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Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

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Dublin, Ireland
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Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

I got so much help from this forum before my trip I wanted to post a trip report here about how it all went - so here goes;

Arrived Friday 21st Dec. We were staying in a great apt on Loomis st so we got the blue line straight from the airpor to Racine and walked a blcok and a half to the apt. It was really handy having transport so close, and this was on of the reasons I chose this place to stay. The neighbourhood was lovely, felt very safe walking there, even on our first night, when we ventured out to get a pizza from Taylor Made Pizza on Taylor St, (which was amazing by the way ) and to pickup some supplies from the 7 11 store.

The next day we were waiting outside stax breakfast place ( 3 blocks away) at 7am for it to open. We had a lovely breakfast - my teenagers, not realising the size of portions served ordered chocolate panckaes for one and mini waffles with cream for the other - neither of them could get even haf way though the meal but what they could eat, they did. The hostess was really lovely there, she had been to ireland previously and recognised our accents - she came over to chat and gave us some helpful tips for things to see when we were there.

We left and headed on the blue line into state st fro some shopping - this is where the day took a turn for the worst. On the blue line into town a fight broke out on our carriage - there was only the two guys and myself and the kids on this carriage - it was about 08.30am - they started fighting over a pair of gloves that one had apparently stolen from the other and it became a physical fight, right infront of us. It was really scary and my kids and I hopped off at the next station and waited for the next train downtown. We didnt feel any safer on that one, between drug addicts shooting up heroin in the corner seat - and guys bursting through the carriages while the train is moving looking for spare change ( right in our faces) . We felt qute intimidated. I am not going to get in to each experience but we got on a blue line 3 more times that day and each trip was sccarier than the last. By the time we got home for the evening I was a nervous wreck ( I had also been punched hard in th eshoulder, by a random stranger who was mad at anotherr guy as I walked down state street by that point - so i had really had enough by then).

I deciided to get the pink line from then on and t sit in the firsgt carriage behind the driver everytime and although none of us were comfortable again on the el - nothiing else bad happened. We used buses wherever possible, and chicago has such good transport links that we could get around very easily. We had bought a 7 day pass each which was really good value.

In addition to the shopping ( which we did quitte a bit) we did the usual touristy things like visitingn navy pier - whcih was good, very cold of ocurse on the day we were there, but we braved the cold to do the ferris wheel which was nice.

We also went on a city segway tour - we did the 3 hour tour - my kids and I were the only people on the tour who were NOT from chicago - our tour guide was Russell and he was fantastic ( we did this on the Sunday, the day after all the scary experiences) and he went a long way towards making my kids and i feel more comfortable and able to have fun. The tour took us all over , we covered way more than we could have done in a day on foot and his commentary was witty and breezy. Segways themselves are great fun, so take a tour if you get a chance.

On christmas day we went ice skating in millenium park - it wasnt too busy thagt morning and just as the kids took to the ice it started to snow - could not have been better timing - it was magical!.

We took the red line to chinatown on christmas day as planned - and it was a great idea - the streets of downtown chicago were pretty deserted but chinatown was busy - as you would expect. We all picked up some trinkets and our Christmas lunch was Dim Sum including chicken feet - very different tthatn our usual turkey and brussel sprouts.

Chicago is a lovely place to visit, apart from our bad expeiences on our first day there I found everyone we met so freindly and nice. There is lots to see and do and lots of lovelyplaces to eat which I will be reviewing separately.

Thanks again for all the help and advice I received here and if anyone wants to know anything about Dublin - i will be happy to return the favour!

Chicago, IL
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1. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

Serena, I'm glad most of your trip went well. You really should try to make it back during the warmer weather when the lakefront is fantastic.

Chicago, Illinois
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500 posts
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2. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

Thanks for reporting on your trip. It's unfortunate that you experienced some of the negatives of using public transit. During the winter a lot of homeless tend to hangout on the trains & stations. Glad you enjoyed yourselves for the most part. Chicago is a beautiful city aside some of the people/ activites you witnessed.

Chicago's North...
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for Illinois, Chicago
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3. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

thanks for sharing!

i'm sorry some lowlifes messed up your first full day here, but like citylights said, come in the summer---it's great...

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

What a shame that you had that experience. I thought that you told us you rented an apartment in Andersonville. If you had told us South Loomis we probably would have warned you against that area. You experienced conditions of the Garfield Park neighborhood to the west of your Racine station. Anything west of Rush University Medical Center becomes "iffy". Anything in the Garfield Park area becomes dangerous. On your next visit, please weigh the benefits of staying in a better area over the lesser cost of staying in a not so good area. The apartment on Loomis may have been lovely but it was not a good location for a visitor unfamiliar with this huge city. As you found out, once you were downtown things were different.

It's interesting about you being the only people on the segue tour NOT from Chicago. We tend to do the touristy things when the tourist aren't here. We just put segue on our to do before the tourist return list last night over dinner. The big weatherman seems to have granted you an experience letting it snow while the kids were ice skating. We should be in 2 feet of snow by now and have only had a few flurries.

Come back in the summertime when the city is in full fettle.

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

the south branch of the blue line can be sketchy, sorry you ran into some rough characters. That was not a good neighborhood for a tourist to stay in.

Chicago's North...
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for Illinois, Chicago
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6. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

with kids, no less....

chicago
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7. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

I agree we would have told you not to stay in that area

Shallow-they were probably from Schaumburg :)

Chicago
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8. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

If I recall, the OP got shafted by the rental management last minute at the Andersonville place so she switched. I agree that it wasn't the best area.

OP - Glad you had a decent trip and you got some snow here!!

Dublin, Ireland
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9. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

HI Guys, thanks for your replies - I changed my accomodation with less than a month to go ( the landlord moved the goalposts on some issues we had agreed at booking). I did mention here that I had changed and would be on the blue line instead of the red, I probably should have made more aof a big deal of it here though and asked for some advice .. hindsight and all that.... I have to say the apartment itself was beautiful and considerably MORE expensive than the one I had previously booked in andersonville and apart from the blue line issue the neighbourhood itself certainly felt really safe, I had checked the neighbourhood reviews from previous renters and they all said it was safe and it did feel very safe right around where the apt was ( the furthest i went was to taylor street and to the polk station though) the houses were lovely and nicely decorated and the few peope we encountered were really friendly.

It is unfortunate that our first experiences were not good, but as I told my daughter after the first day ( she wanted to come home at that point) A) I wouldnt travel on the LUAS line in some areas (Dublins rapid transit system) and B) I bet there are millions of people who have walked on state street thousands of times and never been punched by a random stranger :0).

chicago
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10. Re: Trip Report - Christmas with Teenagers

Commuting from andersonville would have been a pain anyways

Next time come in the summer and stay in river north :)