A Love Jones Lover Chicago Bucket List

Have you ever watched the movie, Love Jones? It’s by far one of my favorite movies. Larenz Tate and Nia Long play Darius Lovehall and Nina Mosely, a couple who live in Chicago and go through the ups and downs of a pre-social media relationship. The two have a love for the arts and poetry and an undying passion for each other. Chicago is the unofficial main character of this movie as the places they frequent include Grant Park and the Wild Hare. I was inspired to go to Chicago because of this movie. I wanted to recreate all the moments Darius and Nina shared together. This has been one of my travel goals for years and it would finally happen. One Saturday when I was sick of dreaming, I booked my ticket for the memorial weekend. I would bring my professional camera with me to channel Nina and my mac computer to channel Darius. It would be the perfect infusion of what I love to do write and take pictures for a whole weekend.

A Love Jones Lover Bucket List

The Sanctuary

The Spoken Word Lounge, 1200 W 35th St., Chicago, IL 60609

The Sanctuary is a cool-cat nightclub where the hottest poets in town share their spoken words and deep thoughts. The smoked-filled room makes for the perfect introduction into the poetic mind of Darius Lovehall as he shares with the audience his “Blues for Nina.” Unfortunately, the Sanctuary is just an illusion and doesn’t actually exist. But there’s a huge spoken-word scene in Chicago.

The Wild Hare

2610 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614

Darius and Nina’s first date went down here. The Wild Hare is a Caribbean-inspired bar lounge located in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago. It’s particularly popular because of the live music that starts every night at 9PM. There’s a diverse crowd, from athletes wanting to enjoy an ice-cold Red Stripe to lovers conversing in the dimly lit corners of the venue. The walls are adorned with bright yellow, green and red hues and flags hanging from the ceiling. You can’t go wrong with the jerk chicken platter and a side of Jamaican beef patties. The Wild Hare’s mouthwatering menu is only enhanced by the sweet sounds of Bob Marley blasting through the speakers.

The Buckingham Fountain

301 S. Columbus Dr., Chicago, IL 60605

The lighting of the Buckingham Fountain is perfect for a romantic smooch. The fountain spouts every day from 8AM-11PM, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not named after the palace in London.

A Bookstore

Myopic Books 1564 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622

The scene of the crime… Darius is caught with another woman amongst the books here at one of Chicago’s oldest and largest used bookstores in the heart of Wicker Park. Definitely not a high point in the movie, but dramatic!

Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP)

600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605

While the location isn’t featured in the movie, the essence of photography is peppered throughout, which makes MoCP well worth a visit. Although the museum change exhibits about five times a year, the current exhibition, Dandy Lion: (Re) Articulating Black Masculine Identity, is a must-see. The photographs in this exhibit are reminiscent of Nina’s work (if she really existed).

Chicago Stepping Class

Steppersusa.com

Darius and Nina showed off their chemistry while on the dance floor. If you’ve never heard of stepping or you’re just intrigued by the art, consider taking a beginner’s steppers class while in Chicago. Classes are $10-$15, but you won’t be disappointed.

Black Stone Hotel

636 South Michigan Ave. (lobby entrance on East Balbo Avenue), Chicago, IL 60605

The Black Stone Hotel has definitely been upgraded since the filming of the movie but still has its original charm. Go for a drink at the bar and see if you can snag a peek into the very room where the Annual Steppers Ball took place.

Chill along the shores of Lake Michigan

63rd Street Beach 6300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, Illinois 60649

“You only get one true love… two tops.” Lake Shore Drive is the perfect spot to take in Chicago. Take a walk, think about the one that got away and how to get them back.

Love Jones

Ciao Venice!

In the villa, in Venice, sipping vino – Jay -Z

Imagine riding on a cold train for 14hrs, with nothing to eat or drink, just to pull up into the most majestic city you’ve ever seen, completely surrounded by a large body of water and colorful buildings. That was my experience upon reaching Venice and that extensive train ride was so worth it. When we got out of the Venezia Santa Lucia train station, I felt like I was in a fairy tale storybook. We walked over a bridge that crossed the Grand Canal and down a block to our hotel.

Kydee WilliamsThe first thing we did was EAT! We found a quaint restaurant close by and ate carbonara and a seafood platter filled with squid, octopus, and prawns. Venice food is so good.

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Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsAfter lunch, we went walking through Venice taking in its eloquence. Venice is so effortlessly beautiful.

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Kydee WilliamsWe wanted to buy wine and strawberries for our gondola ride just to set the mood. Luckily we didn’t have to search very far before discovering a supermarket where in addition to our wine we picked up Nutella. There was a Gondola man outside of the market who seemed cool and had a gorgeous boat so we did what anyone would do and tried to negotiate the 80 € price down before hopping on.
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IMG_2609Our Gondola ride was pretty awesome. We sailed along the Grand Canal, snapping flicks and listening to the history of Venice. We passed by the Marco Polo house, only to discover that Hollywood was there shooting a Marco Polo film. It was awesome to see all the actors dressed like they were living in the year 1295. The ride leads us under various bridges and secret passageways that unlocked the mystical charm of Venice. Our tour guide was super cool, until someone got Nutella chocolate on his hat and he went INSANE! He kicked us off his boat cussing us out in Italian. You had to see it to believe it.

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Kydee Williams
We had one more thing to do for the day and that was to find San Marco Square. Venice has signs on buildings with arrows that points you into various directions and you have to keep looking for these signs…it’s so bizarre and very easy to overlook.
Kydee WilliamsI think the city is a set up for getting lost. It’s something that will inevitably happen to you. We roamed the streets aimlessly sometimes following the crowds and other times just walking into desolate alley ways stopping at Gelato stands and bakeries along the way. Venice is weird like that, one minute you are surrounded by hundreds of people and other times you are on the streets completely alone.

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Kydee Williams

IMG_2710 Kydee WilliamsFinally, we discovered San Marco Square, the heart of Venice. The first thing we did was go inside St Marks Basilica. I walked to a pew and kneeled on the stand praying to God and thanking him for his blessings and traveling mercies. I then put holy water on my head and walked out. San Marco Square was filled with tourists, pigeons and amazing architecture.

Kydee Williams IMG_2722 Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsTrying to find our way back from San Marco Square to Santa Croce (the neighborhood of our hotel) ultimately meant we would get lost, yet again…only this time we were really lost. I guess I can cross Get Lost in Venice off my bucket list. We walked across the Rialto Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Venice. It was massive and the sun was setting over it which made it look extra magical. We then walked through a few alleyways, turning left and another left, walking straight down a path, crossing a bridge and walking along the Grand Canal until finally, we saw something we recognized…BURGER KING! In Venice, there was only one McDonalds and Burger King. It just so happens that our hotel was close by. We could finally breathe easily.
Kydee WilliamsThat night we had free cocktails at our hotel bar and talked candidly with the staff. It was after 10PM so we knew Venice had completely shut down but we found a restaurant close to our hotel who cooked us seafood spaghetti and carbonara. Magnifico!
Kydee WilliamsKy’s Verdict: I love Venice but I probably won’t be visiting here anytime soon. All I needed was that one day to experience this beautiful city but after that, I can see it becoming boring.