Have you ever been somewhere and just fell in love? Believe it or not, I completely felt that way about Chicago. I have heard (and read) so many terrible things about this place: the crime is horrific, the city is corrupt, the weather is shit, the list goes on. Despite all of these things you’ll hear, this is a beautiful city, and if you ever get the chance to go. Please do.
We flew with Frontier Airlines. They were cheap, so that’s a good thing for people on a budget. How an airline can charge you for regular seats after you buy a ticket is beyond me, but be prepared to pay at least 9 dollars per seat each way and 35 dollars for each carry-on each way. Still, they were our cheapest option, so we went with them.
O’Hare International Airport
I also heard terrible things about O’Hare International Airport’s TSA lines. Luckily, things had changed by the time we needed to get through. Our wait time was maybe 30 minutes, compared to the loads of videos online showing 2 to 3 hours waits. Yikes!
Randy and I are HUGE baseball fans. He’s a Cubs fans so naturally, a trip to Wrigley Field was a must for him while we were in Chicago. And although the Cubs are doing great this season, they got swept by the Cardinals while we were there.
The environment at the stadium was amazing. I’ve never been around so many fans that really loved their team. I’m a Yankees fan but haven’t had the privilege (or money) to go to Yankee Stadium and be surrounded by fans. Getting to witness how true fans react at Wrigley Field, one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the country, was an amazing experience.
While we were in Wrigleyville, I got to eat the best hamburger and the best hot dog ever. The hamburger, dubbed The Farmhouse, was from Rockit Burger Bar, a kick ass bar a few blocks from the stadium. I should have taken a picture of this burger and all of its glory, but alas, I failed you. Not only was the food great, but the staff was amazing. The bartenders gave us some pretty great advice about which neighborhoods to avoid at all costs and tips about dealing with Chicago winters (for when we come back during the holidays). The hot dogs came from Wrigleyville Dogs, which was also a few blocks down from the stadium. It looked like a family-owned restaurant, but we didn’t talk to anyone there. This place was cheap and great for a pregame dog because I am NOT spending 7 dollars on a hot dog when I can get one for 4 down the street.
Museum of Science and Industry
I love Legos. I suck at making things with Legos unless it comes with instructions, but I love them anyway. I needed to see some true talent, so Randy and I went to the Brick by Brick exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. I was blown away by the talent of Adam Reed Tucker. But don’t take my word for it, check it out:
Amazing, right? This guy is incredible, and here I am putting four pieces together and calling it a house. I’ll find a hidden talent like this one day and blow my own mind.
What I Loved The Most
I loved being surrounded by the history and the culture. Every house we passed walking through neighborhoods looked like it was at least 100 years old. Randy’s aunt told us stories about places as we strolled Navy Pier and walked around downtown. There is history in everything in Chicago.
There was art everywhere you looked. We ran across another Art Festival (seriously, we are so lucky sometimes). I got an awesome new necklace and a painting to add to our walls. One day we were walking past the Art Institute of Chicago and came across a cellist, a vocalist, and an interpretive dancer in a park while people had picnics around them. And everyday we walked to the bus, I got to see these beautiful murals. It was amazing.
What I Learned
One day we ran into a food truck caravan, and while people were lined up getting food, there was a FULL BAND playing music in front of an office building. I’m talking flutes, clarinets, trumpets, etc. band, not just a drummer and guitarist band. When I heard Irish Tune for County Derry (a song near and dear to my heart from my band days in high school), I learned I’ve been missing out on a lot staying in one place. Something about Chicago just made me feel something I haven’t felt about Austin in a very long time.
Are You Interest in Visiting Chicago? Here Are Some Tips:
- Be cautious – this is a big city, and big cities come with crime. Be aware of your surroundings and stay safe.
- Get a Ventra pass. It works on all trains and buses and you’ll definitely need it to get around. You can find the vending machines at all main entrances of the train stations and a lot of them at the airport.
- Take in as much as possible. There is so much to see and do that you might even want to extend your trip. We couldn’t do that, but we already have plans for our next trip back.
What We Spent
This time we were on a tighter budget than before just because it was a domestic trip. We had a budget of $1400 total (including flights and hotel) Here is what we spent:
Flights: $181 each (Grand Total: $362)
Hotel: $75 (We stayed in a hotel close to the airport the night we got in because our AirBNB wasn’t ready until the next morning)
AirBNB $165 (We stayed in Logan Square for 4 nights; it was about a 15 minute commute to downtown and a very quiet neighborhood)
Baseball Game and Museums: $150
Ventra: We got 2 3-day passes ($20 each) and then a 1 trip ticket to the airport ($3 each) (Grand Total: $46)
Food: We didn’t eat out as much as we did in Tokyo. We stuck to just two to three meals a day and spent about $450 on food. Food prices were about the same as Austin, so it was just like being home – except some of the food was so much better. (I’ll post pictures later!)
Grand Total: $1333
So yay! We came in under budget again, but not by much. Chicago and Austin are similar in prices so I need to consider that the next time we go. And we WILL be going back…very soon. I really loved it there.
Chicago is the type of place you can sort of blend in and stand out at the same time, and not stand out where people would think “Oh you’re not from around here.” Everywhere I looked, everyone had their own fashion trends and it went so well with everything else in the city. It’s like I could have a chance to create an identity or find another part of my identity unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It reminded me of fashion week or pictures I’ve seen of people in New York. Whatever it was, it has left me thinking that I’ve been missing a lot tucked away in my safety zone. Austin has left me a little bitter it seems. We’re known for being weird and the “musical capital,” but we’re not. People keep moving in and taking the Austin that was away. More apartments and hotels go up, and more bars and venues get closed. Don’t get me wrong, Austin is home, and my Texas Pride will not waiver, but I want to go to a five star restaurant and not be the only person not wearing blue jeans. I want to walk downtown and see more than a two museums and some burger joints. I know that travelling more will give me more opportunities to do just that, but I think I want more. I know I want more. I think it’s time for me to get out.