U.S.: Part 1

On Wednesday we departed Germany for the States. We took a wide array of transportation: tram, train, bus, plane, then taxi. After arriving at the Frankfurt airport, we learned our flight was cancelled due to a cabin crew strike. We were to connect in Dublin, so the employees rerouted us on a nonstop flight that arrived in New York four hours early. When we went to the new check-in desk, the employee gave us business class seats before realizing the other airline’s code for economy was their code for business class. She tore up the tickets and printed us standard economy but was kind enough to give us all three seats in the middle row. So close to an upgrade but can’t complain.

New York and Chicago
We stayed at the Wellington just two blocks south of Central Park and were given a top floor (27th) room with kitchen and balcony on the roof. We were far above the steady thrum of life on the streets below and had bright yellow sunlight streaming in the large windows in the morning. That evening we visited the New York Public Library and Central Station, having our five or sixth meal (we ultimately stayed up about 23 hours that “day”) at the Oyster Bar. A few blocks away we stopped by Birdland for dessert and live free-form jazz by Dave Murray and his big band.

After walking around Central Park and back down Madison Avenue in the morning, we caught a cab to Penn Station for our Lakeshore Limited overnight train trip. New York to Chicago is a 19-hour trip, so we went all out for a first class sleeper room with private bath (meals included in the dining car). We only arrived an hour late, possibly due to snow on the tracks. From the station, we crossed to catch a Metra (the local train) out to the suburbs. Other members of the family arrived later, and we all went out to eat at a good restaurant with live music (a tad too loud for us to talk).

Central Park.
Central Park.

On Saturday we celebrated two birthdays. Herr’s niece just turned two and his grandfather 84. We had a large family gathering with entertainment from the little one banging on her new toys. Everyone was heading back to their homes by Sunday afternoon, leaving the four of us to take in a play at the Steppenwolf Theatre called Sex with Strangers. It was a literary play that everyone seemed to enjoy, with a hibachi (Japanese) meal to follow.

Herr’s mother had to work the rest of the time we were visiting, so his father chauffeured us around Chicago to see the Shedd Aquarium (I think the amount of time spent photographing fish tested his patience), and then we stopped by the Field Museum to check out the new Gold exhibit. I want a gold-leaf room now… We visited the Egypt exhibit as well before hopping back in the car to make some paella.

The next day we returned to downtown Chicago to investigate the Art Institute of Chicago. The museums offered free days on Monday and Tuesday so we were able to take advantage of this deal and see some pretty amazing exhibits. We started in the Thorne rooms, known for its miniature models of interior design over the centuries. Needless to say I acquired a few ideas of my own.

Yellow frog.Jellyfish.Jellyfish.

After seeing all the miniature architecture, I suggested we go to the architecture exhibit. It’s contents were primarily conceptual. I found several of these thought provoking, especially an augmented (hyper) reality presentation. After a brief lunch in the new wing, we made a short stop in the modern art section. I believe Herr’s father is glad we left as we both were making several somewhat insulting comments about splotches as art (some days I am just not that interpretive…).


Overall the Institute had some fabulous artwork including Saurat’s stippling masterpiece, several Georgia O’Keefe pieces (I really like her technique but could do without the sexual undertones – or overtones in most cases), Edward Hopper, and a couple Monet, Picassos, a Carravaggio… well, they have some good art. I had determined that morning that I did not have enough outfits to make the trip comfortable, so we walked to Macy’s department store and picked up two in maybe 40 minutes? It was a very quick trip for me. We joined up with Herr’s mother for dinner at Noodles and Co. and watched the State of the Union Address.