The final installment of the Adventures in Chicago blog series. Oh my! Just like the trip, I am sad that it all has to come to an end! Maybe I need to visit another new city so I keep up my travel blogs. It’s been fun to recount the details and relive the moments! Here are my ramblings on our final hours in the Windy City.
I’m sure by now you’re guessing that our last day in Chicago started off with Starbucks… and it sort of did… April and Jeremy really like Caribou Coffee and try to visit their stores when they are in an area that has them. So we set off on Thursday morning in search of the closest Caribou Coffee. Turns out its actually right next to a Starbucks! I needed one more purchase so I could get my free drink, so I headed over to Starbucks while the others went to Caribou. What I did next was very brave – a took a competing beverage into Caribou! They didn’t kick me out so we spent the next little bit of time enjoying our morning beverages at Caribou.
As usual, we had some time to kill before the places we planned to visit opened. After a little more research I discovered that the Cultural Center was right next to our coffee shop and it was open at 8:00am! That was good news! The Cultural Center used to be the old public library and it has two beautiful stain glass domes in it. Admission is free and along with the beautiful architecture of the building, they have local artwork displayed on the many levels.
Once we had completed our tour of the Cultural Center we took off down the street toward Barnes and Noble. I needed a new journal and this one of my favorite places to shop for journals. The building that B&N was located in was also used for a local university. B&N doubled as their student store there was all sorts of university merchandise everywhere. It was well stocked with school supplies and textbooks. It was the strangest set up I’ve ever seen. It was certainly interesting and I had a fun time exploring.
We spent the rest of the morning, looking through shops. Jeremy and I both started our fall clothing shopping which is weird for us, because we don’t normally buy “practical” stuff on tourist trips. We had room in our suitcases so decided to go for it. It’s hard to be beat a well-stocked store with good prices. We didn’t have a lot of time in the morning before Dad’s classes ended, so after the shops, it was back to the hotel to check in with Dad.
Dad didn’t have the opportunity to souvenir shop with us the day before, so we stopped by a store we thought he would like. He successfully found some souvenirs of his own and we went around the corner for lunch location. Since we enjoyed the Corner Street Bakery so much at the Field Museum, we decided to check out their store next to our hotel. I had an amazing apple chicken sausage panini (which I copied Jeremy in ordering) and a slice of pumpkin pound cake. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t finish both of them, but I’m so glad I ordered them! Amazing! I’ve never had pumpkin in pound cake form before and it was worth every bite. I even shared with Jeremy so he could experience the goodness!
We finished our lunch in time to head back to the hotel for check-out. Our hotel offered to keep our bags secure until we were ready to leave. Since our flight wasn’t until evening, we had some time between check out and when we needed to be at the airport. With the hotel storing our bags for us, we didn’t have to take them along with us everywhere we went.
Chinatown had been originally on our list as a place to visit and then had been taken off the list because it wasn’t super close to anything. Since we had a couple of hours before we needed to meet our airport shuttle, we decided to put Chinatown back on the agenda. April really struck gold in Chinatown when it came to shopping. She walked away from our time there with many Chinese treasures! We went through the stores and the thing that stood out to me was the smell of them! Some were very intense and very unique smelling! Also we saw some pretty unusual things for sale… Like really expensive dried shark fin and caterpillar fungus.
Once we felt like we had roamed Chinatown to the fullest we headed back into the heart of downtown so Dad could stop by Millennium Park. The boys had mentioned how cool Crown Fountain was and my dad wanted to see the Cloud Gate since it had been featured in a movie he had recently seen. Along the way we got Starbucks because it was very cold with the wind and it was nice to have something warm in our hands!
We got back to the hotel and claimed our bags. We didn’t have a lot of time to venture off and do something else, so we hung out at the hotel and just chatted until our airport shuttle arrived. Everyone was very tired on the ride to the airport. My dad chatted away with the driver, Jeremy and Andrew stared out the window, Mom dozed, and April and I chatted in the back seat. It was a hard conversation because I knew once we got out of the shuttle we would have to part ways and say good-bye.
At the airport, our group of 6 had to split. Andrew and April needed to look for the shuttle back to their car and we needed to check our bags and begin the long process of going through security. I don’t think anyone was really ready to keep going forward, but it had to be done. Hugs were exchanged and we talked about seeing each other again in December. Knowing that it would be another 3.5 months before I saw my sister and her hubby again was hard on me. I will admit that I was in a bit of funk as we waited for airplane and flew home. It just didn’t feel right to be flying home and not having them be with us like they had been the whole trip.
Overall, it was amazing trip! We got to see and do all we planned and more! We walked a ton and ate a lot of good food. It was an awesome experience to all be together and explore a new city. The memories made on this trip were priceless. I sure hope the warm glow of those happy memories keeps me through to December! Family is a precious gift and this trip was a wonderful family reunion! I look forward to our next reunion – here in the Northwest!