How do I even begin to write about this trip to Chicago. It has been a very very long time since a vacation. Hence, I was super duper excited about this much awaited break. It was barely April when my hubby told me about his ISMB conference in Chicago in July. Not just any day in July but on my birthday. Wow! I made bookings and detailed plans for activities. Then, somewhere in the end of May, I realized that I won't be able to assist with the Heartfulness book launch or go to Shenandoah group visit. Obviously no one else could change anything and now, thinking about this most waited trip was breaking my heart.
As July approached, I got excited about this vacation and we left. I felt like taking a picture of me smiling and the headline stating, "This is the smile of a lady who knows she won't have to cook or clean for next 7 days" A take on Meghan Markle picture but I forgot. Here is a pic of me .. all decked up for the bday.
We reached the airport smoothly. A pic of my son, Satyen with the sky outside. I must tell you all that he is my main muse now. Hehe. So there are many pics of him here.
Here is a pic of downtown Chicago. Reminds me of Mumbai. I didn't know that this is where we would be staying.
A view from the hotel of Lake Michigan.
We started our trip with a visit to the concierge and got all the tips for a smooth vacation. No matter how much you google, it is always good to ask someone ... trustworthy and who might really know it better.
We reached around lunch and our first stop was pizza. The ever famous deep dish pizza.
Sou had to get his poster ready for his presentation so Satu and I left for children museum. It is free on Thursdays. The museum is big and amazing. Like most of the museums, we weren't able to finish it. Satu loved the firetruck and the digger. As the museum closed, we went to the second famous thing of Chicago. Garret popcorn shop. Super yum!
We went to Navy Pier after our snack. Absolutely beautiful lights. I wanted to ride the ferris wheel but wasn't sure if satu was allowed. Only after the closing did I realize that Satu was allowed.
The highlight of the trip was this small conservatory. Satu and I were amused and amazed. I felt so grateful for this trip. I had forgotten what it meant to see something new and laugh. Sadly, I can't upload the video.
Sou joined us for dinner and we cut and ate a churro as my birthday cake.
While walking back to the hotel at 10 in the night, amongst the tall buildings and their light bright I felt peaceful and grateful. Here is to a purposeful 33.
Hubby had an accidental day off and we decided to be spontaneous about our day. We went on a cruise. It has been a big wish of mine. Though this one was an urban adventure cruise... I know someday...
This one was awesome. My son loved it when water spilled. He laughed. He didn't enjoy most of the cruise but he atleast he liked this. I loved it all except for my tan. I know.. Whats summer without a tan but... This is the darkest I have been. The day was perfect and sky was so blue...like the lake. Absolutely perfect.
After the cruise, we ate at potbelly and came to our room to rest. We made a small stop at Fannie May. Downtown Chicago is filled with small chocolate shops. Yay!
Hubby had to attend the reception in the evening while Satu and I explored the Millenium park.
We did all the touristy things but I expected more out of this park. I thought I wouldn't finish exploring it on this trip. Maybe because I had seen so much on the net already... maybe I was tired. I don't know but it was just okay. Satu was excited about the bean and the crown towers. We ate some Thai rice and hit the bed.
Super excited to visit the zoo, we left our temporary home. After reaching Illinos centre did I realize that most stores are closed on saturday. Ish. I strolled through the millennium art show. Some beautiful art pieces caught my eyes but my tummy pulled me away. I saw 2 food stands but I decided to go to Wildberry. Approx 30 people were waiting outside. I came back to the food stand and ate these. Let me correct. I over ate these.
We found our way to the bus stop for bus no. 151. Maybe I am getting better at it or maybe Google maps is getting to my level but I was amazed at being able to navigate till the zoo effortlessly.
We started with ducks and then went to the kids farm. Satu petted the goats. One of them turned its face to tell Satu that it didn't want to be petted. Satu found it funny but we went to another goat.
After washing hands, we saw some bunnies, roosters and ponies. Sadly Satu couldn't ride on one. We went to a dairy barn and behold. Satu got to see cows. He has been wanting to see them since a month. Next we went to a shed which had an artificial bee hive. Satu saw the chicks and liked them best. He also sat in the egg. Chota choosa.
We also had a chance to see this peculiar hen. Satu and I found it hilarious.
There was a queue to sit on the tractor. Satu was clear he wanted to sit. We stood for 20 mins for this beautiful smile.
After this we entered an edible garden. It was quite a treat. I got a chance to speak to a volunteer about my issues with my plants. Satu got to eat some raw veggies.
We got to see zebra, kangaroos, camel, and some other animals which I can no longer recall. Satu and I were fascinated with the kangaroos. I don't think i have seen one live before. Satu kept telling them to jump "Please jump" and one finally did. Every one cheered.
We saw some wild cats. I remember Puma. She was resting and I felt like resting too but we had a long day to go.
We entered the apes pavilion and saw a mom snuggle with her baby. Some macaques were playing on the trees and some chimps were eating oranges. Satu and I sat near them and ate some popcorn. I can't wait for Satu to grow up and tell me which monkey is which.
We passed some pretty flamingos. Saw 3 in a group discussion and the rest of the audience was happy that their pics were clicked. The bird house had lots of colorful birds and a big eagle.
I love Sea lions. It was at Niagra few years back that I realized how fun they are. We didn't stay long but caught a lovely sight of one of them coming in and out of the water.
We went to see the penguins. Satu absolutely loved seeing them. We were in a place where we could see them swim in water or walk on land. One penguin dived and came near us. As it turned, it.... Hehehe ... it pooped and went back on land. This was the highlight of the trip. On the bus, when Satu and I spoke about the animals, he said "penguin pooped" and giggled.
Before getting on the bus, we also saw the polar bear and made a quick stop at the plant conservatory. This beautiful flower scented room made me and satu relax and sit down.
A horrible thing happened in the zoo. I dropped my hat somewhere. I don't know how or why or where. The zoo is more like a spiral. I was too tired to go anywhere. I just sulked. I had bought it for 35 or 50 rs at Murud Janjira. Similar hats are out of the question but a normal sun hat costs $25 here.
Back home and exhausted, Satu and I slept - he for 4 hours and me for 1. I wrote a poem about losing my hat.
After getting up, he told me - Mumma I am so tired and sleepy.
We went for some delicious Indian food and called it a day. Dylans candy shop didn't quite stand up to its reputation. We got to see Fireworks on our way home.
Day started with Sunday meditation and Satu slept soundly. I connected with family and lazily started my day. We ate some yummy parathas. Somehow I didn't feel like going out. Maybe I was still upset about my hat. I just strolled around the hotel. Satu got up from his nap and we hit the beach.
My first thought on seeing the beach was that it is so minuscule. How or what are we to do here. The more I stayed, I realized that, just like a dead body, we need very little space on the beach too.
Playing in the beach was super fun.
Cleaning after the beach was just the opposite.
No matter how much you clean after the beach, some particles of sand find their way back with you.
Sou had dinner out side with his friends so Satu and I ate at Olivia. A small place right on the beach. Satu and I walked back. We enjoyed looking at the Magnificent Mile.
Monday - A day of preparation.
Everyone in D.C. MD and VA were getting ready for Josh. I was feeling a little crabby but preparing for my visit to the money museum and Chicago temple - the first church. My hubby was preparing for his poster presentation.
We left the hotel room for breakfast at Wildberry. Satu and I shared the Signature berry bliss waffle. It was yummy and my tummy was happy. Too full to walk, I drudged. Google maps wasn't helping me like before. Though I found these pretty gardens all over the way.
In the high of 30, I made my way to the museum which is inside the federal bank building.
Somewhere in the middle, my son decided to walk. It took us an hour, but we finally reached the museum. As I entered the air conditioned museum, the guard asked me - money museum?
He told me to show my I.D. proof to enter. I didn't have anything on me.
Sadly, I couldn't go in. I sat on the side to drink water and rest.
Taking pity on me, he came and asked - you don't have anything with your face on it?
We both laughed but I understood and left for the church.
Still too full from breakfast, I decided to go meditate in the church and then have lunch. The stain glasses were exquisite.
At 5 mins to 2, I went at the reception to inquire about the tour.
I could not believe my luck when she told me that it was cancelled.
Many negative thoughts ran in my mind and ... Well in my crabby mood - I took a detour for some korean glass noodles. It was a lot of food for 1 person. I ate till I could put the lid on the container and walked back home. Thankfully I knew where to go but... Somehow, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a longer route to the hotel. Satu and I were both very tired. We both slept for sometime. Evening, Sou had his poster presentation. Satu and I went there towards the end. Sou was busy explaining his poster.
Satu found this intriguing and Sou took Satu in his lap to explain the poster. Satu simply repeated the last word Sou said. Cuties.
We had leftover lunch for dinner and walked to Buckingham fountain. It was a beautiful site. I don't think this is the same fountain of friends. Never the less, we had a pretty family pic here.
I was well prepared for today. Somehow all of us got up very early and we had brekfast together after 5 days. Not just any breakfast, we had oatmeal. It wasn't sweet but just what my tummy needed after eating so much oil.
I knew I didn't want to walk all the way to the money museum. I took my favorite bus - 151. Since I had been lost so many times, I knew where and how to go. I reached in 15 mins flat.
The money museum was surprisingly very very good. Satu found something to color.
We made our own money.
After the money museum, we had 2 hours for the tour. We had wraps and baked potato for lunch. I tried skittles. Yuck! I should have stuck with M&M's.
The church was surprisingly crowded as opposed to yesterday. There were about 30 people for the tour from all over the U.S. and from all different beliefs.
The guide explained the history of the church and told us the story from the stained glass windows.
Then he took us till the 20th floor and ended the tour there.
My son slept and I walked back home.
Evening we had a playful visit in the Maggie Daley park. Obviously he didn't want to leave but we had to go for dinner. We wanted to go for Indian food but the restaurant was closed and we ended up going to Giordano again. We ate the thin crust pizza. Not as good as the deep dish pizza but still good.
Last day in Chicago. I let Sou plan the day as this was his only free time.
Sou wanted to go to the place where Swami Vivekanand had come. We went to the parliament of Congress. We found a poster with him on it. They told us the speech was delivered at the art institute. We walked till there. There wasn't any memoribala but they told us that they had a pamphlet and that the road outside was named as the Vivekanand way. Sou excitedly got a picture clicked.
We had a small visit to the CCC - Chicago cultural centre. I wanted to get a video of the whole place that looks like a palace I would love to stay in. So beautifully decorated.
Then we went to the festival "taste of chicago" for a taste of all the food items sold in Chicago. I was excited for this opportunity but It didn't appeal me once i went inside. We ate some beans at Chipotle walked back to the hotel. Our taxi was waiting and keeping time for traffic, we left.
Guess who kept the festival secure and safe? Police officers on horses.
Thank you, Chicago for a wonderful trip. I'l leave you with this last image of spreading love - Something I clicked at the Chicago Cultural centre.