Holiday Highlights: Illinois

I spent my third year studying abroad at the University of Richmond. With an early August start date, it was the perfect opportunity to visit my St Andrews friends in their hometowns. Chicago was my first stop, with an airport arrival fittingly baptised with grilled cheese and Arnold Palmers. In the USA for the first time, I was marvelling at everything from traffic lights to the sound of the cicadas, but here are some holiday highlights and travel suggestions that extend beyond road signs and critters!

An Englishwoman In New York

Over Spring Break I celebrated turning 21 by going to a country where turning 21 is still a big deal, America. As someone who had never left Europe, but has been exposed to American images and pop culture all my life, I had pretty high expectations. And the concrete jungle where dreams are made of didn’t let me down. Our home for four days, Hotel Edison, luckily found on deal, is amazing. Completely art-deco, it retains that old school charm, with a stunning lobby, original features, unique rooms and the most authentic feeling 1930s jazz bar. The Rum House really was a treasure in the trip; live music every night in a cosy bar with expertly made cocktails. It was clearly a hit with the locals too, as by the late evening it was always packed with New Yorkers and hotel guests. On our first morning, we were up bright and early and indulged at a very American diner. My plate was stacked high with (delicious) blueberry pancakes served with maple syrup and butter on the side. Really only one meal a day is necessary with American portion sizes. We spent the day exploring touristy Midtown. Times Square; Grand Central Terminal, which is like stepping through a time warp; New York Public Library, so ornate and an excellent shop; and MoMA, we only explored two floors of impressionism, cubism and early modern art but still saw some of the art world’s greatest treasures, and also paused for soup at the café, which may sound like an odd recommendation, but it was excellent and had a fantastic view of the city. Then just before sunset we went along to Rockefeller Center to get the view from the Top of the Rock. Opting for this rather than the Empire State Building meant that you actually get to see the Empire State Building, although the Chrysler Building was irritatingly obscured from full view.