I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since we went to Chicago and I am just now getting around to writing about the trip. It seems as if the holidays just flew by! I am going to try something new and describe our activities day-by-day. Ok, here we go.
On Saturday we left Houston and took an evening flight to Chicago. The flight was rough, there was a lot of turbulence. Upon landing the pilot slammed on the brakes so hard that everyone’s foreheads flew against the seats in front of them. The epic landing was followed by a nervous laugh throughout the cabin. But whew, we made it! We arrived in the Windy City at 8pm and took the blue line train to our hotel, which was downtown. The train should have taken 45 minutes, but we ended up on the express train, which skipped a few stops, so we were on the location in 30 minutes. With our suitcases we rolled right past our hotel because we didn’t realize how close it was from the train. Eventually (with the orienting help of GPS) we found the hotel, checked in and called it a night.
We stayed downtown at the Allegro, a Chicago Kimpton Hotel. We got a great deal booking through Priceline Negotiators. I am always nervous booking without knowing what we will get and our experience has not always been pleasant. I read mixed reviews before arriving at the hotel, but our stay went overall very well. Many people complained about noisy rooms, but we were placed on a high floor away from the street and the elevators, so noise, while there was some occasionally, was not an issue. The best part was the location. When going to a city where we are not going to rent a car, being in close proximity to public transportation is very important. The location was great, right in the theater district close to the train and many bus lines.
Our first stop was the Millennium Park. Of course we had to take a picture by “The Bean” (Cloud Gate Sculpture). Then randomly met a girl from my hometown who was applying for colleges in Chicago. She missed her walking tour group and was watching ice skaters in the park rink.
Our next mission was to find a geocache, which gave us a great head-on view of the Jay Pritzker Pavillion, an outdoor concert stage.
We walked some more around the park and then started walking along the lake, picking up a few more caches, which led us to the Navy Pier. It was too cold to actually go on the pier, but we observed from distance.
We kept on walking along the lake and unbeknown to us we ended up at the Chicago Zoo, which is free! How amazing is that? It was a bit cold and was starting to get late so most animals were hiding inside, and so did we; we hid inside watching the gorillas. They watched us too.
The Zoo is three miles away from the Millennium Park, so we must have walked about 10-15 miles that day if you count the walk from and to the hotel and the little detours we took along the way. But the long day was made much better when we tried our first ever Chicago-style hot dog. I am never going back! This is hot dog heaven!
That was a long and eventful day! Enough to send us back to the hotel exhausted!
The next day we slept in recovering our feet from all the walking we did the previous day. Once awaken, we got on the bus and went to The Museum of Science and Industry to check out their Christmas Around the World display. The exhibit was interesting, but not accurate of how families in other countries actually decorate their trees. The trees were decorated with the things that stereotypically represent that country, like waffles for Belgium, and Ikea toys for Sweden.
But the museum itself was awesome! I don’t think I’ve ever been to such an interactive museum. Great place for kids and adults alike. There were a lot of kids though, so be prepared to be knocked off your feet by little troops. Hands down, my favorite science museum so far (I have not been to a Smithsonian yet, it’s on the list).
When we left the museum, the snow blizzard picked up, but I was determined to walk around the museum to get a full view because the building itself is beautiful, it was built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
By the time we got back to the hotel it was already too dark and too cold to do anything else. We had dinner at a small Polish place called Pierogi Heaven close to the hotel and called it another night.