First off, let me say that when it comes to taking photographs, I’m terrible. I either forget to take them, or when I do take them I grow impatient. I’m excited to sign up for some photography classes once we move to New Zealand. Hopefully, I’ll learn how to do a much better job than what I’m currently doing.
We left for Chicago on Friday morning. I was up for over 20 hours thanks to a 12 hour night in the ER combined with a 2+ hour train ride from South Bend. I must say, though, that the train from South Bend to Chicago was so convenient. I highly recommend it. Chris was pleased to discover that one of the Notre Dame grad students was taking the same train to attend the conference. They were able to chatter away while I attempted to doze. I didn’t have much success. Chris was partially to blame for this, since at one point he thought that he would be “helpful” and pick up a dropped piece of paper. This put his face practically in my lap, and I opened my eyes to see him rightthere. I did a sharp inhalation, jumped back, and generally amused the back half of the train thanks to my husband scaring the living daylights out of me.
We got off at our stop and had just a short walk to the Blackstone Hotel. I loved this hotel. It had a great atmosphere of old-time Chicago with some modern touches. We showed our room to Nicki (my sister-in-law) and Preston (her boyfriend), and they were both suitably impressed as well. I give it 2 thumbs up and would definitely recommend it. The concierge was very helpful, the doorman were solicitous (taxi, anyone?) and it was a short, pleasant walk to the museum campus and several restaurants.
Our first day there was spent in 2 different ways. Chris went to his conference and I crashed. I slept for a good 5 hours (after being up for 22 hours), showered, and got ready for our dinner out. We took a taxi to Everest and the evening improved from there on out.
Everest was phenomenal. It’s expensive (about $100 per person if you don’t get any wine or extras) and we never would’ve gone there if it weren’t for the $200 gift card from my in-laws. Our total meal was about just under $300. Yikes. Let me stress that this is not typical for us, but it was so much fun. The view was perfection – overlooking the lake, the city lights, and right next to the Hancock building. Our servers were so kind and agreeable. If you want a dining experience, then you should definitely go to Everest.
The next day was spent in more conferences and more sleeping (Chris with the conferences, me with the sleeping!). I woke up around noon and got ready to meet Nicki and Preston. Chris came home after stopping at The Corner Bakery to pick up sandwiches for our lunch. Just a side note – The Corner Bakery is 10 times better than Panera. I love their uptown turkey sandwich. Yum!
We snarfed down our sandwiches and met Nicki and Preston in the lobby. The four of us made the short walk to Shedd Aquarium and spent several hours looking at all of the fish, walruses, seals, otters, and of course the penguins. We had a great time. It had been years since I’d been to Shedd Aquarium, and I was glad for the chance to visit again.
Once we finished, we all walked over to Caribou Coffee. I had a cup of their yummy hot chocolate and everyone else refueled with caffeine. We headed back to our hotel, where the boys played chess in the lobby and Nicki and I caught up over cocoa and coffee.
We ended the evening by walking down to Lou Malnati’s pizza. Chris and Preston split a deep-dish and Nicki and I shared a salad. It was very good, and the portions are huge. We all agreed that we could’ve gotten by with smaller orders and still had leftovers to share.
Nicki and Preston caught the train back to Wheaton, IL (where they were staying with friends) and Chris and I went back to our hotel. One of the downsides of working the night shift is that whenever you’re on vacation, there’s nothing to do during the night while you’re awake. Chris slept and I desperately tried to make myself tired by reading or watching boring movies, but it didn’t work. I finally crashed around 6am and slept till noon. Chris got up at some point and went to more conference-related meetings, but I was dead to the world.
We checked out around 12:45 and caught the 1:38pm train from Van Buren station back to South Bend. Our trip back wasn’t quite as pleasant. Two girls sat across from us, and by the time they left I had had it up to here with stories of people getting drunk, vomiting, farting, and being dropped on their heads. And they looked so nice, too! Chris and I both agreed that when they sat down we thought, “Oh good – they look reasonably normal”. Hah. I’m so glad that I was never like that!
All in all, it was a great weekend getaway. I really do like Chicago and still maintain that if I had to live in a big city (other than Auckland, of course), that I would choose Chicago over NYC or Boston. If you’ve never been, you really, really need to visit!
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