Out of Toronto and into Chicago

Our final two days in Toronto were fairly low key. We’d planned to go to Arizona on Sunday to see the Grand Canyon (again), Antelope Canyon (again) and Sedona but with all the working that would involve, we’d cancelled. I’m glad we did. My knee puffed up after too much effort, going shapeless and pudgy, so much so that I worried I’d seriously done damage. The couch suited me fine…only when it didn’t.

Monday

Another day at home. Glen went out for lunch to meet a radiologist from back home who’s in Toronto on fellowship. I didn’t go but when lunchtime rolled around I dragged my feet out to the nearest place I could find – a sushi shop – only to discover Glen and Simon there too. Apparently, Glen and I don’t communicate enough. Anyway, I grabbed some takeaway and went back to the apartment. It seemed that that little jaunt was enough to cause some strain.

In the evening Glen went to collect Julian from the airport while I made dinner for us all. I burnt the broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts but the roast potatoes turned out nicely as did the pre-cooked roast chicken. Julian filled us in on his trip and then we watched Deadpool, before Glen and I headed off to sleep at Bec and Al’s. (The guest suite we’d used was not available any longer.)

Tuesday

We spent the morning at home, somehow getting into an argument over something that I can’t remember. We still went for lunch together though, with me stumbling to Spirits on the corner. The trip was slow and embarrassing but achievable. Lunch was stilted until we managed to work through our issues and then we’d tease each other about who was in the wrong (Glen) and who was awesome (me).

After lunch, Glen went to see yet more people at the hospital (it is a big hospital, three in fact), while I stayed at home. In the evening we went for dinner with Bec and Al, Pete and Royden, and Kevin and Adam at Barrio Coreano, a Korean-Mexican fusion place we’d been to a few times when we lived in Toronto.

We ordered too much, and left full, saying the first of conscious goodbyes (other goodbyes had been said without expecting they might be the last of this trip and thereby avoiding too much sadness). We farewelled Kevin and Adam at the restaurant, leaving before it got too teary, and then said more goodbyes in the elevator on our way back upstairs. We’ll see them in October in Geelong, which isn’t far away, so stop being maudlin about it, ok?

Wednesday

We had to get up the earliest we’d intentionally risen on this trip, the godawful hour of 6:30am. We went up to Julian’s, showered (it was much easier at his place because he didn’t have a shower/bath, just a shower and I could get into it without lifting my leg too far), finished off the packing and then Julian drove us to the airport. Another sad goodbye but again, we’re going to be seeing him soon. In September even!

We checked in then waited for a wheelchair to take us through the expedited lines of border control and security. As there was only about an hour until boarding, Glen suggested we skip the lounge and go straight to the gate, a suggestion I shot down in flames.

The lounge was fine. There wasn’t really much for breakfast, which was unfortunate as we hadn’t yet eaten, but we made do. We were collected an hour later and taken to the gate, then boarded our flight to Chicago. I’d booked business class and had nabbed the front seat on the left-side of the aisle, which was the best for my leg. Unfortunately Glen and I couldn’t sit next to each other.

We landed less than two hours later, met at the gate by another wheelchair and then taken through the airport to get our luggage and then a taxi. We’d had to get money out of the ATM for tips for the wheelchair driver. I really can’t stand this tipping culture in the USA, especially now that it’s so rare to carry cash. I felt bad asking for change from a $20 but honestly, a $20 tip would have been too much.

O’Hare airport is so far from the city that the taxi fare came to about $60. We arrived at Fairmont and checked in. The room that I thought had been complimentary, thanks to our membership, wasn’t. The only reason we’d chosen this hotel was because it would be free. Alas, no. The upside was that it was close enough to Millennium Park and the Art Institute that we could get to it with ease. They even loaned us a wheelchair.

We had lunch in the room which cost a fortune. The food was the price I’d expect for room service but there was a delivery fee, a 20% service fee (tip) and then tax. I think it came to $70, this for a salad, a burger and a ginger ale. I even gave him a tip in cash before I’d read the receipt.

After lunch, Glen wheeled me through Millennium Park, passing through Lurie Gardens, which I don’t remember going through before. It was in bloom though and spectacular. We then went into the Art Institute and Glen wheeled me around through a few of the exhibitions, stopping at old favourites from Georgia O’Keefe, Marc Chagall and Edward Hopper. One of the exhibitions was about a bust of Antinous, Hadrian’s young lover.

The story goes that Antinous died when he was 20, having fallen overboard and drowned. Hadrian made the man a god then named a city after him, and his likeness was produced all over the Roman Empire. He must have been damn pretty (though I’m sure they had lots to talk about and it was a meeting of minds too). Anyway, the Art Institute had a piece of his likeness which matched another piece in an Italian gallery and they’ve done some investigation to say that they match, but the final joining hasn’t taken place. Anyway, interesting stuff.

After a couple of hours we decided we’d had enough of art and left the institute. Glen wanted to explore a bit more of the streets nearby but the bumps were making my leg sore so we went home through Millennium Park, happy to have been out of the room for about three hours.

Only it wasn’t three hours. Our clocks weren’t set correctly and the absolutely most we could have been out was two hours, possibly only 1.5. Nevertheless we were worn out. And in the evening we didn’t venture far for dinner, choosing to diner in the restaurant downstairs, being served massive Chicago portions which we, despite our guilt of such waste, couldn’t finish. Then it was back to the room for more Dickensian. Oh, how we drink from the fountain of excitement!

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