Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chicago: Day 3

***So, I have become so far behind on my blog! School is out of control this year with being busy and then last week I was in Vegas. I'm writing you from my spring break trip in New Hampshire! So, I hope to get up-to-date in the next month or two. I should be able to but for now enjoy Chicago Day 3! We began day 3 by going on a (very full) architecture tour with our Go Card. We headed to the Navy Pier and got our tickets. Turns out the tours are a block or two away.
It was so hot outside so Heather saw the Creamsicles. I decided to get one too and how glad I am! We were sitting on that tour boat for 2 hours in direct sunlight. I'm pretty sure everyone on that tour was looking at our Creamsicles like they were a T-Rex looking at a chicken.
The first building they showcased was this amazing hotel/apartment/business building. The balconies are all different. One of the purposes, other than looking like waves, is to help deter the wind. I saw this hotel on Groupon Getaways a while back, too and it sold out in a day or two. Very neat...
Got a great view of the Trump Tower in Chicago. A very beautiful color and one of the more expensive hotels in the area.
Another picture of our Hotel :) Hotel 71
Got a shot of the old retractable bridge, where the tour turned around.
The old bridge with the Willis Tower behind it. :)
Then we went through a few more waterways and turned around. Got a great shot of Willis/Sears Tower and the rest of the city.
This is the Fashion/Interior Design Building that used to be an old factory. It's HUGE!
Another one of the older factories that have been turned into chic apartment buildings...
It was such a beautiful day...
A shot of the SkyDeck which Heather and I got to stand on. 103 stories off the face of the Earth :)
This building was coined the Champagne Building and I believe is the Hard Rock's hotel and restaurant if I remember correctly from my tour. The architecture was pretty amazing and I enjoyed the tour. Just wish it hadn't been so hot!
Then Heather and I went to use our Go Chicago cards for the Ferris Wheel. It was pretty big and a nice ride. It goes continuously slow and you only get to go once around. But it does afford nice views of Chicago and the line constantly moves, so it's a fun time.
One of the photos I took while on the Ferris Wheel.
Then we walked through the gardens at Navy Pier. It was nice inside...
Then we headed back on the trolley tour looking for lunch at Heather's favorite place. We passed by the Hancock Center/Tower which you'll see later in the blog.
We passed by the old Chicago Water Tower and I got a better shot... Nice detail...
We passed by the Magnificent Mile but contained ourselves...
Mmmmmmmmmmm I really had to show some constraint but one day I'll be INSIDE Cartier :)
Finally, we made it to Porillo's on the Restaurant Mile...
Cute vibe inside... Lots of seating and lots of choices!
I got the beef sandwich with peppers. The meat was dipped but not the sandwich. It was amazingly good!
Then Heather got a chocolate cake milkshake. I had one taste and went up to get one too. Lol it was dang good but definitely couldn't finish it.
Then we (slowly) walked back to the Hancock Tower. We had the Go Card and got to go up to see some great views. You could really see the beaches and Lake from up here.
The great shot of Navy Pier from the Hancock Skywalk!
Chicago :) <3
The actual "Skywalk" they talk about is an open-air walk on one side of the building. There is a screen up so you can't really see over the edge or anything but it is weird to be walking along, feeling the heat (or cold in the winter) and hearing the honking and noises of the city. A nice, touristy thing to do...
While walking on the Skywalk... This is kind of your view through the screen. Definitely not as thrilling at the Skydeck at the Sears/Willis Tower but a nice touch to peak your interest.
That's a lonnnnnggggggg way down!
And a nice view of the beach... If we had more time we would have definitely hit that. Next time!
Heather had heard a lot about a dueling piano bar called Howl at the Moon. They have all these kitchey drinks but the live entertainment is really awesome. After going to the Houston and New Orleans one a few times I think this is definitely the best. They were really nice and fantastic performers who could almost play any song on the spot!
Buckets and towers....
Giganto buckets :)
We ended the night rocking out at Howl at the Moon. The guys were great, each trading places behind each instrument. Definitely recommended if you go to Chicago!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chicago: Day 2

Day 2 started off unexpectedly, but by the end of the trip it was a given. The night before Heather and I had these lavish plans of waking up early and getting a great start and.....we slept in. Alarms went off all the time. And we just kept rolling over in our beds; it was hilarious!

Still, it was nice waking up to such a nice view when we opened up the curtains :)
We took off from the hotel and just kind of wandered... We were a bit early for picking up our Go Chicago cards. Across the street was this neat-looking area.
I loved the views of the buildings from a lower level, especially with the bridges above.
In the same area they had a nice World War II memorial for our brave heroes and servicemen (and women)!
This was the view of the area with our hotel behind it. :) Not a bad shot, huh?
Then we headed towards the mall area to get our Go Chicago cards. Passed the old Chicago Theatre built in 1921! I wish we had found a show there...
After waiting for a LATE Go Card rep and then being out of cards....We ran over a few blocks to another hotel, then were yelled at for being upset that the company wasn't prepared. We were LIVID!! But, since it was late in the morning/early afternoon we decided to get a bite to eat.
By that time, I needed to go to the bathroom but they were locked, lol. You had to wait in line for a restroom "token". Hahahaha I can understand it...but just funny.
Then we headed over to Millineum Park to see the Bean! Very cool...
It was fun... Took way too many goofy pics, along with the other tourists there.
Right beside was the amphitheater which had a crazy cool set-up. They were JUST ENDING a free performance too, I was so disappointed! But I'll have to come back when they are doing an event. It looks amazing... (and probably 3-4 times bigger than the shot shows).
The Bean with the city of Chicago behind it :)
The water fountains in Millinium Park were really cool too. The graphics changed to all sorts of ordinary people.
Then we decided to hit the Sears/Willis Tower. We decided to take the L train... But it was kind of out of the way, and very confusing to figure out. It's clear they made the L design and tracks first before the touristy parts were built and confirmed.
Finally, walked upon this grand entrance! There was NO ONE there, I was so excited!
And what a BEAUTIFUL wall inside... "Ma'am, if you're looking for the Skywalk, the entrance is around the corner." Yep....that's just for the businesses. Walk around the corner? Ohhhhh a 45 minute line just to get in the door. :) That sounded more realistic!
You mean, we're going to walk on a piece of glass up THERE?!?
When we finally did get up to the top, 103 stories in the air, it was a pretty beautiful view... It took a bit to walk up to the window, though.
One of the highest gift shops I've been to :) I bought a TON of souvenirs! I hadn't bought any at all before that but I found all sorts of stuff! Lol
Some great views ..... truly. And such a beautiful day!
And a great view of the Hancock Tower... (which you'll see later in the trip) :)
And I'm proud to admit that I DID finally make it onto the Ledge. It took everything within me to walk on a piece of glass that was holding me up 103 stories. It was insane! Heather and I took lots of funny pictures and then we had one taken sitting on it... (ok, I was kneeling, I know, I'm a chicken).
When we finally decided to leave Willis Tower (aww I still like calling it Sears Tower) we headed to the water. As we were walking we were seeing all these people gathered and the street roped off. Ends up they were shooting a tv show. That was pretty cool. :)
Then we headed to Navy Pier for the night! We ended up taking the bus there, which Heather navigated very well, lol. We both work on our navigation skills continuously.
When we got there (later in the afternoon) there were TONS of people!
We went to the Stain Glass Museum. It was really pretty.
There was a good variety of pieces. I loved the historical ones, of course. :)
The religious pieces were, of course, very special.
I loved this one! Can I buy you, please?
And to all our brave men and women over sees, and all our brave men and women still with us fighting for our freedom on the home front! And to the victims of such a horrible tragedy. Love you USA! Love my fellow Americans and those that are peaceful friends!
At the end of the museum they had this small exhibit that I really loved for its symbolism. They took concrete with cracks and glued these pretty jewels inside the cracks. Made it very meaningful how we can all glorify our shortcomings and use them for good and beauty.
After the Stained Glass Museum we found a bench towards the parking garage where we charged our phones, lol. They were basically dead. When we came out into he night air of the Navy Pier we had such a beautiful view of the city of Chicago!
Along the pier were these travel markers. Thought it was really cool, especially since I love London so much :)
They had a Margaritaville on the Pier so I suggested we go there. Well: not such a good idea. It was like July 27 and my birthday was July 24. And my lisence expired on the 24th. It was valid ID for everyone else but noooooo, I was unable to be served. Therefore, I was not allowed to be served. So, after my jaw hit the floor (being 28 and not served in a bar) we left. Which, of course, ended up being the best decision of the night....look below.
Next door was the Billy Goat Tavern and Grill. It had a cute menu so we went with a Horny Goat which was a mix of cranberry juice and Sprite and something fun. Since I was traumatized at Margaritaville I can't tell you how better the night got. And the coolest part was...
We had great seats on the pier for the firework show!! Heather had checked the schedule and we loved the show. In fact, I think Heather said it was her first firework show. How cool is that!
Just some of my favorite shots from the show.... Thought that was pretty, although I can see how some others may see it as a bit Apocalyptic.
Yay! Another great shot... I spent most of the show working on my camera settings. :)
Then we headed back to the Billy Goat for some "Cheezborger"s. Named after the Saturday Night Live skit with John Belushi.
The cheeseburgers were actually really good! We stayed there at the Billy Goat til about 11:30 meeting people on the pier and sitting at the bar. But little did we know that the buses stop running at 11:00pm from the area. So, basically it was get into a cab or walk. My lovely friend Heather was like, it's a piece of cake, we can do this (with all sorts of strange people out and about on the streets) lol. So we end up lost as all get out, walking all over Chicago, for like an hour. Lol that's not what you need after being at the Billy Goat for 2 hours. But we finally walked all the way back to our hotel. The plus of that situation? Some amazing pictures of the city at night, LOL. Our hotel is the second building on the left, by the way.

And since we were laughing our bottoms off about the whole situation we ended up back at the hotel's bar until shutting it down watching some older women hitting on this young hotel manager. It was funny, though you may have needed to be there. Still, a fun way to end the night/day.