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View Full Version : Windy City, Smoky Mountains ~ Day 1 - Travel day


wickesy
08-06-2009, 06:05 AM
We were awake as usual at around 6:00 and up by 6:45. After having a coffee, washing and dressing we were out by 8:30 and were able to pick up our taxi early meaning that we were at Terminal 5 by 8:40.

The idea of terminal 5 is that once you are checked in, either online or via a self-service kiosk, you can go to any one of a number of “Fast bag drop” desks where your luggage is tagged and you can make your way through security. Unfortunately, despite the website assurances that “there should never be more than one person in front of you”, there were large queues at all the bag drops and we happened to pick the one where a film crew were checking in all of their equipment so we didn’t actually get our bags dropped off until 9:20!

Thankfully security was a lot easier and we were through in 10 minutes so we had a quick wander round and then stopped off at Pret A Manger where I got a BLT and sparkling apple juice and Dad had a prosciutto and cheese baguette. The screens were initially showing that the gate for our flight would open at 10:40 but that soon changed to 10:25. The gate came up on time as A10 but when we got down there we found that A10 is one of those “gates” from which passengers are bussed out to remote stands.

The bus arrived at 10:50 and, for those who are interested in such things, we were taken out to stand 541 where we boarded the plane and took our seats at the back of the World Traveller Plus section. No welcome drinks on BA so we made ourselves comfortable and waited for the off, which was 10 minutes late as the airport was busy. As we were waiting near the runway I realised that the plane taking off in front of us was an Airbus A380 and managed to get a photo.

http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t120/wickesy/Chicago%20and%20Smokies%202009/SANY0006.jpg

As we were thundering down the runway I noticed an Emirates one parked at one of the stands as well.

Once in the air there was a drinks run and the entertainment system was switched on, which on BA is audio and video on demand. The first film I decided to watch was Hannah Montana The Movie (well I had to get Disney into this report somehow) and as I was watching that the crew brought out lunch, which was a choice of cottage pie or chicken and pasta. Dad and I both had the cottage pie, and white wine. The rest of the flight was passed watching the sky map, Monsters vs. Aliens and playing games on the entertainment system as well as a couple of episodes of Shelley on my Archos. About an hour before we landed we were served with afternoon tea, which was a herby cheese and cucumber sandwich, a honey mustard chicken sandwich and a muffin.

http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t120/wickesy/Chicago%20and%20Smokies%202009/SANY0007.jpg
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We landed at 2:10 and after a short wait for our gate we were off and through to Immigration which, unlike Orlando, has one queue each for US citizens and visitors which then feed to the different desks so no “go to the right” cheats here. We were through Immigration at 2:40 by which time the bags had started going round on the carousel and we spotted ours almost immediately so we made a quick exit.

Again unlike Orlando the international terminal does not have any rental car companies ‘on-site’ so we had to get a courtesy bus out to the Alamo office. I had known this before we left but I had been expecting to see courtesy phones in the terminal which we could use to call a bus but following the signs for rental car shuttles just dumped us outside the building where we just had to wait until a bus finally came along around 10 minutes later. We were soon at the Alamo office where there were only a few people in front of us so we were seen quite quickly. We were told that with our USRentacar booking we were entitled to an upgrade to mid or full size at half price and when we were told that the upgrade to mid-size would be $11 per day we accepted it but declined roadside assistance and also sat-nav because I had brought my own. Going out to look at the choices of mid-size cars I spotted a rather nice Mazda 3 but it didn’t have satellite radio installed so we settled on a Ford Focus, the same as we had in Orlando earlier in the year as we knew that it had suited us before and it also saved having to get to know new controls etc.

http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t120/wickesy/Chicago%20and%20Smokies%202009/DSCF0633.jpg

We left the parking lot at 3:40, having noted the mileage was 6,769 with a view to seeing just how many miles we cover before dropping the car off at Atlanta in a couple of weeks. Traffic into Chicago was pretty heavy so we weren’t at the hotel until 4:30. We dropped the car off at valet parking (no self-parking here and valet is $50 per day!) and went to check-in where we were allocated suite 1702 on the 17th floor.

http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t120/wickesy/Chicago%20and%20Smokies%202009/SANY0010.jpg
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The TV swivelled round so you could watch it from the seating area as well.
http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t120/wickesy/Chicago%20and%20Smokies%202009/SANY0016.jpg
http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t120/wickesy/Chicago%20and%20Smokies%202009/SANY0017.jpg
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We went for a quick walk down to the Disney Store that we had spotted on the way in and stopped off at Wal-Greens on the way back for some nibbles and root beer. When we got back I was flicking through the TV channels and came across Food Network, which was showing a programme called Challenge where 4 people were making Disney Classics themed cakes (isn‘t it amazing how many Disney references can sneak into a trip report that wasn‘t expected to have anything to do with Disney). There were four contestants making cakes themed on Mary Poppins, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and each cake had to be at least 36 inches high. In the end the Pinocchio cake won.

We were in bed by 10:00 ready for the inevitable early wake-up tomorrow and a trip out to the Field Museum for the Real Pirates exhibition.

Day 2 (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2251019)

tennisfan
08-06-2009, 06:46 AM
Lovely hotel in Chicago, its somewhere where I would like to visit

Pegasus928
08-06-2009, 06:53 AM
Well done on getting the Disney references in. Bet you can't manage to do that for each day of your holiday.
A good start to the holiday with no real dramas to report though. Looking forward to more :thumbsup2

wickesy
08-06-2009, 06:58 AM
Well done on getting the Disney references in. Bet you can't manage to do that for each day of your holiday.


Oh you would be surprised, stay tuned.... ;)

Tink2312
08-06-2009, 07:25 AM
The weather looks lovely - and there I was thinking it's always like they show in ER - raining or snowing! :lmao:

jjpenguin
08-06-2009, 07:59 AM
Really looking forward to your report as I'll be off to Chicago in just over a month.... not that I'll get much sightseeing done as it will be for work. My own fault for not adding days in Chicago but going down to WDW instead ;)

irongirlof12
08-06-2009, 08:04 AM
fab hotel, but pricey on the valet parking :eek:

Pinky166
08-06-2009, 08:43 AM
Great start. Your room looked nice but $50 for valet! :eek::eek::eek:

Loving the Disney elements. :thumbsup2

dvc_john
08-06-2009, 09:58 AM
Lovely hotel in Chicago, its somewhere where I would like to visit

Looking at the pictures taken from the window, I'd say this hotel is near both Water Tower Place (seen on extreme right in top photo taken from window) and John Hancock Tower (seen in next photo). It looks like the second photo is just to the right of the first photo (with Water Tower Place in the background). This is a great place to stay in Chicago, right near North Michigan Avenue (the Magnificent Mile). Michigan Avenue would be just a block or so to the right of the photos.

Parking in Chicago is expensive. Overnight Self Park usually runs about $30-35. Valet usually runs $45 and up.

wickesy
08-06-2009, 11:05 AM
fab hotel, but pricey on the valet parking :eek:

Great start. Your room looked nice but $50 for valet! :eek::eek::eek:


It was but luckily, after reading reviews on TripAdvisor, I was prepared for it.

Looking at the pictures taken from the window, I'd say this hotel is near both Water Tower Place (seen on extreme right in top photo taken from window) and John Hancock Tower (seen in next photo). It looks like the second photo is just to the right of the first photo (with Water Tower Place in the background). This is a great place to stay in Chicago, right near North Michigan Avenue (the Magnificent Mile). Michigan Avenue would be just a block or so to the right of the photos.

Parking in Chicago is expensive. Overnight Self Park usually runs about $30-35. Valet usually runs $45 and up.

Spot on. :thumbsup2 I've just realised I didn't mention the name of the hotel - it's the Hilton Suites Magnificent Mile on East Delaware Place, directly opposite John Hancock Tower and with the shops of Magnificent Mile one block over.

natalielongstaff
08-06-2009, 11:07 AM
loving the disney references :rotfl2: i hope to visit chicago one day.

mandymouse
08-06-2009, 11:39 AM
Your room and view look lovely :thumbsup2 Loving the Disney references ;)

Chilly
08-06-2009, 02:45 PM
$50 :scared1:

Snowy-girls
08-06-2009, 04:52 PM
Will hold you to the Disney references David ;).
The hotel looks nice,was you happy with it?.I can't believe how much valet parking is :scared1:,that is truly shocking.
Looking forward to more :thumbsup2.x.

cazzie
08-06-2009, 04:53 PM
Nice hotel I would love to visit Chicago.

wickesy
08-06-2009, 05:20 PM
The hotel looks nice,was you happy with it?

We were really happy with it - the room was nice and it was in the perfect location for everything. The only downside was the cost of parking but we had to either live with it or try and find cheap self-parking somewhere and then have to get back to the hotel so...:confused3

florida sun
08-06-2009, 05:20 PM
Great start David, lovely hotel, another one here that would love to visit Chicago:thumbsup2

Cyrano
08-06-2009, 06:46 PM
Looks and sounds like you have settled in to Chicago well.
Looking forward to the rest of your trip :)

PudseyChancer
08-09-2009, 02:15 AM
Always enjoy your trip reports David, you do a lot of travelling around the American cities that I would love to go to. Looking forward to the rest of your report.

suzycute
08-09-2009, 03:33 PM
Great start to your holiday - look forward to reading the rest! :thumbsup2

jjk
08-11-2009, 02:25 PM
lovely hote, i would love to go to Chigaco too :goodvibes

arieljasmine
08-15-2009, 04:35 PM
Wow, $50 a day, with no option to self park - eek! I hate the no self parking option as we are too impatient to wait around for someone to bring the car.

To save my brain going in slow motion trying to work out the time difference - how long was the flight?

Well done for getting to the Disney Store as first order of business!

I want to watch that cake making programme now!

Laur's xx

wickesy
08-15-2009, 04:49 PM
The valet parking was a nuisance especially on the day we left when I just wanted to get on the road and even though I had phoned down we still had to wait another 5 or 10 minutes when we got downstairs before the car turned up.

The flight was about 8 hours or so.

The cakes really need to be seen to be believed, I think it was about 8 hours they had to make them and the detail was amazing.

arieljasmine
08-16-2009, 03:58 PM
The flight was about 8 hours or so.



Thanks, David, I would love to go some day so like to know that the flight is manageable!

Laur's xx

Lizzybear
08-20-2009, 09:54 AM
Wow terminal 5 sounds like a bit of an ordeal! Glad to hear your flight and car pickup went smoothly (Las Vegas airport car rental is all offsite aswell and I was surprised at how easy it was) $50 a day to park! :eek: Steve has been on about going to Chicago for a while now so I shall be reading with much interest as I don't know much about it myself :)