03 Feb Chicago: Greetings from Windy City!
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Day I ~ Flying in
My journey towards Chicago started on Friday morning. I packed in 9 minutes, finished just 2 minutes before leaving for the airport. Taxi was already waiting outside.
The primary reason for going to US was work. I decided to use the opportunity and extend the trip at both ends. Two days off work got me a weekend in Chicago and in NYC. Flying business meant lots of gluten free airplane food, comfort and pampering. Could get used of this 😉
The first stop was the Windy City, where we landed in the early evening.
It surprisingly only took me 15 minutes to get checked bag and complete border procedure. I was quickly heading to CTA station, from where the blue line took me downtown. Switching from blue to red, I got to my last stop an hour after boarding the “L” train at the airport.
Google maps apparently knew I was sitting for the last 12 hours, so it took me for a walk. When I finally managed to find the hotel (which was actually located just around the corner of the subway station), it was already dark. Still being full from airplane dining, I had a shower and went straight to bed. My Saturday would start early and I already knew where I will have breakfast the next morning 😉
Day II ~ Brunch and chasing sunset
I woke up to a clear blue sky on Saturday and my first thought was “Woohoo, the forecast was actually right!”. Weather on Saturday was supposed to be nice, but for Sunday and Monday I was advised to keep an umbrella with me.
I got up, packed my backpack, prepared Nikon and went exploring Chicago!
First stop was LYFE Kitchen.
In comparison to some other restaurants, LYFE opens early enough you can actually have breakfast there. Just across the street there’s a donut shop, that sells gluten free donuts, so of course I needed to grab one.
Yeah OK, you got me… Grabbed two 🙈
After a great breakfast I visited Rookery building…
…an amazing piece of architecture in the middle of the city. I loved how the glass roof allows natural light coming in and is illuminating the magnificent staircase right in the centre. In the evening shops’ lights add a special charm.
My exploration continued towards the Millennium Park.
As it was already early afternoon (yup, I took my time with breakfast and endless coffee + I got lost a few times 😅), the famous sculpture was crowded. Icon of Chicago is officially called Cloud Gate but locals refer to it with “The Bean”. I wonder what the artist thinks about that. He named it the Cloud Gate and everyone is like “Whatever man… it’s the bean.”. I bet he is pissed.
However… The same “rules” apply for sightseeing of The Bean as for other sights. The best time to visit is early in the morning or late afternoon and, of course, on week-days.
I was walking along Lakefront Trail and Navy Pier for the rest of the afternoon.
As the forcast said that the only clear day I am getting in Chicago was Saturday, I decided to hop on 94th floor of John Hancock Center and see the city in a 360° view.
I came prepared – I checked sunset hour in advance. Advice – if you are visiting, arrive to 360 Chicago at least one hour before sunset (especially on weekends), otherwise you will be stuck in the queue for tickets when the sun will go down. You sure don’t want to miss the sunset!
It took me about 45 minutes to purchase entry ticket – I took Sun&Stars, that offers 2 entries at any time within 48 hours, just to keep my options open. The floor was crowded, so I could barely find a spot to take photos. If possible, visit on week-days and purchase ticket in advance (City pass and Go card holders can skip the line). I stayed up there for 2 hours.
Day III ~ The most ‘Instagrammable’ brunch place
On Sunday I woke up early and left hotel by 7 a.m. My first stop was The Bean – this time it was completely empty when I arrived. I took bunch of shots, including the funny ones with reflection in the sculpture 😉
After a donut-and-latte break, red “L” line took me north.
A friend of mine recommended me to visit the most ‘Instagrammable’ cafe in the city. In the middle of Restoration Hardware, stunning furniture shop, there is an amazing brunch place. If you plan to visit, make a reservation during weekends, otherwise be prepared to wait up to 2 hours for a table. If this is the case, don’t worry. You are able to take your glass of wine with you while you explore the amazing setting throughout 4 floors of the furniture store. Time will fly, believe me 😉
In the same area I explored Astor street – some say this is the most beautiful street in Chicago.
To be honest, it reminded me of Europe. Low brick houses with lots of charm felt like I was in Belgium. Between Restoration Hardware and Astor street there’s also an original Playboy mansion, now turned into apartments.
It was again getting late, so I headed downtown. The best spot to see Chicago’s skyline is at Shedd Aquarium or Adler Planetarium. I waited for sun to set and then grabbed dinner at Chipotle Mexican Grill. After that I quickly headed back to hotel, as it was freezing cold due to the wind. Chicago justified it’s nickname Windy City that day 🙂
Day IV ~ Bye, Chicago!
Not by choice but by inner clock I woke up early again. I packed my stuff and grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks. I used the extra time I got by waking early for plane ticket search – I was planning a trip to Asia for a few month later.
My last “L” train ride took me to O’Hare International Airport, where I boarded a plane to Indianapolis. It was work time.
Thank you so much for reading,