My flight isn’t until this evening so I’m headed downtown to see if I can hang out at Riverwalk. It’s pretty much the only thing I haven’t gotten to see yet that I wanted to, and that’s probably all I will have time for today anyways.
There’s a bus at 9:12 coming so I wake up, pack up my stuff, and go to the front desk. I prefer to not have to carry my suitcase around everywhere with me so I ask if they can hold it until I come back. It’ll definitely be more inconvenient, because I’ll have to go from downtown to the airport station to get on the bus to the hotel just to grab my bag and wait for the next bus to the airport station. But if it means I get half a day to sight-see a little more without carrying it around, so be it. The hotel doesn’t technically do luggage holds, but she told me if I keep it in my room and it’s still there when housecleaning goes to clean, they’ll bring it to the front desk and leave it there. She made sure to let me know they weren’t responsible if anything were to happen, which I know they technically have to tell me, but still seemed a little odd. Guess I’ll find out when I get back later😅
I head to the bus stop a few minutes early and work on figuring out when I’ll have to leave downtown to get back in time. Next thing I know, it’s 9:20 and I’m still here. Considering the bus was supposed to come at 9:12, this is strange. My maps app didn’t show any delays, so I check the bus website. It’s been inconsistent when I’ve checked, telling me there’s no bus coming when there is, and this time it’s telling me the 9:12 bus was cancelled! I decide to call the number on the sign to confirm, and she does let me know they’ve been cancelling because of drivers. Sooo now I have to wait until 9:55, which will shorten my downtown visit even more. I now come to the realization this is exactly why jobs ask if you have reliable transportation, because I could not imagine having to rely on this system to get me where I need to go in a timely manner.
I’m contemplating if I should even go downtown since I feel like it’ll only be for an hour when I see my foreign friends! I believe they’re from Madrid which is pretty sweet, and they’re here for about a week. I only understand about half of what they’re saying, but I can use context clues to get to the point. The husband told me they can’t use their phones without wifi so they’re working with a paperback book full of attractions, restaurants, and the public transit system. I’m not sure how old this book is, because the transit times he has aren’t the ones I have in real time. Nonetheless, shout out to them because I’ve been there and done that, and don’t want to ever again. But since they’re older, they probably prefer it a little more. I snapped a quick picture of them while we were on the bus since I know I probably won’t see them again before I leave. Even though we only saw each other going back and forth to and from the hotel, it’s cool we’re kind of friends! (Their instant smiles and waves give it away)
I finally make it to Riverwalk, and I’m starving so I look for somewhere to eat. I come across Tiny Cafe right on the water, order, and enjoy a delicious caprese sandwich and hot apple cider. It’s about 11:30, and I estimate I need to head back to the hotel around 2 so I have a few hours of time!
I walk down Riverwalk just taking in the views before deciding I want to check out the Chicago Theater. When I was looking for things to do I debated seeing a show, which I’m positive would’ve been nothing less than awesome, but ended up opting out of it. Regardless, I wanted to check out the famous Chicago Theater sign!
The hard thing about traveling solo is not having someone to take your picture (first world problems, I know). As I’ve said in the last couple of blogs, I’ve had a lot of super nice people offer or say yes when I’ve asked. Anyone can take a picture, but getting someone to take the picture in the way you want is the hard part.
So when I see a younger gentlemen pull out a GoPro I feel like he’s the one. The theater is right across from a subway entrance, and he’s setting his tripod up on the ground to record. He asks if he’s in my way or if I’m recording, to which is answer “no, not at all, but I was actually going to ask if you’d mind taking a picture for me when you’re done.” He happily says he will and tells me he works for CBSChicago and is filming footage! What are the odds?!
This man was hands down the best random-stranger-turned-free-photographer I’ve had this entire trip. He took multiple pictures, gave me tips and suggestions, and hyped me up while I was doing it. We were there probably for a solid 5 minutes which might not sound like a lot but consider that it takes less than 2 seconds to press a button. We made small talk, I watched him get some of his footage, and then we went our separate ways. So shout out BJay from CBS Chicago!!!
I have about an hour and a half before I need to head back, and I’m not sure what else I should do, so I’m back at Riverwalk again just hanging by the water. I didn’t want to venture too far from where I initially was since I estimated my times going back from the area. About 30 minutes goes by when I decide to make my way towards my stop so at least I’m close. I was hoping I’d stop and see something along the way to do, but I made it to the stop and decide I’ll be saying goodbye to downtown.
It’s earlier than I need to be which, given the random cancellation this morning, doesn’t bother me. I’d rather be early and sitting at the airport with time than stressing and anxiously trying to get there while being reliant on public transit. Plus, I’m still a little iffy on the hotel keeping my bag right up at the front for me (versus a storage room), so at least I’ll have my stuff. I will say I have seen a decent amount of people in downtown walking with luggage so it’s certainly doable, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.
I make it back to the hotel, grab my bag, and hop right back on the bus to go to the airport. I have some time to kill so I grab something to eat and drink before heading to my gate. My flight goes well, I land just after 9, and I’m home before 10!
This weekend has been great, and I consider this trip a success. I was a little nervous going into it, but at the end of the day it was just my head (and other people warning me about the area) getting to me. I did it!
There weren’t any moments I truly felt unsafe, and in times of ‘sketchyness’ I maintained my awareness. I got the transit system down, I walked the streets of Chicago, I had a great time, and I did it solo! I got comfortable with being uncomfortable, because it’s in those times that you build character, confidence, and independence.
This weekend was a great reminder to me that I am all of those things and more, and I’m pretty dang proud of myself! You truly never know what you’re capable of until you do it, and you can’t do it without trying.
So in case you need a reminder – you’re awesome, you’re confident, you’re independent, and you CAN do anything!
If you’ve stuck around all weekend, I appreciate you greatly. If you just started reading, I hope you stick around.
Chicago – it’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been real fun.
New Year New Place 2022 – that’s a wrap!
Until next time ❤
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