We began our trip to Chicago by taking the Amtrak train from Cleveland. The train departs Cleveland around 3:45am in the morning. It was running about 15 minutes late. Unfortunately, the train was “oversold” so most of the Cleveland people had to sit up in the lounge until we reached Toledo where people were getting off. I was traveling with my 12 year old niece, so that wasn’t much appreciated!! I guess during the summer the trains are overbooked. Since the train starts on the east coast, by the time it hits Cleveland all the seats were gone!
Once we got a seat in Toledo, the train was very comfortable, seats large, and we did eat in the dining car for breakfast – the French toast was very good, so was the coffee. We then arrived at the station, took a taxi north to our location, and settled in for the week.
On Monday we went to the Zoo, fabulous – very easy to walk around – we took buses most places, we were staying up North on North Sheridan near the university where my other niece has an apartment, They have an express bus 147 that gets you downtown and back fairly quickly. We went to Lincoln Square for dinner (not to be confused with Lincoln Park) at an Italian restaurant called Boca della Verita – excellent food, but it did take us awhile to get there on the bus. Tuesday we headed to Springfield IL to see the Lincoln museum and tomb, again taking the Amtrak train.
On Wednesday, we did our shopping on Michigan Avenue, had afternoon tea at the Drake, (wonderful) continued shopping and then had dinner at Dos Diablos on Hubbard. We had fajitas for two and my niece had tacos – the food was scrumptious!
On Thursday, we went to the Shedd Aquarium – it was spectacular. We got there right at 8am and lucky thing we did, because by the time we left at noon, the line as out the door and it was so crowded! We saw two theater presentations, one is a 4-D movie of Happy Feet, the other is a live water show featuring the beluga whales, pacific dolphins, penguins, red-tailed hawk, and a sea lion. The show is called “Fantasea” and is something that shouldn’t be missed! We then headed for the beach for the rest of the afternoon before taking the Amtrak train back to Cleveland. This time, we did get a seat, but the train was again overbooked (at least that is what they announced). They do let seniors, families with children under 10 and disabled people board first. My young niece was 12 and I really feel that should be the cut off age to board, because that age really does need to have a seat!!
The city is very clean, the Lake is spectacular, the beach area was clean, we really enjoyed our stay in Chicago!