My husband and I just returned from a five-day trip to Chicago. Travel took up two of the days, so we hustled through three jam-packed, fun-filled days in the Windy City.
First some background: This was, essentially, my first trip (previous forays through the city were unavoidable, grit-your-teeth-because-this-is-the-shortest-route dashes). I have not always lived in small towns, but I am a small-town girl at heart. I enjoy the wide-open spaces, meeting people you know at the store, and the relative safety of small numbers.
I arrived in Chicago with skewed assumptions. It’s a Big City – you know, like New York, and Los Angeles. I expected angry, bustling people elbowing their ways to jobs they hated, down crowded concrete tunnels, with exhaust spewing forth into their nostrils and traffic noise funneling into their ears. I figured we’d hear of or witness violence in one form or another, even if it was one of our group who was pushed aside or pick-pocketed. I mean, after all, you hear about murders in Chicago all the time.
My husband’s sister lives in Illinois, and she visits Chicago often. She loves it there. She especially enjoys visiting her son and his wife; still, she relishes the city itself. But, we figured she’s a big-city kinda girl.
Now I get it. I thoroughly enjoyed our Chicago trip. I never felt unsafe or dirty. There were no places that smelled of stale urine. Quite the contrary, Chicago was fresh and clean, with lush displays of trees, flowers, and greenery everywhere. The people were friendly and inviting. Any time we asked for help from any kind of worker or passer-by (ball games, Navy Pier, museums, hotel, river cruise, restaurants), they always jumped in with smiles and courteous guidance.
We attended three ball games. I should note, because it was a huge factor, that the weather was horrendously hot and muggy for all three, and all were inordinately long (4+ hours each). The stadium had ramps and areas we found with lovely breezes, but our seats were, as stadium seats are, tight and close. No one (staff or crowd) was cross or belligerent; everyone was just as friendly as everywhere else we went.
The highlight of our trip was visiting with our nephew and his wife. They took us out for dinner to an exquisite restaurant. The food was amazing, the conversation warm and cozy. We basked in the glow of their grace and charm as we chatted and caught up.
Truly, I wish our trip had lasted a few more days. I hope to return.