Chicago Day 1: Getting Familiar with my Surroundings

I had a nice deep sleep last night and intended on sleeping in, however my internal alarm clock had other ideas. Thanks to the complimentary Keurig, I had my morning coffee and drank it as I people watched from my window sill. I was ready to go back to bed, but I was encouraged to venture out and get familiar with my surroundings. I’m glad I did because downtown Chicago is a beautiful place.

I walked around, bought some breakfast food and gatorade from the Walgreens on the corner, very nice and helpful people there. I proceeded down the street with people and life whizzing passed me. I stared up at the beautiful buildings and got a sense of history. I couldn’t help but smile as I walked among the crowds, under scaffolds and caught glimpses of old fire escapes that trailed up the old buildings. I wanted to do more walking around, but I hadn’t eaten since before I left Canada, so I stopped and got a sub at a Subway.

I went into the Hard Rock Hotel store to check out the merchandise. (sigh) I wanted to buy one of everything! They had a guitar signed by all the Bon Jovi members and I decided to ask the store clerk a couple questions. She’s a young girl but she was so down-to-earth and since she is born and raised in Chicago she had lots of information regarding what great things there are to see. She recommended the Field Museum, which I’m totally down for, and named a couple local Irish pubs and fun bars. She was adorable and knew so many things that brochures can’t possibly mention.

I will go and chat with her again while I’m here. I just love meeting new people and laughing about how much you have in common with them. I’m still debating on whether I want to go for a drink in the hotel bar later, but I’m chalking this day up as an absolute success!

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Some stealth pics :)
Some stealth pics 🙂

On American soil…

Yes…I have finally made it to my Chicago destination and I couldn’t be more happy! How was my trip…well…let’s just get into it, shall we?

When I booked the flight and found out I’d have to wait for 3 hours, I was kind of annoyed. I went through all the hoops that TSA and Customs put me through. One, they took me into a back room and went through my things, EVEN my journal and two, they were asking me questions like: “Why are you traveling alone? Why do you want to go to Chicago? If you were still a financial advisor would you advise your clients to take vacations like this?” Like really?! THEN, he told me that since I haven’t been to the U.S. lately that I only have 10 days here, then I’d have to leave or I’d be in big trouble. Did I miss something, why can’t I stay longer? Is it because I’m Canadian?!

Well, after the search, and them making a shambles of my packing job, I was ready to get the big scan done. The agent scanned my ticket and the airline had me on the wrong flight. I had to go all the way back to stage 1, then come all the way back, by this time there were hordes of people. I got a line exemption and because of all the commotion they didn’t scan my laptop and iPad correctly. So rescan it went…

I made it to my gate and found out that my flight was delayed for an hour. During my wait, I made friends with the pilot and the premenopausal flight attendants. I kept asking the Captain about his closet and if it was as big as they portray it in the movies. He showed me his closet…it wasn’t that big at all. Actually, the whole plane seemed miniature. Most of us had to check our bags right at the plane doors because there wasn’t enough room in the overhead compartments. There was a lot of turbulence, but the only thing that freaked me the hell out is that one person would cough…then another person coughed…then a woman threw up…then the guy beside me started sniffling… I thought I was in the worst kind of death trap! All I could do was close my eyes and practice my calm breathing.

I was picked up in a beautiful Cadillac Escalade and the driver has 20 years of history of living in Chicago and he told me all these amazing restaurants I should visit while I’m here. I got myself checked in and the room is beautiful, high ceilings and perfect view of the city.

Now, despite all my hassles I must say everyone from the officers to agents to the flight attendants were amazingly professional and they dealt with every situation quickly and efficiently. All in all, I learned a lot about traveling into the U.S. Mostly… to visit more often!

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