Chicago! - oh what a lovely city!

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December 10th 2014
Published: December 11th 2014
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Our flight from LAX left right on time and we arrived at O'hare international airport just after 9pm. 27 hours of travel has taken its toll on us both - economy travel means lack of sleep and short tempers!!

O'hare is a huge airport but very easy to navigate around! The airport had lots of lovely xmas decorations and like everything in this country they were just magnificent!

I visited the ladies bathroom on the way out and found something new in toilet designs. The toilets have an automatic toilet seat cover - you wave your hand across the sensor button on the top of the cistern and a new cover moves around onto the seat, then a message lets you know it is safe to sit down on the seat! A whole new perspective on hygiene right here in Chicago.

We caught a taxi from the airport to our accommodation downtown - $45 which included 25% tip. The ride was quick and delivered us right to the door of the " homewood suites by hilton" on East Grand Street. At $149 a night it is a great location and includes breakfast and dinner/drinks too! Dinner is complimentary Mondays through to Thursdays - winner I say!

Temperature this evening in Chicago is 28 degrees Fahrenheit - with light snow falling in parts of the city. The city streets are lined with spectacular xmas lights - it certainly feels like xmas here!

Our suite is very comfy and includes a fully self contained kitchen as well as a seperate lounge room. The room overlooks the city - just perfect for our 3 night stay.

We headed off for a quick bite to eat at a local Subway and then picked up a few groceries for our was nice to then get back to the hotel and grab a hot bath and jump into the super comfy bed!

it was rather difficult to drag ourselves out of bed this morning - we made it down to breakfast for 6.30am and then headed off for the day. First stop was the train station to buy CTA 3 day pass which covers train and bus travel on Chicago Transit. 3 day pass $25 each - super value really. Car parking is so expensive here we decided not to rent a car. Public transport is a quick, cheap and efficient way to get around town.

We got on a bus and stopped at Lincoln Park Zoo which is less than 2 miles from our hotel. This zoo is the largest "free" zoo of its kind in the USA. it is well laid out and plenty of great animal enclosures and a conservatory to keep us busy for several hours. While at the zoo we had light snow falling - somewhat a novelty for a girl from Brisbane Australia. All the exhibits have an indoor and outdoor viewing area and the animals are free to move inside or outside as they choose. On a day like today most of the animals chose to be in the warmth of their inside enclosures!

Stopping off at the Magnificent Mile Geoff took the opportunity to grab some photos of the Tribune Tower - a gothic style building erected in 1925 - founded in 1847.

Next we headed off to the Hard Rock Cafe to purchase some souvenirs - nothing special about this Hard Rock Cafe but it's kinda a tradition that we visit them on our travels!

We then headed over to the Christkindlmarkets this afternoon.

Each year, people from all over the world visit the Christkindlmarket Chicago. The outdoor market in the Chicago Loop has become so popular and loved by everyone that any Chicagoan will tell you that they could not imagine the city without it. Christkindlmarket Chicago is no longer just a German tradition, it has become a Chicago institution. The unique shopping experience, typical German food and drinks, as well as diverse holiday entertainment make the Christkindlmarket Chicago a preferred and popular destination. Admission is FREE!

The most popular bits and pieces offered by the vendors are the large assortment of savory and sweet foods, drinks and candied treats. Visitors can smell the tempting aromas from the sausages, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, waffles, and many other delicacies throughout the market. Glühwein, a traditional German holiday market hot spiced wine, has been perfected to please the palate and warm the heart. This beverage is so special that it comes in a souvenir cup shaped like a boot, decorated with the market's signature logo and year. German beer that will quench any thirst also flows from the vendors’ tap. The assortment of roasted nuts, sweet cakes and pastries, or German chocolates and candied goodies are sure to leave all sweet-toothed visitors satisfied.

Geoff and I shared a hot spiced wine - it certainly warmed us up and it was easy to see why there was a long line at this vendors stall.

After that we headed to the train station to catch a ride on the "holiday" train. This train does the Chicago loop and is decorated head to toe with xmas themes And a Santa. Price for the ride is included with your CTA pass - it was a bit of fun - Santa's elves were handing out candy canes and all the childrens faces lit up when the train arrived at the station.

You certainly know its winter here in the USA - the sun was gone at 4.15pm today. I certainly admire those folk who live here - all that winter clothing would certainly get to me after a while!! A good quality long length jacket is certainly a necessity around here!

We had dinner back at our hotel this evening. Pizza, salad and soup as well as complimentary beer and wine. Great to have this included in our room rate!

After dinner we took the train to State Street to look at the Macy's Xmas display windows. It was cold out so after looking at the xmas display we headed home for hot showers and a well deserved rest!

More of Chicago tomorrow.

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