For our 3 year wedding anniversary, RL and I decided to take a trip, a trip without our kids. What I look forward to the most is to sleep in, nap whenever I want, and stay up as late as I want. Excited to be without the kids, but at the same time, I am sure we’ll miss them. AB and his girlfriend LL will also be joining us on this trip.
This being Austin, gotta check Google Maps for traffic, even if it’s super early in the morning.
Yeah, it’s really really super early. 4:34AM. UGH!!
Made it to the airport. We didn’t get to the airport as early as we had hoped, so we changed our parking plan. Originally wanted to park in long term uncovered parking, but decided last minute to just park in the garage. We’ll pay a premium for it, but it was so close and I hate having to stress out about parking farther and taking up more precious time walking to the gate. It’s 4:53AM and our flight leaves at 6:15AM. After almost missing an international flight while showing up 2 hours early, I’ve been super anal ever since about having all the time in the world before my flight.
Good timing, as we entered the terminal, LL and AB showed up. They planned better, they actually arrived early enough to park in the long term lot and had ample time to walk over.
The new expansion security area. Cool, less waiting in line for everyone. Carryon only, so getting through was a breeze.
With the time that I saved by parking in the close in garage, it’s time for breakfast.
Found the gate.
Of course, breakfast of champions, The Salt Lick.
You know it, yum yum yum!
RL enjoying her time without kids. It feels like we are forgetting something. It feels so strange that our bags are so light. We are not carrying 5 different bags and toys plus the kids. We feel uneasy because this all feels too easy. You mean, we can just play on our phones and do nothing while we wait for our flight to start boarding?
AB being AB…couldn’t wait quietly for boarding, he walked laps around the airport to kill time.
Alright, time to board. Southwest flight, so I got up yesterday to check in to my flight right when the clock turned 6:15am. Got boarding positions A50 and A51, not too shabby. I found out that AB and LL paid extra for early bird boarding…they were exactly 3 positions in front of us. Hah! $5 per position.
Kind of a cool photo I think, with the reflections around the lens.
Rainy weather here in Austin, good thing it’s just wet and not storming. We’ll be leaving wet Austin, for hopefully a drier Chicago.
We were so tired from waking up so early, the plane took off and we fell asleep immediately…while we were trying to sleep, we found out that we made the dumb mistake of picking the seats in front of the exit row…yeah, those seats don’t recline. So much for our good boarding positions…
Love The Economist.
Short flight, just a bit over 2 hours. Time to get under the clouds.
Are those reverse thruster vanes made out of carbon fiber?
Chicago Midway. Never flown here before, have always gone to O’Hare.
Everyone is happy to get off the plane…and or just to visit the restroom after disembarking…
While AB and LL went to have brunch with AB’s parents, RL and I headed straight for the train that will take us right into downtown Chicago. I’ve been warned that Midway is not in a good part of town, and Chicago has a high murder rate…but I can’t imagine a train that’s taken regularly by airport travelers being unsafe…we shall see…
Kind of a long walk to the train. The airport itself was relatively small though, which was nice.
Get us some tix.
Pretty easy system…except user error. I kept on sliding my credit card in the wrong direction until RL pointed out my mistake. Oops, my bad.
Time to board.
As expected, perfectly normal train with perfectly normal people. 25min or so, we’ll be in downtown. Easy breezy.
Didn’t get to sit by a window, so crappy photos. The Southside of Chicago looks very brown and bleak. Not something to write home about.
Finally in downtown. Blooming trees, I was hoping to escape the pollen in Austin.
Got to our stop, then now a few short blocks walk to our hotel. Seriously, look at how light we are packing! A rolling carry on luggage, one small backpack, and one large backpack. That’s it, and we’ve still got plenty of space leftover in our bags!
The elevated tracks of the loop in downtown. I’ve always wondered what happens when a large truck crashes into one of those pillars holding the tracks up…
Weather is chilly here, it’s in the mid 40s. I like the cool weather, but RL isn’t as big of a fan.
Only tourists like us would take photos of the fire escape stairs.
Ugh…I’m so sad for our country.
Did not expect to see a Vapiano here.
Here’s our hotel.
We showed up at our hotel fully expecting to have to drop our bags off at the lobby and go about our day until mid afternoon when our room will be ready. As luck would have it, they weren’t very busy last night, and had a room available for us right away. Pleasant surprise for sure.
This is what $181 a night gets you inside the loop in downtown Chicago. This is just the bathroom, there’s more…
Not too bad for the price.
View from our room looks out into the next building. This is actually perfect, because this is much better than a room that looks out onto the elevated tracks of the loop.
First trip away from the kids. It feels so weird to be able to just lay here and do nothing. Seriously, I keep feeling like there’s crying kid who needs to be attended to.
While I enjoy my children free vacation, RL pumps and dumps milk. Seeing all that milk get poured down the sink makes me want to cry.
Alright, time to head out of the hotel room and see the city. Since our flight was so early, it’s not even 10:30am yet, lots of daylight left today.
Odd to see a Staples inside a dense city. I am not sure why I think that.
First stop is Intelligentsia Coffee.
While unpacking in the hotel room, I had ordered us a Go Chicago Card from Costco.com. The coupons are supposed to be delivered electronically…except it’s been 30min and nothing yet. We are hoping to use the coupon in a couple of hours when we meet back up with AB and LL. Ugh, I guess I’ll call Costco customer service and see what they say. There was a wait, so I left them my number for them to call me back.
Got some coffee, and got some pastries. RL decided now that it’s time for some donuts.
Did not expect to see Ross in downtown Chicago either. Again, don’t know why I expected not to see Ross here.
For some reason, Old Navy seems like something I’d expect here.
I like the maroonish color of that building.
This donut shop is really more like a kiosk. I am standing in the corner and you are looking at the entire shop.
While ordering donuts, Costco called me back, so I went outside to take the call. I then sat down on a bench without looking…Doh, it was wet!!
You can see the stripes of water on my butt! Damnit! Anyhow, Costco said that we should be getting our electronic coupons shortly…or so they say…
Eating donuts so I can forget about my wet cold butt.
While leaving the donut shop, saw this. Ohhh, I remember reading about this, I believe it’s a Picasso.
Yup, quick search on my phone confirmed that it’s a Picasso sculpture.
Love this art deco building. Actually, just love anything art deco in general.
Interesting building, very different from all the other ones.
Even the display at Walgreens have the cityscape in the background.
Walked by this store, and the first thing I said was, “OMG, a Mellisa and Doug Store!! I wanna go see!”…but it turned out to be just a store that also sells Melissa and Doug kids toys…Yup, head first into fatherhood over here.
We got off the plane, had coffee, pastries, and donuts. Why not add Chicago style hot dogs to our morning feast.
The guy here at the counter spoke with such a thick and fast Chicago accent, I could barely understand him.
It tasted like…a hot dog. I’ve had Chicago dogs before, so I wasn’t expecting it to blow my mind, but I do appreciate the snappiness of the hot dog skin.
Now that our stomaches are kind of full, time to take a leisurely stroll back to our hotel while checking out all the skyscapers here.
I wonder how it got the name Oriental Theater?
A pit stop at a 7-11 for something to drink. Four Loko, I think not.
A Coke is more like it. Interesting to note that Dr. Pepper isn’t offered here…except I just looked at this photo again and saw that it was at the lower right corner. Nevermind…
I saw this, and I got hungry again. I’ll eat anything, even wings that’s been sitting in a convenience store for hours and hours. Wish this was a Japanese 7-11, then I’d probably just fill up on the food and drinks here.
That’s what I’m talking about!
To be continued at Chicago Day 1 Part 2.