buy separate memberships to enjoy multiple workout styles.

Here is a list of the gyms I hit and my takeaways from each:

Flywheel Chicago x1

Pros: This was a fun class. A very fun class. Even though I had to adjust my bike numbers way down from what the teacher called out during the class, it was still an extremely effective workout. I signed up to have my name on the board at the front of the room, and my competitive nature got a workout too. After the first 5 mins the hare was definitely knocked down a peg or two and was more tortoise thereafter but that didn’t stop me from giving 100% and trying to at least stay on the board.

Cons: It’s tiny.The locker area is tiny, the classroom is tiny, and the dressing rooms– there are only two. So if you are not early you are waiting in line to get changed. Also there is little room to wait, so when the class before lets out, you are standing right in their way as they exit.

AIR Fit x3

Pros: Fun and a great workout. The class itself is a great vibe, and all the instructors really know how to push you to your limits. During one class I had the teacher standing underneath the hammock screaming at me to pull, pull, pull. And I did, and I got up into a formation that I didn’t think I could do. By the end, I was really proud of myself and wishing Santa would bring me a lifetime membership this Christmas. 😉

Cons: If you are just starting,even the beginner class can make you feel a bit foolish. Many of the students in the classes I took seemed way more advanced than I, so I felt like I was only doing about 65% of the class. In my opinion, unless you go often (which in my case is cost prohibitive) go ready to have an open mind, and leave your competitive nature at the door.

Exhale Spa Chicago x3

Pros: I loved the space here, mostly because it felt like five-star treatment all the time. During class, Holly always made me feel like it was my private session (probably because I needed the most help!) and I appreciated that.

Cons: Other than a potential Classpass membership in the future, it’s too expensive for me to go on any kind of regular basis. I’ll have to stick to treating myself once in a while.

Moksha Yoga x1

Pros: I love Moksha because they know what they are doing and classes are always good no matter what level or style they are. I loved being able to juxtapose the cardio workouts I was doing, with the restorative yoga classes.

Cons: None that I could think of, though the Wicker Park location was a bit out of the way, and I ended up not waiting for the bus to take me to my 6pm class but did a fast walk down Armitage to Milwaukee instead. Was nice and warmed up by the time I arrived.

Gyms I was too exhausted to hit but wished I could have:

Shred415

I have only heard good things about this gym and hope to get in a work out in at one of their locations soon. By the time I signed up for this class it was the end of the second week of back to back, difficult work outs and I opted for brunch with a friend and a long walk instead.


As far as Classpass goes–I found out recently that the Chicago edition does not have the 10 class cap that other cities do (though the three times per gym rule still stands), making it a really excellent investment if you don’t want to run on a treadmill, or vie for weights at a crowded gym, don’t like running outside in the wintertime (or any time for that matter), and don’t want to get stuck doing the same type of workout again and again. I loved the variety and the way that my body responded to the great workouts. I think I doubled my calorie intake the month of September, alone– I most certainly doubled the grocery bill.

The only thing that’s stopping me is that I’m already a working member of a gym and the cost is just out of my reach. For many women, though, it’s an absolutely perfect deal, and if you are on the fence I say jump in and go for it! You can constantly rotate your workout, find your favorite spots, and maybe even make new friends at a gym you thought you’d never try otherwise.