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Chicago Tour: An Au Pair's Perspective
Au pair Kiah Appledore traveled to Chicago recently to take part in our weekend tour of that uniquely American city.  Here is Kiah's account of her experience.

In late March my local area representative from Go Au Pair, Polina Clend, posted an offer on our local au pair Facebook page that I could not turn down! The offer was a weekend trip to Chicago leaving Friday April 24th and returning Sunday April 26th. As soon as I saw Polina’s post I knew this trip was for me!  I convinced a friend of mine to come on the trip with me, and she was just as excited as me! She is also an au pair, living in Minnesota, and we met through Go Au Pair’s New York City workshop when we first arrived in the States.

Once I left my plane at Chicago's O'Hare Airport I met with my friend - who was landing around the same time - and we caught the Go Airport Express shuttle bus to our hotel. The shuttle bus was prepaid as part of our trip with Cultural Hi-Ways so yet another thank you Cultural Hi-Ways for so graciously organizing a necessity that I absolutely never would have thought of until the time came that I actually needed it! I did, however, tip the driver $1.00 as we got off the bus for being so friendly and courteous the whole bus ride down. 

Upon arrival at the Hyatt Hotel I was in awe and couldn’t believe that I would be staying here! The lobby was large with plenty of space and seating and reception was right in front with staff waiting to assist you. When we got there we checked in with reception and were given our room key and an envelope from Cultural Hi-Ways containing Chicago maps and information about the next day’s tour. Once we’d checked in we caught the elevator up to our room. 

WOW what can I say about our room? As you walked in the bathroom was on your left with beautiful glass doors, clean fresh stainless towel railings, plenty of spare amenities such as shampoo and conditioners and beautiful bathroom counter tops. The room also featured two double beds with gorgeous clean white sheets and blankets, plenty of fluffed pillows and the bed was ACTUALLY COMFORTABLE! There was a flat screen plasma TV and plenty of plugs to charge our phones! The view I might add was breathtaking. I truly feel so honored to have stayed there and want to thank Cultural Hi-Ways from the bottom of my heart for booking such a spectacular hotel! It truly made me feel they cared about my comfort and wanted me to have an exceptional trip! 

For Saturday's tour we needed to be dressed, ready and waiting in the lobby at 8:45 a.m. We climbed onto the bus and Howard, our local tour guide, introduced himself, and told us a little bit about the city which I found really interesting and I was glad he did as it really gave me an insight into the city I was visiting so that I could really appreciate that beautiful place I was in! Our first stop was along the Lake Michigan shoreline from where we saw the magnificent Chicago skyline. Up next was The University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel followed by the University's business school designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Howard also told us about the house next to the school and how its design mirrored that of the business school as a tribute to Lloyd Wright. From there we went to ‘The Bean’ at Memorial Park, followed by the Chicago River from where you could see the Trump Tower which was really cool! After that we stopped at the Chicago Theatre for a photo opportunity and then headed back to the hotel for free time.  

After dinner we walked to Navy Pier!!! The walk from our hotel to the Pier was about 20 minutes and super easy to get to! Once we got there we took photos out the front and then went inside. There was a market there, with shops and a lot of little cart stalls where you could buy clothing and jewelry. 

I was up and ready to go early on Sunday morning and took the opportunity to take another walk around the city! Something I love about Chicago is how easy the streets are to navigate and that there is a Starbucks on every corner! 

I’d just like to say a huge thank you to Christina and Jane the Cultural Hi-Ways tour managers for putting on such a fantastic trip for us all! I know every one of us thoroughly enjoyed it and I highly doubt there’d be a single complaint from anyone! 

Also special mention to Howard, our tour guide on Saturday! I’ve never met anyone so truly passionate about the city they live in! You are truly an inspiration to me when it comes to learning more about where I live! You made my day thoroughly enjoyable and I feel truly blessed to have met you. If anyone ever does this trip and gets Howard as their guide you'll be so lucky!