After about 5 hours of sleep, I was up and at ‘em getting ready to take on downtown Chicago! I was hoping to be getting to Cloud Gate aka The Bean early morning/sunrise to try and beat the crowd, but did not account for a one hour commute to the city via public transit so I hopped on a 7am bus. In case you were wondering, my bus pass still isn’t scanning from my phone or my watch, and I happen to just be getting people who either don’t care or don’t realize (thankful for that). It’s a bit chilly this early in the morning at a crisp 50 degrees, and I’m so thankful I brought my sweatshirt because I almost didn’t. It should get up to mid 60s later which I imagine feels just perfect when the sun hits.
I get off at my station to hop onto the Blue Line where I’m met with my first real dilemma – I can’t even get access to the train without being able to scan my pass. I try again hoping for the best and of course get hit with a ‘can’t read this card’ error. Luckily there an attendant nearby so I ask him.
He can see my pass is active in my app and just isn’t scanning. Since he’s not an ass (his words, not mine) he let me through. But he did inform me the way they designed the app was terrible and inconsistent. Greatttt
He says I’ll likely have to get a physical pass so I don’t have any issues, because even though I’ve been lucky so far, I’m sure I will soon meet someone who kicks me off for not being able to pay. I try to call the customer service center for the pass, but since it’s Saturday, they don’t open until 8:30. Since he let me on and I’m going to downtown, I have a grace period where I shouldn’t need to use it anytime soon. Hoping once I can get ahold of them they help me figure out how to get a physical pass without having to pay for 1. each trip I take or 2. another pass since I paid for one already.
I will say that despite the issues I’ve had with my pass, being able to see the routes right on my phone does help so I know I’m going to the right place. The last time I was working with public transit like this I was using a paper map… don’t recommend.
The buses/trains have all been a few minutes late so I do anxiously wait there hoping it’s going to show up and I’m at the right place, but I feel instant relief once I see it coming my way. I feel even more relief when the stops match the ones noted on my phone confirming I might actually know what I’m doing.
The good thing about a longer commute means I have the time to write this blog during the day instead of having to wait until I’m back in the hotel. I’ll also hopefully be able to work on some pictures and videos to post while I’m riding since I always forget in the midst of doing everything.
Today’s plan is to utilize my GoCity Pass. If you’re not familiar, many cities offer attraction passes like this where you can pay for a certain number of visits/days to experience top attractions in the area. They’re discounted compared to what you’d end up paying to go to each attraction separately, and I highly recommend getting one if you want to visit the most places for the cheapest price. I’ve done similar passes in Las Vegas, New York, and Atlanta, and I don’t really have any complaints.
I purchased a 3-attractions pass that I plan to use for 360 Chicago Observation Deck, the Chicago History Museum, and the Field Museum. Since it’s not a day pass I can spread out my visits if I need to instead of cramming everything all in one day.
I got to The Bean around 8am, and when I tell you it was the perfect time to be there, I am not kidding. There were some people there, but it wasn’t the least bit crazy like I see in some pictures. There were plenty of opportunities to have pictures with little to no or no people at all in them. I’ll give a little sneak peak below; you’ll have to check out my Instagram for the others 😉
I brought a little black backpack with me to wear during the day along with my tripod knowing I’d be taking my own pictures. Unfortunately, my tripod was too big to fit in my bag so I left it at the hotel and hoped for the best. I got some really great pictures with my self timer, but the number of people who approached me offering to take my photo was so amazing. Trying to get the perfect picture is no easy task, but it’s less frustrating knowing it’s just my time I’m taking up so I thanked many for their offer but continued on my own. I saw a group of younger girls taking pictures with the same vision I had, so I asked them to snap a few. One more sneak peak below 😉
Now that the bus pass customer service line should be open, I give it a call while I wait for the bus. I’m still waiting by the time the bus comes, but I try scanning my pass with my watch anyways. To my surprise, IT WORKED!! I’m not sure what happened cause I didn’t do anything, but fingers crossed it continues to scan moving forward. At least if it doesn’t, it now shows an expiration date if someone questions me.
I’m on my way to my next stop – 360 Chicago Observation Deck. I’ve done a handful of observation decks before, but this one has a TILT ride. That is exactly what it sounds like. A set of glass panes, that you lean up against, TILTS YOU, on the side of the skyscraper. A couple months ago I posted on my Instagram story to try and decide between this observation deck or another that has a glass walkout. 360 won, and for some unknown reason, I decided I’d be tilting over the edge today. Builds character, right?
I took a 40 second elevator up 94 floors, my ears popping along the way. The views were amazing overlooking both the city and Lake Michigan. I even ran into a couple I had taken a picture for at The Bean and asked them to take this picture of me!
I stalled for as long as I could before getting in line for the Tilt. I was hoping I’d be able to stick my phone in my pants to record, but the worker said anyone who got caught would be kicked out and so I decided not to chance it. Standing against the window pane and noticing how high up we were, I could already feel all my insides twisting and turning. Deep breath, hold tight, worst case close your eyes.
Of course they play a safety sound clip ahead of time that perfectly informs you a parachute is below your feet in case of emergency before beginning the tilt. I hear a noise alarm similar to the one from The Purge, and next thing I know, I’m leaning forward viewing the entire side of the skyscraper I’m currently in. I could lie and say it wasn’t that bad, I took in all the breathtaking views, and I would recommend it to everyone, but I wont. I will say it wasn’t too bad given that it’s maybe only a minute long, however, it is definitely scary and nerve-wracking for sure.
Now you might ask, “Brittney what was going through your mind when you were doing that?!” And while part of me was focusing on keeping my grip despite my very sweaty palms, the other part of me was feeling for the people during 9/11 who were jumping from the building. I’m not sure if that’s normal or crazy to think about, but I have now confirmed (even though I was never for a second uncertain) that I will never be voluntarily jumping off a building. (and I hope to God I’m never in a situation to contemplate it)
All the views I was taking in at the top left my stomach growling since I hadn’t eaten anything yet and it’s almost 11am. If there was one thing I knew I’d be eating while I was here it was deep dish pizza (don’t like hotdogs, sorry guys). With a quick google maps search I look for places near me and pick the one that just sounds like it has great pizza – Giordano’s.
They don’t open until 11, and I was a few minutes early. I almost thought it might be weird that I’d be eating pizza this early, but turns out I wasn’t the only one, because the people started gathering outside the doors. The deep dish pizza takes 45 minutes to make, which I was very grateful for so I could sit down for a bit, charge my phone that is now at 14%, and figure out what I wanted to do next.
The pizza was amazingly delicious with the most satisfying cheese pull I think I’ve ever seen, and it left me full and tired. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to nap so bad in my life. However, the trip must go on, and after letting my food coma wear off just enough I was back on the bus headed towards my next stop.
I have to say, the Chicago History Museum is very well done. I don’t know if I like it more because it seems like some areas are geared towards kids in a way that they understand, but I thought it was a very easy museum to go through. And to be honest, I had no idea Chicago was as important to American history as it is. Chicago became the rail capital, helped develop the atomic bomb and the birth control pill, became the American film and TV capital, and was home to the first Playboy club. I feel like I knew Chicago was important, but until coming to this museum I wasn’t really sure why. And I definitely didn’t understand the variety of things it contributed to.
I don’t want to spoil the museum for anybody who hasn’t gone yet, so I won’t put all of my pictures or experience here, but the museum did touch up on the Chicago Fire, Martin Luther King, and the variety of industries that took place in Chicago. 100% I highly recommend if you’re in the area and able to visit.
I decided once I finish the museum, I would ask one of the workers they had any suggestions on where to go next. One of them asked if I went to the zoo, and I hadn’t put it on my list because I’ve been to so many zoos in so many places already, but she let me know it was probably worth checking out and that it was free! They even had a new lion cub that she wasn’t sure would be out, but could be worth checking out if it was. So with that I was on my way walking towards the zoo.
The zoo was probably on the smaller side compared to ones I’ve been to before, but I got to see a lot of monkeys/gorillas/apes so that made up for it! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one exhibit, but it was awesome. We saw them playing, lounging, and having fun. Of course I got to see some other animals while I was there as well as get some good views of the Chicago skyline!
I was about to head towards my next stop when I saw a Mexican store across the street and decided to check it out. My boyfriend is Mexican so any time i see stuff like this I always want to send it to him. It was a very cute shop with Mexican candy and a ton of handmade items.
I made a pit stop to see The Bean again at nighttime. This time around there was security and I had to wait in line, so I’m definitely sticking with best time to visit is early morning. Although, the views are still great at night. You can see the surrounding buildings mirroring off the bean probably even better than during the day, and it’s for sure worth checking out.
I decided I’d visit the Navy Pier before heading home since that was probably the closest I’d get to Chicago night life. (1. Because I’m tired and 2. Because I feel like it’s safe). I haven’t eaten anything since the pizza earlier so I stop into Margaritaville hoping to sit down. Apparently they stop serving food at 8pm so I sat for a couple drinks to relax and charge my phone for a little.
I took my last drink to go and started walking the pier. According to all the Chicago souvenirs I’ve seen, this is the Windy City, and they’re not lying. I switched into my sweatshirt that I’m again so thankful I brought with me, and even that wasn’t enough. I walked around for a little before deciding I needed to find some real food and head home for the night. I was hoping it’d be quick, but the closest place I could find that was open was a sit down restaurant so I ordered a burrito while I looked up my route to get home.
I was ready to head back home and go to sleep around 8:30, but I hung around for a bit since everything took longer than I thought (and I wanted to experience ‘night life’). That trend continued when I realized my commute would take almost two hours, arriving at almost 1am. 😭
Again, I started looking up Lyfts so I could get back sooner since I was tired, my feet hurt, and it’s cold. But once again, the $50 price tag deterred me from doing so.
Eventually I made it back to my hotel, and BOY am I tired. Between going all day on about 5 hours of sleep, takings 2 hours to get back even though it took me 1 to get there this morning, and walking more than 20k steps, I am beat. I was about to be knocked out on the train except I’m worried I’d miss my stop. My eyes are getting heavier and heavier, and I think it’s time to wrap up today’s blog.
It’s been a long day, full of adventure, and I am SO ready to hit the hay. I might sleep in a little tomorrow just since I know it will be less busy than today. The next two days include some things I want to see/do, but the rest will be played as the day comes.
As always, thank you for reading. Until next time<3