Sunday, December 09, 2007


I made my first trip to Chicago a couple of weeks back, to the Doctor Who convention held there each year, Chicago TARDIS. It was a fun trip all told. Getting to the airport was a complete pain though. The trip should take about 30 mins, or around 1 hour maximum, but on this particular morning it took 1 hour 45 mins to get there! The traffic was insane!!! When I eventually arrived, which was still an hour and a half or so before the plane left, the first thing I discovered was that the Virgin flight was not a Virgin flight any longer and was actually going to be on American Airlines as Virgin had 'mislaid' their plane and it was in Bombay or somewhere like that. How can you mislay a plane? And it was leaving an hour later. So I headed off to the AA booking desks and managed to get a window seat (luckily, as initially there wasn't one, but then in the departure lounge they managed to move people about a bit and I got the seat I wanted). I like to sit there as I can lean against the wall slightly and it's a little less claustrophobic than the other seats. Then, on the plane, to add insult to injury, I discovered that AA don't serve alcohol free with meals, you have to pay for it ... it's all free on Virgin and apparently they were supposed to give us vouchers. So I stuck with orange juice and water when I could have really done with a nice glass of red wine with my meal ... But the flight was OK and arrived the expected hour late - I had managed to ring Rosemary from the airport and asked her to email the people meeting me to warn them that I was on a different flight and arriving an hour later on - and all was well. I was picked up and driven to the hotel where I checked in fine and dumped my stuff in the room. On Thursday evening I went out with a couple of friends to a restaurant called Harry Caray's where we had an extensive Thanksgiving meal. Harry Caray was a Baseball commentator and this place is quite famous in Chicago apparently. The food was lovely but as usual in the US, there was way too much of it to eat - the turkey portion was 4 massive slices, each a cm thick and about 15cm diameter ... but the sides were lovely - stuffings and cranberry and bread sauce and all manner of things - a meal in themselves! One of my friends decided that we should have some champagne for the meal as well which was most welcome, and when we had finished it all came to about £15 equivalent each!!! The exchange rate is very friendly to us Brits in the US at the moment. Then it was back to the hotel and sleep ... Friday was spent shopping. I met up with friends in the morning and we headed off by taxi to a local mall where we spent most of the morning and early afternoon shopping. I got a pile of DVDs, and various other Christmas presents for people as well. We stopped by a Borders for a coffee as well ... then back to the hotel for the start of the convention, some panels and the opening ceremony. I hooked up with more friends for the evening and enjoyed drinks and the most massive take-away Chicago pizza pies for dinner, and then we headed off to several room parties where I chatted to people and made new friends :) About midnight I think I crashed and headed off to bed. Saturday was Convention day and so I spent the day chatting with friends, did a couple of panels, and generally relaxing. It was a nice convention, friendly and with a good mix of panels and people. Apparently numbers were down on usual as there wasn't a Doctor-actor as a guest, but it was still very friendly and enjoyable. The main guest was Eric Roberts but it transpired that he was stuck in Bulgaria on a film shoot and the weather had snowed off the planes. He eventually managed to arrive Saturday afternoon and gamely met people and did a panel and signed things for everyone without a murmer of complaint. What a star! He must have been so tired and jet lagged ... not to mention all the waiting around at the airport to get the plane in the first place. In the evening I went out to the Theatre to the Steppenwolf theatre to see a brilliant play called Wedding Play (you can see a review here: Very interesting and well acted and with some excellent use of sound and lighting ... I was very impressed as were the people I saw it with. From there it was back to the hotel for more drinks and parties and chatting ... this time until about 3am when I finally went to bed! Sunday and generally a quiet day at the convention ... more wandering and chatting to people, some panels and then goodbyes to all your friends which is always sad. I bid farewell to my new friends and then hit the bar for an evening with those staying over. Went to bed about midnight again when the bar closed ... Monday morning and I'd arranged to spend most of the day with another friend called Michael. He picked me up about 9.30 and we drove to his apartment in the middle of Chicago. His place had stunning views over the city - really nice to see. We were also looking after his baby daughter Vera and we went out for a long walk taking in the museum, the park, a vast sculpture called the Bean and took in a nice coffee and brunch along the way as well. We even stopped for a drink at the legendary House of Blues :) though it was nice and quiet when we were there - and Vera was asleep in her stroller. After my whirlwind tour of the city, Michael delivered me to the airport to catch the flight back to England which again all went smoothly - except for a potential panic where I realised I had been seated in a window seat but next to the fattest man alive! Luckily the plane was less than half full and so I managed to get a different window seat to myself. It was also a night flight, but only took 6 hours because of the gulf stream running in the right direction - it took around 8 hours to get there. Overall I had a great time, managed to relax and get some shopping done. Met friends old and new and hopefully will be returning next year when there is a Doctor in attendance ... For more details on Chicago TARDIS head to:

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