Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chicago Trip Reflection

First off, let me say that this trip was phenomenal. It was short enough that we could keep up a furious pace that would never have been sustainable over a week. It was enough to give us a taste of a great city, but not so much that we decided that we'd had enough of Chicago for a while. It was fast and fun and enticing. I loved it.

On Wednesday (before Thanksgiving), my parents picked me up from Notre Dame and we set off for Chicago. Lovely family bonding was somewhat cut short when I fell asleep thanks to my beautiful anti-nausea medicine. TMI, gotcha. We got to the hotel eventually, at which point I woke up and helped to move stuff into our room, which was surprisingly normal-sized, even though we were a block over from Michigan St, i.e. the Magnificent Mile. Once settled, we took the recommendation of the concierge and went to a pizza place called East Gino's for dinner, where we proceeded to stuff ourselves with absolutely fabulous food. The trend was to write one's name on some available surface in sharpie (booths, walls, chairs, etc were covered), so being a wildly independent college student, I went along with the trend. I signed my name and the date on the booth we sat in. I don't think I've ever done that before. It was fun. I don't remember much more of that night- I think we just came back to the hotel and crashed.

We woke up reasonably early on Thanksgiving in order to get a good sidewalk spot for watching the grand parade. Our progress was somewhat inhibited by my father's offer to buy me starbucks; even though there's one on campus at the end of the quad I live on, there's something special about my dad buying me coffee.. er, apple cider. Plus it was warm. We made our way down to the parade area eventually. We were next to Macy's, so while waiting I towed Mark around to look at the famous window displays, this year boasting a Mary Poppins theme. We also texted holiday greetings to important family members. The parade was a lot of fun- I have pictures up here.

After the parade, we headed for food and a bench at the nearby open-air German marketplace, curiously featuring many items from Ecuador and Peru. But they had brats and cocoa and potato pancakes, so we were a happy crew. After a bit of window shopping, we headed towards the Field Museum, where we had tickets to the fabulous King Tut exhibit. The walk was somewhat longer than anticipated, but I enjoyed it, as we got to see more of the city, such as the landmark sculpture known as the Bean. At the Field Museum, we spent the rest of the day slowly taking in the King Tut exhibit, then more quickly walking through other exhibits. It was all very interesting and well-represented. Being somewhat pooped, we also took advantage of over-priced drinks and cookies at the museum cafe. After closing down the museum, we caught a bus back to the hotel (we're so urban... that is, until I touristly took pictures of us in the bus). We ate a huge turkey dinner at the hotel, including splitting five slices of various cakes and pies among my mom, my dad, and I* . It was goood. I reached just the right level of happy fullness. Then we watched movies upstairs, I called the boy, and my family went to bed while I worked on homework (I know, I'm so dedicated...not really).

*blog entry about thanksgiving reflections themselves will hopefully be forthcoming

On Friday, we let ourselves sleep in a bit, because Thursday had been such a big, long, active day. We eventually headed out to Navy Pier, but sadly not much was open there, including the huge ferris wheel that Dad and I had looked forward to riding. We walked out to the end and took pictures, though. Then we went to the Hancock Tower. This was probably my least favorite part of the trip, as it involved long waits for a predictable view of the city that one could have seen on a postcard. (subject for another blog entry- why do I not appreciate the real? when in the king tut exhibit, I had to explain to myself that the artifacts were interesting because they're actually from ancient Egypt. I had to explain to myself that the view of Chicago was interesting because it was me actually looking at it, not through a picture. Hmm). Maybe I was just hungry and impatient. Anyway, after the tower, we decided to head to Lincoln Park Zoo and get late lunch/ early dinner on the way. As luck would have it, our route took us on a scenic beachside sidewalk and then through a large park, but never involved a restaurant. Such is life. It was cool to see Lake Michigan up close, and I have a thing for parks. We ended up getting food at the zoo, which was expensive, but there's no admission price to get into the zoo, so I justified it that way. The zoo was doing this nighttime Zoo Lights thing, featuring lots of Christmas lights, activities, and the animals at night. Some obviously went to bed at nightfall, but some were really active, which was cool to see. The penguin/puffin exhibit was naturally my favorite. After Mark just couldn't take anymore, we took a bus back to the hotel. Mom and I toyed with the idea of evening shopping on Michigan, but Dad wouldn't hear of his girls out on the town at night. Probably for the best. We picked up ice cream from a corner grocery store instead and played a board game back at the hotel. Good times.

Mom and I, determined to get our shopping done, got up Saturday morning, packed what we could, and set out together to hit Old Navy. I ended up going in the Gap first, but I only found a sweater there. We did much more damage at Old Navy. Basically, I need all of the warm clothes I can get, and my mom agrees. We shop well together. We were thrifty, too, because the sales were still going on. Yay us. On the way back to the hotel, we passed a Daughters of St. Paul bookstore. They were my favorite order back when I thought I wanted to be a nun. Of course, we had to go in and browse. I ended up with Christmas cards and a CD. Mom and I had already been running behind when we said we'd get back, so we hoofed it back to the hotel. Go us. It was nice to get to just talk to my mom for a while. Back at the hotel, Dad had thrown everything into the van and was awaiting our final approval of his packing job so we could check out. After a bit of rearranging, we all got in the van and headed back to Notre Dame.

All in all, a great trip. Maybe Mark didn't think so, yet, but at least three out of four of us were happy campers. We'll get him yet :-)


  1. Nice! I'm looking forward to the additional commentaries.

    Food for thought: brats and potato pancakes--yummy! Cocoa in a cold city--yummy! Brats, potato pancakes and cocao--what the heck is wrong with you?

    Just sayin'.

  2. We were cold, and it was warm. You would have liked it too.

    Plus I'm too young to sample the warm mulled wine they were selling next door. :-(