Our Final Stop: The Shedd Aquarium

After the Cubs won, we walked back to S's apartment and promptly fell asleep. It's crazy how much we crammed into two short days, but we did as much as we could. When we woke up on Sunday we decided to take it slow. We ended up getting breakfast at a place near S's apartment, and then went back to the apartment to pack up. 

After we packed up all of our stuff, we went and dropped it at S's work so that we could go to the Shedd Aquarium before heading back to Florida. We took the bus there which was very cool for me because then we got to see the Field Museum & Soldier Field on the way. We briefly walked by but hurried to the aquarium. 

While the Cubs winning the NLCS game will forever be the highlight of the trip, the second best part of the trip (besides being able to spend so much time with S) was going to the Shedd Aquarium. My two favorite animals are elephants & sting rays. At Shedd they have a huge sting ray touch pool (thankfully that was open) that they let us spend as much time as we wanted there. 

I absolutely love aquariums & like to visit them in every city that I go to, add that with the fact that they have a huge touch pool this easily became one of my favorite aquariums that I've ever been to. It's located on Lake Michigan & has amazing views of the city. This happens to be one of the bigger aquariums that I've been to. They have a ton of different species of fish, and in the middle of the aquarium they have a huge Wild Reef which was amazing to sit and watch. If you have time to go to the aquarium while you're in Chicago I would definitely say go - for the stingray pool alone. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier, continues with a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park, and then we watched the NLCS game in Chicago (nbd)
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The Day the Cubs Won the NLCS

One of the coolest memories that I have is the night the Cubs won the NLCS game. Funnily enough, my ex and I had joked around about the series before we had broken up. I bet that there would totally be a game 7 (wishful thinking) solely because I was going to be in Chicago for it. I would just like to point out here that I was totally right, but not for the reasons I had originally argued. There is absolutely nothing that can compare to that night, especially for a newly minted baseball fan like myself. 

After a long morning/afternoon of walking, we decided to head back to S's apartment for a little bit before going out later that night for the game. It was a good thing we did too because we were all exhausted. After recharging our phones and refueling a little bit, we decided to go walk down to Wrigley to see what was going on/how the bars were. Some bars were charging $100 just to get in - not guaranteeing you would get a seat. That was insane to me, but baseball is a huge thing in Chicago that is taken very seriously. 

We walked through just to see the craziness of the crowd, and to buy a hat (M & I's request for them getting into the championship), then we bolted because it was insane. I am all about being there and being in the moment, but also being claustrophobic did not help at all. We headed to a bar about a mile away from Wrigley to meet up with some of S's work friends. We got there and the bar was slammed. Luckily enough, we were able to find a couple bar stools to pull up to their table.

I cannot even describe the feeling of watching the cubs play in game 7, in a bar, in Chicago, surrounded by cubs fans. It was honestly surreal. As the game began to come to a close we all closed out our bills to be safe. As soon as they won we all charged out the bar, with everyone else in there, and ran down to Wrigley. Holding onto each others hand's & purses we went with the crowd. By the time we got there everyone was filing out of the field & into the streets. It was the most joyous scene. We sang Go Cubs Go & gave high fives. It was only when someone lit fireworks into the crowd that we decided we liked our lives a little too much & headed home. 

I cannot even begin to describe the feeling & I'm not sure I'll ever be able to have it to compare it to. I am so grateful for S's hospitality & letting us come and take over that weekend.
To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier, then continues with a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park
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The Parks of Chicago: Lincoln Park Zoo & Oz Park

After walking for what seemed like hours, we grabbed our stuff from S's work and then got on the bus to head to her apartment. S lives about four blocks from Wrigley Field, it's insane. You can literally see the field from her window. She's so nonchalant about it and I'm over here freaking out. The first day we were there after heading back to her apartment, we ended up playing cards until about 4am...only for me to wake up the next morning around 8am ready to go. What can I say I was SO excited. 

The second day we were in Chicago we spent a lot more time walking around during the day. I was determined that we would go and see Lincoln Park Zoo so that we could see Alexander Camelton, their new camel [who ended up not even being outside - so disappointed]. Lincoln Park Zoo is a free 35 acre zoo located in Lincoln Park in Chicago. If you have the free time, it's definitely worth a walk through. They have a lot of animals there for it being free, but one of the coolest things they have is a show with their seals. Luckily we walked upon it just as it was beginning and we actually stayed for the entire show. It's crazy to me that you can just walk around this free zoo in the middle of downtown Chicago. 

Not too far from Lincoln Park Zoo is a smaller park called Oz Park. It's about a mile away so you can walk from one to the other, if you want. Oz Park is in the North Side of Chicago and has many different statues from The Wizard of Oz in it. The park allows animals, which was fun for us because we got to see a lot of dogs walking around. The park is relatively big so if you have spent the entire day walking, like we had, you walk half of it and then decide you want to take public transportation back to the apartment to prepare for the night. 

That night was the final game of the NLCS for the Cubs at Wrigley, so needless to say that needs to get its own post because boy was it a night. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself, and then goes on a with a walking tour to see Millennium Park & Navy Pier
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A Walking Tour of Chicago: Millennium Park & Navy Pier

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.

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here, but it continues when we land which is quite a doozy in itself
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I Have No Sense of Direction & Can't Read a Map: Chicago Edition

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. 

To read about my adventure in Chicago started, you should start here
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My First Trip to Chicago: October 2016

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. 
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2017: The Year of Hope & Travel

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. 
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