Posted by: Don Bemis | December 10, 2015

View from Room 19149

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I have six days off.  Last week, as we were taking Lois’s mom back to the airport, Lois asked me, “Do you have any plans for next week?”

“Not really.  We could spend a night at the Palmer House.”

“That sounds good.”

There were 22 people in our house for Thanksgiving.  We had a great time, but a bit of quiet sounded like a good idea afterward.

The Palmer House is the second largest hotel in Chicago, in the Loop near the Art Institute, Orchestra Hall, and Millennium Park.  The original Palmer House opened thirteen days before the Great Chicago Fire and lasted for thirteen days.  It was rebuilt shortly afterward.  The “modern” version was constructed during the Roaring Twenties.  The vaulted lobby ceiling is painted with classical scenes, naked ladies, and other ladies with wardrobe difficulties.  Bertha Palmer, the first owner’s wife, believed romance was good for business.  There’s a sculpture of Romeo and Juliet (clothed) inside the main entrance for that reason.  Bertha probably had the romance in mind, not associated poisonings and stabbings.

Bertha also invented the chocolate brownie.

Famous entertainers – most of them dead now – performed in the Empire Room.  It’s still there, and we peeked in, but there were no famous entertainers living or dead.

On Tuesday morning, we drove ten miles to Bangor, ate breakfast at the train station, and boarded about 7:40 Michigan time.  We arrived in Union Station about 9:30 Chicago time.  We walked eight blocks to the hotel, dropped off our backpacks, and ambled three blocks to Marshall Fields.  The owners think it’s a Macy’s since they bought it, but it’ll always be Marshall Fields in Chicago.  It’s like the Willis Tower, which we all know is really the Sears Tower.

I had selected the room online after checking Google Earth for the best potential view at our price.  Room 19149 is a corner room with windows on two sides, facing away from the lake.  We got kind of a reflection of the sky over the lake.  Thanks to taller high rises, you can’t see the lake from the hotel.

We had a noontime dinner at Russian Tea Time, a block from the hotel.  The food was great, as always.  They have really good vegetarian dishes, but we were feeling carnivorous.  Lois had Moldavian meatballs, and I had pork strudel with kielbasa.  We both got beets, of course, and tea. And more tea.  If your cup goes down an inch, a waiter swoops in to top it off.

After we slept off the lunch, we wandered to Millennium Park to see the Christmas tree and the Bean.

On Wednesday, we mostly skipped breakfast and had a big lunch at Lockwoods in the hotel.  The return train would leave at 6:30, so there would be no time for a leisurely dinner.  Then we walked back to Union Station, stopping off now and again at a tea shop, bookstore, or clothing store.  We also visited a hundred foot tall baseball bat sculpture in front of the Social Security building.

But first, we bought a rolling duffel in Target, where Carson-Pirie-Scott used to be.  The things we had acquired were getting a bit heavy for an eight block hike.

The weather was perfect.  It was a good thing, because we walked about five miles all told.

We got back home about 10 Wednesday night.  We’re already thinking about what we would like to visit next time.

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