Can you believe 2018 is coming to an end in less than two months? This year, I got to spend Thanksgiving with my sister at her home in South Bend, Indiana. But before lazying around in bed, we met up in Chicago to spend a night there. My trip to Chicago was a pretty spontaneous decision, swiftly executed by two sisters browsing plane tickets in the middle of the night.
I left Newark airport on early Wednesday morning. On the flight over to Chicago, I had a pretty serious anxiety attack, where I was sweating profusely and panicking from not being able to hear through my ringing ears and headaches. I stumbled over to the airplane bathroom where I was able to take a breather and recover a little bit, but that was the first time I had ever experienced something like that, and it was truly traumatic. I got off the plane and met my sister waiting for me – but not before getting a cup of coffee!
We took the subway from the O’Hare airport into the city, where we stopped to have some breakfast/brunch at Cochon Volant Brasserie. It’s located on the main floor of a hotel, and it had a homey atmosphere and coffee refills. My sister ordered eggs benedict, and I got a gruyere omelet. The prices were very reasonable, and we were able to sit down and catch up for a long time.
Afterwards, we walked over to the Christkindlmarket (yes, what a mouthful in just one word!). It’s an outdoor market in the Chicago Loop that is, I guess, the equivalent of the holiday markets that open up in Bryant Park and Union Square every year in New York.
Most of the shops presented German goods and treats, and as we were walking around, we noticed that everyone was carrying around these heart-shaped mugs with some warm cider or hot chocolate in them. Turns out these cups are special to the market, so we just had to get them ourselves! All you have to do is buy a holiday drink at one of the many stands, and you can ask them to pour it in a mug of your choosing.
We also walked back to the Bean, where we had visited last summer before I had started work full-time, and when my sister was still a college junior. We had said that we were going to take some polaroids like we did last time… I guess I just need to come back here once in the spring and once more in the fall to complete the full collection!
The night was beautiful with all the Christmas lights on the trees, and after checking into our hotel room for the night, we came back outside to take a walk on the Magnificent Mile, an avenue filled with stores. But who could have guessed that the sales tax in Chicago was even higher than New York City!? So we ended up keeping our shopping strictly window for the time being, promising ourselves to a treat once we got back to South Bend.
After having an early brunch, we were starving by late afternoon. So we had to stop by a cafe for a quick bite before our dinner reservation. We took a seat at Dollop Cafe, with some warm drinks and a vegan muffin. They were surprisingly open until pretty late (~9pm) for a cafe, then we realized that they also serve alcoholic drinks at nighttime.
Then came the main event of the night – our reservation at Pacific Standard Time. I had been eyeing this place on Eater for a while when it was decided that I was visiting Chicago. The food, the interior, and the service were all excellent, and we were surely impressed by how delicious the gluten free pizza and pasta were.
After a fun day in Chicago, we took a train to South Bend, where we immediately headed over to Notre Dame University’s Thanksgiving feast. It was great to have a spread of traditional American Thanksgiving food, which I don’t always get to experience every year. The huge dining hall was filled with students and families of faculty lining up to get slices of turkey and stuffing.
I don’t have many pictures from the rest of the trip, and that’s because I spent my time like I would have when I was a little kid, not on my phone but fully immersed in whatever activities were happening at home, whether it would be making food, playing games, watching TV, or simply doing nothing. (We did so some black Friday shopping, though.)
I also took a walk around Lisa’s campus at Notre Dame, and it really gave me peace of mind to stroll around the quiet quads and just have a genuine conversation with my sister. I’m really glad that I was able to experience what her life was like in college before she graduates.
As the year is coming to an end, I’m realizing more and more that time is such a precious thing. And this doesn’t mean I have to use every second of my time being productive, but it rather means that I have to spend it in ways that will be meaningful to me years from now. And for me, I think that’s spending time loving the people that I love, appreciating the time spent by myself, always growing and learning.