Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)

Chicago: Day Four

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Last post on Chicago. Whew!

Our last full day in Chicago (Sat. Nov. 12th) was our most jam-packed of the trip and also happened to be my 26th birthday.

I am now  closer to 30 than to 20. It’s taking a bit of time to wrap my mind around!

Visiting Chicago’s Museum Campus was an awesome way to spend a birthday. My feet were incredibly sore by the end of the night, but it was totally worth it.

We started our morning a little on the late side, having gone out to dinner the night before and enjoyed a few pre-birthday beverages.

We contemplated taking a cab from the hotel to the museums, then waited around for a bus, then just decided to walk the 20 minutes through Grant Park. I am glad we did!

Grant Park must be where all of Chicago goes to walk their dogs. We saw tons of them!

View of Downtown from Grant Park



Chicago’s Museum Campus encompasses the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum.

Our first stop was Shedd. The aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in the world, sits atop a small hill. When we made it to the top we were shocked to see hundreds of people waiting in line. UGH! Already having gotten a late start to the day, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to see all three “museums” before they closed.

Luckily, we had purchased the Chicago City Pass* a few days earlier (which we also used to get into Hancock Center and the Willis Tower), and it included VIP entrance to the aquarium! We breezed past the 2.5 hour line (I asked an employee how long it was) and walked right in.

*If anyone reading this is planning a trip to Chicago (it is also offered in a few other U.S. cities), I highly recommend getting the pass. For under $80 it got us into a bunch of popular attractions, and we were able to skip the lines at most of them. Obviously, at the aquarium, this was a HUGE help considering our time crunch, oh, and the fact that I was not about to wait 3 hours to get into an aquarium, no matter how famous it is! Although, I probably would have waited that long to see the belugas. They were just so darn cute!

Reminiscent of a line at Disneyland!

Details in the Shedd lobby

Shell lamp

By far, the beluga whales were my favorite part of the aquarium. They are so playful–even splashing us once or twice–and very fast for such big animals.

I could have watched them all day!


I don’t usually take many videos, but I think the whales warranted it! This is the first video up on my new YouTube channel:

We enjoyed a quick lunch of hot dogs and chips next to the underwater viewing windows of the dolphin tanks. Not a bad spot to eat!

Shedd is definitely a must-see in Chicago. There are tons of exhibits and, while super busy, the size of the aquarium helps to keep the crowds spread out.

View of downtown from Shedd Aquarium

After a few hours spent at the aquarium, we went next door to the Adler Planetarium.

Admittedly, we weren’t all that into it and following the 3D show on famous observatories around the world, we only walked around for a few minutes. The highlight of our visit was probably running into Alex Borstein. She was on Mad TV (Mrs. Swan was probably her most famous character) and she does the voice for Lois on Family Guy. She was with her small son so A. and I were too chicken to ask to get a photo with her, but we did have fun following her around trying to sneak camera phone pictures!

The Field Museum of Natural History was up next.

By this point it was nearing 4:00 pm, and weirdly, we found that the Museum Campus closes down pretty early. I would expect the buildings to be open until at least 8:00 pm, but during the winter season they all close up around 4:00 pm.

Luckily, as long as you enter the Field Museum by 4:30 you can stay until they close at 5:00 pm.

It was a whirlwind tour of the museum, but we got to see everything we wanted.


The Man Eater of Mufwe--this lion ate 6 people before being shot

The World Famous T-Rex, Sue

Sue is the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus fossil known

My favorite part of the Field Museum was the Grainger Hall of Gems (of course!).

The Hall of Gems features a very famous and stunningly beautiful Tiffany stained glass window:

The Schlumberger Bow

The 5,899-carat Chalmers Topaz


Exhausted from a long day of walking, we left the museum and headed back to the hotel.

On our way back we saw a nice sushi restaurant on Michigan Ave. and decided to end our trip to Chicago with some yummy tempura and miso soup.

I had a fabulous time in Chicago and I hope you have enjoyed reading about my trip and looking at some of the many photos I took.



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