a little and a lot

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

That Time We Went to Chicago

This whole end-of-spring, beginning-of-summer has been quite the whirlwind this year. Parts of it have been traumatic and parts of it have been gloriously fun & exciting. Let's stick to the fun & exciting for now, shall we?

{I have no idea where she picked up this phrase, but Rhet loves to make a proposal ending with "shall we?" It is the cutest thing ever. "Mom, let's go to the swings next, shall we?"}

Nick traveled to Chicago in June for work, and I was over the moon about tagging along (while my mom stayed with Rhet and our dog-child). I love to travel, and I actually relish spending time alone. I don't know if that's a newish "mom thing" or if I've always been this way. I've always thought of myself as an extrovert--I like to study & read with background noise, and I could be dead-tired but spark right back to life after stepping into a party or get-together. But then again, I have always enjoyed going places just to enjoy being alone among people, and I really only enjoy going to parties where I know people...I'm not a huge meet-a-bunch-of-strangers-for-a-good-time girl. Perhaps I'm just an extrovert who really enjoys acting introverted?  

So...the prospect of flying to a fun city and staying in a nice hotel with my love while exploring solo during the day was right down my alley. 

I prefer vacations to trips. Perhaps you thought they were the same thing? Definitely not, my friend.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Vacations are going somewhere and relaxing. Trips are going somewhere and going/doing. Visiting big cities are natural opportunities for "trips," but I do pretty well with turning anything (even naptime) into a vacation. So here, my friends, is how you take a VACATION in Chicago:

Stay in bed as long as you want.

Yeah, sure, the city awaits. But "vacation mode" means you're never in a hurry. I could literally spend an entire day in a nice, cozy bed. R&R is NEVER wasted time. Particularly when you're sans parenthood responsibilities!

Do relaxing things that are unique to your location. 

Might I suggest a professional blow-out at DryBar (to rejuvenate your travel-weary head and save you time by not having to do your hair for the rest of the weekend)...

...a (gloriously) quiet, leisurely stroll through the Art Institute of Chicago...

...reading a good book in a beautiful place, such as next to Buckingham Fountain...

...doing your sight-seeing from a boat...also, I can't get these awesome scalloped apartment buildings out of my head...

....don't eat out for every meal--stay in a swanky hotel (breakfast & hor d'oeuvres in the executive lounge!), buy some awesome snacks & good wine (in this case from Garrett's Popcorn and Trader Joe's) and eat lunch or dinner in your room while enjoying a movie or outdoors nearby with a picnic...

*Note: I vowed not to get a travel guide book of Chicago, because I knew it would suck me in and I'd end up at the mercy of it's "must see" list.  Instead, I did a little internet research the week before we left.  And I found this: a Chicago Top 10 list compiled by Ann Taylor LOFT, which proved invaluable for providing fun, casual stops on the way to my "must see" locations.  Do NOT buy the books if you're planning on a vacation, I'm serious.  They will lure you in with their CityPass economics and their "If you have one day" agendas.  I repeat: step AWAY from the travel section...!

Treat yo'self. 

And while I just encouraged you not to eat out for every meal (it saves money and time), DO NOT waste an opportunity to eat something special you can't have in your own city.

Cupcakes for lunch? Sure! (While I'm mad about our fave local bakery, I do not have prejudices against famous delectable buttercream in copious amounts.)

Coffee and almond croissant for another lunch? Why not? (I love a short toffee nut latte with soy from the 'Bux as much as the next gal, but this Chicago coffee shop's java almost brought me to tears, it was that good.)

Jeni's Ice Cream for brunch was a given...and I won't judge you for going for a second round, because that's just what we did!

...other ideas, see further above: buy a new, fun shade of lipstick...definitely splurge on the jumbo sized Chicago mix popcorn...

Pick a small number of tourist "musts" and spread them out among your restful trip. 

This way you avoid a jam-packed, exhausting day. Nick was in conference meetings during most of our trip, but he had an afternoon here & a couple evenings there to spend with me. We picked a few things we wanted to do together, and I chose a few things to see on my own. Inevitably, there were things I/we didn't do/see that we could have, but I felt like we did just the right amount.

- Watching the Navy Pier fireworks from the Buckingham Fountain show 
- Wendella Architecture Boat Tour (worth every penny!)
- Millenium Park + outdoor concert sound check (sound check = shorter and before dinner!)

- Chicago Pizza Oven Grinder Co. for pizza pot pies (SO good!!)
*Note: We only ate pizza once on purpose--you don't want to be rolling down the streets because you ate every deep dish pie you came across!  And for our one and done choice, I'd say we were spot on!

Oh, I had the best time exploring the Windy City. I came right home and promptly fell into obsession with this series: 

It has only fueled my desire to go back again! Next time, I'm going to make sure I climb ride the Ferris wheel and zipline from visit the top of the John Hancock building. ;)

Have I talked you into taking a vacation to a big city yet?  The best part about it, is you don't need a vacation when you get home!


Unknown said...

So fun! Love the pics/recap!

Next time, you need this to listen along to: http://www.amazon.com/Yankee-Hotel-Foxtrot-Wilco/dp/B00005YXZH

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more