When my family (from Croatia) said they were heading to Chicago because my Uncle Fran was running the marathon and visiting family for the first time, I decided to tag along.
I arrived early on a Thursday and drove to the Getaway Hostel. Though I’ve stayed in hostels in Europe, this was my first U.S. hostel experience, and it was great.
My Aunt and Uncle, cousin Mia and family friend Bruno (also running the marathon) were in the common area when I arrived. I stored my luggage and Mia, my Aunt and I headed downtown via the subway.
It’s funny, Mia knows her way around the city so much better than I do, probably because she visits more often than I have. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that she also knows our Chicago family better as well. Unfortunately the only time I usually visit is for funerals; hopefully this is the start of a new chapter for my relationship with Chicago.
We spent several hours at the Art Institute of Chicago, then walked over to Millennium Park and checked out the shiny bean. We had lunch downtown and then onto Lincoln Park to pick up my Uncle. We drove over to the old neighborhood to see my great Aunt Manda and our extended family for dinner and conversation.
The next day Mia, my Aunt and I headed out to Aurora Chicago for a full day of shopping at the outlet mall. Most of the adventures were just the ladies since my Uncle and Bruno needed to train and rest. It was very cold out and somewhat of an endurance test, but Mia was able to find most of what she needed. And that gave us an excuse to shop on North Michigan Ave later. One of the great things about hostels is that in most cases you can cook, and the Getaway has a great kitchen. We picked up food at Dominicks and enjoyed a night in, surrounded by fellow travelers and marathoners.
On Saturday we stared at the Field Museum of natural history, which was amazing. I love dinosaurs and fossils, so this was totally my speed. The extreme mammals from all over the world were also fabulous. I saw Sue and massive elephants as well as Lucy (a hominid). We stopped for lunch, and then shopping on North Michigan Avenue. That night for dinner was similar to the previous night, only the guys did a pasta carbo-loading dinner.
The next day, we were up early for the marathon, and boy was it chilly. We started down the street from the Getaway and were able to see Fran and Bruno run past us. We headed downtown to meet our cousin Cheryl and meet up with the guyspost-race. Once back in Lincoln Park, we all met cousin Anthony at a local restaurant, John Barley Corn for great food and conversation. After lunch, I said bye to everyone, and promised that I’d return to Croatia soon. Then, off to O’hare, Charlotte, and studying.