My recent trip to the Chicagoland area (I visited Indiana and Michigan on this trip as well) was a great one. Though the main purpose of my trip was for professional enrichment (more on that later) I was also able to squeeze in a little recreational travel goodness as well.
Since I knew I’d be visiting multiple states on this trip, I rented a car. This was the first time I used a rental car for travel and I really enjoyed the extra freedom it allowed me while on my trip. It came in especially handy when I wanted to see downtown Chicago before returning to the airport. I also like that while staying at my hotel in Indiana, it made it super easy for me to just hop down the road to shop at Target for extra things I needed.
Maybe it’s just because I’m already used to driving around a major metropolitan city, but I found driving around Chicago to be fairly easy and quite pleasant. My only worry about driving into the city was that I wouldn’t be able to find reasonably priced parking near Millennium Park, and as it turned out I just followed the signs to public parking (very similar to the ones in downtown Houston) and paid the meter on the street without any issue.
After I parked my car I had only walked about 1 block before I realized that EVERYONE else on the street was wearing green and in VERY high spirits. Of course, they were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I hadn’t even given it much thought until that moment. Revelers in green hats and bow-ties lined nearly every street I walked down, hopping from pub to pub.
At this point I ducked into a Starbucks to charge my phone and get some hot cocoa. There I was greeted by a giant sign outside their bathrooms that said CLOSED. According to the kind barista that made my drink, one too many people had stumbled into the bathrooms to hurl before continuing on with pub crawling, and after mopping them up more than 5 times since they had opened that morning…she was DONE.
Of course, the main goal of my visit to downtown Chicago was to see The Bean, or Cloud Gate which is it’s proper name. The last time I saw The Bean was in 2009, on a hot July afternoon. The day I arrived in Chicago on this trip some parts of the city had over 9 inches of snowfall that morning…and I had SO hoped that when I saw The Bean it would be surrounded by the pretty white stuff.
But it was not to be. The days following the fresh snow got up to 40 and 55 degrees, so most of the snow was melting grey slush by the time I got to The Bean. There were also tons of drunk St. Patty’s Day party people all around which made things, interesting.
On the walk back to my rental car a nice gentleman offered to take my photo in front of the Flamingo sculpture. I was thrilled to be in one photo for this trip. 🙂
Other highlights on this trip included a visit to Redamak’s in New Buffalo, Michigan and a stop a Designer Desserts in Valparaiso, Indiana. One of my favorite things about travel is, and always will be, discovering delicious new foods. YUM!
The Banana Foster cupcake and the Lemon Dream were absolutely DIVINE! If you are in Valpo, it’s worth it to stop there. Trust me.
Since I visited 2 new states on this trip, I have now seen 24 of the 50 United States. I’m nearly half way to my Life List goal of seeing all of them!! Wow!
Coming soon: The post on the main reason why I made this trip in the first place…and all the big things that are to come as a result. 🙂