Chicago:

The Holiday Inn at Mart Plaza is excellent, the perfect location for some retail therapy on the Millennium Mile, for the river and its diverse and stunning architecture, and for numerous restaurants within walking distance, something to be considered after Happy Hour Cocktails! I suggest requesting a river view when booking the hotel as it does make a difference. The staff there are so friendly and helpful especially the Concierge who is a Chicagoan and his knowledge (and patience) is extensive.

There are a couple of river trips; one is the architecture trip and the other incorporates Lake Michigan. We chose the latter as you still get to view some of the striking architecture for the first part of the trip and then it is out on to Lake Michigan which is very relaxing and affords stunning views of the skyline with many ‘Kodak moments’.

The John Hancock centre is the place to go for the sunset over the city. The view from the Signature Lounge on the 96th Floor is stunning and the cocktails and menu affordable, however the Signature Room on the 94th floor – is more expensive and incurs a cover charge. We were advised to arrive around 7pm to ensure we saw the sunset and it was exactly the right time. We joined a short queue for the lift and within minutes, there were vast numbers of people behind us. We only waited a few minutes to be seated and enjoyed a couple of their very special cocktails while watching the glorious sunset. Highly recommended.

If breakfast or brunch is to be taken at an authentic Diner then Lou Mitchells has to be the place. Great food, (omelettes to die for!) and a sense of what it was like years ago before Mc D’s, Starbucks etc….

Millennium Park is well worth a visit as it houses The Cloud Sculpture which is a must see, There is a great view of the different styles of architecture and something else well worth a ‘stop’ is the Crown Fountain with all the faces displayed through the water. Note of warning, the underground parking is expensive if you are there for a while so it is a bonus if you can walk to the park.

If architecture is an interest, The Robies House is fascinating and our ‘personal guide’ was very well informed on all aspects of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, adding to the tour guides repertoire!

Buddy Guy’s ‘Legends’ blues club was ‘interesting’; we enjoyed the meal but the early evening act was a little too strident and we decided to leave before the $20 cover charge pp came in. We stopped at The Drake Hotel for dessert and a nightcap and were treated to an excellent mixture of Jazz and Blues delivered by a very professional trio. If we had known beforehand, we would have arrived earlier.
San Francisco:

We were lucky enough to be there during the America’s Cup and had a fabulous view of the action from the Bay Cruise. Alcatraz was excellent and Sausalito was wonderful. I can’t believe it was my first visit over the bridge after so many trips to San Francisco and we wished we had more time there. Pier 39 revisited and more importantly, Harry Mason revisited for more earrings! (Well it had been 10 years since my last visit!)IMG_2783

The Handlery Hotel was excellent; perfect location so close to Union Square and the cable cars, not dissimilar to the Warwick in New York in terms of classic charm. Usual shopping in Union Square and how!

That’s about it. No complaints, flights hotels everything was great. If I ever get around to sorting out my photos there may be something of interest.

Our thanks to you for another superb trip and we’ll be investigating our next adventure in January so… beware! (thinking about a revisit for me (1st time for Sadie) to Memphis and possibly another town as we really liked the two centre trip this year.

Ps… Heard that Barry was over for a flying visit to appear for Children in Need – imagine you’re looking forward to seeing him in May along with Mick and Jackie of course.
Kind regards
Trish Elliott