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Change Is Good, Isn’t It?

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting on Got My Reservations. There’s some change going on in my life — some call it “retirement” — but I call it my next step.  I am converting this blog to a more deliberate travel-focused format. I have owned “gotmyreservations.com” since the day I first starting blogging, but never found it necessary to migrate my blog and there were many good things about using “wordpress.com”. Those of you who have been following me probably won’t notice significant changes in what I write about, but I’m going to save my retirement rants and personal ruminations for my other blog, Retirement 365.

One of the reasons that I moved to my own domain was so I could use a recipe plug-in. This will make it easier for you to save or print one of my recipe posts in the future; my most-visited post is still Grandma Lill’s Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs! To me, life is not complete without trying out new restaurants and new foods and sharing recipes, so this will continue to be a part of Got My Reservations. I plan to run a Christmas series of recipes on the new site, so be prepared for some new ideas to add to your holiday traditions!

I hope that you will continue to follow me at my new site. Email subscribers will need to resubscribe; if you already were following through Facebook, you’re still connected. I’ve added a Pinterest link to my page and maybe someday I’ll figure out how to use Google Connect. Please take the time to click through on my button and sign up so that you continue to receive updates from me.

With my gratitude and regards,

Jennie

Trip Advisor: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week looking online at London hotel web sites.

I’ve read Rick Steves’ recommendations; he has a certain point of view that I’m not sure I always share. I’ve read some other travel guides, but I often come back to Trip Advisor. My experience has been that if a hotel has mostly Excellent and Very Good ratings and has enough such ratings to actually have some credibility, I can trust Trip Advisor. Open online forums such as Trip Advisor allow for fake positive reviews posted by the relatives of the innkeeper, but also allow for negative reviews created by competitors to drive business away. That’s why I look for an accommodation with lots of reviews and I read them pretty carefully.

I rated the bed and breakfast we stayed at on our 2011 trip to England, and gave it glowing reviews on Trip Advisor. We were there for eleven days and knew the place inside and out. One morning there was a disgruntled guest who complained about her breakfast experience the entire time she was in the dining room — and she wrote a negative review on Trip Advisor about it. Hers is the only remotely negative review about the place, and frankly, people should take it with a grain of salt.

What’s your experience with Trip Advisor? Do you write reviews? More importantly, do you have a place in London to recommend to our readers? Please put links in the comments — we’d love to check out your favorite London accommodations!

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Chicago Day 11: So sorry…

I guess that I bit off more than I can possibly chew when I committed to 31 days of posts. I’m just not able to keep up with this…

Thanks for your support of my blog; it’s just not going to be every day in October.

Chicago Day 8: Public Art

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Chicago is well-known for its public art.

You have probably all seen Cloud Gate, our “bean” in Grant Park.

You probably have also wondered about our Picasso.

You may have even seen the Batcolumn.

But have you seen Carpet by Ellen Harvey (2007), a mosaic of hand-cut marble? I used to ride the CTA from this station, but I’ve never seen this amazing piece of art work.

If you’re a visitor to town or a staycationer, an exploration of the Chicago Public Art Program website might be in order. We are surrounded by art and it enriches our daily lives in sweet home, Chicago.

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Chicago Day 7: We Love Sports Rivalries

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

If it’s Sunday, there must be football.

Sourced via Pinterest

Enjoy your day!

Chicago Day 6: Got Culture?

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

There’s a lot going on in Chicago this month; we’re celebrating Illinois Arts and Humanities Month.

Looking for something different to do? Are you a local or a visitor? Either way, these offerings are just a sampling of what’s available in Chicago’s diverse cultural community. After all, we are the home of at least thirty colleges and universities, including world-renowned Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Unnatural Spaces: A Performance and Conversation

Sunday, October 14 – 7:00 PM - Hairpin Arts Center (2800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago)

Pink Slime. Bullets. Parking meters. Lead poisoning. Exes. Asbestos. Trash and trash talking. Poetry meets the stage in Unnatural Spaces- a fast-paced, often-funny look at the environmental choices we all make to eat, look beautiful, get around, stay on budget, and make it through the day. Join us for this one-night only free performance of Unnatural Spaces followed by a post-show conversation on environmental justice with Anne Evens of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Martin Macias Jr. of Radio Arte and Chicago Fair Trade, and others. Limited seats available. Make your reservation now.

Art, Culture, and Struggle: Exploring Possibility and Imagination

Thursday, October 25 - 7:00 PM - Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (800 South Halsted Street, Chicago)

Join artists Josh MacPhee and Ivan Arenas for a conversation exploring the connections (and disjunctures) between art, culture, and struggle. MacPhee, a Brooklyn-based street artist, designer and activist, will present a slideshow based on the content of the newly released “Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics.” Arenas, a Mexican-American scholar whose work focuses on the relationship between urban spaces and political subjects, will share insights from his work as an artist and scholar in Oaxaca, Mexico. Together we will explore the complex ways that art and cultural production affects our communities and our struggles for equality and justice.

Thanks to my friend Michele for participating in the “guest post” program; you can read her interesting account of traveling in Ireland here. Michele is a professor at Northeastern Illinois University and also does career counseling for students at the College of Lake County.

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Chicago Day 5: We Are Activists

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Whether or not we always agree with each other, in Chicago we care and we show it by our actions.

Obviously, these photos are just a small representation of the thriving community that is Chicagoland. I love living here.

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Chicago Day 4: Our Skyline Rocks!

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

What is the first image that comes to mind when you think about Chicago?

Our beautiful skyline, right? You already saw it from the lakefront on my Day 2  post. This photo is taken from our stunning Grant Park (but more about our fabulous parks another day).

Even when it’s raining and with the rain comes the inevitable traffic slowdown, that skyline is still a beautiful sight.

When we’re coming west from points east, the minute we know that skyline’s up ahead, the energy in the car changes. It’s a buzz every time.

We’re back in the game.

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Chicago Day 3: Bike Trails

I’m linked up today and for the rest of the month in the 31 Days Challenge at The Nester. By clicking the tab at the top of the page, you can easily access all of the 31 Days in Chicago posts. If you’ve got a story to tell about your experiences in Chicago, I welcome guest posts. Join the fun by emailing me, or if you’re not ready to write, go to The Nester’s web site to follow some other stories this month.

Chicagoland runs amok with bike trails and bicyclists.

We even have a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council which promotes the use of bicycles for short trips and also works to encourage safety for bicyclists.

The Bike 2015 Plan is the City of Chicago’s vision to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Chicago. The plan recommends projects, programs and policies for the next ten years to encourage use of this practical, non-polluting and affordable mode of transportation.

Chicago’s commitment to bicycling can be both a good and a bad thing.

I drove downtown from my suburban home last week and could scarcely drive safely on Milwaukee Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood among all of the bicyclists. This video shows an underpass that I travel through almost every time I am in the city. Frightening, isn’t it? (If you click into the video when it opens you can also see the commentary about the dangerous intersection.)

On the other hand, Chicago’s bike trails are safe (most of the time) and give the cyclist an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery that one can find on Chicago’s lakefront and in forest preserves all around the area. There are also many bike trails that were converted from abandoned railroad right-of-ways.

We biked the Des Plaines River Trail a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the late afternoon warmth from the sun as the forest preserve began to cool down. I got myself all kitted out with my bike shorts on under my stretchy pants and my new breathable helmet. Then I HAD to bring my camera bag, water, and purse things, so my basket was probably as heavy as my Trex bike! Still, it wasn’t very crowded and we had a wonderful bike ride.

But then I kept stopping to take photos. Music Man left me in his dust and went on to another part of the bike path while I reveled in the fun scenery.

The Chicagoland Bike Maps website shows the plethora of bike trips available around the Chicago area. No matter where you’re staying, there’s a bike path within easy reach, so bring your bikes to Chicago. Remember that it is a city and you will need to protect your valuable investment. Bike Chicago also rents bicycles (and does Segway tours as well as bike tours) and has four locations along the lakefront.

Biking in Chicago — it’s a good thing. :)

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