Hello friends! Eliot and I have returned from our quick weekend trip to Chicago! It was a whirlwind and it left us both totally exhausted- but in a good way. We had a great time at the wedding events and it was really nice to visit with Eliot's family.
Friday morning, we were up at 3:00 am to catch our 5:30 am flight to Baltimore. We had a 2.5 hour layover before flying up to Chicago. (Gotta love Southwest and all of the layovers...ugh.) It wasn't too bad, until I my cell phone completely died during our layover. And I mean, died died. Like, won't start back up, can't get past the black screen with the Apple on it died. Apparently, that's my cue for a new one. I knew it was getting to that point, but it's still depressing. I miss Instagram, text messages and feeling connected to the world. Hopefully I can get a new one soon. Anyways...
When we arrived in Chicago, Eliot and I waited for his dad and Elissa to land. Then, Rick drove us to the hotel where we met Eliot's mother. Elissa and I stayed at the hotel with Nori, while Eliot and Rick drove back to the airport to pick Sara up. We checked out our wedding welcome bags and the awesome goodies. Then, Elissa and I caught up for a little bit, before I scummed to sleep after only getting about 2-3 hours the night before. Before I knew it, we heard knocking at the door and Sara had arrived.
The four of us kids went across the hallway to Rick and Nori's room to exchange Hanukkah presents. To say Eliot and I were spoiled is an understatement. Elissa found me a beautiful Olaf infinity scarf that I absolutely love. Sara got me Cinderella gloves, a print, a scarf and some Disney princess bubble bath! Rick and Nori got us multiple gifts including a few Disney plush, Duffy outfits and a Mickey nutcracker. We are very grateful for everything! (I'll post more about that at a later date!)
After we organized our gifts, we headed back across the hall to get ready for Jon and Jen's rehearsal reception. The dinner was at The Luxbar- a bar only a few blocks from our hotel. After we got dressed, the six of us walked over. The reception was on the top floor. It was a really nice location and atmosphere. The bar was open with wine and beer. The food was delicious. But the best part was the company. It was nice to catch up with a few of Eliot's friends who I haven't seen in a long time.
We had a blast at the reception, and before we knew it, we were some of the last people there. We headed back to the hotel and sleep came quickly that evening.
The wedding wasn't until dinner time Saturday, so we had all morning and the early part of the afternoon to spend out and about the city. Of course, Eliot and I wanted to go to the Disney Store. We started walking down the Magnificent Mile and ended up in the Water Tower Place shopping center. We had a lot of fun exploring the complex. A few of my favorites were the American Girl Store, the Lego Store, and Candyality.
After, we headed over to the Disney Store. It was only a few more blocks down the road. We'd been to the Chicago Disney Store when I went with Eliot to Chicago in 2008. However, I have to admit that I'd forgotten how beautiful it is. As soon as I saw it from the exterior, I knew it was going to be stunning. The interior was just as impressive with the "old" Disney Store style I know and love.
I loved the hidden Mickeys in the pattern around the facade. There were also Mickey handles on the doors and hidden Mickeys in the lights outside the store! Eliot and I loved the Mickey and Minnie mosaic designs on the entrance floor. There were cool designs on the center column like the Mickey watch pictured below. We also enjoyed the Mickey and Minnie designs and quotes from Walt Disney on the walls!
The store had a large collection of Tsum Tsum merchandise and D Style designs from Japan! I was basically in heaven. It's like the Disney Store website hopped into real life before my eyes. Eliot and I behaved ourselves for the most part. We did cave on a few things: a few new shirts for me, tsum tsum socks, a tsum tsum shirt for me, new Donald Christmas pjs for Eliot and a baby Arlo plush for him as well. Of course, we couldn't leave without the stuff we went in for: Disney Srore Chicago souvenirs. We ended up getting t-shirts, a picture frame and an ornament. Eliot's parents also bought us the matching Chicago Mickey and Minnie sweatshirts!
After we finished shopping, we all made our way back to the hotel where we started to get ready for the wedding. Once dressed, we all walked over to the other hotel where more guests were staying, across from the Luxbar, and took the trolley to the wedding venue. Jon and Jen's wedding was at the Chicago History Museum and it was a beautiful ceremony. Eliot and I enjoyed our gingerbread men favors. The food was elegant and I ate every single thing on my plate. I had a blast dancing with Elissa and Sara. Eliot even joined me for a few when we wasn't watching the Warriors or Sharks games with a few of the other guys back at our table! It was a great night!
The next morning, we got up and had breakfast at the hotel. I was a big fan of the breakfast. They had an awesome spread with eggs, potatoes, ham, sausage, bagels, cereals, juice, coffee, and there was even a waffle machine! I didn't get one the first day, but Sunday morning, I made sure to get one. It was perfection!
Afterwards, we all got into the rental car and headed for the Lincoln Park Zoo. We had gone to the zoo when I went to Chicago before, but I'd forgotten about a lot of it. Eliot said he had too. We had a ton of fun exploring.
The zoo was decorated for Christmas and for their special Zoolights event. We took a few photos with the lights even though they weren't lit up. (Eliot and I figured we could use them for inspiration!) One of my favorite decorations was the giant snow globes they created. One of them was Star Wars themed!
We enjoyed looking at all of the animals and the zoo was actually pretty busy. The weather was gorgeous considering it was the middle of December. The animals were all out soaking up the unusual warmth as well.
We took a ton of selfies with the animals. I also made a fool of myself by singing "Circle of Life" at the lion exhibit. It's not everyday you see a bunch of lions right in front of you. I had to have my own little Pride Rock moment.
We visited the gift shop. Eliot and I picked up a magnet and an ornament for our collections back home. We also picked out an animal to adopt. The Lincoln Park Zoo is free and it runs off of donations. Guests can select an animal to "adopt" to help run the zoo. Eliot's family does it each visit.
Sara adopted a wolf, Elissa a tiger and Eliot wanted us to adopt a snow leopard. We got a cute little box with a plush version to take home. In a few weeks, Eliot and I will get more information in the mail on how our snow leopard is doing. I really wanted a picture of our snow leopard, so we went over to see him before we left the zoo.
By mid-afternoon, Sara had to leave for the airport while the rest of us travelled a few blocks over to the local Menchies. I'd been to the one at Universal Studios and fallen for the delicious frozen yogurt. We don't have them in New England and I wanted Eliot to try it. Elissa was game too. Eliot ended up with a Dole Whip inspired bowl of pineapple, orange and vanilla. I got cake batter with strawberries, M&Ms, chocolate chips and sprinkles galore, and of course, a cherry on top. It was so good. Before we left, Elissa left our "signature" on the chalkboard in the form of a Mickey Mouse.
After returning from our adventures, Rick and Elissa had to go to the airport. Nori went with them so she could visit some friends later that night. Meanwhile, Eliot and I went to the hotel and took a few minutes to rest. Then, we went back to the Disney Store for a few more photos and a few last minute things we missed the first time. It was nice to go when the store was so quiet. We poked around and enjoyed looking at all of the decorative details. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped into the Hershey World store. We had a blast in there and I purchased a really cute Hershey Kiss pillow.
Eventually, we took all of our shopping bags back to the hotel and decided it was time to pack. Lucky for me, the Patriots were playing Sunday night football so I got to watch their game while we slowly packed up our suitcases. We had plenty of breakable things, but we were able to get it all packed safely. After the Patriots game ended in a win, Eliot and I wandered back over to the Magnificent Mile to go to the Cheesecake Factory we spotted. We returned to the hotel after midnight and settled in for a quick two hours of sleep before getting up for our early return flight.
Our journey ended pretty much the same way it started, with a super early morning flight, a layover in Baltimore and finally reaching our destination. We had a great time in Chicago and we'd love to go back again do more sightseeing and to spend a bit longer there. However, I can't deny it; it's really good to be back at our new home. °o°