Thursday, December 11, 2014

Weekend in Chicago, IL

I had three blog posts typed out and ready for pictures to be uploaded onto my blog.
Guess what though? They have been deleted and I have looked everywhere I can think of to find them and I had no luck. I am so mad! I worked hard typing our my trip to Chicago, IL. I am hoping what I am about to type is as long as my original posts. I wrote the posts on Monday and Tuesday while everything was fresh in my mind. Now it's Thursday and I am annoyed I have to type it all up again. Especially since I was so careful with making sure I was very thorough on certain aspects of the trip.
Well, here goes nothing
Over this past weekend, my mom treated me to Chicago for my birthday. We had such a nice time over our three day weekend in the city.
Thursday after work, I left for Tennessee so we could have an early flight out of Nashville since the earliest flight I could get to Chicago from Louisville would have been around 11AM. I did not want to waste half of my vacation day at the airport.
We arrived in Chicago by 8AM and took a town car to our hotel. To travel the 12.3 miles from the airport to our hotel cost $65 plus tip - $80. Yes, the town car was fast to get to us and we had a pleasant ride to the hotel, but I felt it was a bit over priced for the 30 minute ride. My mom was perfectly happy with the whole situation though. And since she paid, I didn’t have much say.
I'm going to jump to the end of our trip for a minute and tell you I did convince my mom to cancel the town car back to the airport and we took the train. The train is $2.25/pp if you do not have an all day pass. We walked a few blocks to get to the train station and then followed the signs to the correct platform. Each train is color coded with the route they make. Very easy to understand. I felt safe while on the train and I would definitely ride on it again. $5 was a much better price then the $80.
For hotel, we stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown/River North. It is right smack dab in the middle of everywhere we wanted to be and even had the added bonus of being directly across the street from a fire department. Prior to getting here, my mom already knew we wouldn’t be able to check in, but that we would be able to leave our luggage and they would call us when our room was available. And this is exactly what happened. When we got there, we were immediately greeted by the wonderful people at the counter. Stephanie is the lady who checked us in and let me tell you - she was an excellent 'display' of customer service. Every time we saw her, she remembered us by name and was always very informative/helpful with giving directions and making recommendations. She should be promoted. Seriously. She had such a good attitude the entire time we were there. They also had a bell hop who was very friendly, but I cannot remember his name.
When we did get to head to the room (I forget the time - we were too busy exploring the city), we discovered Stephanie had gotten us a corner room on the highest floor of the building. In my opinion, this was THE BEST room in the whole place! Whether we got the room because of my mom's elite status or because she knew it was my birthday, I do not know. Either way, it was very nice of her and it made our trip even more memorable since we had three different windows showing three different views.
More about the hotel - the breakfast was probably the best hotel breakfast I have ever had. No lie. Granted, I don’t stay at many hotels, but I was very satisfied by what they offered. Both mornings we were here I enjoyed a waffle with whipped cream and fresh blueberries along with fresh fruit and half a bagel. The waffle was very delicious! In the evenings, I enjoyed hot tea and hot chocolate. Saved money not having to go down the street to buy some. I only wish they had a pool and/or hot tub.
 The views....
After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we headed down to the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue to take in all the sites and stores. We headed straight to Macy's to see the famous window displays first. In case you didn't know, this used to be Marshall Fields, but when Macy's took over, they seemed to have maintained all the old traditions. I loved how creative all the windows displays were and I especially loved how one of the trees in one of the windows was decorated with the same candy garland I have and am looking for two more strands (at least). I was hoping it was a re-make and I would be able to find it in the store; this was not the case.
 The candy garland...
We then entered the store so my mom could find some sneakers since she made a poor choice on her foot attire for walking the city. While she started looking, I went to the 7th floor of this massive 9 floors of shopping to get us a reservation at the world renowned (I might be making that up) Walnut Room for lunch.
Looking down...
 Looking up...
Here's the lowdown on how to get a reservation here. Do as we did and try to get there right when they open (no reservations taken over the phone during this time of the year). You then stand in line for a pager which will work throughout the store. You tell them when you want to eat and then you wait for your pager to go off. Our time was 11 - 11:30AM. Once the pager went off, we then turned it in to the lady at the start of another line where we then waited to be seated.
Lucky us, we got seated right next to the giant Christmas tree. What a treat! I was able to take some great pictures from this vantage point. Although, my mom did point out we could have enjoyed the tree more if we had been further way from it. I was happy with our seating arrangement regardless.
The food was mediocre - I ordered the chicken pot pie and my mom had the meatloaf. I wouldn’t go here for the food, but the atmosphere was great and made the meal worth it. They must be making a ton of money here because not 5 minutes after ordering our food, it was at our table. We were in and out within 30 minutes.
From the 8th floor, you can see our table - it's the empty one right next to the tree.
While shopping in Macy's, we bought some Frango Chocolates which are made and sold only here in Chicago and (I believe) only in Macy's. They are very yummy! I bought two boxes - Matt and I are trying to each only eat two a day to make them last. The lady who helped us in this section was named Valerie and she was very helpful. Even let us sample the salted caramel which we both bought.
Within this Macy's, they have store such as Build A bear and Finish Line. It was like its own mall with stores and restaurants.
From Macy's, we walked to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate. I KNEW I wanted to see this since I have seen it on several movies. I am so glad we got to see it and take pictures of it. If and when I go to Chicago again, I will be visiting it. I liked seeing the skyline in the reflection as well as seeing myself. Friday was a good day to be here with the smaller crowds too.
I kept wondering in my head if someone comes and cleans it from time to time. I imagine they must or there would be bird poop and other gross stuff on it don’t you think? I'll have to research that one day.
If I am remembering correctly, this is when we went back to the hotel to check it out after getting a phone call that our room was ready. We rested a bit and then headed back out for more exploring.
First stop, the Christkindl Market which is a German Christmas market with merchants from all over Germany (mostly). They had many items I wouldn’t have minded buying if I wasn’t so cheap and didn't want knick knacks around my house. (I'm slowly trying to cut back). We did both try the Gl├╝hwein which came in souvenirs mugs (Yuck!) and I bought some REAL made in Germany Haribo Gummy Bears which taste much better than the crappy (which I still eat) made in the U.S.A Haribo Gummy Bears. Would it kill them to use the same ingredients as the Germans? If they had been a little cheaper, I might have been tempted to buy a large supply of the them to last all year. Instead, I bought three bags. Matt doesn't read my blog since 'he lives through it' (his words, not mine) so it’s okay for me to say I gave one bag away and the other two will be going in our stockings.
My mom's choice for dinner this evening was Lou Malnati's Pizza. We had a medium pizza with sausage and I forget what else. Although I don’t typically like deep dish pizza, I did enjoy this pizza both fresh and cold straight from the refrigerator the next day. The cheese was especially tasty!
After dinner, we walked back to our room where my mom promptly fell asleep by 6:30PM. Yep, you read the time correctly. I stayed up for about two hours reading and then went to sleep. Considering we both worked Thursday and then I drove down to TN followed by waking up that morning by 3AM for our flight, this explains why we woke up early the following morning.

1 comment:

  1. We have taken a few trips together, but this is my favorite and probably will be forever! Love that I got to celebrate your birthday - a few mere miles from where your life began. BEST.THING.EVER.HAPPENED.TO.ME! Loved our time together and the fun we had - including the 'mistakes' we made as those added some flavor to the trip as well. Thank you for the time as just us. I know that is going to change some day soon and I am always glad when we find time to make new memories. Love you!