Chicago – by 3 Mums off the leash for 4 days!!

Back in October the husband and I had a fabulous trip to New York for his belated 40th birthday. Well, earlier this month I was lucky enough to go on another transatlantic jaunt, this time with 2 of my friends – off to see another friend who is now living in Chicago. Our combined knowledge of the Windy City was gleaned from US TV programmes – mostly ER – so the fact it was by a lake, it snowed a lot, and everyone uses the ‘L’ train were about our knowledge limits!

So – here is what we gleaned from our trip away – about Chicago (sort of!)

1. Breakfast can be exciting. When you are responsible for little people, you have to show some element of restraint before – say – lunchtime. But this is not the case when you’re temporarily let loose from the shackles of motherhood!!

Bucks fizzes and a Bloody Mary at Heathrow,

Breakfast at Heathrow
Breakfast at Heathrow

Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast on a Saturday…

Dunkin'[ donuts for breakfast
Dunkin'[ donuts for breakfast
Bellini’s with brunch on a Sunday (although admittedly this was only 2 of us – it had been a big night on the Saturday!!)

Bellinis for brunch
Bellinis for brunch

Note:  Dunkin’ Donuts does not make you diabetic after one visit.  I went to the loo not long after breakfast at DDs – and my wee smelt weird (#TMI!), I was momentarily convinced that I had been turned diabetic by having a donut and coffee for breakfast – then remembered I’d had asparagus the night before – phew!

2. The Windy City. I had always assumed that Chicago was nicknamed The Windy City due to the wind whipping in across Lake Michigan.

On the shores of Lake Michigan
On the shores of Lake Michigan

(which it does A LOT – and is particularly noticeable when you’re on the top of an open top bus!)

An open top bus ride
An open top bus ride

But it is actually a historic reference to the politicians there being full of a lot of hot air.

3. Americans go MAD for their national anthem at ice hockey games. We were lucky enough to go to see the Chicago Blackhawks play against the Montreal Canadiens – and we did it in swanky, corporate hospitality style!!

Enjoying the corporate hospitality at the Chicago Blackhawks
Enjoying the corporate hospitality at the Chicago Blackhawks

When the US national anthem was played the whole place ERUPTED – I have never heard anything like it (but then there’s never that much noise at Villa Park except at a Take That concert!!) I almost felt patriotic!

The National Anthem
The National Anthem

The game was interesting – although the breaks every few minutes for scantily clad girls to sweep the ice was a little distracting – they did sort of need to get on with it (or that may have been because the combo of jet lag and free booze made me a bit (more) impatient!!) The Blackhawks won – yay!!!

Ice sweeping in very short shorts!
Ice sweeping in very short shorts!

4. Open top bus tours rock. My best friend’s husband and I forced our other halves to do a Barcelona bus tour earlier in the year – and I was pleased we all wanted to do the same in Chicago. However this time I didn’t need to worry about sunburn – it was most definitely wind burn that was the risk!! We saw LOADS of the city – learned lots of random facts – and managed not to completely freeze (although had to have a quick coffee break to warm up half way around!)

Merchandise Mart - the second largest building in the US (after the Pentagon in case you were wondering!)
Merchandise Mart – the second largest building in the US (after the Pentagon in case you were wondering!)
The church Al Capone and other gangsters used to frequent
The church Al Capone and other gangsters used to frequent
The Chicago skyline
The Chicago skyline

5. Starbucks serve beer. Honestly – who knew?

Beer in Starbucks!
Beer in Starbucks!

6. You can watch more Premiership live TV in the US than at home. We watched Villa win – which is a miracle in more ways than one!

Villa v Leicester
Villa v Leicester

7. The world is a small place. Turns out one of my Chicago resident friend’s friends went to the same church as me in Birmingham back in the 90s! He remembers me playing my flute in the church band, I remember him being one of the super cool Uni students whilst I was still a young schoolgirl. Random who you bump into at a house party on the other side of the Atlantic.

It's a small world!
It’s a small world!

8. Going on the ‘L’ train is really exciting if you used to watch ER. Sadly we didn’t spot Drs Greene, Ross or Carter – but the whole thing – tracks, carriages, stations – looked really familiar. And the platforms have lovely booths with heaters in for warming up.

The 'L'
The ‘L’
Waiting for our first trip on the 'L' keeping warm
Waiting for our first trip on the ‘L’ keeping warm

9. Perspective is everything. We had ‘fizz Friday’ in a fabulous apartment on the 51st floor of a block looking out over Chicago and the lake with AMAZING views. It felt like we were on top of the world. Until the next day, when we went up the Hancock Tower – and it dwarfed the building we’d been in the day before.

We visited a fabulous apartment on the 51st floor
We visited a fabulous apartment on the 51st floor
Looking down to the 51st floor
Looking down to the 51st floor
The view from the Hancock Tower
The view from the Hancock Tower

10. Friendships never end. It is quite sad to quote the lyrical genii that are the Spice Girls, but it is true! With some friendships it doesn’t matter how many miles or oceans separate you, you are still great friends.

Four friends, four different drinks
Four friends, four different drinks

It is also amusing to see the same stresses / fun of family life in downtown Chicago as in semi rural Worcestershire (Why will boys not do their homework as soon as it’s set? Why won’t girls brush their hair properly?)

Just need to persuade all 4 husbands that we need a girls’ weekend away again next year………..

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