After we got pizza, we felt a little rejuvenated and decided to explore a little more before heading back to Sarah's apartment. There were two places that stood out to me the most that are typical things to do if you're visiting Chicago: Millennium Park [where Cloud Gate aka The Bean is] & Navy Pier.
Millennium Park is where Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, is located. The park is located in the Loop area of downtown Chicago. The park is actually a lot bigger than you think it is, but from what I could tell most people go there for The Bean. Cloud Gate is the giant metallic sculpture located in the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. To be quite honest, it was cool to see it up close and personal but I wasn't incredibly impressed by it. Yes, I am glad that we went to see it but I was more stunned by the views of downtown, which were absolutely beautiful.
Once we were done staring at The Bean (which didn't really take that long to be quite honest) we decided to take a walking tour of Chicago. It's only about 1.5 miles to Navy Pier from Millennium Park and it's really quite a beautiful walk. We passed by The Riverwalk on the way, as well as Trump Tower (which was comical at this time because it was still before the election), and through a couple different parks.
When we finally saw Navy Pier we were so relieved. Although it wasn't FREEZING yet, we were pretty cold (hello, we live in Florida). We walked inside to warm up just a little bit before heading outside to see the views from the Pier. Inside Navy Pier there's a bunch of different shopping opportunities as well as this amazing botanical garden. It was really cool because everything was decorated for Halloween since we were there the weekend before Halloween. While we didn't actually do anything there (they have a Ferris Wheel but it was shut down due to the wind), it was still an amazing place to go and visit. The views of the city are stunning, as long as you bring a jacket and some gloves you should be good because the wind is no joke on the pier.
If you ask anyone in my family, or any of my close friends, they'll all tell you the same thing: I cannot read a map and I am TERRIBLE at traditional directions. Now, keep this in mind & add in a city I've never been to and didn't think to look at a map ahead of time. M & I were going to take the metro into the city from the airport & drop our bags off at S's work so we could explore until S could get out of her meeting.
Our old roommate S [aka a literal saint] had sent us a Metro card ahead of time that was linked to her account so we didn't have to worry about buying one, which was incredibly nice of her. So, we put on google maps & followed S's directions as best as we could. We got off at the proper Metro stop, but that's about where our "following directions well" ended. We ended up going the wrong way down the street so what should have been a two block walk ended up being about a 30-35 block walk. We walked a good 9-10 blocks in the wrong direction before we realized we had done. In the end, we found S & her building and then laughed it off. We dropped our bags and headed out (in the opposite direction) to explore a little bit more.
S's meeting only took about another hour after we were done so we just wandered around popping into a few different stores. One of the first things that we wanted to do (me, mainly) when we got to Chicago was get true Chicago deep dish pizza. For this, according to S we HAD to head to Giordano's. Luckily, there was one right around the corner because we were starving. We only had a little bit of a wait, which was awesome because it was lunchtime on a Friday. While the pizza was really, really good deep dish isn't my favorite type of pizza. I'm more of a thin crust kind of girl.
After eating, we dropped off our leftovers & then went to explore the city a little bit more. There's seriously SO much to see in downtown Chicago. S showed us the underground tunnels (that are probably lifesavers in the winter time) between the buildings, and up and down the area. I swear you could probably walk for hours and still not see everything.
Every now and then you can be guaranteed to find a pretty good deal on flights at Southwest's website. Back in August of last year, my roommate (M) and I were joking we needed to go visit our old roommate (S) in Chicago. I decided to take a little look at the website and sure enough there was a round trip flight for $160 per person from MCO-MDW. Since neither M nor I had been to Chicago and we'd been talking about visiting S forever, we jumped on the chance.
Flash forward to October. I just gotten out of a relationship then a week and a half later our Chicago trip popped up. At first I was kind of dreading it, I mean I stayed in bed for four days without moving essentially the week before, did I really want to go to Chicago right now? Thankfully M & S didn't really give me an option, and I am so thankful for that. Spending a weekend exploring a new city with two of my best friends is just what I needed to help me through a rough patch.
M and I were only there for about 48 hours - we flew in on Friday morning & out on Sunday evening. It was just the right amount of time for a break, but not long enough to actually feel like we took a vacation. In those 48 hours (during the winter so it got dark super early) we did SO much. We went to Shedd Aquarium, Oz Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park, The Bean, and saw the Cubs win the final game to go to the World Series. We walked all around Chicago and saw The Field Museum, and Soldier Field. Plus S (roommate we went see) lives four blocks from Wrigley so we could see Wrigley out of her apartment window.
We did so much that shoving it all into one blog post wouldn't really do it the justice it deserves. I'm going to break it up into the different days/trips that we made to give it the space it deserves.
The word of the year (for me) for 2017 is Hope. Hope for a new beginning, hope for a future, hoping that I'll figure out what it is I want in life and hope that I can figure out what I want to do. With hope, comes travel. Because I'm not sure what/where 2017 is going to bring me (maybe I move back home, maybe I get into graduate school, maybe I move to a new place, or maybe I move back to California). I've already got a few trips planned out, and am looking into a few others as of right now. As of this moment, I know where I'm going to be until August 9th, 2017. That's when my lease runs out (which at this moment is a terrifying thought).
January: I'm blacked out from taking time off of work since it's our busy season (shoutout to tax season) so instead of going anywhere, I've actually got friends coming in town. I've got three or four set of friends who I know for sure will be here on Disney vacation, so I'll be able to pop by and see them while they're here and use my pass a little more before it expires in March.
February: In early February I'll be going to California for a week. This is to visit with friends (and their families) and see how I really feel about California on my own. We'll be going to the mountains, and the beaches, as well as some theme parks and all the best food sources.
March: I'll actually be spending a weekend in New York City in early March. I'll be going to visit a friend, but also to check out the schools that I applied in that area to see how I feel about them. I'm excited and nervous because by this point there's a slight chance I'll know where I'll be going, but it's also not definite. Plus, it may still be snowing at this point and I've never seen snow.
April: I'll be going back to California in late April for about 10 days. It's a mixture of a road trip and a final testing to see how I feel about it. California's the backup to Graduate School (if I enjoy it) which is terrifying because oh my god decisions, but at the same time it's exciting. We'll be going to the different baseball stadiums to cross them off my list and a couple other places so that I can see. I'm most stoked about San Fransisco. When Christian and I were dating, we always talked about going but never had the time. So for almost two years now I've been dying to go to San Fransisco, and now I finally have the chance.
May: The very first weekend I'll be going to Chicago to see the Cubs play. It's a last minute trip that I'm so excited to take. Then my little sister graduates from college (!!!!!!) so I'll be flying home to see her graduate. It just so happens to fall on Mother's Day weekend, so I'll be able to spend a little bit of time with my mom too while I'm there. I'm also hoping that this is when my family will decide to do my sisters graduation trip so that I'll be able to spend a little time with them here as well.
June: This is where the for certain planning kind of stops. In June I'm hoping that I'll be making a weekend trip up to Chicago to see my friend Sarah & to see the Cubbies play in Wrigley. Then toward the end of June I have a friend coming in town to go to a Tampa Bay Ray's game (to cross off of her list), and a Miami Marlins game (to cross off both our lists).
July: I'm thinking that toward the end of July is when my family will go on a family vacation. So hopefully we'll still spend one week at the beach in upstate Florida. By this point I'll for sure know where I'll be ending up (terrifying) so this could be one last hurrah before I either move to go to graduate school or move to California.
August: Here ends my adventure - I'll be moving that's for certain, but at this point I'm not sure where. My options are either up the East Coast for graduate school or back to the West Coast to see if I can really do it.
August through December are completely up in the air, but hopefully I'll know more soon.
As of December 15th, 2016 all of the graduate schools that I've applied to have closed their applications. This is both terrifying and exciting for me. While my applications have been completed and submitted way before the due date, the fact that there can now no longer be any changes made or anything else submitted is both relieving and scary. At this point, all applications that will be submitted have been submitted and there's nothing else left for me to do. From here forward, I've done the most I'm able to do and everything falls into the hands of the graduate school admissions committee.
Most of the graduate schools I've applied to have said that they will send out notifications at any point between late February to mid March. So for now, it's just a waiting game. While I'm hopeful that I get in, I'm not putting all my eggs in a basket - I've got a backup plan. So here's to hoping and not stressing out for the next few months.