If Detroit was marked by empty streets and abandoned buildings, Chicago was just the opposite full of life and stunning architecture. After a 5-hour drive from Detroit to Chicago right across the four states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, we arrived late afternoon and checked in at the historic Hotel Plaza Congress right on Michigan Avenue. The location was just great as all attractions can be reached by foot. We immediately headed out to the parks; Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park and Grant Park and thanks to our 10-year-old son who had just read the book “I survived the Chicago fire”, we got a history lesson as he told us the whole story. In search of good restaurants which all turned out to be closed we finally ended up in a very good Mexican fast food restaurant, Spanglish Mexican Kitchen – also here we could bring our own drinks which we all enjoyed.
The next day we all appreciated to have a break from sitting in the car. We took a boat ride on Chicago river to learn about and watch the awesome architecture, strolled around downtown for shopping, watched the busy street life and felt the special atmosphere created by very friendly and happy looking people.
At night we had a great dinner at the favorite restaurant of our son – Vapiano. Back in the hotel room my husband came up with the idea to take the kids to the movies and grandma immediately decided to join – out of curiosity to miss something.
As we knew that many hotels might be without breakfast we had taken our cool-box with us and thanks to my in-laws we did not only had delicious breakfast in our hotel room but also great picnics during our rides. Before we left Chicago we went to Hancock Tower to see the impressive town from above. We also managed to take a snapshot of all of us in front of the famous “Bean” in the Millenium Park and of course in front of the starting point of Route 66.
We followed the Route 66 all the way to St. Louis and it became a winding journey through idyllic and picturesque villages and residential areas where you could trace the Route 66 heydays. The book “Route 66 Road Trip” from Moon helped us to stay on track and we stopped at several recommended attractions along the way. In Pontiac, a small little town in Illinois, we arrived just in time before the “Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum” closed.
We also took the time to have a late lunch at the restaurant Delongs Casual Dining and enjoyed the flair of a typical American small town. I asked the waitress what was good about living in Pontiac and she immediately answered it is small and safe, everybody knows everyone. On the question about good deeds she said that she very often “Pay it forward”. This is something that we had come across several time during our stay in the US – at the high way toll or several drive-in like Starbucks and Mc Donald. I really like the idea, it shows appreciation and really can cheer up someone’s day – something we will take back with us to Europe.
Soon after we left this charming town our son noticed that he had forgotten his GoPro at the museum – we had to turn around. We went back to all the places but no GoPro had been seen. After a while we got pretty sure that he had left it inside the museum – but how would we be able to get in? As the police station was near by we decided to give it a try. The town was small so we thought, maybe they would know the lady working there. After explaining the whole situation on the phone at the door to the police station the officer decided to meet us over at the museum. We were all so pleased and touched by his willingness to help. The officer did not know the lady working that day, but therefore an older gentleman, who sometime helped out and he came by car to open up the door to the museum. To all our disappointment the GoPro was not in there either, however we got a nice chat with the officer and the older man – talk about a “random act of kindness”.
When we finally arrived in St. Louis it was already past midnight and approaching the town in the dark with the lighted Gateway Arch was really impressive. At the hotel a young woman welcomed us with a strong southern accent. It had been a long day full of impressions and excitement and there is more to come. Stay tuned…