Summer Vacation: Chicago Edition

Monday, June 29, 2015

I am about a month behind on this post, but I figured it was better late than never! So as many of my friends knew, I booked another trip to Chicago (who would have guessed?). As a disclaimer, all of the photos that are shown were taken by my iPhone 5S. My trip was from May 25th to May 29th, a short lived vacation, but it was packed with a lot of adventure and time well spent with my friend. The last two trips there, I flew on United Airlines. For some reason, my past trips took a longer amount of time to arrive at O'Hare International Airport, but the pilots on my American Airlines flight did a stellar job and got everyone to our destination quickly and safely. Upon arrival, it started to rain a bit, but not enough to leave a damper on my way to the hotel. I checked into my hotel (to which I will speak about later on in this post) and proceeded to catch some shut-eye before making use of the rest of day 1.

My friend suggested that we should have our first meal at Russell's BBQ (I will have a second post reviewing all the food places I went to later on this week) which was located in Elmwood Park. He drove me around the neighborhood nearing the restaurant that made my eyes nearly pop out of its socket. I cannot even begin to tell you how adorable these homes were. Living in Southern California made me very aware of how similar houses are built - they just all look the same. This neighborhood made me feel like I was walking through a fairytale scenery. Each home had its own personality, built with different building materials. Some had adorable canopies that provided shade for each window and others had a Spanish-inspired theme to it. The neighborhood was quiet and lined with tall trees that provided shade as you travel down the streets.

Just like the trip prior to this one, I booked my stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Skokie, IL. It is an extremely convenient location as it is across the street from restaurants as well as an outdoor mall (Old Orchard). Much like my first stay at this hotel, the check-in process was a complete breeze. The staff was extremely accommodating and made sure that I was completely satisfied with the room that they have provided me. Luckily they gave me a corner room, which helps a lot with reducing noise that I would hear otherwise with people coming back to their rooms late at night.

The following day, I had breakfast at the hotel and spent some time catching up on news as I waited for my friend to come back from work. We decided, on a whim, to wash his car despite the thick clouds that came our way. Luckily, the clouds started to clear up as we washed his car and I was able to grab a glimpse of a rainbow (it was a double rainbow at one point, but we all know what that looks like already). At that very moment, I knew that it was going to be one extremely fun evening.

My friend surprised me by taking us to an exquisite dining experience in downtown Chicago - a quick drive given the hour it was that we were roaming around, but an exciting one none of the less. Bavette's was his restaurant of choice (thank you Google for the recommendation) and it is by far one of my favorite restaurants for a number of reasons that I will go into depth about in a later post. For a Tuesday evening, downtown was still lively. Wrigleyville was filled with people sharing drinks and going from bar to bar. I managed to get my first energy-mixed drink and enjoyed it. It was also my first bar experience!

Wednesday morning brought some clouds, but not enough to make us not want to go somewhere. After an evening of amazing food and a drink, my friend took me to one of the more popular doughnut places in Chicago called Doughnut Vault. This is probably one of the biggest doughnuts I have ever consumed, but it was very delicious.

As we roamed around downtown Chicago, my friend randomly came up with something for us to do in the afternoon. He had me pick between three places to visit which were: Alder's Planetarium, The Field Museum or The Shedd Aquarium. Want to take a wild guess as to which of the three I picked?

I picked The Shedd Aquarium. I actually had a difficult time picking between the three because I will always have a soft spot for astronomy and being able to learn more about our solar system, but I also really wanted to visit an aquarium given that it has been ages since I have been to one. The ticket line was quite a doozy as it took a while for us to get our bracelets to get in, but we were really glad that we came at the hour that we did as students from varying schools also decided to take a trip to the aquarium the same day. In comparison to the aquariums that I have been to (San Francisco and Long Beach), I found this one to be bigger than San Francisco's and had more species than Long Beach's aquarium. The exhibits were well organized based on the location of where the species were located and the show that came with our ticket was really exciting to watch as well. We skipped out on the 3-D show to make time for the next place that we wanted to go to later in the evening, but I am sure it was a great show given the expression of the kids that came flooding out the doors to the showing.

The next day was spent together as we shopped around Old Orchard looking to use my friend's gift card that I got for him back in January. He generously decided to amp up my wardrobe and purchased this top for me from Zara and we decided to wear our new clothes out for a lovely dinner and dessert. It was my last full day in Chicago and we wanted to make the most of it. My apologies for the grainy photos - it was quite dark at the time these photos were taken.

This trip was planned extremely last minute, but I could never regret it at all. If you ever decide to travel anywhere, do it while you are able to because it is moments like these that will not come often as we get older.
Thank you for reading my miniature travel diary and be sure to come back for my reviews of the places that we dined at during my third trip to Chicago!

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