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,
Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast on a Saturday…
Bellini’s with brunch on a Sunday (although admittedly this was only 2 of us – it had been a big night on the Saturday!!)
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.
(which it does A LOT – and is particularly noticeable when you’re on the top of an open top bus!)
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!!
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 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!!!
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!)
5. Starbucks serve beer. Honestly – who knew?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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………..