Chicago. My kind of town.

My trip to Chicago

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

If you’ve never been to Chicago give it a try. Chicago is a great city with a population of about 2.7 million. They are a hustling bustling city with a lot of things going around all year long. In the spring time around St Patrick’s Day they dye their river green. In the wintry months you’ll know why they call it The Windy City because the wind cuts around all the corners and it gets exhausting getting from one place to another. You literally have the wind knocked out of you by the time you get to your hotel and want to just pass out.

Chicago has a great subway system that uses riding cards and costs roughly about $2.50. The subways are actually quite fun to ride. When first visiting the city it was a welcome change from the bus system we were accustomed to in our city since we didn’t have a subway system in Ohio. The subways also aren’t as windy and at times during our visit we actually saw some people playing saxophone and instruments underneath the city.

Here are some notable places and things to do in Chicago I was able to go to on my trip there. I was set to arrive around November 6, 2008 and depart November 25, 2008) My budget was based on the standard rates allowed at my job. Lodging maximums was about $218 and my Allowable Meals and Incidental Expenses was about $64.

And what happened was that I was ready and set to go but then got picked for a different assignment and didn’t get to go till December.

You know what I found out about Chicago? I love Chicago! It’s my kind of town. I wanted to move there after I visited it once because it was so exciting and so many things to do out there.

For instance in Chicago during the winter they have a Zamboni machine that goes around and smooths out the ice during the winter. It basically resurfaces the ice to make sure where the previous skater was with all the ice grooves and blade slices gets made nice and clean and shiny again. The machine makes the ice melt and freeze again so that the full surface is smooth again. It shaves, washes and squeegees the ice. You can find free public outdoor skating at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink downtown for instance. In our city downtown you just have to have money for skate rentals. This Chicago rink is usually open mid-November through mid-March. There is also a Park Grill restaurant at the end.

The city also has the John Hancock Center which is been now renamed 875 North Michigan Avenue. It is still often called the John Hancock Center though. It is a 100 story 1,128 foot super-tall skyscraper on the Magnificent Mile district. It has restaurants and condominium living quarters. Originally the project was funded by the insurance company with the same name. However it had to change its name on February 12, 2018 due to naming rights issues. An interest piece of odd trivia is that it is located across the river and that the “flying spiders” send out a balloon web and float up to the top of the tower and make their webs there. The spiders don’t actually fly but their web allows them to catch the wind and drift up to the high stories.

Another fun place that brought out the kid in me was the Navy Pier which is like a shopping mall, museum, art gallery and carnival in the winter time. It is near a Lake Michigan and sometimes there’s a Ferris Wheel you can ride. There’s lots of lights, food courts and arts and interesting sights there. And it’s nice and warm on the cold nights.

During the springtime Chicago dyes their river around St. Patricks Day and uses 40 pounds of proprietary environmentally safe vegetable based ink that turns the river green and then disappears by the end of the week. It used to take 100 pounds but they were able to reduce it. The powder starts off actually as orange but turns green when it mixes and interacts with the water. Sometimes it takes up to 45 minutes to turn the river green.

Another place I was able to check out was Ruth Chris’ steakhouse on 431 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60654. We had a very delicious steak dinner one night with potatoes and asparagus with my coworkers. It was a terrific meal and a bit pricey but good for what it was.

We stayed in a really nice hotel: The Homewood Suites Hotel. The hotel was excellent as there was free breakfast and happy hour meals that you could get dinner and take it to go back to your hotel room. Check out HomewoodSuitesChicago.com
They use Hilton HHonors Points

Our daily shuttle consisted of some commuting via the subway on Grand Ave Station. It was $2 each way. A monthly pass was about $75 and Taxi ran about $6-7.  Here was my bills that we had calculated

____________________________________________________
Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago-Downtown
40 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL
United States, 60611
Tel: 312-644-2222
Fax: 312-644-7777

Check-in Time: 4:00 PM
Check-out Time: 12:00 PM

Rate Information:
Rate Type:
LENGTH OF STAY TWO

Rate per night:

159.00 USD 06 Nov 2008 – 08 Nov 2008
229.00 USD 08 Nov 2008 – 09 Nov 2008
269.00 USD 09 Nov 2008 – 13 Nov 2008
179.00 USD 13 Nov 2008 – 23 Nov 2008
99.00 USD 23 Nov 2008 – 25 Nov 2008

Total for Stay per Room:
Rate 3,611.00 USD
Taxes 556.09 USD
Total 4,167.09 USD

Total for Stay: 4,167.09 USD
Includes estimated taxes and service charges.

Tax & Service Charges:
• There is a 15.40% Per Room Per Night tax.

Additional Charges:
• Valet parking: 38.00/night

Room Information:
Rooms: 1
Clients: 1 Adult
Room Type: 1 BDRM STE 1 KING NONSMOK

Comments and Requests:
RATE OF $229 T/A 11-8 $269 T/A 11-9,10,11 $179 11-13,14,15,16,17,, 18,19,20,21,22, $99 11-23,24::

____________________________________________________

I messaged the hotel staff to get an idea of  different combinations of nights. Here was a sample email:

===================
My name is XXXXX from Homewood Suites in Downtown Chicago. I spoke with you this morning regarding your reservation and you wanted the total amount emailed to you with the room and tax. Your rate is $218 per night plus 15.4% tax. That amount comes out to be $251.57. Your total for nineteen nights is $4,779.83.

===================

I tried also to arrange a few other different nights.

Arrival Date: 06 Nov 2008
Departure Date: 25 Nov 2008
Check-in Time: 4:00 PM
Check-out Time: 12:00 PM

Rate Information:
Rate Type:
### ### ###### #####
Rate per night: 218.00 USD
Total for Stay per Room:
Rate 4,142.00 USD
Taxes 637.87 USD
Total 4,779.87 USD

Total for Stay: 4,779.87 USD
Includes estimated taxes and service charges.

Tax & Service Charges:
• There is a 15.40% Per Room Per Night tax.

Additional Charges:
• Valet parking: 38.00/night

Rate Rules and Cancellation Policy:
• Your reservation is guaranteed for late arrival.
• Should you need to cancel please contact us 24 hours prior to 06 Nov 2008 local property time to avoid cancellation penalties.

Room Information:
Rooms: 1
Clients: 1 Adult
Room Type: 1 BDRM STE 1 KING NONSMOK

===================

This was a different attempt also at a stay.

Arrival Date: 06 Nov 2008
Departure Date: 26 Nov 2008
Check-in Time: 4:00 PM
Check-out Time: 12:00 PM

Rate Information:
Rate Type:

Rate per night: 218.00 USD
Total for Stay per Room:
Rate 4,360.00 USD
Taxes 671.44 USD
Total 5,031.44 USD

Total for Stay: 5,031.44 USD
Includes estimated taxes and service charges.

Tax & Service Charges:
• There is a 15.40% Per Room Per Night tax.

Additional Charges:
• Valet parking: 38.00/night

============================================

Finally after fiddling with the itinerary and trying to stay withing budget as you can see we tried for different night at a different month when my assignment was changed.

Arrival Date: 01 Dec 2008
Departure Date: 19 Dec 2008
Check-in Time: 4:00 PM
Check-out Time: 12:00 PM

Rate Information:
Rate Type:

Rate per night: 157.00 USD
Total for Stay per Room:
Rate 2,826.00 USD
Taxes 435.20 USD
Total 3,261.20 USD

Total for Stay: 3,261.20 USD
Includes estimated taxes and service charges.

Tax & Service Charges:
• There is a 15.40% Per Room Per Night tax.

Additional Charges:
• Valet parking: 38.00/night

November assignment cancelled and transferred to a December travel date.

Our per diem was $157 and $64
12/1/08 to 12/19/08

As you can see I had changed to DECEMBER from November and we also had cheaper rates. Some of my coworkers that had already been stationed out on assignment in Chicago for a period of time had already experienced a couple of the things that Chicago had to offer including the trains and buses. Before I got there they did recommend that I bring a coat with lining and hat and gloves and ever scarves.

Here are some other activities you should consider doing if you ever go to Chicago:

Garrett’s Popcorn near Michigan Avenue or Jackson. Gourmet flavors of popcorn to keep you warm and toasty and full in the warm or cold of Chicago.

Check out the skyscrapers. The Dark Knight was filmed in Chicago near Richard J. Daley Center located on Washington Street in Chicago.

Check out the subway stations definitely. I found it fascinating that there could be blustering cold wind up on top of the city whereas in the subway people it was still somewhat warm and less windy but a much more reasonable cold. People could be seen saxophone playing in the subway and carrying on and waiting for their next ride.

We also saw quite a few hot dog stands in Chicago. Their most famous recipe is the Chicago dog which is basically: a hot dog with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.

Go see the Art Institute of Chicago which has two bronze lions guarding the museum and is located in Grant Park. It’s one of the oldest art museums and also one of the largest. They have works of Picasso, American Gothics and several collections including African Art, Indian Art, Asian and European as well as modern architecture and textiles.

They have a Untouchables Gangster Tour out there that at the time was about $27. Chicago is known for the infamous mobsters especially the biggest boss when he moved from New York to the city around the age of 20.

They have the Harpo’s Studio which was Oprah Winfrey’s studio. We did not get to see her last few shows while we were up there.

Go check out Millennial Park where they have a sculpture called Cloud Gate but is affectionately called “The Bean” because of its shape. It’s a three story reflective steel sculpture of stainless steel plates welded together. It is supposed to be inspired by liquid mercury.

There is also the Crown Fountain which is a piece of public art sculpture that is interactive. It plays a video where depending on the weather it appears to have water flowing from person’s mouths every five minutes similar to certain fountains and it appears to change persons every few minutes.

There are some nice cathedrals and buildings out there. It is a very historic city with a history of Prohibition, Speakeasies and this was the place of former senator and now former 44th president.

One night before I had to leave the city I woke up and sent myself an email on my laptop so I could remember my trip years from now. After all life goes by fast and I didn’t want to get old and everything was a dream. Here’s what I wrote:

“Chicago? I had a blast!! Even though everyone complained about the cold. I went to Millenium Park and saw ice skaters, saw the John Hancock Tower, checked out the cool stuff and statues on Michigan Ave, went to Joe’s Bar to watch a boxing match, checked out a club. Ate deep dish pizza at Giardano’s. Had Fleming’s steak. Went bowling at a kickass bar! Saw Wicked! And best tourist site is Navy Pier with tons of malls, food court, Santa!!, and a Winter Wonderland full of Ferris wheels, winter rides, and icy snacks.
Loved it… Didn’t want to come back!”

Do you have fond memories or have a great experience about your trip to big cities and new things to explore or just love riding subways? Comment below!

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Author: savvywealthmedia

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