09 April 2014

Travel tales: a restful stay in Chicago

As I write this, I'm on the plane en route to New Orleans. Shut up! Wifi on the plane is so Beyond 2000. Who would have thought?

My stay in Chicago was a restful one. I'm travelling for six weeks and cannot afford to push myself. And so I spent a lot of time in my hostel room writing and listening to podcasts. It was nice. And people in Chicago are friendly.

I booked into the Chicago Getaway Hostel in Lincoln Park. I saw on Trip Advisor it was voted the best hostel in Chicago, and I read they're also striving to be the best in America. I hadn't been to a hostel since the early 2000s when I went to Sydney on a trip with a uni friend. This hostel was affordable for me travelling alone, clean and warm. A little too warm at times, but Chicago has been cold. Most days were a maximum of 7-8 degres Celsius. People have told me this is a lot warmer than it's been. The showers at the hostel were clean, the bed was comfortable though probably too minimal for me (the bedding was a bit too small) and the free breakfast and cooking facilities was really great! Staff were friendly and knowledgable too. And the neighbourhood was safe. I highly recommend the Getaway.

I rested a lot on my first day - had food and a nap, and then met up with my friend Jenni Prokopy who runs Chronic Babe - the amazing resource and community for chronically ill women.

It was fantastic meeting her - we have known each other for three or so years now and we chatted like old friends over dinner. We have a lot of things in common - blogging, chronic illness and pushing ourselves to the limit. It was so good to chat face to face. We went to Big Jones which has a southern style menu. We had a pickle tasting plate and shrimp and grits. Grits is like a corn porridge. It was so good - very warming for a cold night. The staff were lovely, asking about Australia and giving me tips for my stay in America. Jenni took me to a bar after dinner - we went to a private party for a band she knows, and then saw the band. I was pretty tired from being awake for so long that day so I was home by 10.30 pm.

Sunday was spent looking at art. I went to the Art Institute of Chicago, which was highly recommended by a few people I've met. It was huge and I was in awe by some of the exhibits - I gasped and teared up when I saw Chagall's windows and Monet's Water Lilies. Such a privilege to see them up close.

I saw The Bean - which is a wonderful polished metal sculpture in Millenium Park. I love how it reflects the skyline. So many people milled around it, taking photos and gazing at its wonder. You can walk underneath it, its curves contorting bodies.

I also did some retail therapy in Anthropologie. Oh I love this store and want everything! This dress is so perfect - it's a lot brighter than the filter shows.

Monday was spent exploring the streets. I saw Lake Michigan from the very underwhelming Navy Pier (it's under construction).

The architecture is so intricate.

I went to the Field Museum too - after getting on a bus to anywhere. The taxidermy section was wonderful - as was the American Indian exhibit. I spent some time in a teepee where a historian told children stories of how the American Indians lived. We sat on buffalo skins around a pretend campfire and listened to her tell stories. It was so special.

I've met some wonderful friends in Chicago - including a family with three children who have Ichthyosis. I will share that story soon.

More from New Orleans in a few days :)

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