A Travellerspoint blog

Off to Chicago

Chicago VT meet day one

View Chicago VT meet on ToonSarah's travel map.

Plane at LHR for my flight to Chicago

Finally the long-delayed Virtual Tourist meet in Chicago, originally scheduled for September 202, was about to begin! Although the meeting itself only spanned a weekend, I had planned to spend a week in the city (it’s a bit far to go for just a few days) so I was leaving on a Tuesday.

My flight was from Heathrow so it was only a short Tube ride to the airport’s Terminal Five (by far the nicest). I dropped off my bag, cleared security fairly quickly and had a coffee and croissant in Pret a Manger. When I boarded the plane I was to find seat next to me empty and plane half full. But that pleasure was dimmed by an around 90 minutes delay. At first we were told simply that an engineer had to be called but later the pilot explained that the de-icer in the loos wasn’t working and they wouldn’t have flushed once we reached the cold temperatures of the upper atmosphere!

Take off from LHR on the way to Chicago

Once we finally took off lunch was soon served (OK pasta and a good chocolate and salted caramel dessert) I watched a film (The Whale, which impressed me), read a bit and was for the most part rather bored. The flight dragged more than most. When we hit the coast of Canada it felt like we were making progress but there were still three hours to go. It was only when we reached the Great Lakes, an hour or so out of O'Hare, that I could see the landscape below and began to anticipate our arrival.

Landing at O'Hare Airport

We landed in rather dull weather with a hint of rain in the air. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was through immigration, with the only question being how long I was staying. I did however have to wait some time for the bags to appear on the carousel, but fortunately mine was one of the first. My friend Rich had provided detailed instructions on using the public transit system to get the hotel which I was glad of as there seemed to be a shortage of signs around the airport. Added to that was what seemed to be a very confusing naming of stations, with several on different lines having the same or similar names!

Catching the L at O'Hare Airport

The hotel was a few blocks from the station but easy to find. By the time I’d arrived and checked in it was over 15 hours since leaving home and almost time for bed there, but I forced myself to stay up. I messaged Chris and my friends, checked emails, popped out for something to eat at the rather nice Italian restaurant opposite (Etta), read a little, until finally succumbing to the need for sleep.

My room at the Felix Hotel

The night view from my room

Posted by ToonSarah 15:00 Archived in USA Tagged trains hotel flight chicago usa virtual_tourist

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I sympathize with you, long flights are horrific. For me it's the inability to sit still and the inability to sleep. I usually watch movies back to back until I pass out.

by irenevt

Hello, Sarah! Thanks for your VT Meet introduction. It was great Rich had provided you with detailed instructions on how to use the public transit system. I usually get that information from the Internet.

by Vic_IV

Thank you both :) Irene, I can never sleep on planes, but this was a daytime one so I didn't even try! It was just rather dull.

Vic, I'd got the basic instructions from the internet but Rich provided extra tips like which travel pass would be most useful for our weekend plans and using certain exits so that I could avoid the stairs :)

by ToonSarah

It's funny, my Dad used to call it the El and loved to take me into Chicago on it. To a kid from rural Ohio, it was magnificent. This was 50 years ago, of course.

Ed and I have only visited once and used public transportation the whole time. It's almost as good as San Francisco's BART. Sadly, my favorite ice cream shop is no longer there.

Beautiful view from your hotel.

by Beausoleil

As a child, I never liked Chicago. Too loud (especially under the El) and too dirty from the many steam locomotives coming in from all directions.

by Nemorino

Yes Sally, I found the Chicago transit system excellent, once I got my head around it! I usually find other cities' public transport easy to understand and use, being used to the complexities of the London Underground map :) But I was confused at first here partly because the lines on the Loop are all one way (and all bar the brown go the same way), but mainly because there are stations with the same name on different lines but with no interchange at them. That's what comes of naming stations after the (very long) roads they are placed on!

Don, I didn't so much like being UNDER the L/El (I've seen both terms used) but apart from that I liked Chicago :)

by ToonSarah

looks like a rather successful traveling day! :)

The whole trip sounds super exciting, I am more than eager to read more since I already saw a some pictures on Facebook! :)

by Ils1976

More to follow soon Ils, but I doubt I'll finish completely before my next trip - I'm off again (Madagascar) next week!

by ToonSarah

I have been waiting for this!! :) And apparently have more to wait after you finished writing about Chicago and will tell us all about Madagascar. Or atleast I hope you will write about that trip too! :)

by hennaonthetrek

I'll definitely write about both Chicago and Madagascar, Henna, but I'm slower to post here these days as I devote most of my blogging energies to my personal blog ;)

by ToonSarah

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