Ringing in the New Year!

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011!

Fireworks over Navy Pier. Taken from Hyde Park, about 8 miles away on a not particularly clear night, so needless to say, I am extremely excited about the quality of the pictures. Did I mention I love my camera?

The last day of the year was spent most pleasantly, beginning with a lovely breakfast at the wonderful Milk and Honey Cafe in Wicker Park. I had been there before, and frankly, I don’t find the place lives up to my brother’s and sister’s obsession with the place (though that is largely because I am not a sweet breakfast sort of person, and the egg options are limited–I like my brunch to include an omelette, personally). Still, it was nice, even though I was mildly annoyed that I was given some 10 minutes to get ready.

For the record, his banana toffee pancakes completely defeated my brother. My sister and I performed more admirably with our heuvos-rancheros-inspired breakfast burritos.

Bad weather was already starting to set in, though, and my dreams of even a brief exploration of Ukrainian village were brutally dashed by our desire to be at least sort of dry. So we headed back through downtown Chicago, making a brief stop at a liquor store to stock Daniel’s apartment.

An artsy downtown Chicago. The joys of manual focus!

The liquor store had a little something for everyone–I knew there were many good reasons I love Chicago. These couple bottles, now happily in my apartment in California–with newly purchased apple juice–represent two excellent reasons why to love the place.

Easily the best vodka I know. And not even all that expensive. Though still, much more expensive than getting it in Poland.

We headed back to prepare for the evening. My sister made an excellent cheesecake (I tried it, though sadly, not much of a cheesecake person) for dessert, and we headed out to watch the 8:15 fireworks from afar–and excellent adventure in learning to use my camera.

Downtown Chicago from the Hyde Park beach. Trust me, I could definitely NOT see it this clearly.

Even from 8 miles away, the Fireworks at Navy Pier were impressive. Now, the Ferris wheel (visible below) there is pretty high, so the difference in size is pretty outstanding. Sadly, I didn’t catch a picture with the Chicago skyline. Next time?

After the fireworks, we headed back to Daniel’s apartment.

We got way too excited by the spider in the pedestrian tunnel. For the record, completely sober.

From there, it was an evening of conversation and fun, tuning in to watch the ball drop at 11 CST (ironically, of course–though, with a trace of sympathy for the aging and no longer comprehensible Dick Clark, who still goes out there to say something that we do not understand).

A little afraid of Daniel's goals for the evening.

And before we knew it, midnight had come around and it was time for the requisite champagne. Pretty much enjoyed by me exclusively.

Daniel, Lila, Lydia, and I, just after midnight (CST) and thus officially 2011.

And that, we called it a relatively early night–I had a flight to catch the next day, after all, and a very full afternoon (in a literal, eating  sort of sense) ahead of me (in true form, I was back in Berkeley a full day before I even made it home). I arrived just ahead of Stephen and Caroline (in from their New Year’s Eve in Vegas), and we were all picked up by Caroline’s parents who took us out to Berkeley for Caitie’s family’s annual New Year’s celebration, which was full of all sorts of Japanese food and more excellent company.

Mmm, sushi!

I even got to meet Stephen’s parents, visiting from frigid Canada (-30 in his hometown!).

Caitie and Stephen's parents.

Three cheers for nice cameras!

Of course, this baby pretty much stole the show. Is he not adorable?!?

After a lovely meal (and feeling extremely full), I headed back to Marin with Caroline and her parents, where we polished off the end of their New Year’s champagne and I promptly fell asleep an hour and a half into the Return of the King (coming in on CST there was pretty much no hope for me surviving a 200-minute movie that we begun screening at 10 pm (PST)–particularly when I am no particular fan of the movies…). Caroline was absolutely lovely and drove me back to Caltrain yesterday afternoon and with that, I was back home and gearing up for what will prove to be a very busy semester with lots (lots!) of reading. Actually, I am pretty much ridiculously excited, like the true nerd I am.

Back to the city and back to Palo Alto. Hello new year and new quarter!

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