Tag Archives: Chicago

Hanging Over in O’Hare

20 Sep

ohare-tunnel

So I left you in Chicago!

I was saying that I usually cringe at the thought of connecting through The Chicago O’Hare Airport and that last week (well 2 weeks ago at this point) was no different.  After I encountered a standby snafu and had to make that Plan B quotes-quotation-chicquero-bad-decisionsI told you about last week which took me to Chicago for about 6 hours before I bought an American Airlines ticket through Miami to Grand Cayman… it was a long day!  And it was a Saturday, and I went to a party the night before so needless to say I wasn’t just layin’ over in O’Hare, I was hangin’ over in O’Hare!!  Don’t judge me.

Having only ever flown United Airlines in and out of Chicago I have not really left the B and C concourses and only sometimes venturing to the F concourse for a United express flight.  Well, let me tell you.  The O’Hare airport is more than the trippy light tunnel with the moving walkway!

When I had to actually look at an airport map to know where I was going I realized how HUGE the O’Hare airport really is! The American gates are on the G, H, K, and L terminals…who knew?!  That’s a lot of space!  And once I started making my way over to my gate in K I got to see a lot of stuff along the way.  I want to give O’Hare, and Chicago really big props on the amount of things I saw in the airport that day.

As I journeyed through the seemingly endless sunny corridors Imap-of-chicago-ohare-airport found many bits of art on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.  Some was really cool and some was really… interesting.  But then it got even better!  As I went past the line I’ve never crossed IMG_0290before – at the intersection of Terminal F – the airport got even cooler! I found a wall lined with photographs at the microscopic level and they were beautiful!  I had to stop and see what they were.  After reading the info plaque I saw that it was an initiative by the Institute of Genomic Biology to bring awareness about their most recent project.

TIMG_0295hen I came into an atrium area that was circular and had a staircase going up to a second level.  In between the levels was a beautiful mosaic called “On the Wings of Water” .   This mosaic is made up of 35,000 pieces of Venetian glass and tiles to show how air travel and water link cultures around the world.  It was completed with help from the students in the After School Matters program.

 

I went up the stairs to check it out and I found a complete hydroponic urban garden!!  Say Whaaaaat??O'Hare veggies  It was not only beautiful but responsible too because some of the restaurants that inhabit the O’Hare airport create dishes using the herbs and vegetables that are grown in this garden!  I also noticed a lot of flight crew members enjoying their coffee and snacks between flights up there on the comfy looking green lounge chairs.  They must have been savvy to this little airport gem for some time!

I have to say, I’m really proud of you, O’Hare!!  And next time you’ve got some time in that airport between flights, take a hike!!  And go check out all the hidden treasures that the Chicago O’Hare International Airport has to offer!!  Cuz it’s a LOT!!

Xoxo,

Em

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Wanna get away? How about Frankfurt for a day??

22 Jul

Have you ever had one of those “Wanna get away?” moments? Well I have, and the last time it was a strong enough urge that I acted on it…in a pretty big way!

How about Frankfurt for less than a day and then back home? Well, that’s what it took to make me feel better. I tasted new food, smiled at new people and, most importantly, I breathed new air.

OK, so I am a “stand-by” girl. The jig is up, that’s my secret. My mother taught aircraft systems for United Airlines for years and I still have travel benefits from her. YES!

So, you can imagine, it’s fairly easy for me to hop on a flight and jet off somewhere…loads permitting. Stand-by can be a complete nightmare or it can be a dream when everything goes smoothly. In this particular situation I was quite antsy to get outta town, and luckily this trip was more on the dreamy side of the spectrum.

Now, some background information on my family…

We are an aviation family and between my mother and her 9 other siblings there are 7 pilots, 3 of whom were/are captains for United. Only one of my uncles still flies the line as a captain on, and check-airman for, the Boeing 747-400. His name is Chris.

I called Chris on a Tuesday in April and left a message that went something like this, “Hey Chris, um, I was wondering if you have any trips coming up soon (he typically has one per month), and if you do, do you think I could tag along?” His response to me was, “Yep, I’m doing a check-ride on Sunday for a 23 hour turn-around to Frankfurt, meet me in Chicago!”

OK!!!

So 5 days later I was on the plane heading to O’Hare from Denver. I met up with Chris and his first officer, Roman, on the C Concourse and found that our flight was delayed an hour and a half due to an aircraft change. It always amuses me when the passengers get all disgruntled about their flight being late for those kinds of reasons. My thoughts?? The airplane was BRO-KEN, aren’t you glad they figured it out while we were still in the terminal? Broken plane = delay … get over it. I swear, people anymore just want something to complain about!

Sorry – where was I? Oh ya, Concourse C…

C Concourse O'Hare

After finally boarding and settling into my economy seat we were on our way. Now, don’t go thinking I’m stuck up because I had to mention that it was an economy seat, it’s just that typically when traveling stand-by internationally there are more First and Business Class seats available. Just sayin’.

We arrived in the morning the next day, took the crew bus to the Marriott, dropped our bags off and headed to the train station for breakfast. Appropriately, our breakfast consisted of beer and brats… a hearty German start to the day!

From the left...Roman, me and Chris having the breakfast of German champions!

After a seemingly 20 minute nap back a the room, it was actually 2 hours, I met the guys in the hotel bar called Challengers. Their slogan was, “…for a real American experience”. Well, I didn’t come to Frankfurt on my “wanna get away” whim to have a real American experience so we slugged down our beers and went to this cute little restaurant called Pielok… for a real German experience.

The first thing we experienced though was the German smell leaking out of the place. Holy shit, what IS that?? I’m sure it was some kind of warm cheese plate, but it smelled like dirty, sour laundry! I’m not sure if it went away or if our nostrils just assimilated. I’m assuming it was the latter.

Yes, it was that bad!

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Germans make some fantastic cheeses, its just that this one in particular seemed to offend our little American noses…. a lot.

Chris and I couldn't stop laughing about the pungent cheesy stench!

Unlike the smelly cheese trough, my dinner was to die for! This was comfort food at it’s best…. A burger patty – a real mouth watering burger – topped with 2 thick slices of salty, greasy bacon with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a side of roasted potatoes! Delish. I was feeling better already!

Salty, greasy, meaty German goodness!

We all took a little stroll after dinner and noticed the small differences that definitely lent the foreign feeling I was craving. What a gift. The bicycles, the people, the little shops, the small streets, the flower boxes, the trains, the housing flats, the fresh food. It was perfect for my little getaway!

I present you...Frankfurt

Once back at the hotel, I was asleep by 10 and up by 6. After a more breakfasty breakfast of coffee and danish we were on our way back to the airport with the whole crew.

Airports and airplanes are sometimes my favorite parts of traveling. I think you really get a chance to see who people are when they have to pack a little, tiny piece of their lives and take it with them as they navigate the uncharted terminal territory… I find it very interesting.

After people watching for about an hour while sitting at our gate, I was escorted to the plane with the crew by one of the Lufthansa gate agents who was working our United flight. I loved it when another agent we passed by tried to stop me, because clearly I wasn’t in uniform, and tell me that I couldn’t go that way. Chris simply threw a quick head nod her way and said, “Uh, she’s with us.” HA! Royal treatment when you’re with the captain.

This time, as we returned to Chicago, the travel itch was out of my system. I was loving my lavish upper-deck business class seat, sipping my wine and enjoying the added pride that my uncle was flyin that bird. Thanks Chris for helping me get away.

What a trip!

Em

Checking in please… To gate C16

15 Jan

I don’t think I can say I’ve actually slept in an airport before!
It’s surprising me that I cannot recall ever camping out in a boarding area any time in my past; especially all the traveling I’ve done.

Well, they don’t make it easy to catch z’s here either. Between the vacuums, janitors who think it’s funny to whistle as loud as they can as they stroll by innocent sleepers, the random security risk level announcements and the armrests in the middle of the otherwise mildly comfortable seats, it’s less than easy to fall asleep.

There was strategy in selecting C16 of all other inviting gates. It is a center gate without windows nearby, those would be colder. I am also sort of sandwiched between 2 rows of seats that are pushed closer together offering a more cozy feel and also making a bag swipe more difficult. Not that anyone at O’Hare wants to grab my bag at 2am, but I’m just sayin.

Ok so I’m off to try to get a bit of sleep. It’s no recliner, but at least I’m horizontal.

Em