Day Two and Three: Madsion to the Windy City


Thankfully we slept right through until the best time to wake up – Brunch Time! We headed out to the Bassett Street Brunch Club for some fantastic grub. We by accident jumped the queue and sat straight down but luckily the waiting staff didn’t seem to mind once they heard our accents. We sat outside in the glorious warmth with an omelette and the biggest piece of fried chicken-on a biscuit – with an egg and gravy on top. It was a lot more yummy than it sounds, in fact I got a major food envy I have to say and there may have been some food stealing when Luke wasn’t looking…… The whole atmosphere of the place was the perfect setting for a brunch and I wish we could have stayed longer – the lunch looked really nice! but we had to head of to the mall to find Luke a new wardrobe.

It was a lovely drive past the capital building, which looks a bit like capitol hill in Washington D.C, we also went past some beautiful houses with the classic verandas and a huge lake. There was lots of people out running and cycling everywhere. We did get told off by a cyclist after we followed a fire engine down a road, which turned out to be just for cyclists. I think he forgave us when he heard our accents although he did stay rather close until we had turned off to re-join the roads meant for cars. It was almost like he was escorting us out of the way – whoops! It is really good to see dedicated cycle lanes and roads for cyclists with so many people using them. The whole place has a really active feeling to it and it’s great – when we are not posing a threat to active people that is!

The outlet mall was huge, so much so that you had to drive from one end to the other row of shops – well the lack of any pedestrianized paths sort of decided that for us but still it was pretty huge. It was then back to the hotel with our purchases before trying to find some dinner. We found a lovely Belgian restaurant , Brassiere V, and the waitress looked somewhat bemused with our order of two small salads and glasses of wine. We are glad we did order that though as the salads were still huge! It was a delicious salad and the range of beers they have certainly impressed Luke – shame he was driving!

The next day was spent on my own exploring Madison and looking at the beautiful houses. I then got to explore Trader Joes and be helped at checkout as I had no idea what I was doing, still it was worth it for a brown paper bag of goodies for the drive to Chicago!

The drive to Chicago was filled with delays, every other minute the Sat Nav lady informed us that we had ten minutes, twenty minutes, two hours of delays added to our planed route – the Sat Nav almost ended up out of the window! but all made sense when the radio suddenly cut out and the sound of  that oh so familiar tornado news alert warning came on  sounding an air raid noise followed by a bulletin advising everyone to take shelter. As none of the other cars suddenly veered off the road we decided we were OK – I just kept a wary eye out of all of the windows in case we accidentally re-enacted a scene from Twister or Tornado Chasers!

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We finally made it into the Windy City  and drove past hoards of Blackhawk fans looking a bit like drowned rats! we found the hotel located on the amazing magnificent mile, though I still thought about the Getaway Hostel with fondness! We pulled up at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel image8

and was approached by a smart-looking suited and booted man. I thought he was looking for a taxi and Luke told me to get out, in the pouring rain, to talk to him. Oh no I don’t think so! I politely told Luke this and then reluctantly wound down my window. Turns out this was the very cool doorman, my bad!

We were valet parked ( I have never had this before and it is so much easier than trying desperately to find a parking space!). However we were then just left with our luggage and told where the lifts were. This meant a lot of riding up and down the lifts trying to find the lobby until Luke bundled me and the suitcases on one floor, didn’t follow me out and I just had time to turn around and see him wave as he disappeared off in the elevator. If I was him I would have headed straight to the bar but after waiting for ten minutes, and having people look at me like an abandoned person as they walked past, Luke returned with help, my hero! well his own hero as my mood was somewhat frayed. It turns out they only had one bell boy on that night and were still getting used to the hotel dynamics as it opened two weeks ago so I forgave them, especially when I saw the room! It was a gorgeous room filled with wood panelled walls, sumptuously heavy curtains, amazing industrial/ornate bed, a beautiful fireplace and armchair, as well as quirky little touches. I want to take the room and pop it into my flat it was that nice.

We lobbed our suitcases unceremoniously into the room and headed in search of food and ended up at the hotels Cherry Circle for the nicest risotto I have ever had (sorry dad!) washed down with a far too strong Vodka, even by my standards! I forgot that this drink is not as popular or as well made in America, it appears Gin is on a conquest of the world at the moment! However it eased the memory of the delayed journey and the server was really helpful. We even chatted to a fellow diner who apologised for being rowdy – she should see my hometown at the weekend! She was also pleased to hear we knew about tornado warnings and left us after confirming she was happy that she didn’t have to worry about us.

We then had a bit of an explore of the hotel , which used to be a gentleman’s sports club and they have really retained the original character and charm. There was also lots of fun games to play in The Game Room, including bowling. We then ventured to the beautiful ballrooms

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and tried to go into other areas of the hotel but got told off  (again!) by a guard who told us we were in the wrong place. With that we retreated back to our lovely room and were sent to sleep with the cheers from the ecstatic Blackhawk fans as they brought the Stanley Cup home.

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