Bucket list trip - Private Box at Bulls & Behind the scenes at Boeing
Jordan Farrelly - italktravel Newcastle West
As an 11 year old Jordan caught the travel bug with a trip to the North Island of New Zealand. Since then she has indulged her wanderlust whenever possible. Her favourite destination to date is the USA.
On her long bucket list Sri Lanka is at the top of the list but close behind is Galapagos Island, South Africa, Canada, Maldives, India, Europe! Anywhere I am yet to go literally…..
Jordan has been a travel consultant for 15 months at time of writing this blog (Mar 17).
This trip was supported by United Airlines and italktravel Head Office.
I travelled to the USA with United Airlines, on the new Boeing 787-9. A great aircraft, i definitely noticed the difference being on the Dreamliner. I was also seated in Economy Plus (Which, if you get the chance to I would highly recommend you take advantage of).
This gives you that extra leg room that we are all dreaming of while our knees are pressed up against the chair in front of us, without the responsibility that comes with an exit row! haha… I was also thoroughly impressed with the service provided by the flight crew on all my flights throughout my journey in the US - service was always prompt and staff were lovely.
We spent the first 3 nights of our travels staying at the Warwick Hotel Allerton, I found this property quite well located on the "Magnificent Mile”.
The hotel has a beautiful "historic" exterior, which is also complimented throughout the lobby's and bar. In saying this the architecture of most the buildings in Chicago was really quite beautiful.
On arrival our room was upgraded to a "Junior Suite" to accommodate the necessary bedding configuration (Twin bedding rather than double bedding).The Junior Suite gave us a separate living area to the bedroom.
Other guests had commented on the size of the rooms, So if room size is something you take into account when looking at accommodation, upgrading your room to the higher category would be well worth it!
Some must do's while in Chicago:
Visit the Sky Deck in the Willis tour and capture a shot on the ledge.
Visit Milenium Park, where you'll find cloud gate (or also known as the bean).
Attend a sporting event!! Whether is be a Bulls game (which I highly recommend) or Cubs game, get out and immerse yourself in the sporting culture of Chicago.
Make your way to Alder Plantarium (or somewhere close by), I guarantee you'll have the best view looking back on the cities skyline.
Our time in Chicago was short and sweet, has left me wanting more.
The next 2 nights were spent in Seattle, at the Fourpoints by Sheraton. The hotel was, well underwhelming on arrival and I purely believe this is because of its surrounds, across the road you will find the local automotive repair shop.
But, give it some time and you will be pleasantly surprised. I found the property to be popular for business travellers. The building is only small, maybe 3-4 floors.
Our room was your standard hotel room, no living area this time. But we did have an uninterrupted view of the Space Needle from our window. The staff here were great! They were fun, lively and definitely lifted the atmosphere within the hotel.
Once you got your bearings we were a lot closer to attractions than we had initially thought; with the Space Needle, Chihuly garden and glass and Mo Pop all walking distance.
Here you could also take the monorail to Westlake Center, where you'll find Seattle shopping Precinct (this is roughly a 5 minute ride and just one stop, so impossible to get lost!).
With limited time in Seattle I jam packed my afternoon seeing the tourist sights of Seattle taking advantage of the "city pass" this pass gave us access to:
- Space Needle
- Seattle Aquarium
- Argosy cruise
- Mo Pop Museum or Woodland Park Zoo
- Chihuly Garden and glass or Pacific Science Centre
So in the short time I had I managed to visit the Space Needle, the observation deck was clever and quite interactive giving you the opportunity to capture moments tag your location and how far you had travelled from "home" to be here.
There was no hidden costs either which is always a pleasant surprise! I did only visits the observation deck at night. I also really enjoyed the Chihuly Garden and glass, I wasn't sure what to expect, nor did I know too much background information before going.
But I do believe this worked to my advantage. You make your way through I think 8 rooms of art which are all completely different and each fascinating for there own reasons.
You then have the option to go to the Chihuly cafe, the theme is continued throughout the cafe with quirky decor. (Lunch was also delicious!)
After this you continue out into a glass dome, with more glass sculptures which also captures a view of the space needle!
What I loved
Chicago! whats not to love is more what I'm thinking... I knew I was going to enjoy my time from the moment I could see the city skyline as we drove away from the airport.
This city is inviting, its welcoming, its warm and fuzzy (even though it was 4 degrees Celsius out!) I was fortunate enough to not only attend a Chicago Bulls game but was absolutely spoilt as I watched the game from the United Airlines Suite, which is where we were treated as royalty for the next two and a half hours.
We could not have asked for anything more, all our food and beverages were included from gourmet sandwiches to the famous Garrett's popcorn and hot dogs, nothing was forgotten.
The United Suite was prime position just off mid court... I wasn't kidding when I said we were spoilt. the indoor/outdoor suite, let you immerse yourself in the atmosphere.
This is a once in a lifetime experience... If you have the opportunity to attend a Bulls game while your visiting Chicago, it is definitely a must!
The other pinch yourself (is this really happening) moment, was the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington.
Again as I was invited on this trip by United Airlines, we were fortunate to not only visit the factory, but were taken on a highly exclusive tour of the factory; quote the staff at Boeing "The only way to get on this tour, is to buy a plane" which United Airlines is currently Boeing's largest client.
The Boeing factory is the largest building in the world by volume. So we made our way around the floor on golf carts, looking in awe at the process of building a Boeing aircraft (insane right?).
For the next 2 hours our guide Dave, who has been with Boeing for 30 years - gave us insight into a day in the life at the Boeing factory. From the different aircraft available, why they are built the way they are, who the target market was for the aircraft, the material used to create each portion of the aircraft and its benefits, I could go on... Everything he shared was relevant, with all of us on eager to find out as much information in the short time we had in the Boeing factory.
Although you may not be able to tour the factory the way I did, I would recommend you do the tour that is available to the general public which gives you access from two different balconies within the factory looking over the floor.
What was just OK
Two things that didn't make or break my trip were the Seattle Aquarium and the Mo Pop Museum, I find aquariums to be quite similar wherever you go with the stand out here being the River Otters!
As for the Mo Pop museum, I guess this just wasn't something I would usually make time to visit but with it included in our city pass, I had no reason not too.
If you have an interest in Sci-fi films, video games or music you probably will find something here of interest.
What was awful
Its hard to not impress me when travelling, I love making the most of the situation no matter what.
Tell us about your favourite meal, what, where, when & why
Personally my favourite meal was on our last night in Seattle, not because of the service, restaurant or anything in particular... My dinner was just genuinely delicious!! As Seattle is renowned for its seafood i treated myself to "Columbia river king salmon”. I did have some "when in Rome" moments, trying Deep pan pizza at Gino's East of Chicago & Chicago style hot dogs at the Bulls game
Top tip for someone doing this trip
Purchase the economy plus seating with Unites Airlines - you won't regret it! Also depending on your transit times between flights, purchasing one time entry into the United Club could be well worth it.
I visited one in Chicago, where we at breakfast before flying to Seattle. The club had charging stations everywhere, comfy seating and plenty of it, a bar, two separate buffets the food on offer for breakfast was great, there was no need to go and purchase additional food.
As for the club in LAX it was similar lots of seating, tables charging stations to accommodate to all types of travellers, although we were transiting at dinner time - the food was mainly ' build it yourself' salads and soups, so we did go out into the airport to eat dinner.
Take the hop on hop off around Chicago, do one entire loop before deciding where you will get off - it will help you get your bearings. Visit Pike place market in Seattle, local people selling handmade souvenirs/ fresh local foods - a nice personal touch to your travels.
Anything you would do differently next time
More time! I would have loved an extra day in Seattle, so that I could venture to Canada for the day! I believe its roughly a four hour train ride to Vancouver, or while I was away I also learnt there is ferry service into Victoria which would cut the journey down to roughly two and a half hours.
The particular tour company we used for our hop on hop off experience in Chicago, the company was great and the driver provided live commentary as we made our way around the hotspots of Chicago!
Although what we were not aware of, is that they do not operate the Double Decker bus option in the winter time - which I think is part of the fun of hop on hop of! This was definitely a let down for the group.
I would have also loved to experience the Jazz/ Blues night life in Chicago, perfect excuse to go back!
Would you go back?
Of course! It would really take something horrible to happen for me to not return to a destination. Although for now, I am trying to not double up as there is just so many places I wish to see.
Have you got another trip planned and where to?
No trips planned, but give me a week or two and ill have something new on the drawing board...
How can I find out more?
Call italktravel Newcastle West on (02) 4929 2899