Holidays in Chicago – Part 2

Posted: July 8, 2011 in Love and Marriage
Tags: , , , , , , ,

There was no doubt that Chicago in 2010 was going to be an epic stop on the restoration tour.  This time, we were going to make sure that it was the most special of all the visits.

Under ordinary circumstances, that can be hard to do, and can even backfire.  Sometimes, the harder you try to set something up just right and make sure that everything is perfect, the more the pressure causes it to fall apart, or the fact that it doesn’t live up to the hype leaves a lingering disappointment.  In our case, we had found our love again, and that was the secret key that unlocked the magic of our restoration trip.

My wife loves traveling by train, and we found out that we could catch Amtrak in St. Louis and take the train on to Chicago.  Since we don’t drive in Chicago anyway, not having a car there not only isn’t a problem, it saves having to pay for parking.  The only drawback was that we had to catch the train in St. Louis at about 4AM.  I figured we could catch up on our sleep later, which we did, and we even caught a few winks on the train.

This time, we went up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we got a hotel right on the loop for three nights.  My wife knows how to find amazing deals online and we paid only slightly more for the three nights than we usually pay for one when we stay out in the outskirts.  We were right off Michigan Avenue and literally one block from where the parade starts.

Almost everything was within walking distance, so we hardly even needed the bus or the El Train.  That’s one of the benefits of being active and in shape.  We walked up Michigan Avenue, to Navy Pier and all over downtown.  It doesn’t cost anything to walk, you don’t have to wait on buses and trains, and you get to see things you would ordinarily miss.  For example, when we walked past the Tribune Tower, we discovered that there are bricks and stones inserted into the exterior wall that come from famous locations all over the world.  Passing by in a vehicle, we would never see any of that.

The first day we took a nap at the hotel and then walked to Navy Pier.  For supper, we stopped in Fox and Obel and bought ingredients to make our own deli sandwiches and a bottle of wine to take back to the room.  It was mostly a relax and rest first day, so that we would be ready to get up early and go to the parade the next morning.  This time, we wouldn’t have to get up insanely early and take a train downtown to get a good spot.  We could just get up and pretty much already be there.

The parade was amazing and the weather was absolutely perfect.  Afterward, we walked to the opening of the Christkindlmarket, where we ate German food for lunch and bought souvenirs.  My wife got a picture with the Christmas fairy from Nuremberg, and we had a wonderful time at the market.  After another nap at the hotel, we realized it was Thanksgiving Day, so not much was open.  We decided to revive an old Thanksgiving tradition of ours and go to a movie.  We walked to a downtown theater and watched “Tangled,” which had just come out.  After the movie, we grabbed a bite at a sports bar and called it a night.

We didn’t have any big plans for the rest of the trip except going to Pizzeria Uno, so friday was pretty much wide open.  It was black friday, and we had no desire to fight the crowds to shop for things we didn’t really want, so we slept in and had a leisurely breakfast.  Eventually we ventured out and walked around Millenium Park and visited a few of the stores on Michigan Ave.  We did do a little shopping, but at our own pace and just for the fun of it.

We went back to the market for more German food and just because we enjoy it so much.  We always buy a Stollen to bring home, and we also collect the souvenir mugs that they serve the gluhwein, a hot spiced wine in.  This year, we also wanted to bring back some ornaments from the Christmas shop to remember this trip by.  Then we got our Chicago pizza at Uno and the trip was complete.

There have been lots of little restorations and a few big ones during this past year.  Chicago was definitely one of the biggest.  It was, and remains, a place where we feel as though we can step outside the stress and busyness of real life and go to our romantic dream world once a year.  We are just as much in love now when we are at home as we are anywhere else, but Chicago holds a special place in our hearts, and of all our treasured memories from nearly 15 years of marriage, there may be more from Chicago than anywhere else.


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