There’s nothing like waking up at 4 a.m. to catch a train from Mattoon, Illinois to the Windy City. A little background: We made 11 a.m. appointments with the Spanish Consulate to hopefully get Cultural Assistant visas. To our complete surprise, they denied us. Even after reading tons of blogs warning us that it’s tricky to exceed the 90-day limit, we were optimistic. Apparently because our program only lasts 80 days, they weren’t willing to issue us a visa to do extra traveling; we were crushed. Both of us broke into a calm panic and paced around the bean as we called our parents asking for advice. How could our second home turn us away? We’d hit plenty of speed bumps traveling before, but this looked to be our biggest challenge yet.
After our small breakdowns in Millennium Park, we decided to screw the negativity and enjoy Chicago-hoping a trip to Navy Pier would lift our spirits; nothing changes a sour mood like a strong margarita. To keep the good times rolling, we jumped on the ferris wheel to get a view of Chicago’s iconic skyline. Even though it was stifling hot, the view was beautiful. *Warning: tequila and heights do NOT mix. Dizziness after the ride may occur.* .....
Enjoying Navy Pier before our marathon sprint to Union Station
With about two hours until our train left, we rested our aching feet and enjoyed the lake view. True to our nature, we realized too late that our timing was way off. In an attempt to save time and spare our feet from walking another two miles to Union Station, we tried to hop onto the free trolley. No such luck. After waiting 20 minutes for it to arrive, we were forced to speed walk through downtown. Crap! With only 15 minutes to make it and a mile and a half to go, we hailed a cab and pleaded him to do whatever it took to make the train. And boy did he. It was like we were on the Knight Bus from Harry Potter. I hung on to the headrest for dear life as he dodged (and almost hit) a dozen pedestrians. He pulled in front of the station with only four minutes to go.
We full out sprinted through the platforms, hoping to catch a glimpse of our train. It was as if time had slowed down and we were starring in our own action movie: our feet screaming in pain as we made our way from platform to platform.
4:07 p.m.-the train was gone.
We hung our heads in defeat and dragged ourselves to the ticket office to buy another one for 8:00 p.m. As we waddled out of the station (yes, waddled. This is what you do when your feet feel like they’re about to fall off), we looked at each other and laugh/cried about everything that went down. Visa denied-check. Miss the train-check. Smell terrible from the heat-check. But hey, traveling isn’t always perfect. While the day was pretty sucky (besides the margarita), it reminded us to embrace our “go with the flow” mantra. One thing’s for sure, we never come back from a city without an exciting story to tell.