Pet Peeves while Flying

You never realize how uncomfortable flying is until you actually fly. I had the worst luck ever on the last flight that I took. It was a 12-hour flight to Abu Dhabi, with a baby relentlessly crying and a man sneezing the nastiest sneeze ever. But the worst of them all was the woman sitting next to me blowing her bloody nose. Neither her nor her husband had any regard for space as they comfortably allowed their heads and feet to touch my area, as if they were in the comfort of their own homes. What really took me over the edge was when I went to sleep and woke up next to her bag of dirty, bloody, tissues. AHHHHHHHHH! I desperately searched for a way out but to no avail for 4-hours. Finally, when I got up to go to the bathroom, I discovered a seat right in back of me, with a woman on the other side (two spaces in between us). Boy, was I excited about this; I moved instantly. The moral of the story is, don’t fly and be as anal as me. However, if you’re anal and still going to fly, find some tips below on what to do when you are in a really messed up situation en route to your destination:

  1. You have to tune annoying people out. Maybe watch a movie or TV show that your airline provides as a courtesy or better yet read a book with your headphones in.
  2. Speaking of headphones, music can be a great escape. You can essentially tune out the blowing of the noses and the sneezes if you blast your latest jams, over and over again.
  3. Force yourself to sleep. Kind of hard to do when you’re uncomfortable in the first place, but going to sleep can help the time pass some. In the past, I was able to go to sleep without an issue This time around, I was so uncomfortable it was very hard for me to stay asleep and every time I woke up, only a few minutes had actually passed.
  4. Show and tell that you’re uncomfortable. In my case, if it wasn’t for the language barrier I would’ve been able to say something but because this woman only spoke an Indian dialect, I wasn’t able to communicate my concern beyond the universal grunting and sighing.

I survived using these tips. Once I moved to the new seat, the rest of the flight was smooth sailing.

 

 

 

Afro Punk Fest 15′

When I think of Afropunk Fest, I think of FREEDOM! Which is why every summer, I look forward to this event at Commodore Barry Park. Nope, scratch that, I count down the days until this event, that’s how much it means to me. From the first time I attended Afropunk, it made me feel like I belonged somewhere. It represented a bunch of misfits, who dared to be different, coming together to be great! Does this mean we are misunderstood by society? Of course it does, but for one weekend, you are among others just like you and no one, not one person will judge you. I swear, Afropunk is the best place on the planet to people watch. It’s epic. The fashion, the food, and the vendors, are all out of this world fantastic.

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Afro Punk Vendors travelbyky.com kydee williams

This was the first year Afropunk charged a fee ($45 for a one day pass and $75 for a weekend pass) to attend, in the past it’s either been a requested donation or a regular R.S.V.P. I was hesitant at first but soon decided, the performances were worth my money. On Saturday, which was the first day of the festival I caught acts like Sza, Kelis, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Grace Jones. Sza can sing her butt off. Kelis was fun and pregnant. She engaged the audience and has so many hits that I love—of course she sang the crowd favorite My Milk Shake brings all the boys to the yard. During the intermission, DJ Beverly Bond turned the house down before Lauryn Hill’s performance. Ms. Lauryn Hill’s performance was much anticipated. I spent weeks listening to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, reflecting on how amazing of an artist she is. I love her. However, her performance was straight up mediocre. Her voice is no longer the same, her sound was low, she sat down for most of the performance even though it’s a music festival and no one past the first 5 rows could see her. To make matters worst, she sang my favorite song Ex. Factor with a totally different tune and shortly after her sound completely went out. Like completely stopped working. I will credit her for continuing her performance, that’s the testament of a true star. Some people started to boo her and leave, while others, her real fans, wanted her to win so bad, so we stayed there and encouraged her through the rest of her set. She ended her show with Doo Wop (That Thing) and then suddenly dropped the mic and walked off the stage. I was heartbroken. I felt like a child who just found out Santa Claus wasn’t real.

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My friends wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay. I’m trying to hold on to as much of summer as I can. I mean I hate the winter, there’s really nothing to do. They eventually decided to stay and I am so happy they did. We watched Grace Jones perform and were recuperated. All of our hearts were no longer pained (after Lauryn). Grace Jones killed the game, killed Afropunk Fest, and just made everything great again. She’s such a talent, and her songs are amazing. Once, I was able to shake my memories of her from Boomerang the movie, I was really able to appreciate her as a true artist. She’s wild dope!

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Afropunk Fest 2015 travelbyky.com

After Afropunk, we decided to explore Fort Greene. We went to Walters for a small dinner and then Mo’s for drinks and dancing. Overall, it was a great day. Afropunk is so liberating. The perfect end, to an amazing summer.

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I love you Brooklyn!

20 Reasons to go to Chicago Now!

1. It’s so Clean:

I know writing conventions tell me I should start with something really cool and interesting, but one of the first things I noticed about Chicago is how clean the city is. Unlike NYC where there’s garbage overflowing on every corner and people littering like it’s the local dump, Chicago locals take pride in their city and abide by the signs encouraging them to upkeep their surroundings.

2. The People:

The people in Chicago are friendly. As a native New Yorker, born and raised, we tend to be aloof and on guard at all times. Actually, I have a story to tell: I was walking into the Chicago metro one morning and someone said “Good Morning” to me. I ignored him. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me, but he was. He made his presence clear by saying good morning again, with a smile. My heart melted and I replied back to him with the same kindness he showed me. I am not used to people talking to me in NYC so it was a bit of an adjustment to warm up to him. I realized, there’s some people in the world that are just friendly and want nothing from you. That was one of the many takeaways from my stay.

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3. Magnificent Mile Shopping:

I wasn’t sure what would be the big deal about Magnificent Mile. It’s just shopping right? Wrong! My breath was completely taken away by this beautiful strip. It’s every shopper’s paradise. The stores are huge. Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, super-sized Zara, Guess, Forever 21, you name it, Chicago has it. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was in the flesh. Of course one of the most sentimental moments I had was going to the American Girl store. I know I am old enough to have my own kids, but it was my childhood dream to come here and I felt blessed to finally receive the opportunity to. So there you have it, magnificent mile shopping was so good, it brought tears to my eyes.

IMG_11784. Sports:

Chicago Bulls. Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago Bears. Chicago Cubs. Chicago White Sox. Any of these teams ring a bell? I almost forgot I was in the town of Michael Jordan.  I was supposed to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field the weekend I visited but it rained. The tickets are super cheap starting at $20 bucks. Unfortunately the locals I talked to had nothing great to say about their teams.

IMG_11095.The Beach:

In the midst of the amazing city, Chicago has a beach. Just to give some perspective it was less than 7-mins walking distance from my hotel and my hotel was located in the midst of their Downtown District. I went to Chicago during Memorial Weekend, and this was the first day the beach was open to the public. It seemed like the perfect picturesque view. Tall Sky Scrapers, overlooking the beautiful Lake Michigan with locals and tourist alike sunbathing and playing volley ball. I almost felt like I was in the American version of Dubai.

6. The Food:

Chicago has some good food. I had an array of delicious dishes, ranging from Jamaican to Seafood, but the food I enjoyed most, was the Deep Dish Pizza. First let me say OMG. Then I can proceed to describe this beautiful creation. It’s definitely deep dish, much bigger than I anticipated. The tomato sauce is covered on top and the delish cheese is layered throughout. I added sausage and peperoni and waited over an hour to get this pizza made, but it was worth it. I bought a small pie for about $24 and it lasted for a whole week. I made sure to bring it back on the plane with me because it was too good to discard. Whoever created this is genius. I went to Giordano’s but people later told me Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is better.

Giordano's Deep Dish Pizza Chicago7. Lake Michigan:

Lake Michigan is Chicago’s pride and joy. The lake is massive and a beautiful teal blue, it’s surrounded by tall immaculate buildings along Lake Shore Drive. One of the activities I did was take a tour along the lake. I took an architecture tour of some sort, although, I was told the tour would encompass fun facts and attractions. The water is cold (it splashed on me and my camera at one point) but adds eloquence to the city.  I shudder to think what Lake Michigan turns into during the winter months.IMG_1099

8. The Architecture:

I was amazed by Chicago’s architecture, and this is definitely a feature that the city is proud of. There’s a hybrid between the new and old buildings and Chicago once housed the tallest building in the world (Willis Tower) before the Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai. Now the Willis Tower is the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, since the Freedom Tower was completed this year.

IMG_11409. The View of Chicago:

The view on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower is phenomenal. I went to the Sky Deck at night and was captivated by the glistening lights and bustle of the city. From the deck I could see the stadiums, the lake and other buildings on the horizon. After waiting on a long packed line, I got to the transparent box aka the sky deck that feels like you are walking on air, 103 stories high. If you are afraid of heights this attraction will freak you out!

10. The Chicago Theater:

I didn’t get to see a show at the Chicago Theater but I did pass by this gem and it’s amazing. I almost left Chicago without seeing this but as I was walking to the train station, headed to the airport, I saw the theater lights in the distance. With my suit case in tow, I walked almost 10 blocks and was enamored by the Chicago Theater sign. So happy I could cross this off my bucket list.

IMG_135611. Chicago Stepping:

Taking a Chicago stepping class was important to me. Chicago is the birthplace of this artistry so I thought it would be awesome to take classes from the best. I found 2-dance classes but their beginner courses seemed to take place on Tuesday’s. Check out Crosstown Steppin and Steppers USA if you’re interested. However, there’s a steppers group in NYC that taught me the basics and I took the course for about 6-months. It was so much fun.

12. The Art Institute of Chicago:

The Art Institute of Chicago is the #1 Art Museum in the World, which was even more reason for me to add this to my itinerary. I went around noon on a Sunday. There was a long line outside of the museum, but I got in within 15-minutes. Ticket prices vary based on if you’re an in-state resident or not. Of course out-of-state residents pay more. The cost for entry is $23. I decided to start at the top floor and work my way down. I started in European art, since it’s my least favorite and progressed into impressionism. Surprisingly I enjoyed the European Art exhibits. I then made my way to the exhibits I knew I would love including modern, contemporary, photography, and African art. I must say, this was one of the best museums I’ve ever been to.IMG_1257 IMG_125413. The Museums:

 

I had to give the Art Institute its own reason to visit Chicago because c’mon it’s voted the #1 Museum in the World, but that shouldn’t take away from the other museums housed in this amazing city. I also had the chance to visit the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the  DuSable Museum which is an African American history museum. I came across the Chicago Cultural Center as well which across the street from Millennium Park. The museums in Chicago are superb. Make sure to research the days where entry into the museum’s are free, although some museums just ask for a donation. What I didn’t get a chance to see was the Hull House, which is a staple in American history.

14. Navy Pier:

Navy Pier is a sort of amusement park in the heart of the city. There’s a Merry-go-round and Ferris wheel as well as places to eat like BubbaGump and Margaritaville. There’s also the famous Garett’s Popcorn and Giordano’s.

Navy Pier-Travelbyky15. President Barack Obama’s Home:

Before Barack Obama became president and moved into the White House he lived in the Kenwood section of Chicago. Although you cannot go inside of his home (it’s highly secured), you can admire his humble beginnings from the outside.

16. The Bean (Cloud Gate):

Like every other city in the world, Chicago has the go-to attraction that signifies you’re there. In Paris it’s the Eiffel Tower, in NYC it’s the Empire State Building, in Chicago, its Cloud Gate. Cloud Gate or the Bean is a silver sculpture in Millennium Park that reflects the whole Chicago skyline. It’s made out of stainless steel and people love to go there to take pictures and admire the shape of this bean-like structure.

The bean17. The Music:

When I was in Chicago, I couldn’t help but listen to R. Kelly-Step in the Name of Love. It was on repeat. In my mind, that was the soundtrack of my trip. It made me happy. There’s music all around you in Chicago. Homeless men singing the blues, young men drumming on containers and dancing to the beat. There’s also a lot of jazz and blues clubs including Kingston Mines which plays classic music that takes you on a trip back in time.

18. Love Jones and other classic movies filmed in Chicago:

Love Jones is my favorite movie and the primary reason I visited Chicago. I wanted to see where Darius chased after Nina in Union Station and where they had their special date nights. Yet there’s other classics that were shot in this city including My Best Friend’s Wedding at the Drake Hotel and the classic movie turned series on Showtime Soul Food.

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19. It’s Kid Friendly:

Chicago has so many things to do with children. There’s the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Children Museum, Shedd’s Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium. I also walked by the Maggie Daley Park which I thought was so fabulous. Maggie Daley was the mayor’s wife who died from cancer (I learned this from a local), the park was created in her name and it is fabulous. It’s located in the center of the city along Lake Shore Drive. The backdrop is the city skyline and the playground is imaginative.

20. Chicago Photography and Street Art:

The art in Chicago left me speechless. What I loved most is how Chicago’s art incorporates culture and diversity. I went to see the Dandy Lion Exhibit that sought to show black men in a different light other than the stereotypical “thug-like” exterior they supposedly give off through photography. The aim of this exhibit is to re-articulate Black Masculine identity. The subjects dressed nice but were overall well-rounded and complex individuals. I also got the chance to check out the Love for Sale exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center, which was epic. Overall, the street art in Chicago stopped me in my tracks. Beautiful installments, sculptures, and graffiti art are sprinkled throughout the windy city.

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Arabian Nights

The sun was gradually setting. The rich blue sky highlighted, by the amber sunset  and auburn sand made it a beautiful sight to see. I wouldn’t be Kydee, if I didn’t take the opportunity to sit and roll in the sand.

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IMG_0402IMG_0426 IMG_0427 IMG_0436 IMG_0439 IMG_0464 We rode on the 4×4 ATV bikes. That was the most fun I had in a long time. It’s so liberating to ride through the desert and race at night. What a rush.

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IMG_0644At dinner, we explored the different tents, which had an array of activities to do. We had Shisha and got henna tattoos. Dinner was a huge Middle Eastern, Bedouin spread. Entertainment consisted of a Bedouin man spinning in a colorful costume that had lights all over it, while the belly dancer shook her hips to traditional Arabic music.

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IMG_0612Can you believe we did all of this in one Arabian Night? Hands down one of the best days in Dubai.IMG_0637