My final part of the trip took me to Chicago. It wasn’t my first time in Chicago. I went there 10 years ago when I was on exchange in the US. At the time it was spring break, which meant it was early March and just when I was there, a snow storm hit the city. It was blistering cold for my entire stay and I spent most of my time in one of the many museums Chicago has to offer. Because that was nice and warm. So I decided to return for a few summer days to truly explore the Windy City.
Chicago River with Trump Tower
Quintessential Chicago street
Cloud Gate aka The Bean
This opened in 2006, so it wasn’t finished yet when I was there the first time
Hotdog with ‘everything’
Because of the jump in time, I didn’t arrive in Chicago until 6 PM and then I had to get into town. I took the ‘L’ train into town to my hotel which was a bit of a splurge, but I thought I’d end my vacation on a high note. And it was only a 50 dollar difference between this hotel and another one that was much further out. My hotel was the Warwick Allerton hotel which is right on the middle of the Magnificent Mile. Because of that I spent the next 3 days walking everywhere. I was so much in the middle of everything that public transportation wasn’t even needed. I had a spot of dinner, grabbed some things from Walgreens and then went for a refreshing bit of sleep so I could properly explore the city the next day.
Because I was so close to everything I could explore the city at a leisurely pace. I decided against going on top of any of the skyscrapers that provide you with views as I already did that 10 years ago and I am pretty sure the view hasn’t changed much. I walked down the Magnificent Mile towards Millennium Park. That’s where I found The Bean. One of Chicago’s main attractions it seems, but it wasn’t around yet when I was there last time, so I knew I had to find that. I had a hot dog in the park, bought a ticket to the Chicago Art Institute for the next day and found out about a free concert in the park the next day.
I moved on to a stunning fountain that consequently also gave you a great view of the skyline to boot and then I walked along the lake shore and made my way to Navy Pier. My legs were still very sore from my little mountain hike in Vancouver, so it was slow going, but a fine walk. There were loads of geese and dragon flies around the lake and around 3 PM I found myself at Navy Pier. I didn’t walk the stretch of it, but instead bought a ticket at the IMAX theater to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. After that movie, I walked back to the hotel, went to Whole Foods which was only three blocks from my hotel and enjoyed a make shift dinner of cheesy popcorn, lemonade and some fresh fruit with bagels.
Chicago Art Institute
Wheat stacks by Monet
Grant Park Music Festival @ Millennium Park
For my second day in Chicago I had a very set plan: I was going to visit the Chicago Art Institute. Chicago has some amazing museums (Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium are all great museums if you ever find yourself there) and I had visited most of them on my first visit. I didn’t really get round to the Art Institute at the time though, so I already knew that when I was in Chicago I would have to go there. I could skip the line because I had already bought a ticket and pretty much spent the day looking at art.
The Chicago Art Institute houses one of the most important Impressionist collections in the world, mainly because many people in Chicago bought Impressionist art when it was being made. But there is more. There are some smaller collections of art from Japan, China, India, Mongolia and the Americas and then there are different collections on Modern art (from Europe and the US respectively) and art from before 1900 (again there is a split between Europe and the US). There was also a special exhibition on Charles Ray, a sculptor I had never heard of before and that was ehm, weird and then there were a few other ones that were hidden in the actual permanent collection.
After the museum vist, which pretty much lasted until closing time at 5 PM, I set out for a bit and found a Barnes & Noble close to the museum. After getting a few books, I walked back to the park and watched a free concert featuring Mozart’s Piano Concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. They put on free classical concerts all throughout summer, so if you ever find yourself in Chicago over summer, you should definitely check it out. It is free in any case and the museum was right around the corner so it made a great 2-in-1.
Caramel pecan turtle cheesecake @ Cheesecake Factory
For my final day in Chicago I had very different plans: it was time to shop! I had an appointment at Sephora for a free makeover (because I spent so much money there on the trip that I was promoted to from Beauty Insider to VIB) and a 10% coupon to spend as well. I still had to go to Victoria’s Secret and I wanted to have an early dinner at Cheesecake Factory as well. My hotel was also pretty much next door to the Nike store, so I went there to find some new sneakers.
And that is pretty much all I did that day. I spent roughly an hour in Victoria’s Secret trying to decide what to get. And I tried on three of four different pairs of shoes before settling on a pair of grey Nikes that I forgot the name of by now. I had lunch and then it was time for my Sephora appointment. The lady who did my make up did a great job I think and she was really lovely too. I was in there for nearly 2 hours after which is was the late afternoon and time for Cheesecake Factory. There was one book I didn’t find at the first Barnes & Noble I went to and when I saw a couple with a B&N bag at the restaurant I asked them where they had gone. They gave me directions and it was only a few blocks from the restaurant and my hotel. So I checked that out and found the book I was looking for.
With all my shopping done I went to the hotel to repack my bags and made sure that none of the make up had broken. A tip if you are buying powder make up products: don’t put them in your checked luggage but in your carry on bag. That way you can be sure that it won’t be tossed around too much for the powders to break. I went to bed early as I had to leave for the airport at 7 AM.
Manhattan views on the way home
My final day of the trip was spent on getting home. I had a 10 AM flight from Chicago to JFK and then my flight going back home later that day. When the plane was about to touch down on JFK I was treated to some great views of Manhattan, which was a nice sort of farewell after my 3 week trip. I had a 6 hour layover which I spent reading and lounging at the airport. There was a Shake Shack at the airport so I had that for a late lunch: my last time trying some American grub before heading out. I am not sure yet when I will be going back to the States. I have been there quite a few times already and I think it’s time for me to explore different horizons. For next year I know I want to at least visit London again and then travel around Italy for a few weeks over summer.
But for now I am going to focus on enjoying my final week of summer vacation. I spent my first week back, battling the worst case of jetlag I have ever had, so that was fun, NOT! But I also spent plenty of time just chilling and having a nice vacation at home and I will continue to be doing that for the remainder of the week. I can’t wait to start writing reviews on the products I bought while I was away. And if you are curious what they are then stay tuned, because that post will be up tomorrow.
Enjoy your Sunday!