Chicago is a city with which I have an interesting past….
I’ve attempted to explore it multiple times always with my plans being foiled. If you’re a long time reader then you probably remember when I got stuck there for three days a few years ago on my way to Ireland. There are a handful of other times where I happened to skirt the city, never staying more than a few hours and NEVER exploring anything. Adventure in Chicago needed to happen and Julia was just the one to make that happen.
Julia and I met the summer before eleventh grade in high school. She was new to the school that I had been attending almost my whole academic career at that point and we were fast friends. She is originally from the Chicago area and attended a college not too far from the city (even though I tried to get her to join me at LU). She goes back periodically to visit friends and family and it was going to be on her birthday weekend so she invited me to go along.
We left Dallas on a Friday night and got into Chicago a little later than expected due to at delayed flight. After getting our super sweet rental car we headed to a suburb of the city where her Aunt and Uncle live with two of their three children. Their house was so cute and they also had a basement! Coming from states that can’t have basements (Texas and California) I ALWAYS forget that this is basically a staple of east coast and midwestern homes. I really wish my house had this feature, so I was pumped to stay down there. Since we got in so late we basically just went right to bed.
The next day we got up and went to Julia’s favorite apple orchard with her aunt and one cousin. I LOVE apple orchards and this one did not disappoint! They had plenty of apples ripe for the picking (and taking cute IG pics). After apples we made sure to indulge in some cider AND cider donuts. I made my own little tasting tray of hot and cold cider. Conclusion: both delicious. 🙂
After apples we headed back home with a 40 pound basket as well as some other little treats from their cash-only store at the orchard. We packed up our stuff, said goodbye to her family, and headed into the city! We had unknowingly booked the weekend of the Chicago Marathon so when I was looking for hotels the cheapest one was actually The Ritz Carlton. Julia and I were splitting it and it was only one night so we said #TreatYoSelf2017 and made that reservation.
The Ritz Carlton Chicago did not disappoint. The lobby smelled amazing, the staff was friendly and attentive, and the room was immaculate. They had robes and slippers for us, a huge bathtub along with a separate shower, a huge bed, and Netflix on TV. We could see Navy Pier from our window too which was really cool.
We checked in, hung out in the room for a little bit, then headed down to the lobby to get a snack before dinner. We had basically only eaten a lot of sugar that day so we shared some meatballs at the hotel bar. Julia doesn’t drink so she got a Cherry Coke and the bartender made sure to give her extra cherries. I got a Moscow Mule and wasn’t disappointed. We stayed there actually for quite some time since it was pouring outside and we weren’t meeting her friend for awhile.
We eventually started making our way towards Giordano’s and put our name on the list. The wait was rather lengthy so you are also able to order your pizza before you get seated which is super efficient. Her friend showed up and we had a very nice time chatting and after dinner he and Julia continued to show me the city. We were still calling this #TreatYoSelf2017 so after deep dish pizza (and salads!) we walked down the street to get ice cream at Ghirardelli’s.
We wanted to attempt to burn off dinner and the rain had subsided so we walked along the river and looked at all of the skyscrapers. I found it humerus that Trump tower had so many empty stores underneath it since no one wants to be associated with him even though that is prime retail space. I am fairly certain that I had a stress fracture in my foot from my solo hike in Dublin. It flared up so I was dragging along for a good chunk of the walk, but I still had a good time.
Eventually her friend had to leave so Julia and I went back to the room thinking we were going to stay up and watch Parks and Rec (in honor of #TreatYoSelf2017). I think I made it through one episode while Julia was getting ready for bed before I was totally knocked out. In my defense, it had been a very eventful day and was already fairly late. I usually wake up pretty early though and managed to take a lengthy bubble bath in the morning as well as get fully ready before Julia awoke.
She got ready and we lamented the fact that we only stayed one night in this super nice hotel. We vowed to be back as well as visit other Ritz Carlton locations in the future to compare them. The hotel was nice enough to hold our luggage for us after we checked out while we continued our exploration of the city. Fortunately the rain was gone and the sun was out. Unfortunately… the weather turned from a slightly chilly autumn to a fairly toasty early fall. I was ill prepared for this, but we trekked on through the city!
We got breakfast/brunch at the Nutella Cafe and while there noticed that there was a Noodles and Co across the street! Unfortunately, Texas has not jumped on this midwestern treasure so Julia graciously said we could go there for a late lunch before heading to the airport. We got our breakfast and coffee then headed to The Bean for some pics and to see the Chicago location for Julia’s company. I also saw the Chicago location for mine in a fairly prime spot and gave relocating some consideration as well. 🙂
I love being in the city and while Dallas has been very good to me, I have been plagued with car problems for several years now and dream about living in a location with reliable public transportation. Chicago is very clean, people still have that midwestern charm, there is tons to do, lots of great restaurants, and it’s not quite as expensive as New York. If I was to get transferred/find a new job in Chi town then I wouldn’t be too upset. #JustSaying
After The Bean we made our way to Navy Pier to ride the Ferris Wheel, get some souvineers, and see the water. I was very content to sit in the sunshine on these wooden lounge chairs near the water and just relax after walking so much, but alas, we were on a time schedule.
We made our way back to the car, picked up our luggage, and started heading to O’Hare. We returned the car, got through security fairly quickly, then made sure to pick up some Garrett’s Popcorn to bring back to our respective families. We got split up on the plane ride home and I got stuck in the front of coach so I didn’t have a tray table. FORTUNATLY I had my trusty neck pillow so I tried to check out for a little bit on that. When that failed I listened in on Julia’s conversation with her seat mate and read over the shoulder of the guy next to me on his iPad. He was not as fast as me and for whatever reason after EVERY page he would flip back like two or three pages then back to his previous spot before moving forward to the new page. It was driving me a little crazy, butttt I also was being a super creeper and co-reading a stranger’s book so obviously I can’t say anything like GET IT TOGETHER AND PAY ATTENTION!
We have an uneventful landing and just like that our weekend was over. I had taken that next day off in preparation for the Texas Star Fair, but it was also the day that all schools were scheduled to go so my mom and I made the trek to Waco for her first time at The Magnolia Silos. It was a nice day and nice way to end the weekend before having to go back to work and my continuing car issues.
Side note: if anyone wants to gift me a new car I would seriously be eternally grateful. My 2007 Rav 4 apparently hates me just about as much as I hate it and refuses to cooperate no matter how much money I throw at it. When your car has almost 200k miles on it and you don’t know how to fix anything it shows that you need to make a change in your life (and that doesn’t mean learning the fine art of auto mechanics).