week 12 in madison

I can and cant believe that we've been in Madison for nearly three months. For the majority of our days, the quietness and the newness, and the focus on work slows down time in a way that's actually quite beautiful. On one hand, I love the illusion of longer days. On the other, this has felt like the longest winter of my life. March, with its four different sets of visitors, flew by at twice the pace of its two predecessors. Now, on the first day of April, there's still ice on the lake, but the patch of moving water grows wider with each passing day. Spring is taking her sweet time to arrive, but she's getting close.

On Tuesday afternoon, our friends Peter and Jessica arrived in town. They are some of the best, funniest people we know, and we've instantly loved them since we all met during our Master's program. They made the (11 hour!) drive down from Winnipeg, where Peter had flown to visit Jess from Montreal. We started our adult spring break in Madison, with a few days of food and drink and showing them around town.

Then the four of us jumped into a car and headed to Chicago, which is quickly becoming one of my favourite places. I just love it there. Maybe we'll try to find a way to move to the Windy City!

One of my favourite things about visiting new cities is exploring the endless strange and random establishments that are out there, like this rather deserted bar that inexplicably served us each a complimentary beer.

Travelling with friends who have simliar attitudes, energy levels and travelling styles is the key to an amazing trip. My friend Amanda at Not a Model wrote about this last week (also in reference to a Chicago trip with a great friend, coincidentally) and I couldn't agree more with her when she says, "always travel with people who get you."

All four of us share a philosophy that walking around for hours, stopping only for meals and cocktails, and also leaving any downtown core to explore neighbourhoods is the best way to see a city. Museums and other attractions are great, but not for the first time you visit a city. The first time should be about just soaking up as much of the vibe as you can, wandering with and without purpose, taking it all in. And that we did.

This gastropub, Hopleaf, was incredible. If you go, try the Duck Reuben, or the CB&J, and wash it down with any of their staggering selection of beers.

We took the long way home from Chicago, through Milwaukee, stopping for lunch at the public market and wandering for a few hours before heading back to Madison.

Peter and Jess, it is beyond amazing that you guys made the drive down to visit us. Truly, it means the world to us. And that was pretty much the best trip ever. Can't wait for our next visit!