Chicago 2018: Day 1

First things first: it’s COLD in Chicago. Not just “Oh, there’s a little chill in the air” cold, but 18 degrees and blustery wind cold. At least that’s what it was when I was walking to my hotel a little after midnight. Oh, you want to know why I was out so late? Let me tell you the story! As I was getting to my gate at Logan last night, they were making an appeal for 5 volunteers to give up their seats on the 5:30 flight. In exchange for a guaranteed seat on the 8:15 flight. And a $700 travel voucher. Gosh, I’ll have to give this some thought. Just kidding! I immediately jumped into line and the rest is history. The flight was delayed but I eventually got to my hotel a little after midnight and…. wait a minute. I canceled that reservation and rebooked at a lower rate. What’s that? I canceled the wrong reservation and kept the more expensive rate?! Well that puts a little dent in the $700 I just earned. 😦 

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Cloud Gate, Millennium Park

Fast forward about 6 hours and I was up and at ‘em at the crack of dawn. It wasn’t a matter of if I would crash today, but when. Spoiler: the answer is 1PM; that’s when I thought I might just curl up on a bench and sleep. I’m used to a faithful 9 hours of sleep every night and I fell about 5 hours short of that last night. I needed sustenance in the form of pancakes. And boy, did Wildberry Pancakes deliver! I had my mind made up on the signature “Berry Bliss” pancakes, and then the waitress asked if I wanted just the pancakes, or if I might like them as a side for one of the egg dishes. Well, I had been eyeing the skillets at a neighboring table that looked amazing. Which is how I came to feast on a skillet of hash browns, ham, and eggs smothered in melted cheddar and a short stack of berry bliss pancakes for my first breakfast in Chicago. Looks like I’m going to love it here.

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Downtown Chicago from Navy Pier

After breakfast, I walked over to and around Navy Pier in the bitter cold before taking the lakefront trail over to Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. I took the obligatory pictures of the “Bean” and spent about 2 hours walking around the Art Institute. I’m not much of an art person, but I found myself drawn to the Contemporary Art section and I also enjoyed the American Art exhibits. It’s a pretty impressive collection. Afterwards, I hit TJ Maxx before heading back to the hotel. I was able to successfully plead my case to the hotel manager, who changed my room rate to the lower one I thought I was getting. I couldn’t spend much time in my room lest I give up on going back out for dinner.

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Chicago Theater

Dinner tonight was at Piece Pizzeria and Brewery. I’d like to call it a little hole in the wall, but it’s definitely been discovered by more than a few Chicagoans. Nonetheless, I snagged a seat at the bar and settled in with a white pizza and cider. It wasn’t so good I felt I would go back again, but it did the job of filling me up. And now it is a little after 7PM and I’m already in my pajamas laying in bed typing this. I’m fading fast and I’m determined to get a good night’s sleep so I can get back out and explore more of the city tomorrow!

 

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Washington, D.C. 2018: Day 0

Continuing (or “officially beginning”) the “Year of Travel”, this weekend I’m hitting up our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. I’ve been to D.C. several times, so there’s no pressure to see and do everything in three short days. D.C. is close enough for an easy long weekend trip, yet far enough away to feel like a mini-vacation.

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Logan Airport Terminal B

My travel didn’t exactly start off easily. My first clue that this day might not go as planned came in the form of an email from American Airlines (sent last night; I didn’t see it until this morning) alerting me that there was a travel advisory for Logan Airport and I was welcome to change or cancel my flight without penalty today. I had booked the flight with points and already tried unsuccessfully to change to an earlier flight. But this morning there was a seat available on the flight an hour earlier, so I made the change. I watched the flight tracker all day as flight after flight from Boston to Reagan National was delayed, diverted, or cancelled. But somehow when I left home my new flight was miraculously still listed as on time. Luck was not on my side, however, as the flight was soon delayed. In fact, the plane hadn’t even left Washington by 5:00PM, our scheduled departure time from Boston (it’s a shuttle flight that just goes back and forth between the two airports).

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Reagan National Airport

Fast forward 5+ hours, and I am finally settled into my hotel in downtown Washington and ready to collapse into bed. I’ve been fighting a “mini-cold” all week that hasn’t really gotten me down but has managed to settle into my sinuses and generally be a nuisance. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will help to refresh me so I’m ready to take on the city in the morning!