Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chicago Vacation

What up readers?  It is I, Old School, back and feeling refreshed from a weekend retreat to the windy city (although it was pleasantly calm while I was there).  The Mrs. and I took a short vaca to Chi-Town this past weekend and spent 3 days walking around the city.  I was bundled up pretty warmly as I tend to get cold, but the weather was pretty mild for this time of year.  The following will be a short trip breakdown.  You can even skip to the bottom for a very brief highlight reel if you don't want to read this whole article.

Start: We drove north to Aurora Illinois and hopped on the Metra, which is a commuter train to Chicago.  It cost about 1.50 per day to park, so we spent $4.50 to park three days.  Not bad considering the cheapest parking I saw in Chicago was $20.00 a day!  Then we hopped on the train for $14.00.  Total, that's only $18.50 in transportation, not counting the gas to and from Aurora.  Not bad, and I didn't even have to drive in Chicago (which I hate).

A bump in the road: No Old School vacation would be complete without some form of Murphy's law eh???  (If you don't know, I ALWAYS manage to have bad luck when on vacation i.e. weather, sickness, losing items).

Anyway as we were about to check into the hotel room that evening my wife went to retrieve her wallet from her purse, and it wasn't there.  @)#$.  At least the very nice staff at the Hilton let us check in with my i.d. and credit card.  At this point my wife is sort of freaking out, and I am not in the best of moods.  We head up to the hotel room, drop all of our crap, and proceed to call all of the credit card companies and banks to cancel all of her cards.  We could not remember if she had accidentally dropped it in the car/parking lot, or we did not know if she had been pit pocketed.

Deciding there was nothing to do that evening, we went to an Epic Burger (only place really open by the time we decided what to do), and called it a night.  The next morning we arose early, 5ish, and hopped on the earliest metra back to Aurora.  The weekend pass we got was nice, and at $14.00 total we at least got our monies worth:)  Once back in Aurora we discovered her wallet had slipped between the car door and front seat...PHEW!  Back to the train and to our vaca.

$32.50 in total transportation (not including gas), is not bad.  We did end up spending an extra two hours total with the wallet mishap...meh:/

Ice Skating: This was my favorite part of the trip.  I had gotten our skates sharpened at the local arena ($14.00) and brought them along with us.  We walked from the hotel to the arena in millennium park which was only about .9 miles away.  Once there it only cost $1.00 to rent a locker and then you can skate for free all day/night.  It was pretty awesome to be skating right in the middle of Michigan avenue surrounded by tall building and people.  I for sure want to go back and try it at night when the city is all lit up.  Since we have our own skates we didn't even have to wait in line to rent!  Being frugal kicks butt and really is easier/more enjoyable.

Christmas Symphony: This was the part of the trip that both of us found disappointing.  My wife had gotten some tickets ($100.00 total) for the Christmas Orchestra which sounded great.  The problem (in our opinion) was that the orchestra was joined by a giant choir.  If I want to hear a giant choir I can go to church every Sunday.  I was there to hear some sweet Christmas tunes, and enjoy the violin/other instrumentals.  I felt that the music was overpowered by the singing.  It was good, but it wasn't great.  I would not recommend it.

Heaven on Seven: Oh boy.  This restaurant.  Just WOW!  My wife and I love spicy food and this is a great Cajun restaurant.  We couldn't decide what we wanted so we said "Jimmy feed me."  This option orders you seven random courses from the menu, which will be brought out periodically and delight your taste buds while filling your stomach.  The portions were supposed to be samples, but my wife and I were very full at the end of the meal and it could have fed three adults comfortably.  Total cost of the meal was around $70.00 which is way more then I would normally spend, but that price includes some wine and a very nice tip for our waiter who was the bomb!  For a nice meal in Chicago that isn't too bad, and it isn't like we blow that kind of money every day.

John Hancock Building: Yes this is one of the more touristy things to do and yes we dropped about $50.00 in this place, but my wife like it and it was her birthday/anniversary.  I couldn't have cared either way, but it was her favorite part of the trip.  The tower had an amazing view at night.  Seeing navy pier and all of the buildings lit up for Christmas time was neat.  We also did the Tilt which is were you can stand against a glass section of the building and they will tilt you 30 degrees out so you can look more directly down...sweet!

Shopping: Yes we did do a little consumerism while in Chicago and went shopping, but we didn't by anything:)  We did visit argo tea to consume some holiday beverages, and we also went to B&N, Ross, House of Hoops, etc.  I must admit there was some cool stuff, but my wife and I really didn't want to lug any goods around the city for the day.  We also got to witness a mugging occur.  A lady was holding her cell phone out and away from her to take a picture (gotta keep that phone high and tight!).  The mugger simply ran by, grabbed her phone, and disappeared down the nearest subway station.  You always have to be aware of your surroundings!

ChrisKindle Market: Maybe I spelled that wrong but basically this market was started by the Germans and only happens around Christmas time.  The market now contains all nationalities and contains authentic foods, toys, ornaments, etc.  The market was very small and very crowded.  We both loved the market but it became too crowded for our tastes and we chose to leave.

That wraps up our trip.  Total we only ended up spending$550.13.  That includes all transportation, gas, shopping, events, everything!  Not too bad for a 3 day, 2 night trip.  We did walk everywhere since our hotel was pretty close, but I feel very good about this trip and my wife loved it as well!

Highlights:

- Total miles walked >10.  We walked a lot, love doing it, and feel healthy.
- Consumer goods purchased (not counting food)  TWO, just proving that you don't need to buy stuff to be happy.
- Being upgraded to a King bed/suite fo FREE just because we asked.
- Meeting (o.k. it was just a head nod to) Charles Tillman at breakfast on Sunday before he played against the Lions.

Merry Christmas everybody and Happy New Year!!!