The Windy City of Dreams

Trip Start Aug 12, 2011
Trip End Sep 08, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Saturday, September 3, 2011

Woke up around 9 am and pretty much as soon as I sat up, I started crying straight away. Today was the day we parted ways with Shell and Waddo. I'd spent over 3 months with Shellbo by now, all day everyday at a summer camp and I could barely look at her in the morning! I was so so sad, beyond sad. I didn't look at her in the eye until we were out on the road loading our luggage into the taxi that would take Alicia, Steph and I to the airport and leave Shell on her own. The taxi came at 10 and I had already been weeping for a good hour by now, ridiculous! 

When the time came to say goodbye I was absolutely hysterical outside as I waited for her to come down the stairs, Waddo didn't really know what to do ... my shoulders were lifting up and down to my painful cries, it was crazy, I could barely breathe through my tears! I haven't cried like that since I said goodbye to my twin sister for Uni, where I howled the entire 3 hour journey home... it felt like that, I was absolutely hysterical! I can't describe it, I really wasn't expecting it at all! Time for the final tearful hug and goodbye and we were off in our shuttle to the airport. The taxi men asked if I was ok, as I sat in the back seat blubbering away, these were tears that made hysterical sounds. Mental, poor Steph and Waddo! The hysterical tears didn't stop until around 11, so that was 2 hours of the most crying I've ever done in my life! Completely gutted and upset to leave Shellbo, going to miss her so so so much! :( :( At the time of writing this diary on the plane, my eyes were actually hurting as they were so dry! No more tears to cry!

Wow. Emotional!

We arrived in Chicago to quite humid weather in comparison to San Francisco and we took a shuttle to Downtown Chicago to "our hotel." As we drove away from the airport and saw the skyline lit up in the night sky I immediately fell in love with Chicago, there was something special about it, and to this day, can't stop raving about it! On arriving at the Red Roof Inn Hotel the receptionist was taking ages to check us in, and Steph and I looked at each other like "Shiiiiit..." Turns out Steph's credit card had been declined due to Natwest thinking it had been stolen, and the hotel had rung as whilst we were on the plane! Major panic, it was around 9pm and we had nowhere to stay! The receptionist tried to help us and told us that the only 2 hotels which had any availability was the Ritz, at $450 per night or one which was 18 miles away. Sucks to be us. There was no way we wanted to settle for either, so we used the hotel's wifi whilst we searched for any other cheap options in Downtown Chicago. I suddenly remembered driving past Ohio House Motel and thinking to myself, "oh that looks like a cheap place, wonder why we didn't book there." So I rang them up, and luckily they had only 1 room left at $139 for 2 nights! AMAZING! So unbelievably lucky, we could have been on the streets!

After settling into our hotel, we then hit the streets of Chicago. Such a better atmosphere than San Francisco, and it was so clean! If that makes sense? Huge contrast to San Fran! We were walking the streets exploring until midnight and it was so unbelievably safe! We walked over to Navy Pier with all of the bright lights and attractions! Like a funfair! Brilliant!

We woke up really early to make the most of our day in Chicago. I was so excited, I had great expectations for Chicago. We were out and about walking the town at 9am. First stop was Willis Tower to visit the Skydeck. The Willis Tower, formerly called Sears Tower is incredible, its the Worlds largest building, soaring 103 levels high into the Chicago Skyline. There was a little bit of a queue, but at least it was moving. On entrance, we took the elevator half way up and my ears kept popping! Crazy! Once we had paid, the queue line turned into a tourist line weaving through a mini museum of Chicago. A great way to start out visit to Chicago by reading about, and seeing models of the famous sights in Chicago. We then watched a short 10 minute film about the history of the Willis Tower and it was actually really interesting, to learn about how the design came about and how they fought the cold and windy conditions to build it so high.

We then took one more elevator ride upwards to the 103rd floor. The view was absolutely spectacular! A must see, you can see for miles- into 4 different states! Incredible! The top floor was packed with tourists, but it was still hugely enjoyable, the view of the skyline was truly  breathtaking. The tower has glass ledges, which act like a see-through balcony, so that you can stand on it and see everything below you- awesome!

After the Willis tower we continued on our walking tour of Downtown Chicago. Absolutely in love with this place! We were on our feet the entire day, and I had completely fallen for it. "One day I WILL work here" I kept saying. Great City! The next stop was Millienium Park and it really was amazing- so beautiful! The cool silver bean in the middle was incredible! As a mirror it reflected part of Chicago's beautiful skyline- so cool! The trees, fountains, walkways, plants and the gardens just made Millenium Park look so pretty!

We then made our way down to the Magnificent Mile. I love this City! I think the feeling of unity in the City added to the overall appeal; you were guaranteed to see at least 2 people in every group that walked past you wearing some sort of sporting attire supporting the various Chicago teams- Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Fire all in the major leagues. Outstanding. There were so many shops along the Magnificent Mile and I bought a basketball top from Niketown and an amazing Chicago Cubs top, which I had seen someone wearing earlier in the day and I was so jealous, I had to buy my own!

After a great day of walking around the City we jumped on the blue CTA line to takes us to the Allstate Arena which was around 30-45 minutes away to watch a WNBA Match!! On arrival we were so excited, jumping around and screaming, yeeeeeoooooooow so excited! We entered the arena and ran straight to the merchandise shop! Haha I'm so lucky that it was their last home game of the season as they had run out of my size in 3 of the tops and I would've bought them all! I ended up only buying the one t-shirt which I love "Focus. Fight. Finish For 40" Sweet! 

We then walked to the other side of the arena where they were selling old merchandise for charity and I bought a white and a blue jersey for only $10 each- BARGAIN! They had the names of old players on the back! WNBA skin shorts for only $3 - amazing! Another tshirt and a bracelet for only $1 each- unreal! 

We then found our seats and we were right at the front, Two rows away from courtside! Great seats! Chicago Sky vs Indiana Fever. It was a great game to watch, especially being a women's basketball player myself, to see how the professionals play. Sky went down by 10 points but then came back even in the 4th quarter and then it was a one point game until the end, so tight! Amazing to watch! 


The next day, we made the visit we swore we would do from our first taxi journey into Chicago- Garrett's popcorn! Throughout our stay in Chicago we had always seen queues out of the door, all the way along the street, never ending! So we joined the queue and I bought a medium caramel crisp. SO GOOD. The best popcorn I have ever had! Garrett's famous popcorn mix is Caramel and Cheese, which is crazy! Steph bought one, and I admit, it somehow worked! Even though we only bought a medium, it lasted forever, there was so much of it! Everyone has to visit Chicago, even if it is for the traditional Garretts Popcorn! We returned to Magnificent Mile, crossing the bridge with the most spectacular views. Everywhere in Chicago is absolutely beautiful, the skyline is just outstanding!

It was time to go to Union Station to say farewell to Steph, as we parted ways :( It was very sad, but I wasn't as emotional because a) I had no more tears to cry, and b) unlike the Aussie, I knew I would definitely see Steph in England as much as possible :)

I then headed to the United Center, home of Chicago Blackhawks, and of particular interest to me, Chicago Bulls. It was off season and so it was only myself and this friendly Canadian man walking around looking for the Michael Jordan statue. Once we found it, we both took pictures of each other and then took the bus back to the centre.

My train was supposed to leave 9:30 pm , but I didn't get on it until 10:30, and it didn't leave until 12:30. Nightmare Amtrak.

Definitely returning to Chicago soon! I fell in love with it. The feeling is almost as strong as my love for Costa Rica, and that is saying something!

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