Chicago, Illinois

I often travel for work, but I rarely get to fly anywhere. When my boss asked me to travel to the Mid-west, I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. I shifted my return flight, and spent a few extra days in Illinois. I booked a bed in downtown Chicago, right by the Loop and Millennium Park. I packed all the thermal layers I own, but I was still under-prepared for the November weather in Chicago. It rained, and I forgot to pack an umbrella.

The rain varied minute to minute. Sometimes it was a light drizzle, almost imperceptible. But then it would come down hard. During that first evening with the weather report warning of thunderstorms to come, I took my current book and tried the coffee shop connected to where I was staying.  It was a small, Cuban-inspired coffee and pressed sandwich shop called Cafecito. With an overstuffed couch in the corner. I spend the early evening watching the rain and sipping a Café con Leche.

I enjoyed the drink so much that I went back in the morning and ordered another one. It was still raining, and I decided to spend the morning inside the Chicago Institute of Art. But I wasn’t the only person that wanted to hide from the rain, and when I arrived at the museum, the line extended out the front doors. Admittedly, the line moved very quickly, and I escaped into the three-story world of art.

The Chicago Institute of Art has an impressive collection touching on nearly all areas of human society through history. My favorite part was the exhibit of miniature rooms on the Lower Level. They had up special displays showing Christmas scenery throughout history. The detail was amazing. I was impressed with the intricate needle work.

Thorne Miniature Dinning Room Decorated with Sweets for Christmas.

Thorne Miniature Dinning Room Decorated with Sweets for Christmas.

When I was done viewing the art and wanted to sit down for a while, I visited Russian Tea Time for their full afternoon tea service. It is across the street from the Institute, and I can’t miss an opportunity for tea. The space was intimate with warm lighting and dark wood accents. The tea service was fantastic. They served fresh whipped cream with the scones and a large variety of sweet and savory treats on an elegant three-tier tray.

Full Afternoon Tea Service at Russian Tea Time.

Full Afternoon Tea Service at Russian Tea Time.

When the rain stopped. I walked around Millennium Park. Millennium Park is a zone of gardens and large public art surrounded by skyscrapers. Because I was there in November, I looked down on ice skaters from the Cloud Gate.  The Cloud Gate was very interesting with the distorted reflections of the sky and the surrounding buildings.  

Ice Skating and the Cloud Gate in Millinnium Park

Ice Skating and the Cloud Gate in Millinnium Park

I walked all the way out to Navy Pier. Since it’s the off season for Chicago, I missed out on a lot of the Navy Pier Experience, but I rode the Centennial Ferris Wheel.  I really enjoy Ferris Wheels. I love the slow, meditative ride. It’s also a nice break from all the walking.

The Centennial Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.

The Centennial Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.

I coincidentally was in Chicago during their annual Light Parade to kick off the Holiday season. I was invigorated standing out in the cold with thousands of people. You could hear the excitement from the children when Minnie and Mickey came into view. I watched as floats and balloons traveled down the street. As soon as Santa went past, the fireworks began. I enjoyed the echoes of the fireworks ricocheting off the skyscrapers.

Fireworks after the Chicago Light Parade.

Fireworks after the Chicago Light Parade.

Chicago is a big city, and there is a lot of things to do that I didn’t get to in my short stay. I definitely want to explore this city more What’s your favorite part of Chicago? Where should I escape to next?