Hello to any readers who are still following along despite my lack of posting. As soon as I finished work on Thursday, we had to rush off to Chicago for the Junior National Volleyball Championships.
We decided to make a little vacation of it, so the whole family went, and we stayed in the Silversmith Hotel downtown, which is a beautiful old historic building with the inside all glammed out in Art Deco style:
The girls loved the fanciness but were outraged that there was no swimming pool.
As you may be able to guess, I’m not a big city kind of a gal. I can’t even imagine living all crammed in together with that many people. Even vacationing in a big city kind of stresses me, though I must admit the buzz of activity in Chicago was exciting even for a near-misanthrope such as me. Still, I call vacations in big cities “combat vacationing”. My husband, however, loves big cities and even lived in NYC for awhile when he was 20ish, and the kids found the whole thing terribly interesting and exciting, especially since they got to visit some cool places like the Shedd Aquarium and the Natural History Museum.
Because tipping etiquette is different in the big cities compared to the small towns, I always review whom to tip and how much – service work is hard, and patrons who don’t tip properly are a bane. Still, we rushed out the first morning and I forgot to leave a few dollars on the dresser for the maid. But never fear! She helpfully reminded me of my oversight by simply skipping our room when she did her morning housekeeping. When we came back in the evening to unmade beds and dirty towels on the bathroom floor, I realized my error and left her extra the next day. We returned to a neat and tidy room. So if you are not American and are planning a visit to the U.S. but are worried about learning our tipping protocols, I advise you to visit Chicago, as Chicagoans will let you know straightaway and quite unambiguously if you’ve done it wrong.
Things get going weirdly late in Chicago. We had to be at Navy Pier by 7:00 a.m. on Friday for the first day of pool play at the volleyball tournament, so we thought we’d get there at 6:45 and grab coffee and pastries at a cafe…only to find that literally nothing opened until 8:00 at the earliest. Cafes that don’t open until 8:00 a.m.? Madness! Even the Starbucks around the corner from our hotel didn’t open until 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. At 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, we couldn’t believe how little traffic was on the streets (though later, with both a Cubs game and a Blackhawks game underway, downtown became a nearly-impassible sea of humanity).
Millennium Park is amazing, truly beautiful and exciting (you can read a little about the history of how this park was created from an urban wasteland here). We walked around in the early evening and it was lovely. People from all over the globe were dipping their toes in the fountain sculpture thingy, taking pictures near that giant round sculpture that reflects and distorts your image, there was some kind of blues festival going on, girls in their prom dresses were snapping selfies on the bridge, young couples were walking in the gardens, and the park with some of the neatest play equipment I’ve ever seen was loaded with children.
I don’t know exactly how the people of the great state of Illinois managed to pay for this park or its continued upkeep (it’s pristine clean and there is a very heavy security force presence); then again, they are under permanent Democrat rule, which means money is magically created out of thin air. 🙂
All in all we had a pleasant weekend and now I’m on summer vacation, so you can look forward to a bit more regular posting from me on gardening, family life, faith, politics, and whatever else catches my interest. Hope you’re all getting started on a lovely summer!