A couple weekends ago, I flew up to Chicago for the first time to visit my boyfriend (he goes to school up there) and although the trip was too short in my opinion, I am a true believer in what everyone’s been saying – Chicago is an awesome city. I was starting to feel like everyone I knew was in on some secret, that Chicago was “so much fun” and I was the only one who didn’t know!!!! But let me tell y’all, I wholeheartedly agree. It started off a little rocky, with me not getting a wink of sleep because I was too nervous I would sleep through my 6:05 a.m. flight (never doing that again) and was about 20 minutes later to the airport than I wanted to be. But! I made it with plenty of time to spare and managed to snag my window seat. Shouts out to being Southwest A List.
Like an idiot, I hadn’t packed until the night before. I have a purple Rimowa suitcase that was gifted to me for my high school graduation and while I love it and it has withstood the trials and tribulations of almost every trip – car, plane, etc. – I’ve taken, my biggest complaint is that it’s just not deep enough most of the time. Usually I end up bringing along a random, black Kate Spade tote I got for like $60 on one of her super sales one day. That usually carries any shoes I bring and toiletry items that are too big to throw in my Jon Hart toiletry cases, like coconut oil, and my hair styling tools. At the end of the trip, the Kate Spade bag also usually becomes a traveling laundry basket so I can just dump everything in my hamper when I get back. I am not a light packer which is ironic, because I ended up only wearing the same two outfits the entire time I was there. When I travel, I don’t typically pack outfits I’ve never worn. Or at least, that I didn’t try on before I packed. Better to go with staples then end up feeling like you have no clothes you’re comfortable in and thus having a meltdown. Also, my top two packing tips are:
- Always bring blue jeans, a neutral bralette, and a white t-shirt. Versatile outfit you literally cannot go wrong with.
- Pack twice as many pairs of socks as days you are going to be there for, i.e. 10 pairs of socks for 5 days. Just…trust me. Same groundbreaking math equation can be applied for underwear.
(You can shop my looks at the end of the post!)
I got to visit Wheaton, which is less than an hour from Chicago Midway Airport, although traffic does not make it feel like that at all. Traffic is so weird and such an unnecessary evil. Here’s a bright idea: drive your car. If you’re on the highway, go the speed limit and don’t brake every 4 feet. Also, get off your phone!!!!! You’re welcome. I probably just changed your life. Anyway, Wheaton is a cute little college town that actually reminded me a lot of when I was in boarding school in Pennsylvania. The houses and scenery…it was some real nostalgia. We traveled over to Glen Ellyn to eat at a trendy little taco place called A Toda Madre. Usually I’m not down for the sharing plates idea at a restaurant because I don’t like to share (it’s not a flaw), but getting to try multiple basically gourmet tacos was like a dream come true. It was a neat place, made even neater by how much of a contrast it was to the otherwise quiet, old-fashioned seeming town. 10/10 would recommend. The rest of the night was spent being judged by the old lady clerk at the grocery store for buying two bottles of wine. She was a hater.
We traveled back to Chicago Friday night and got lost in the deep, dark tunnels of N Michigan Ave for, like, seriously an hour. It was probably 20 minutes but to me, it was an hour. Luckily, we survived, and made it to the LondonHouse Chicago where I was staying. The most frustrating part of the whole weekend – yes! Even after the tunnels! – was the third party valet, who did not understand AT ALL that I had a parking package with the hotel and ignored us for like 20 minutes and were just so weird, I couldn’t deal. I was #overit, so I headed upstairs to the lobby and the lady at the Hilton Honors desk immediately helped me out and called down and basically told the valet to talk to her if they had any questions. She was a boss lady; I loved it. Quick and efficient, just like people should be in all aspects of their life. She got me whisked right up to my room on the 19th floor, which was quiet and far away from the elevator and other people. Perfect. The hotel is a part of the Hilton family, but it’s more of a boutique hotel. It was perfectly nice and had great lighting and the best smelling body wash I’ve ever used. The only thing is…I was faced with one of my biggest pet peeves: SHOWERS MADE OF GLASS WITH NO CURTAIN!!!!!! WHY!!!!!! Sorry but who needs this?! So annoying. However the water pressure and heat was A1 sauce, so I can’t be too unhappy. Other than the weird no curtain thing, the hotel was perfectly wonderful. It also has a rooftop bar which I’m bummed we never tried out, but I don’t think either of us were in the mood for that (read: people) all weekend. The next day, in the daylight, I discovered that the hotel was not only right across from the G I A N T Trump tower (*rolls eyes*) but actually right off of the Magnificent Mile.
Although the hotel was onlys four miles from Wrigley Field, it took us about a half an hour to get there each way. It was nuts. However, it gave us some quality time with our Uber drivers, who were total characters. Loved it. Wrigley Field was a total madhouse and, though my phone died during the game, it was awesome. Except yikes because the Cubs lost. Wrigley Field is really awesome too because it has a vintage look and feel to it. Wrigley Field is so storied and famous, so it’s neat that it still has a classic look instead of being totally updated for modern times. We hid out in a Starbucks to not only charge our phones, but also wait for the traffic to die down and also so I could play with the Wrigleyville Snapchat filters. Uber even gives you a notification if you open the app too close to the field – “we suggest walking a few blocks in order for your Uber driver to find you.” So we did that and she still could barely find us! Mess. We had her drop us off at Dimo’s, but Zach and I decided it was way too crowded and started walking around to find another deep dish pizza place, because that was my one food request for the whole trip! Obviously your first time in Chicago requires a deep dish pizza visit. I loved looking at not only all of the shops, but all of the architecture around the city. It’s such a cool mix of old, interesting buildings that have been turned into Saks Fifth Avenues and government buildings. Obviously that is the case in most cities, but Chicago just really takes the cake for me. Anyway, we finally made it to Gino’s East, which was the first place Zach suggested and the last place we ended up. I’m annoying and insisted going everywhere else first because of what my friends had suggested. (Sorry!!!!) The building was crazy, covered in graffiti on every wall, from floor to ceiling. We sat on the second floor and had a pretty good view of the whole place. Our waitress was super awesome – I love when they ask you if “you can drink” before checking your ID, instead of avoiding taking your drink order because they don’t want to have to decide if you’re actually over 21. Like I’m just trying to get a an Italian Pink Lemonade and I’m 23, please don’t be annoyed with me for being born. We built our own wonderful, beautiful creation of a pizza. Zach doubted my plan to put spinach in it and guess what, he trusted me, and it made the pizza 100 times better, as spinach does with everything. After dinner, we wandered around the city, taking in more sights and sounds on our way. I loved walking around both at night and during the day, because it practically looked like two different cities.
Sunday was the best!!!!! We decided we’d visit the museums, which was actually Zach’s idea so shouts out to him, also because he traveled into the city every day from Wheaton to hang out with me. We’re educated and also, very cute. Chicago’s Museum Campus is gorgeous, located on the edge of Lake Michigan and home to Soldier Field, an aquarium, history museum, and the Adler Planetarium. Our first stop was to the Field Museum of Natural History, but when we discovered it was the same price to get in as going to the Shedd Aquarium, we decided the aquarium would be even better. The line was crazy so we bought tickets in line and skipped to the front, which I would suggest for anyone because it also lets you sign up for an aquatic show and into all of the exhibits. Zach was not super thrilled to sit through dancing dolphins with me, but I greatly enjoyed it. It’s obviously no SeaWorld show, but that makes me feel like the dolphins are maybe (definitely) being cared for and enjoy being there. It’s also really neat because they bring a sea lion out to do tricks and – my favorite part – Shedd adopts rescue dogs and trains them THE SAME WAY THEY TRAIN THE DOLPHINS. It melted my heart. After wandering around all of the exhibits, I dragged Zach out to the Stingray Touch part and then, of course, I was too scared to touch them (lowkey they kept trying to eat me, I was not down) and they loved him. Typical.
After the aquarium – and after losing Zach’s car in the Museum Campus parking garage for half an hour – we decided to make our way through Grant Park and around the North Loop. We realized we were starving and wandered our way around, trying to find a place to eat. We came across Tesori, which was totally empty when we walked in (it was 4:30 p.m.) The wait staff was super nice and laidback, with the waiter bringing Zach actually good local beers while telling us about how his brother plays for the NFL and was on TV right then and the whole staff was super attentive to our needs. And by that, I mean the four baskets of bread I ate which was magically refilled every time. I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that Italian is by far my favorite type of food, especially because you can eat pasta, pizza, anything, with a glass of wine or a cocktail or both. Also, it’s carb loading. There is actually nothing better. After that, I headed back to Wheaton with him and spent time drinking wine and watching movies. Well, I did that, and Zach did homework.
I was super sad to leave the next day, which is probably why I avoided leaving until the last minute. 🙁 Being long distance with someone who you’re used to at least seeing every day can be super frustrating, but it ends up being worth it. Chicago is REALLY far though! For me, it’s a lot easier when I have a plan on when I’ll see Zach next, so I booked my next flight out to see him on my way back to Austin, and I get to go at the same time as Caroline, my roommate from Tech, and her boyfriend, Taylor! It’s always more fun to travel with other people, especially when you know it won’t just be Zach and 45678 of my friends. Plus, it’s exciting that I have a really good excuse to visit the Windy City every month. In the meantime, I’ve made a list of things I’m excited about doing next:
- Going to a Bears game – Austin doesn’t have any professional sports teams, so I never get to go to big games like this. When I’m in town, the Bears will be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field and I’m pretty sure they’ll win.
- Second City Show – We haven’t decided which one yet, but the four of us are going to one of the Second City comedy shows! They’re super famous and people like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Carrell, Amy Poehler, and Aidy Bryant all got their starts with Second City so I’m prepared for a good show.
- Taking the train – Another thing we don’t have in Austin. Plus taking the train means no traffic. Zach and I are planning on taking the train from Wheaton to Chicago and back so we don’t have to park on the highway.
- Seeing Caroline and Taylor! – As well as being in the city with people I know and who know the city more than me. They’re two of my best people from Tech and obviously people I want to meet Zach and vice versa. Plus, Carol and I have never traveled together so now’s our chance. It’s always more fun to do things as a group, so when we do things together that weekend, it’ll be even more fun.
- Exploring more – I’m hoping we’ll get to just wander around Chicago again and just stumble across things
- Seeing Zach!!! – Obviously. Goes without explanation. Best part of Chicago.
Stay tuned for the rest of my ~travels~ and a recap of my next trip to Chicago in October!