We stayed the night in the Palmer Hotel in downtown Chicago because it was the cheapest option closest to Mike’s office. We do not recommend staying there. I knew it was an old hotel from the times I had been inside the lobby and from historic tours of it, but it just felt older than I expected a Hilton Hotel to feel. It was an easy location for Mike to get to work and I spent most of the day killing time downtown. Since it was a Tuesday, the Museum of Contemporary Art was free and it was one of the only museums I had never been to over my 10 year-long life in Chicago so I felt it was fitting that I was able to finally go! Mike had been feeling poorly the last week so after he was done with work, we went to an Urgent Care in Lakeview. Apparently even healthy lungs have a threshold of how much dust they can inhale (even through a respirator mask) before they get sick and Mike had a case of bronchitis. We picked up his prescription, some of our favorite Thai food, and headed over to have dinner with more close friends. They have a beautiful baby girl and it was so good to see the three of them again! We miss our dear Chicago friends so much!
We weren’t sure what we were going to do with our car during the two weeks we’d be in Europe until I found a deal at the Days Inn in Elk Grove Village. If you stay one night at the hotel, you get 14 days of free parking and a free shuttle to and from the hotel, which was way cheaper than a hotel plus separate, long-term airport parking. The hotel was pretty dingy but since we only stayed the one night and were getting such a great deal on parking, we didn’t mind.
Our flight was supposed to leave O’Hare around 6:30pm on October 26th but instead our plane got stuck in another airport with mechanical issues and we were put on a different flight that didn’t leave until after 9:30pm. Needless to say, our trip got off to a rocky start and we were tired of travel and being in the airport before we even started our 8 hour flight to Heathrow.
Obviously, I threw up on the plane upon landing in London. All over myself, Mike, the floor, and the new travel pillow we had just bought. So that was really fun. After waiting in an airport for over 6 hours then flying for over 8 hours, turns out your much-needed motion sickness medicine wears off. Thankfully, I looked pregnant enough that people took pity on me. I apologize to anyone whose flight was delayed because our plane needed to be cleaned!!
Happy to finally have arrived on the 27th, we then discovered our luggage was still in Chicago and wouldn’t be delivered until a couple days later. Thankfully, since we had gone to Chicago three days early, we had three sets of clothes and all our toiletries packed in our carryons like smart international travelers.
We were so glad to see our sister-in-law, Alyssa, waiting for us and to drive to their apartment where we could shower and relax for a couple of hours. That evening George and Alyssa took us to this fantastic old pub in the country-side that served elevated British pub food. At the end of dinner we asked to see a dessert menu and George excused himself to use the restroom. When he came back he had a golden cake and a gift bag in his hand! It was finally time to learn the gender of our baby! Mike was very relieved that they had chosen to tell us so early on in our trip! We cut into the delicious cake that Alyssa had made to see BLUE! It’s a boy! They also bought us THE CUTEST little onesie with Buckingham Palace guards on it. It was such a nice evening and we are so glad they were able to keep the secret and share it with us as a surprise! We wouldn’t have had it any other way! (Although no delays, no vomit, and all our luggage would have made our arrival day just slightly better 😉 )
P.S. My brother and sister-in-law have an excellent travel blog about their lives as expats so if you love beautiful photos and/or travel tips, you’ll love thebrittainsarecoming.com.