I know I am home a few weeks and it has taken me a while to get this blog post up so apologies but better late than never…..
I’ve always enjoyed going Stateside but never really fell in love with any place, okay maybe LA but Chicago, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Friends have gone on J1’s there and adored it. Even my best friend spent time living there and was so excited when I was going. I was given loads of advice on what to do and where to go.
But when I travel I just tend to go with the flow and see what happens! I don’t really make a plan which is kind of how I live my life and it has served me well so far.
So here are my tips if you plan on hitting the Windy City:
Flights: Okay book early and avoid America Airlines! I swear to god we were on a plane from the early 90’s, ashtrays and all and we all had to watch one screen meaning we had to all watch the same thing!!! And if you are like me and need a toilet break every 10 minutes then yes you will miss all the important parts.
Also they messed up our booking and we weren’t even sitting together.
Aer Lingus travel direct from Dublin which can be expensive but then it is only one flight. Try to nab a Virgin flight if you can although it will mean one stopover.
Accommodation: If this is a budget trip then I can actually recommend the Chinatown Hotel. We just booked it last minute because we just wanted a place to rest our heads. It was super cheap and you got what you paid for but the area was super quiet, people were helpful and it has the best Chinese food! Not only that but the red line is about 200 yards from the door. And it took less than 10 minutes to get into the centre of town.
Getting Around: Firstly the Subway system in Chicago is brilliant. Make sure to get a weekly travel card which you can use as much as you want each day.
Uber is a must as well. Another cost effective way of getting around especially at night time when the subways stop running. And make you use Uber going to and from the airport.
Sightseeing: Chicago has so much to offer. So don’t expect to be getting much sleep!! Now saying that I flew over for the rugby match (Ire v Nz) so checking out the sights had to work around all the game and not to mention the Cubs Parade and the Maori All Black v USA game! (Yes it was a sports fueled trip)
On day one we went straight to the infamous Navy Pier. But be prepared it is very quiet in the early mornings and not many eateries were open. But it was nice to have the freedom of the area before the crowds descended.
We also took a spin on the Ferris Wheel which was fun but we had to share with another family which wasn’t ideal as we felt awkward as they had some personal conversations and it wasn’t the largest booth. The queue wasn’t the worst either. One of us stood in line while the other got coffees so it was grand.
The Giant Bean is something to behold. The morning of the big game we purposely had breakfast near this silver piece of art so while we waited for grub we managed to take some snaps. I couldn’t get over how shiny and polished it was and it wasn’t as big as I thought.
Boat Tours: Chicago offers some pretty cool boat tours. You can take an architectural one that takes you around the skyscrapers explaining them all in their glory. There are also loads of boat tours that leave from Navy Pier. Or you can always catch a water taxi that will take you from one end of the city to the other.
Bikes: We took the city bikes from the pier towards Soldier Field where the game was taking place. And it was such a lovely idea. We cruised the entire way along the water front. A really great way of getting around the city.
The Scenic Route
Food: As we were in Chinatown we gorged on the authentic dishes almost everyday. Then there is all the usual American restaurants on offer.
But seeing as we were at rugby games we couldn’t avoid the hotdogs which I have to say weren’t half bad.
I’ve also been told that some of the Irish bars have some of the best meals available but we didn’t get a chance to make it to them.
Prettiest Skyline around
Night life: Due to the jet lag the night life wasn’t as wild as I expected. We did hit up Trump Towers because we wanted to get to a rooftop bar but it was November and most were shut. We only found out when we got to the door that it was the same in this Golden Skyscraper but seeing as we were already there we ventured to the bar. Have to say I really enjoyed the place. Really nice drinks and the staff were all sound and up for chats.
There was a group of us and we weren’t exactly quiet but other customers didn’t mind and joined in.
I have this thing when I go abroad I try to stay away from Irish bars because I like to see what the locals have to offer. We ventured into a few American Sports bars which were dotted around they city and fun. There was even one little bar that were extremely trustworthy. They had an array of beers left in fridges outside of the bar. You chose your beer and then went and paid for it. (Yes I did pay for mine)
To Win Just Once
So if you are planning a trip, make sure to look into Chicago as it is simply stunning. I just wish we had more time. If you head over this time of year head into Macy’s and see it in its Christmas glory.
But I would advise to go when it starts to get warm again and when all the rooftops are open. Saying that, it was rather warm in early November and suited my pale skin perfectly.
More importantly we ended an extremely long drought and bet the New Zealand All Blacks!!!!!!!!