Day 63 to 66 : Mostly sunny in the windy city

Trip Start Jul 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Yep, definitely our kind of town. Matt loved the beers, the buildings, and the trolley bus that did all the driving around town. I loved the shopping, the beach on Lake Michigan, and the restaurants. The kids loved Navy Pier and the ride to the top of Sears Tower. Chicago was every bit as great as those already in the know had told us. Coming into town on a spectacular sunny afternoon midway through the Labor Day weekend was a fortunate way to experience Chicago traffic. Still, we had that moment of apprehension we feel upon entering any big city for the first time as we unjumbled the mass of freeway ramps & exits, identify bridges crossing the Chicago River, and squeezing along roads running underneath the rail line with trains thundering above. It's usually at this point Matt asks "Why did you choose this hotel?". Mostly I can't remember, nor can I advise say whether it has a pool or a fitness centre, which adds to the pressure of finding our way through a new city. To his credit he has only likened one choice to the flea-ridden cess pit I once chose in the Red Light district of Nice, France, and I have to agree it did have similar qualities.
Hotel 71 on E Wacker St, however, was a gem. Well located just off Michigan Ave (Magnificent Mile), a huge L- shaped room with plenty of space for paper aeroplane contests and the ever growing menagerie of stuffed animals we have accompanying us. No pool, but I was forgiven that oversight. Hungry after a day of driving from Detroit we went next door to the stylish looking Italian restaurant. Told the wait was 1/2 hr, we thought we could probably endure that, so we wandered around admirinng the buildings and shops on Michigan Avenue. Returning expectently with starving children in tow, we encountered the first truly obnoxious maitre de in our two month trip, but we sucked it in and continued to wait until we could wait no longer, and had to resort to our first 'room-service' dinner on the road.
We went for the Trolley Tour again which we know works for this family, and were able to get the 3-day ticket for a nominal extra charge, which made getting around town a breeze. On Monday we ate down at Navy Pier and turned the kids into Cubs fans as we'd forgotten hats. In fairness when the weather turned chilly on Wednesday we should have decked them out in White Sox hoodies, but things are complicated enough with our Red Sox and Padres paraphanalia, and in a few short months I forsee 3 little Bombers following in their daddy's loyal footsteps.
Chicago marks the end of our big cities this tour but it was a worthy finale. Aviva will remember it for its American Girl Place, where she and Lulu (her doll) were treated to the works. Lulu needed a good scrubbing and her hair done (something I could do with myself) and they both topped up their wardrobes. The boys were hoping for some new Lego but found the Disney store instead so we now have a few new characters and Wall-E along on the ride. We tried the deep dish pizza we knew to be a Chicago institution but preferred the Sicilian style thin crust we had the next night at an Irish pub. With some very fine local (Chicago) beer. 
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