February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day in Chicago

This past weekend my boyfriend Mark and I traveled to Chicago to spend Valentine's Day in the city.  We woke up early on Saturday morning (6am) and took the St. Louis Metrolink to catch our 9am flight.  We figured that taking the metro was the best way to get there, because anyone would be hard-pressed to find a college student willing and able to wake up at 7am on a Saturday morning and make a 25 minute drive.   So we called the DPS to drive us down to the Metro ( a very convenient plan, that way we didn't have to walk and saved some time ).  The electro-80s music being played in the DPS car was a nice touch 
We got out of the DPS car at the Metro station, and walked over to purchase tickets.  Just as we stepped up to the ticketer, the announcement was made that the next train was arriving in 30 seconds.  Yikes! 30 seconds to get out our money, click through the purchasing process on the ticket machine, get our tickets, and get into the metro.  We could do it if we hurried.  Frazzled, we scurried into our wallets and pulled out 4 $1 bills. Clicking through ticket machine to purchase tickets = 10 seconds. Inserting bill into ticket counter = 4 seconds.  4 x 4bills=16 seconds.  Waiting for tickets to come out of the machine = 2 seconds.  Train arrives.  Hurry! I grab my ticket, quickly get into the train, turn around to check if Mark has gotten in, and the DOORS WERE CLOSED! I was standing inside the train, looking at Mark on the sidewalk outside of the train.  I had a minor panic attack.  He missed the train. I dramatically pushed against the doors to see if they could open, but no luck.  I was so sad.  A man behind me reaches up to press a button labeled "Press to Open Doors."  He pressed it, the door opened, Mark got in.  The day was saved! Relieved, we walked over to sit down on the train as the man stated, "That was just like a scene in a movie!" ... it really was. 

Here we are, sitting on the metro. Our eyes are closed because we were tired, but we still have smiles on our face because 1) we were excited and 2) Mark didn't get left behind.  It's a terrible picture, but you get the point. 

Our flight went by quickly, and we arrived in Chicago ready for the day.  We took the L from Midway airport downtown, and everything went seamlessly.  We prepared directions to get everywhere, and we knew what we wanted to do for the day. Here we are walking from the L stop down to the street. Guess what city we're in!

After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we decided to make the 2 mile walk from Wacker St. down to the Field Museum.  It was a very good decision, as we saw many fun things in the city including a Snow Sculpting Contest and the skyline along Michigan Ave. Also, we took a small detour into Millenium park along the way where we visited the Bean.  We took a lot of pictures with the Bean, but this turned out to be the best one.  We were very happy that we decided to walk, because if we hadn't we would have missed a really nice part of the day.  

After our walk, we were happy to arrive at the Field Museum.  It's such a beautiful building on the inside, and we enjoyed walking around and seeing all of the exhibits.  Here I am with Sue the Dinosaur.  We decided that one could easily spend about 3 days in this museum, because it's so huge.  By the end of our time at the museum, our feet were dragging and we were in need of some energy.  We had a light lunch at the museum cafe, and then headed over to the Shedd Aquarium.  
The Aquarium was fun and lively, and we enjoyed seeing all of the animals.  I liked everything except the snakes, because those are creepy. The best part was the downstairs Coral Reef section, because they had some big sharks that were fun to watch. We wanted to sit down for a little while and still be entertained, so we got tickets to the 4D Planet Earth show.  Here we are with the stylish glasses that are an integral part of show-viewing.  

On Sunday we changed it up from museum/aquarium to shopping and walking downtown. It was nice to have 2 totally different days. Sunday was a beautiful sunny morning, and we had a nice breakfast in the hotel lounge. That was kind of funny because we were definitely much younger than anyone else staying at the hotel.  I guess not many college students go for weekend trips and stay in nice hotels.  We realize that we're very lucky, and definitely took advantage of everything we could. 
After lots of walking on the Magnificent Mile, we stopped for lunch at Portillo's, Mark's very favorite Chicago-style restaurant.  This is a picture of Mark with is Big Italian Beef sandwich. Yum!  I got the smaller version of his, and it was definitely delicious.  Also, being the dessert junkie, I insisted on getting a piece of Portillo's Famous Chocolate cake.  Delish!
We planned just enough time on Sunday to enjoy some city walking, shopping, and eating.  After all of that, we got our bags and took the L back to the airport and headed home.  It was a great trip, and Mark and I had a great time.  It was so nice just to experience something new and fun together. There is so much to do in Chicago, so we decided that we'll have to go back sometime.  We kept joking about how, this being our first Valentine's Day, we'd have to do something to top this next year. I'd say we set the bar pretty high.