Chicago is a city both the hubby and I love. The art deco buildings, the stark weather, train lines above your head and the just-a-little-dodgy back alleys. We lucked out with a ten-hour layover in Chicago on our latest trip and figured little guy was big enough to try to get out of the airport and see something cool.
I have friends who are from or currently live in Chicago so a quick poll on social media told us that leaving the airport was as easy as catching the Blue Line to downtown. Follow the signs out of the airport, buy a ticket and jump on. It was about 20 stops (give or take) and a good 50 minutes to the Jackson stop downtown.
We had thought to take a bus from there but as fans of Lyft and time, we called Lyft. Earlier this week, we debated between visiting the Shedd Aquarium, Planetarium, Art Institute or Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). Hubby works at a Science Museum and was very convinced that was our stop. Our wonderful Lyft driver had boys of her own and on the way to MSI, and she gave us the scoop. If you only have a few hours, you’ll want to visit the genetics display (with the cutest baby chicks ever and awesome frogs too), the miniature super-detailed Chicago and the giant train track, and the Toy Maker 3000 and the awesome weather exhibit. We had time to do a little more (Maurice Sendak art exhibit!), but her recommendations were SPOT on.
One of the reasons I was so easily convinced to check out MSI was that it is on the list of ASTC list – Association of Science and Technology Centers. They offer entrance to hundreds of partner museums patrons. In this case, our membership to the Pacific Science Center means a free visit at MSI, which would have cost almost $70 otherwise. Check out this link to learn more about ASTC – seriously, just visiting two out of state science museums more than covers the cost of the annual home museum membership.
We did splurge on one thing – we bought passes to Brick by Brick, a special Lego event demonstrating how construction, skyscraper and bridge building works. It included some fantastic Lego work as well, like Cinderella’s castle. I’m a big brick nerd and I really enjoyed the exhibit. Poor hubby had to practically pull the little and I out and remind us there was so much more to see.
After a full morning geeking out, we went to one of the more famous Chicago deep dish pizza joints, Lou Manalti’s. Hubby had never had true Chicago deep dish. And although it’s pretty good, I have to admit I’m just not crazy over it. The butter crust ends of making me feel greasy. But it’s tasty and fun to eat and a treat for a special place like this, like eating cracker pizza in Wisconsin or NYC style in Brooklyn. The real thing I loved at Lou Manalti’s every visit is the salad. It has this bruschetta flavor and a sweet but vinegary dressing that I’m crazy about. I still haven’t found the Chicago deep dish pizza that converts me but in the name of science, I will continue the research. A friend recommended Giordanos but it opened too late this trip for us to investigate.
We hustled back to the airport in the afternoon with two hours to spare before out next flight, just because. And as it turns out, there was no need to hustle because American Airlines gave away our seats. I checked twice with the agents at the gate because I knew the flight was oversold and the second time I even caught some attitude. We were there early and went to board when called and there was a “glitch in the system” so someone else was already occupying our seats. I have a suspicion about that glitch: we used miles to buy our tickets so we were bumped and American wasn’t honest. To make things worse, they couldn’t promise where our luggage would land or when, which is pretty devastating to our next leg of the trip. We have a rental car and a road trip first thing in the morning, which we can’t move forward on without a car seat and clothes.
I’m beyond upset at them (it does get worse; they told us they rebooked us on United in terminal 1 and in fact they booked us on Aer Lingus in terminal 5; meaning a trip out of security and on the train.) I’ll send in a complaint but the truth is the folks at Aer Lingus are lovely. The plane is comfortable and they made sure to give us a row to ourselves. Complimentary dinner and some doting on the little and he’s fast asleep as I’m typing this and we are flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe this is for the best; I didn’t want to be cramped up and bitter dealing with all those rude and inefficient American Airline employees. Then again, maybe everything is better when it’s done with an Irish Accent.
If things go well, I will be updating from Galway and the Wild Atlantic Way tomorrow night, hopefully showered by that point.