Karen and I decided the other day that she would take a day off during the week and we would go somewhere. Our original plan was to head to Indianapolis for a couple of days, spend the night, that sort of thing. The dilemma… the pups. We wanted to take them, and could have, but then what would we do with them when we wanted to go in somewhere or have dinner out or any myriad of other things that don’t allow dogs. We couldn’t leave them in a hotel room and we wouldn’t leave them in the car, so there you go. Dilemma. And subsequent change of plan… day trips. Ah ha!
So Sunday we just sort of drove around locally. Didn’t really go anywhere overly cool, just sort of checking some places out. We did this with the dogs. They like to ride along.
Monday we got up, got a tad bit of coffee, waited for the radon guys to fix our leaky boot, and then headed to the train. Ah the train. I love it. We were lame to wait until the last minute so our tickets were more. Yes, they have so many at different price ranges just like the airline and if you wait too long the cheaper tickets sell out and you are left paying more. Though really, c’mon… $52 for two one way to Chicago wasn’t terrible. We have paid half that, but we weren’t too flummoxed by it. Flummoxed… I love that word.
Drive to the train station, park in the 10 hour parking, hop on the train, get off in two and half hours after reading and listening to music and looking at the passing scenery and there you are… Union Station in the Second City. Chicago. I do love it there.
We have been to Chicago a few times now… before we moved to the midwest once, for two weeks over Christmas and New Years when the kids got married there. That was our first time… we loved it then, and still. We have only ever been downtown. And this time was no exception.
One glitch… we didn’t have a plan. We didn’t really decide until Monday morning that we were going for sure, hence the last minute ticket buying and such. And we didn’t really talk about what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go beforehand or on the train ride there. So there we were, Union Station, smack in the middle of the city, and had no idea what we were doing. Pretty funny… and, kind of fun. No agenda.
So we walked… and walked… and walked some more. We originally headed toward a restaurant some friends recommended, The Artists Cafe, on Michigan Avenue down across from Millennium Park and the Art Museum. We were starving so that seemed like a great place to begin. It would have been, only before we got there we passed another place. There were people sitting in the window who had enormous burgers that happened to catch my honey’s eye. Needless to say all thought of the Artists Cafe was out the window and in we went for burgers. They were good. Aside from the rather vocal and potty mouthed man sitting next to us, it was all good. And to be honest, we didn’t really care about the vocal potty mouthed man either. He wasn’t loud, so we could tune him out as he lit into his lady companion for… who knows what. Just a little extra flavor in the big city.
From there we walked to Macy’s to check out the window displays. They were pretty cool this year. I liked them. A sort of magical fantasy theme thing. Then we ran across the Christkindlmarket and wandered there for a bit. Every ornament you could possible think of, strudel, schnitzel, some strange drink served in a tiny boot… and crowded. Cool. We bought nothing, but we experienced it.
After that we decided we’d wander over toward the river and see if we could find some hot chocolate and chai. We did. A nice way to warm up and charge the phone (another word for map nowadays). We sat in there for awhile, got warm again, purchased our return train tickets from the Amtrak app on my phone, and then wandered along the river back toward the park. Millennium Park at night is gorgeous. Especially this time of year. Skating in the city rink, reflections of christmas lights along with city lights in The Bean, the faces all lit up, trees with lights in them, people everywhere, music playing, the Pritzker all gorgeous. Beautiful. We spent a bit of time down there just hanging out and looking at the sights before walking back toward Union Station.
Most of the day we walked, I took photographs, we talked, we hung out together. Nothing major. We figure we walked somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 miles. We had some good food. We looked at some cool stuff. We enjoyed both the train ride going and coming home. But mostly, honestly, we just enjoyed spending the day alone together. It’s truly our favorite thing. Being together and having an adventure. There is nothing better than that. Than days like our day in Chicago.