JenSop: The Singing Travel Pro!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Chicago! Part One.

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We were only home after the Boston trip for a little over a day.  We got home Tuesday evening and got some sleep.  The snow hadn’t been too bad, but I made sure to get a pic of Miloš the Mediterranean man outside with the snow.  Haha!  (And go figure, while he was here on the trip, they ended up getting a whole lotta snow back home in his town – which doesn’t happen very often.)

Miloš in the PA snow!

Miloš in the PA snow!

For lunch that Wednesday, we went out to get pizza so he could see that you CAN get really good pizza in the States.  He definitely liked it, but he still said Croatian pizza was better.  Having eaten a lot of pizza when I was in Croatia this past summer, I’ll say they are on equal footing, but I think perhaps he has a bit of a bias.  😉  My parents fixed us a nice dinner that evening.  (I’m pretty sure we had steak.  And right after dinner, Daddy went about bonding with Miloš the only way he knows how: with alcohol.  He brought out the shot glasses and dug into the liquor cabinet.  Haha!)

Okay, the master plan was to drive through the night to get to the Windy City in the late morning.  But first, I had a bit of caroling business work to do, and then we headed out to visit my good friend Karen.  We hung out at Karen’s for a bit, but soon it was time to get back so we could get on the road.  Not surprisingly, we got on the road later than anticipated – around 11:30pm I think it was?  We had snacks and munchies in the car, including Coke, a three pound bag of gummie bears (Haribos of course),  and some 5 Hour Energy Shots for me for when I’d start to get tired.  I’m not new to the hard core road trip, but next to doing the drive to Disney, this was going to be the longest – and I was going to be driving the whole thing.

But nonetheless, I was excited to get going!

Starting the drive to Chicago!

Starting the drive to Chicago!

When driving straight west from here in eastern PA, there’s two main routes to take: the east/west leg of the PA Turnpike, or go up to I-80 and shoot across that way.  For our outbound journey, we took 78 to Harrisburg and then picked up the turnpike.  Then for hours, it was just us with lots of Florence + the Machine and the Beatles to sing along to.  We were joined by the other regular late night traffic: tons of tractor trailers.  But because of my musician lifestyle, I’m used to hitting the highways, so driving along with the big trucks doesn’t even phase me.  (I won’t lie, I’m kind of proud of my driving prowess.  I’m pretty damn good.)  😉

The hours went on and on.  Miloš only dozed here and there for a little bit.  The rest of the time he stayed awake to be up with me as I drove.  (Earning himself some extra brownie points.)  🙂

At one point, I was too tired to keep going.  I pulled into a rest stop in Ohio, and we took an hour nap in the car.  Surprisingly, that actually helped.  But let me tell you, there are some seriously boring stretches to drive through in Indiana.  Yikes.

During the drive there, I got an exciting call.  It was from a producer at the Rachael Ray Show.  You see, the last two years, my caroling group (Olde Towne Carolers) had been on the show, and once again we were being considered for another appearance.  We had already been contacted a week earlier, and this was a second call to let us know we were still in the running and asking us what we’d want to sing, etc.  I have to say, it did get my hopes up, and Miloš was convinced we’d get on again.  (Alas, it was not meant to be this year.)

Well, fast forward, and we were finally getting close to Chicago.  I called the hotel to make sure our room would be ready in case we got there before official check-in time.  Miloš also made a quick phone call as well.  We were going to be joined later that day by two of Miloš’ friends from when he was an exchange student in Indiana.  Lora and her daughter Hannah were going to meet up with us for a day of shopping and then dinner, and Miloš was lining up the details.

The approach to the city….

Arriving in Chicago!

Arriving in Chicago!

When we got to the hotel, the room wasn’t actually ready yet, but the woman at the desk remembered talking to me on the phone, and gave us an upgrade to a suite!  (Yay!)  It was one of those rooms where you have to put the key in the elevator just to get up to the floor that the room is on – fancy!

Our super big suite!

Our super big suite!

Not only was our room awesome, but we were only a block off of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile – in the heart of all the shops and restaurants!

After some brief freshening up, we headed out to meet up with Lora and Hannah.  We did some shopping for awhile as we worked our way along the Magnificent Mile.  My current budget doesn’t allow for much shopping, but I do love to look at pretty things in stores – it never gets boring for me!  All the while, Miloš was catching up with the ladies, and I was getting to know them a little better and vice versa.  We ended up at the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, and it was actually really good!  I know it’s a chain, and there’s one about 45 minutes from here, but I’d only ever gotten cheesecake from them.  Their food is actually quite yummy!  Miloš had steak of course – haha!

Here are some pics from before and after dinner….

Chicago!

Chicago!

At the Michael Jordan store.

At the Michael Jordan store.

Chicago!

Chicago!

Chicago!

Chicago!

Jen, Miloš, Lora, Hannah

Jen, Miloš, Lora, Hannah

Lora, Hannah, Miloš, Jen

Lora, Hannah, Miloš, Jen

Miloš & Jen

Miloš & Jen

Water Tower Place

Water Tower Place

We had a great time out, and the ladies came up and hung out in our room for a bit before they had to get on the road.

Miloš and I were tired, but we didn’t want to miss out on what Chicago had to offer!  Our plan was to take an hour long nap, and then get up and get ready to hit the bars that night!  Miloš even set his alarm for exactly one hour later, as he warned that if we didn’t set it, we’d probably wake up at 4:00 am and miss out on going out all together.

Well…. we woke up at 3:30am.  Both of us at the same time.  Go figure.  Either the alarm didn’t work, or we slept right through it.  So much for going out our first night in Chicago!  At that point there was nothing to do except for reset the alarm (mine too) and go back to sleep.

So what’s up next: Chicago Park Two!  Exploring more of the city – with an entire day at our disposal!

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And this year, I've started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm engaged to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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