Monday was the busiest and by far craziest day we had in Chicago. Since we were a bit tired already from Sunday night, we went to sleep early, and then got up early Monday morning, around 7am. After getting ready for the day, we headed to the bottom of our hotel to catch the train.
The ‘L’ is the elevated train system that runs through Chicago. Luckily there is a train stop at O’hare, and was a quick walk from our hotel room. But with delays on the tracks, and all the stops, it can usually take 45-1 hour to get into town! We purchased these ‘3 day’ unlimited passes, which lets you hop on and off the L and CTA Buses wherever you want. But while trying to purchase, none of our cards would work. The machines were not accepting cash either! After calling the bank, we found out that the machines were returning a bad expiration date and not taking our cards (a lot of people were having the same problem). Eventually we got them to work, and headed in for our first ride.
Once into town, we got off in the ‘Loop’, right outside City Hall. Both of us were starving, so we went to the only thing we could find, a McDonalds right down the street. After grabbing some breakfast, we walked to Millennium Park, which is right near the lake. We got to check out some of the amazing architecture, art, and scenery around the city. We then thought it would be fun to check out the Navy Pier, but it was quite a walk. Being so new to the city, we decided at times to just walk to where we wanted to go, rather than waste time for a bus. Finally getting close to Navy Pier (and not seeing a decent walking path), we caught a bus right outside the NBC Tower.
It was just about lunch time, so we decided to try out the ‘Bubba Gump’ restaurant at the start of Navy Pier. Of course this is a themed restaurant based off Forest Gump, which to me was taken a bit to far. People would not stop bugging you asking trivia questions, and the food was alright, but nothing that special. The service was quick at times though, so we got in and out of there pretty quick. To walk off our lunch, we went all around the Navy Pier and got one of our first sights of just how big this city was.
After touring the pier, we noticed that they had these ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tours of the city. You bought a 1 or 2 day pass, and took a ride around the city (if you stayed on the bus like us, it took almost 3 hours). This was the perfect time to really ‘get our barrings’ in the city, and had a blast doing it. I think I took almost 200 photos alone on this trip, since we saw just about everything in the city. We also learned quite a bit, and made notes about specific areas that we wanted to visit again. At the end of the tour, we decided to actually stay on the bus to get to the NBC tower.
We head into the tower, mainly to check out the gift shop (ok, this wasn’t that big of a deal, but they had some really cool stuff from ‘The Office’ that I wanted to check out). While there, we are asked ‘are you hear to see the show?’. Knowing that they record a few shows in Chicago (Jerry Springer, Judge Mathis, and Oprah), we were not sure what they were actually talking about. They told us we should ask the security guards if there was any more space. They let us know they were about to film the Jerry Springer Show, and that they actually had some extra VIP passes (if you are from out of town, they will also bump you right to the top of the list).
After going through security, we were whisked off in an elevator and placed in a separate room. After hanging out for about 15 minutes, we were all lined up (debs and I were about 10th in line to head into the studio). We ended up being sat in the 2nd ROW! Not knowing what to expect, both of us were getting nervous and wondering if we made the right decision :). After being given a crash course in how to behave, Jerry came out and talked to all of us! He did a quick question and answer section (yes he may go back into politics, yes he liked dancing with the stars, etc), and then the show started! The shows are about an hour long, but honestly from start to finish, we were in there for at least 3 hours. Lets just say it all included ‘Jerry Beads’, topless midgets, Spam, and Redneck Games. Debs and I actually caught one of the cards Jerry held during the Redneck Spelling Bee! This show was a blast to be at, and it was pretty cool seeing such a TV icon. We didn’t get to shake his hand or really say hi, but he stood behind Debs and I for pretty much the entire recording (there are only two front rows), and we were on the side that he usually stands in.
Before we went home, we wanted to see some of the night things at Millennium Park. We got some great shots of the fountains and the Bean. The place looked totally different at night, and certain areas lit up. After hanging out there for a while and just taking in the views, we decided we should get some dinner and head back to the hotel. Unfortunately in the part of the city where we got back on the train, most of all the shops had closed (its mostly the business and government district of the city). We walked around in circles actually, until we finally found a Subway that was open (its also about 10pm). Dinner was quick, and for most of the train ride back home we napped. Both of our bodies were aching from all the walking, sunburn, and windburn we got through the day.
We decided to crash when we got back to the hotel, and that we were going to sleep in the next day. Tuesday was our 2 year wedding anniversary, and we wanted to be well-rested for some of the special events we had planned for the next day!