Monday, June 10, 2013

The Windy City

As I mentioned earlier, Wanda and I went to Chicago this weekend.  Neither of us had ever been there, and we both wanted to go.

Dinner, far too late on Thursday. You pick your protein, sauce, and pasta/rice, then fill a big bowl with vegetables. They cook it and bring it to you.
We didn't do much on Thursday night - just checked into the hotel and went for dinner. We stayed at the Drake Hotel. As I mentioned yesterday, we booked it as part of a package. I was quite excited about it, because years ago, I read a mystery novel. I have no idea what book it was, but at some point they found a bible from the Drake Hotel, which led them to Chicago. 
One of the elevators at the Drake, complete with couch

We took the subway from the airport to the hotel - there was a little bit of a walk from the subway station, but we found the hotel with no issues. 

Because it's an older hotel, the hallways are sometimes narrower than you'd find in a newer building.

And that firescape? Rickety metal on the outside of the building. Well, maybe not rickety, but definitely outside.

The room was nice, though, and I was very happy with the hotel. 

We'd bought the Go Chicago card, which was awesome. It gave us a tour of the city (one per day - we choose the hop-on, hop-off tour), and one water tour per day, as well as admission to a bunch of attractions.

On Friday morning, we got up and headed for the place where we could catch the tour. It was quite a walk, and we stopped for breakfast on the way.

Friday breakfast - excellent bagels & juice
We  got on the first tour of the day - which started at 10 - and stayed with the tour until Navy Pier. At Navy Pier, we got off and looked around. We bought a few souvenirs, then went on an Architectural River Tour. 

Navy Pier
There's an interesting phenomenon going on in Chicago - when you go into a tourist attraction (like the river cruise, or to the top of Sears/Willis tower, or whatever), they take your picture in hopes that you will buy it afterwards. It's kind of like being on a cruise ship all the time.

The tour was amazing, and we enjoyed hearing about the history of the city and the buildings. Highly recommended.

After the tour, we went for lunch at Navy Pier.
We tried places until we found one with reasonable wait times.  Food was decent, too. You order and pay and they bring the food to you as it is ready.
As part of our Go Chicago card, we each got a voucher for 5 ride tickets. We went on the Ferris wheel, which was fun unless I looked down. I'm not great with heights.

We weren't really interested in any of the other rides, so we got back on the bus and went to Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). We went up to the observation deck (also included in the Go Chicago card) and Wanda went out on the glass-floored ledge while I remained on solid ground.

When we finished there, we considered getting back on the bus, but the wait as long enough that we decided to walk.  By the time we got back to the hotel, I was pretty miserable. My feet had been bothering me all day, and the amount of walking we had done didn't make things better. We rested for a while, then walked over to Panera, as well as by Holy Name Cathedral, which is the setting for some other books I love. (Also, I just found out that the author died on May 29, and I'm wondering how I missed that earlier.)
Wanda's choice, a favourite from when she lived in Boston.
That was enough for one day. 

Saturday morning, we got going earlier. We took the subway to Shedd Aquarium, where we got to skip the line for ticket since, yes, admission was included with our Go Chicago card.

We wandered through the aquarium, and by the time we were done, the tour was running again, so we got back on the bus. We went back to Navy Pier.

I wanted to do a segway tour, but Wanda was afraid she'd get hurt, so we had a quick hotdog lunch and did a skyline tour on the lake.

When we were done, we took the bus back to the water tower (which was close to our hotel) and quickly looked inside the mall. We didn't stay long, and started walking toward our hotel. We passed John Hancock Center and decided to go up to that observatory as well (also included in our Go Chicago cards). Unlike Sears Tower, this observation deck went all the way around. We took some pictures and then finally went back to our hotel to rest.

Saturday night was the Darren Criss concert, which was the reason we picked this particular weekend to go to Chicago. Wanda was really excited about it, and I was hoping my feet didn't fall off, since it was standing-room only.

We ate at the Cheesecake Factory (which was a poor experience) on our way, then made our way to the concert. The concert started at 7:30, with the doors opening at 6:30. We got there at 5:50, and the line was already across the bridge - which was a block away from the venue.

It was a good concert - even though my feet were so sore I really didn't know if I'd make it back to the hotel - and Wanda really enjoyed it.

When we got back to the hotel, Wanda packed and I moaned about my feet. It* was a good ending to our trip, because Sunday morning we left for home..

* The concert, not the whining.


  1. What a wonderful sounding trip, except for those food choices. 8-) I never eat at chains unless totally desperate. Chicago sounds like a city I would love to visit some day.

  2. One of the things I like about going to the US is that even the chain restaurants are new to me - we don't have many of them here, but we hear about them, so it's nice to have a frame of reference