Chicago Sees the Sun

Hotel view.

Remember when I said one of my favorite things to do in Chicago was look out our hotel window? Well, this is the view that finally greeted me on Sunday morning. The sky! The buildings! A little bit of sunshine sparkling on the water! Navy Pier in the distance!

Seeing the nice weather, we pretty quickly scrapped our plans of taking the train over to Lincoln Park. (Alas, that will just have to wait until next time. And there WILL be a next time!)

We had grand plans of visiting one of Ann Sather's restaurants for a traditional Swedish breakfast,then head to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Don't worry, we're going to have plenty of tourist left in us next time, Chicago.

Instead, we decided to revisit this plan:
The John Hancock Building, lit in violet.
Oh Hancock building, you temptress, you.
It was on our to-do list until the weather fouled things up. But Sunday morning we sensed an opening. We hustled over and took the fastest elevator in North America (or some statistic like that) to the Observatory so we could geek out like total tourists.

It was at this moment I forgot about the local's trick at the Hancock building. It wasn't going to work for us on a Sunday morning, but here's the deal. To get to the observatory you pay $15 to ride a super fast elevator to the 94th floor. The locals skip the observatory (and keep a few extra bucks), then ride the some other elevator to the Signature Room on the 95th floor. It's free, but plan to get out the wallet for appetizers, drinks & dinner. Second piece of advice? Skip the food, get a couple cocktails, and make sure you're there at sunset on a clear night. 

Ah, Chicago!
I loved it! Sometimes you just have to suck it up and be a tourist, huge camera and all. After so many clouds, it was even more breathtaking to finally view the city. We found our hotel, the buildings from our boat tour, the streets we'd been walking all weekend, and got to listen to the lovely David Schwimmer narrate our audio tour. Apparently Ross is from Chicago - who knew?

I've been to the aforementioned Signature Room and gotta say it felt good to be a tourist in the observatory for a little bit. On a clear day you can see forever

Up close: the beach. Distant green: Lincoln Park.

On top of the world!

It was a great way to spend our last few hours in the city. We capped off our stay with some deep dish Chicago-style pizza, dodged the rain (it finally came) on our way to the 'L back to the airport, and soon we were on our way home, anxious to see our little girl. It was a fabulous trip.

As far as pizza goes, Chicago, you've got nothin' on New York. Or Mellow Mushroom, for that matter. 

So remember when I was the experienced city-goer? Riding The El like a pro, hailing taxis left & right? Well, the part of the story I left out was that when I landed in Chicago Monday, on my own, lugging a weeks worth of clothes on my shoulder, I got to the ticket machine for the train and just stared. And stared. So there's a machine that only refills tickets, there's a machine that dispenses tickets via credit cards or cash. There's some other strange machine that does something train related. Problem was, there were absolutely no signs indicating how much a single ticket ride was. But, worst of all, there were people with me who knew EXACTLY what they were doing. So after, say, about 45 seconds of staring at those God-awful machines, a kind local walked up, tapped me on the shoulder, and asked if I needed a ticket (she must have seen that blank stare before). Turns out she'd just dropped her mother off at the airport and her mother's 3 day transit card was good until 7PM that night.  A miracle! I thanked her, exchanged some small talk, then proceeded to get my luggage stuck in the turnstile.  

The best part of the trip, though, hands down, was getting back to Mimi's house, visiting for a few minutes, then hearing Violet say to Kristine, "Mommy, I ready go ho-ome". 

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