I've done so much traveling in the last few months, it's crazy! Weeks of catching the plane, train, taxi, and buses have left me exhausted, but I'm incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity and ability to see so many new places. When I return home, I spend hours sorting through all the pictures, ticket stubs, and postcards, organizing them into a scrapbook that I can cherish and look back on. While I love scrapbooking, and and will continue to use that as my main source of memoirs, I wanted to try out some new projects that can display my mementos and be hung around my room. Popsugar has the solution in a list of 17 ideas to display travel mementos - and here are a few of my favorites.
My last day in the Windy City started with a delicious breakfast crepe at Meli Cafe, with plenty of sugar to power me through the famous Field Museum on Museum Campus. Right next to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum was a massive 3-level building, with a 3D theater and several visiting exhibits. Walking in, the first thing I saw was Sue, the largest, most complete T. rex discovered. I ran upstairs to the Evolving Planet exhibit, where I took a walking tour though the history of the earth and life on the planet. Of course, I spent most of my time in the Dinosaur Hall, nerding out over all the cool fossils. On the opposite end of the hall were two small rooms, filled with jades and gems. I didn't even realize the exhibits existed until I stumbled upon them by accident, The Hall of Gems was filled to the brim with cases of previous stones, my favorite of which were the beryl and benitoite crystals.
The main level was filled with the special exhibits on the Vikings and Vodou in Haiti. The Viking exhibit told the story of the Norse raiders from their lives, ranging from home and traditions to mythology and burial rituals. Tiny symbols of their gods were scattered through everyday household items, jewelries, boats, and ceremonies. For women, running a household was an important and well respected role, and they would carry around their keys as a symbol of their status.
Across the main hall were the famous natural habitat dioramas, some dating back to the Great Depression. Any bird, reptile, amphibian, or mammal imaginable was represented in the winding hallways of the exhibits - some grouped with related species, others presented in the habitat dioramas. I was visiting the museum on a Thursday afternoon, so much of the exhibits were empty of other visitors. Standing in the dimly lighted maze of taxidermy gave me a strangely mixed feeling of awe and goosebumps - strangely fascinating, yet slightly scary.
I had to have deep dish pizza one last time before I returned to the world of thin pizzas that never have enough toppings, tomato sauce, and cheese. This time, we chose Uno's, close to the north end of the Magnificent Mile, so that I could take one last trip throughout downtown to see all the night lights. We made a stop at Millenium Park again, walking past the Bean to the Pritzker Pavillion, changing colors with the skyscrapers in the background. On our way back, we happened upon a filming for Chicago PD on the bridge to the Art Institute, and crossed our fingers that we made it into the shot as we walked under.
Leaving the next morning was bittersweet - I was in desperate need of rest, but I hated leaving the Windy City. In just 5 short days, I had fallen in love with the incredible city - it's massive museums, beautiful parks, efficient public transportation, and of course, the stunning skyline. Thank you Chicago for such an amazing trip, and I hope to return soon!
And just like that, my trip was already more than half over. I wasn't ready to leave such an incredible city, and knew that there were so many more things I wanted to do in the next two days. I had yet to go to the famous Field Museum and former Sears Tower (now Willis Tower). I knew the Field Museum had to be a full day, so I decided to spend my half day at the Adler Planetarium.
The Adler Planetarium is also on Museum Campus, but at the very tip of the campus, along the water. That prime location gave it a stunning view of downtown, this time from the east. The clear blue sky and calm waters gave a beautiful reflection of the skyscrapers, almost like a mirror. Instead of checking out the planetarium immediately, I took a stroll along the boardwalk on the edge of the campus, and stopped near the museum, to just sit, sip my coffee, and appreciate the view.
The Adler Planetarium was a perfect half day excursion. Several different planetarium shows played throughout the day on the upper level, while the lower level was filled with various historic and interactive exhibits. Telescopes, astrolabes, and armillary spheres dating back to centuries BC show incredibly skilled craftmanship and care. In the center of the planetarium is the historic Atwood Sphere, the oldest planetarium in Chicago, which is still giving short tours of the constellations and night sky.
I joined another friend currently attending SAIC to check out the Skydeck at the top of Willis Tower. The tower is on the other end of the Magnificent Mile from John Hancock Observatory, to the south, relatively close to Millenium Park. The Skydeck also has several glass ledges on the west face, where we could walk out onto the glass and look down onto the Chicago River. The majority of skyscrapers are to the northeast of the tower, with Museum Campus to the south. Being completely honest, though, I personally enjoyed the view from John Hancock a lot more than Skydeck, mostly due to the position of the towers. Despite that, the lines for the glass ledges were relatively short, and the ledges were fun to walk out on and examine the buildings underneath our feet.
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