We had to wake up earlier than I had mentally prepared myself for yesterday and that cost me on our first day in the Windy City. The guy we use for airport service was booked solid and had to pick us up at 5 AM. When he says 5 AM, he normally means 5:30, but in this case, he meant 5. I couldn’t get to sleep before midnight so I was left with exactly 4 hours and 15 minutes of rest. I was tired when I woke up and I wouldn’t shake that feeling all day.
The Philadelphia airport was relatively empty and provided no obstacles (this is our of character for our fair city’s only major airport), so we actually manged to land in Chicago 15 minutes early. After reading very complimentary articles of Chicago’s public transit system, I wanted to forgo using a taxi from the airport, but Allison had her doubts… until her uncle Rusty (who has traveled to Chicago often for work) not only encouraged it, he said it was the best way to get to the hotel – Allison agreed. The train leaving from the airport is the Orange line and we found it with no issues. It cost $2.25 to get on (and this includes any transfer). Once we reached the loop, we had to get off and board the red line (which is a traditional subway) – we managed this very easily (well my wife did since she didn’t have to carry the heavy suitcase). Once we got off at Chicago Ave, Allison – who was acting as a navigator, got a little confused and we ended up going several blocks in the wrong direction. After 6 blocks of lugging the suitcase, I hailed a cab – by this point we were way off – so the taxi was a good idea. Five minutes and $5.68 later we were at our hotel. I should note that a taxi from Midway to the heart of the city is $50.00 flat fee and we ended up paying $10.18 and it was much faster (this city is all stop and go traffic).
We got to the hotel at 10:00 AM central time and they didn’t have our room ready. Instead of aimless wandering, I suggested we hit one of the museums, so the clerk told us how to take the bus to the Field Museum on Lake Shore Drive. The bus stop was around the corner from the hotel and a very helpful girl informed us which bus we had to take (the 146 line for those keeping score at home). Being on the bus, I got a feeling for Chicago traffic in the city and I think having a car in downtown would be impossible. The subway and train system is the way to go. The bus took about 30 minutes to get to the museum which reminded me very much of the Philadelphia art museum in appearance and in the interactive displays (but I think Philadelphia’s museum is better than the Fields – sorry Chicago).
The exhibits were great and we actually visited on a free basic admission day. One thing I didn’t like about the museum is that all of their special exhibits were extra cost (individually I might add). I think they should just charge you the cost to get in to see everything. We opted for an exhibit about pirates. It starts with their origins in slavery and the slave trade and then takes you through to the end of the “Golden Age” of pirates. It was educational and interesting. I felt that as a whole – the museum tries to hard to be interactive and kid friendly, Philadelphia does a better job at being interesting but letting the pieces speak for themselves. But as a whole – excellent start to the day.
Walking around for a few hours – and I was exhausted. It was almost 2:00 and I was hoping our room was ready, so back on the bus and to the hotel. Once we got back, our room still wasn’t ready, so we went into the attached bar for a drink or two to wait. And hour later, our rooms were done. Allison managed to get us an upgraded suite which is awesome and has panoramic views of the city. I decided to rest for a while, so I popped in a movie and vegged out (Watched Knowing based on a friend’s suggestion – FTP – we got to talk).
Once the movie was over, I felt rested so I hit the gym for a little cardio knowing that Chicago style pizza was next. A nice run and a shower later, we were off to the famous Gino’s East. It takes 45 minutes for a pizza to be made and there is always a line (our hotel clerk gave us a special skip to the front card – which I felt like an asshole for using, but I wasn’t standing in a line if I didn’t have to). 50 minutes later the monster came out. After eating one, I have trouble calling it pizza. It is excellent and tasty, but I think it is a meat pie not a pizza, but that is just me – I will also calling it filling – I could only handle two slices before I tapped out.
We walked back to our hotel and went to bed pretty quickly to rest up for the day head…
TO BE CONTINUED