Europe Recap Part 1!

It has been so long since my last blog post, that I literally forgot the website.  I couldn’t remember if i was on Blogspot.com or WordPress or something else!

Europe was a blast!  As expected 🙂  Coming back to the May accounting close & second half of the year forecast deadline all in four days….has not been a blast.  I’m absolutely slammed at work!  (What’s new?)  A little birdie told me that someone in Minnesota may be anxiously waiting though to hear about my trip so I thought I’d get started blogging about it! 🙂

Since there is SO much to share, I’m going to break it down city-by-city.  That way it isn’t too overwhelming for me or for you guys!  I’m going to try and do at least one post per day, maybe more, but either way….it’s going to take a while to get it all out there since we went to seven countries.  Oh and the pictures!  I’ll put some favorites on the blog, but I have, if I had to guess, about 10,000 photos from the trip.  (See parents– the nice, beautiful Canon you guys all got me was a great investment!!)  When I figure out the best website to post them all up on, I’ll add the link to the blog, so that people can browse through every last one of them if they’d like.

So now onto Stop 1: Chicago!

Hold up!  “Chicago?  I thought this was a Europe trip?!” you may find yourself asking.  Well, you see, on the way to Europe, I had a wonderful pitstop in Chicago that I was very excited about.

My mom and I departed super early for our adventure.  We had a 5:30AM flight from Phoenix to Chicago!  Instead of sleeping, I pulled an all-nighter because my thought was that if I could get myself tired enough for the Chicago –> Paris flight, I would actually be able to sleep on it!  (Which I did!  Yay!  However, going into the flight with 36+ hours without sleep under my belt, was a bit rough.)

Nothing too exciting happened on the flight beyond the fact that my master plan to not sleep until our transatlantic flight didn’t take into consideration that I should probably take my contacts out at some point.  So boy were my eyes burning!

Once in Chicago we headed downtown right away to meet up with my good friend from college, Firas, who I usually call “Funbuddy.”  (Why?  Because we always have fun together, duh.  We are fun buddies!)  What makes this extra, super duper special and amazing is that Firas doesn’t live in Chicago.  He lives in Kuwait. He just happened to be in Chicago for some work matters while I just happened to have a layover in Chicago at the same time.  Talk about pure perfect fate!!!!

When I figured out that he would be in Chicago when I was, I was crazy excited!  Like I-jumped-on-my-bed-with-glee excited.  Firas and I met only my last semester of college, through my random Craigslist roommmates, that I found after coming back from Manchester.  We had the same friends so we would see each other when we went out, but it wasn’t until after graduation, during the few summer months before we both started work, that we really bonded.  Looking back, as we reminisced about things at lunch, we both realized that we really only had a few months together, and it’s crazy how great of friends we became.  I don’t think I have ever become so close with someone over such a short time period before, and I don’t think I ever will.  Firas and I just really “clicked.”  We got each other.

Sadly though 😦 after just a few months of irreplaceable memories together, Firas headed off to Singapore for a great finance job.  So meeting up for lunch was the first time we would be seeing each other in about 18 months!

We met for lunch right on Michigan Avenue in the heart of the city!  My mom came to lunch too, along with Firas’ girlfriend, Elena.  (Elena is from Italy so she was able to give us some great tips for our pending trip!)  It was really awesome to meet Elena in person– after knowing of her for a while–, and it was also cool for my mom to meet someone she has heard about, but not met either!  We had so much fun getting caught up, sharing stories with my mom & Elena, talking about future plans, etc.  I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time, and I couldn’t imagine a more fun, more perfect start to my big vacation.

Funbuddy and I!
My mom, Firas, me, and Elena at lunch

IMG_3676

Despite how happy the lunch was, I couldn’t stop thinking though about how much I had missed my conversations with Firas.  I truthfully didn’t realize how much of an absence I felt in my life with him not in AZ, until we hung out again at lunch.  At the time when he moved to Singapore, I had just started at Intel, and I was so wrapped up in work that I didn’t seem to notice anything else going on around me.  I let life pass me by, always thinking that tomorrow or the next day I could Skype with him or forgetting to text him back until months had gone by sometimes.  I was obviously very sad when we were packing up his apartment together and planned to stay in perfect contact with him….but I truly 100% dropped the ball.  I wasn’t a good friend to Firas.  I haven’t been a good friend to him for the past year and a half that he hasn’t been a car ride away, and I regret it.  While I can’t turn back the clock and fix things, I am going to make a huge effort to be the type of friend that he deserves every day in the future.  Friends like him don’t come around often.

After lunch, my mom and I had another hour to kill, so we headed off to Millennium Park to see “the bean,” of course, and also so I could admire the concert hall there, that was designed by my favorite architect, Frank Gehry.  Then we walked up the road just a teeny bit so that I could see Gleacher Center– home of the University of Chicago’s Booth Business School….aka where I really hope to get my MBA sometime in the near future 🙂  Spending time in the city really solidified my desire to move there for my MBA and even perhaps indefinitely!  I just really like it there.

Mom & I at the bean!
Mom & I at the bean!
Goofing off :)
Goofing off 🙂
The silver swirly stuff is Frank Gehry's concert hall
The silver swirly stuff is Frank Gehry’s concert hall
There she blows! Booth!!  My future MBA school :)
There she blows! Booth!! My future MBA school 🙂

Finally it was back to the airport to head off to Paris!!

I was obsessed with the lights above the moving walkway in the airport
I was obsessed with the lights above the moving walkway in the airport
And we're off!!
And we’re off!!
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