Wednesday 24th November 2010: I arrived at Albuquerque airport to find all my flights to Chicago delayed. Not Happy Jan! Yet by a twist of fate, I somehow ended up arriving in Chicago at the exact time I had initially planned to… I was thrilled to see Caitlin and her dad waiting for me. It was so exciting to see her again (after nearly five years!) and to spent Thanksgiving with them!
We headed straight for their house, where I was introduced to the rest of the family and we got dressed and headed out for the night. Clubbing in Chicago > Clubbing in ABQ.
After we bar hopped and were worn out for the night, Caitlin and I hit up a late night cafe for the worlds best garlic fries (they really wear) and then headed back to her house, as we had plans to get up early and see the Thanksgiving parade!

Thursday 25th November (THANKSGIVING!): Caitlin and I got up relatively early and jumped on the train to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade. We made it just intime to catch the second half, which was filled with floats, giant inflatable characters and endless school marching bands all topped of with the arrival of SANTA! Hooray!
After the parade had finished, Caitlin and I decided to go see if the Art Institute was open… It was not, but that suited me just fine as there was endless public art for us to check out and be enterained by. This included my absolute favourite: Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) by Anish Kapoor, which provides countless hours of fun as you check out all the ways the reflective surface of the bean can distort and disfigure you. It’s alot like one giant funhouse mirror, kind of. There was also two giant installations that displayed different faces of local people. In summer they spurt water, although as it was winter I guess they turned the taps off! It was still lots of fun.
We mucked around for hours with the various art installations before heading over to a coffee shop (not Starbucks!) for hot chocolates to warm our frozen hands.
After we had finished our drinks, we decided to head back to Caitlin’s place as we didn’t want to be late for Thanksgiving dinner! Thankfully, we were early and had time to clean ourselves up for dinner.
Caitlin’s extended family arrived and we had lots of delicious appetisers while we waited for the turkey to finish cooking.
I loved how festive the house looked: the decorations of the little pilgrim people, the table’s harvest-themed centre piece and the corn-on-the-cob candles made it feel so much like a real family holiday and I was thrilled to be a part of it!
My first Thanksgiving was awesome. The food was spectacular (I ate way too much pecan pie) and Caitlin’s family were so welcoming, it was such a fun night!
We also had a mini-late-birthday celebration for Caitlin, as her birthday had only been a few weeks earlier and she goes to university in Ohio so hadn’t yet celebrated with her family. I ended up with all her present’s ribbons in my hair.
We didn’t get to bed until quite late, which probably wasn’t the best idea considering our plans for Friday…

Friday 26th November: Caitlin and I were a little slow getting ready on this morning, and had to run to be ontime for our tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s house and studio. My mother is obsessed with his architecture and was insanely jealous to find out about my visit to the museum. It was really cool being allowed inside his house and studio, which have most of the original furnishings and personal touches still on display as he had them (including the original kitchen) and seeing how he thought houses should be built.
After our morning with Frankie, Caitlin and I were driven to the Field Museum on the other side of town by her parents, which we proceeded to spend nearly five hours inside of. I LOVE museums, I really do – especially natural history ones – and this didn’t disappoint! My favourite parts, hand down, were the general dinosaur exhibits and the mighty t-rex Sue who is on display in the foyer. Sue is the largest, most complete t-rex in existence and she is ridiculously cool. I was so excited to see her and the other dinosaurs they have.
Caitlin and I also had lots of fun mimicing the various animals on display and checking out the cool Egyptian stuff.
After our big day, we were exhausted and spent the night in eating Chicago-style deep dish pizza and doing a bit of homework for uni with the plan of going to bed early.

Saturday 27th November: SHOPPING! Hooray! Caitlin took me to the BIGGEST mall in Illinois and certainly one of the biggest I’d ever seen. It was overwhelmingly huge and the actual centre was packed with people, however the shops themselves were relatively quiet… I wonder what all those people were doing inside that mall if they weren’t shopping? I picked up a whole new winter wardrobe, including gorgeous new leather boots in deep burgandy, so I no longer have any excuse for being cold! Thank you Chicago for having way superior shopping to ABQ!

Sunday 28th November: Caitlin left early on Sunday morning, as she had to get back to her university, which left me alone to explore Chicago. After a few problems with my credit card, I finally jumped on a train downtown to check out some of the famous architecture. I can’t exactly call myself an architecture buff, I know nearly nothing on the subject, but I do like looking at it! The Tribune Tower was my favourite, I think. The front of it has various bits and pieces from famous buildings world wide smushed into the front. I spotted the Taj Mahal, Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame and the Great Wall of China as well as countless castles and other places I didn’t recognise.
I met Claudia, Matthias, Ben & Marion (some of the Austrian exchange students at UNM with me) at Lincoln Park Zoo – a free zoo that is really old fashioned and unusually designed. The animals didn’t look as happy as they do at normal zoos, but that may have been the cold weather, I’m not sure. We saw Kangaroos and Wallabies. I had a special Aussie moment with the animals. 🙂
We hit up Pizzeria Uno’s sister Pizzeria Duo for a late lunch/early dinner. Pizzeria Uno is the restaurant that invented the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and it was so delicious. I love deep dish pizza!
I then headed back to Caitlin’s house, as it was dark, I was exhausted and I had said I’d be back probably for dinner. The Austrian’s went for cocktails.

Monday 29th November: Up early with plans to finish my sight-seeing. I hit up all remaining famous architectual sights, as well as hunting down “Snoopy in a Blender” and the public Picasso and Miro sculptures. Picasso’s sculpture was obscured by the German Christmas market, which was a little disappointing. However, the market was lots of fun to explore. 🙂
I then wandered over to the Chicago Institute of Art, which I spent several hours just wandering through. I particularly loved the impressionist galleries and had a Ferris Bueller (well, specifically Cameron) moment infront of Georges Seurat’s Sunday in the Park. The gallery was spectacular, I could’ve spent a year in there!
After I had finished up my time in the museum, I headed for the train and took it back to Harlem. I then walked down Frank Lloyd Wright Row – a street packed full of houses designed by him, and some that weren’t but were still beautiful pieces of architecture.
I reached the end of Frank Row, after taking endless photographs, and then headed back to Caitlin’s house which was only a 10 minute walk away.
Caitlin’s dad was kind enough to drop me at the airport, where I found my flight was delayed over and over again. I got to the airport at 5:30 for a 7pm departure but didn’t end up leaving Chicago until nearly 10pm! Airports are so dull when you have to wait around for annoucements regarding your delayed flight. And it wasn’t even delayed for a good reason! RAIN! Really, you’d think an airport as big as O’Hare would be better prepared for a little precipitation…
I got back to ABQ after midnight, exhausted after a brilliant weekend in the windy city.

So to Caitlin & her family: thank you so much for having me and making my first visit to Chicago an absolutely amazing experience! 🙂