Spring Break Day 4: Chicago Overnight and Amtrak’s Illinois Service

We arrived to Chicago just over an hour behind schedule, which is pretty impressive considering that we were three full hours behind schedule late Sunday night.  Chicago’s Union Station is huge, beautiful and undergoing some restoration.  We had a small issue collecting our baggage after we deboarded the train — all the bags come out in a carousel just like in an airport, the only problem is that our bags never came out.  Fortunately we were not the only ones — there were a couple others lingering around waiting for their luggage and eventually after the intervention of an Amtrak baggage attendant, our bags finally came out.

For our limited evening in Chicago we walked over to get some deep dish pizza and also made a stop for dessert at Magnolia Bakery — an outpost from New York City, but one cannot pass up their famous banana pudding!  We checked into our hotel to relax for the rest of the night, but first I also had to pick up a to-go order of a Chicago hot dog and fries – of course I had to!

This morning I wanted to go running along the Riverwalk and through the park, but the rain was just enough to convince me otherwise.  After 48 hours on the train, my body was really needing some activity.  Walking around with our luggage to our hotel helped, but I needed just a little more.  So I walked up the 22 flights of stairs back to our room instead.

We took a Lyft Line ride back to Union Station, and that was quite the adventure.  Lyft Line is basically like a carpool, so we picked up two different people en route, which added another fifteen minutes to our ride.  We allowed enough time to catch our train, but for a $3 savings off of the regular rate it wasn’t really worth it.  Plus the driver had this super strong air freshener that began to sting our eyes — we wanted to roll the window down but we didn’t want the rain to come in and we were close enough to our destination that we just toughed it out.

Our train ride today was down to St. Louis, MO on the Illinois Service, which is almost a six-hour journey that went by very quickly.  And when we arrived to St. Louis … rain.  Like lots of rain.  We took their light rail one stop to our hotel, but had trouble finding the lobby since it is housed in the old Union Station.  They’ve done a marvelous job repurposing the space into a multi-use venue, and the seating area just outside of reception is just grand — hopefully we’ll find some time to just hang out down there.

For the rest of our evening we got some happy hour small plates in the Central West End district and then spent two and half hours touring the Missouri History Museum because let’s face it, one of us really loves history.  And now it is time to turn in for bed since we have a big day tomorrow — no rain please!

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