Tuesday, June 26, 2012

[Travel] [Tourist] Days 44 and 45: A Hint of Chicago and Chicago - Tampa on American

I should note that despite this entry getting me back to Tampa, it is not the last one in the trip report. There are three more to follow. The first features a meal of epic proportions. The second is all of the Walt Disney World parks in one day and the third is a summary and final thoughts that I expect about five of you to read. Almost done!

The entire trip I had two different possibilities in my head for my day in Chicago. One was to take the courtesy shuttle back to the airport, hop the blue line to the red line and then go on my favorite educational tourist experience (the architectural boat cruise out of Navy Pier) and grab some pizza downtown. The other would be to take it easy and try and find a way to the nearest Gino's East location from the hotel. I was still a bit undecided though leaning to the latter as I went to bed the night before. Then I proceeded to not fall asleep for the entire night. That pretty much decided it.

That's not entirely true - I had a brief five minute nightmare around 3 AM and then I did finally get 45 minutes of sleep at 8 AM. Not good. I headed downstairs for breakfast at that point after showering:

I pulled up Google Maps and the nearest Gino's East location, with its promise of delicious, delicious deep dish pizza, was 3.7 miles from the hotel. I could walk that. Or I could ask the front desk clerk for a shuttle ride. She said it'd be no problem and the shuttle driver agreed. In exchange I ordered a large sausage deep dish pizza and we all shared it. Seemed like a good deal to me considering they saved me a 7.5 mile walk.

Not my favorite pizza - that honor belongs to Ian's of Madison, WI - but a top-3 and my favorite deep dish

Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme

Awww yeah, that's the stuff

I think I'm going to need a few minutes to myself here. Just go amuse yourselves elsewhere.

I then retreated to the room to do some work and watch the Netherlands flame out of the Euros, followed by the Thunder losing to the Miami Satans. Very sad.

By 9:15 I decided to try that whole sleeping thing again with slightly better results. I fell asleep by 10 and managed to sleep until 3 or so. Good enough!

Originally I was slated to take the 9 AM shuttle to O'Hare for my noon flight. But since I was already up I thought "might as well get the 7 AM instead". 

Not exactly healthy
When I got to O'Hare all I could think was "wow, good thing I got here early". Security looked like a disaster. I checked my bag and it was half a pound over. Thankfully they let me through without having to pay extra (well, above and beyond the $25 I already paid for the checked bag). Security looked to be at least an hour at that point but then I remembered that because I had the Citi AAdvantage credit card I had Priority Access. Sweet! Cut that down to ten minutes.
No Sweden? Screw you O'hare!
I decided to head to the Admirals Club to kill a few hours.
Shitty shot for a shitty lounge
Total mistake. Easily the crappiest lounge I've ever been in. The wireless was unreliable and crawling. The complimentary food and beverages was water served in Dixie cups and tiny muffins. And the place was louder inside than the terminal. I spent about 30 minutes there and then went in search of a restaurant my brother had recommended.
Muffins and water huh? You're too kind, AA.
If you end up transiting O'Hare and you want food, do yourself a favor and go here:
It's counter service, but it is absolutely fantastic. I was tempted to order another two or three meals just to try things. But I was full and it was time to board, so all I got was the smoked pork.

I had the smoked pork

Tastier than airport food has any right to be
This flight was a complete and total disaster. It was probably karma for all of the first class. First off, I was sitting next to a woman who absolutely would not shut the heck up. If I'm reading my magazine and you're still talking at me, that's a sign that you don't get basic social cues. I'm fine with a polite five minute chat while waiting for take-off. And if we happen to hit it off then great, let's continue. But this woman was just 45 degrees off from normal and I wanted it to end. Thankfully once we took off I put my headphones on and she got the idea. Sadly we had a 30-minute ground delay so that still meant I'd endured her for 45 minutes already.

Next we had a crying baby in the row behind me. Naturally. But even worse was a small child, probably 8 or 9, who clearly had some developmental issues. I felt bad because I knew he couldn't control it, but every 30 to 60 seconds he would make noises like unto an animal at the absolute top of his lungs. Several people looked like they were ready to kill him. It was impossible to do anything that required concentration because you knew at some random interval there'd be this loud child-driven alarm going off.
Not my plane, though you can see the tail of my plane in the background

Goodbye, first class

Your last shot of this type so savor it, you sickos.

An intelligent airport purchase

Eventually the flight from hell ended and we deplaned. I grabbed my bags, met my friend John, and headed home. Come back the next three days for the last entries in the series.


  1. I've enjoyed the heck out of your blog. You're right Frontera is better than expect airport food. If you at DFW try Pappadeaux. I can't wait to read your summaries.

    One of your five readers ;)

  2. Very much looking forward to trying Pappadeuax. Any time I can get an airport recommendation I'm thrilled to do so. Glad you are enjoying the trip report!

  3. ONLY 3 LEFT, what am I going to do I so enjoyed your trip reports. I think you need to go on another trip to keeep us happy. :)


  4. You are all welcome to fundraise to send me on another trip ;)

  5. I really enjoyed all your reports and I will be looking forward to your next trip. Please get some Credit Cards with Huge Welcome Bonuses and replenish your account.

    In the meantime I'll read repeats.

    Another of your 5 Readers.

    InsaneTravel (A.K.A. David)