It’s been some time since I got to enjoy a little of what I call “hometown travel”, but some fun and like-minded travel bloggers helped me to be a tourist in my own city this past weekend. We had ourselves a good, old fashioned “tweetup”: seven of us all “met” on Twitter and got to know one another through various travel chats. I’m not entirely sure how the idea came about, but before I knew it, folks were buying plane tickets to Chicago and booking hotel rooms. Our group had three locals – Pola of Jetting Around, Ted of Traveling Ted TV, and myself; and our out-of-town guests – Leah of Leah Travels; Lauren of Where in the World is Lola?; Raul of I Live To Travel; and Aaron of The Adventures of the elatlboy.
Most everyone arrived on Friday evening and did their own thing in the city, but I didn’t meet up with the group until Saturday morning. I met Lauren, Raul, and Leah at Hotel Sofitel (where they were staying in lovely suites), and Aaron who had just driven in from near Detroit that morning. Leah and Aaron spent their morning in line, in the cold rain, at The Doughnut Vault, to bring these famous, raved-about doughnuts to the rest of the group. Was it worth spending more than an hour in line, in the rain (emphasis on “in the rain”)? Let’s just say that if I had been the one waiting in line, in the rain, I’d have been pissed. The doughnuts were good – and HUGE – but did not live up to the hype. I am grateful to my visitors for the experience, though, because getting treats from The Doughnut Vault is not something I’d have done on my own.
After hanging out a bit at Sofitel, we all trekked down Michigan Avenue to the Wrigley Building where we boarded a Wendella boat for an architecture river cruise. It’s one activity I always recommend to visitors so when I spotted a Groupon for the cruise, I jumped on it and urged everyone else in the group to do the same. Mother Nature was not exactly cooperating; it was still rainy and a bit chilly, but we managed to have a great time (I’m sure the free drink included in our Groupon helped). After the cruise, we walked further down Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park, where we locals proudly showed off Cloud Gate (“The Bean”) and Pritzker Pavilion. I imagine we’d have hung out there longer if the weather hadn’t been so miserable; instead, we made our way over to the beautiful, historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel where we enjoyed delicious cocktails in the opulent lobby. Maybe it was because we were feeling so fancy, or maybe the alcohol was just setting in, but we ladies pulled out our boas and posed for a number of photos for the
photographers guys. What’s the deal with the boas, you wonder? Well, you see, we ladies had been LOLAFIED.
No visit to Chicago, especially for first-timers, is complete without a taste of our famous deep-dish pizza. I do have a favorite spot in town but when plans to take our guests there went down the drain (more on that later), we decided on Exchequer Restaurant & Pub. We enjoyed several pitchers of beer and a couple of gooey, deep-dish pies. We left full and happy – and in a food coma. We made it back to Sofitel with thoughts of possibly hitting up some of the nightlife venues, but we never made it past Le Bar at the hotel. I was more than okay with that, as the crappy weather, the walking, and the pizza wore me out.
Some members of our group got together on Sunday but, since it was Mother’s Day, I had other obligations. What a great time I had on Saturday, though! It was quite the successful tweetup. Thanks to all of you for taking me places I might not see otherwise, and for making me even prouder of my city.