I’ll admit. Russian Tea Time was solely my idea initially, and as the days and hours dwindled down, I began to lose hope we’d get around to it. But finally, and though it seemed an after-thought for most, all agreed to give it a try.
In the end, it turned out to be just what we needed. After consuming our burgers on the pier, and a reprieve back at the hotel, the girls seemed ready for one last jaunt about the city.
“Dinner or just dessert?” the host inquired as we walked through the front door. This gave the impression that just having dessert was a fairly usual thing. Desserts are my weakness — I was excited to see what they offered.
First, the tea.
I wish I’d taken a photo of our lovely waitress. She was from the Ukraine, she told us, just here a few months. We enjoyed her, and when I made a mistake and ordered a certain tea, then changed my mind and she brought both, she noticed my worried look. “It’s present for you!” she said, and we all smiled.
Everything, from the ambiance, to the delicious menu, to the decor put us in the right mood.
The wait staff was smart, putting us in the perfect round table in the corner by the front. That way, we wouldn’t bother the rest of the patrons, there for dinner.
I’ll admit, I would have loved to have eaten a full meal here. I’ve never really eaten at a Russian restaurant before, and it looked delectable. I would have enjoyed trying a few things on this menu!
But dessert and tea worked well, too.
We took the opportunity to share our impressions on “Hamilton,” including what was unexpected, and what we enjoyed most. As we talked, a giggly gale began to sweep through our portion of the eatery. By the end, I was praying we had not unsettled anyone too much. Hopefully, they appreciated that we were enjoying ourselves.
A few in our party — perhaps most skeptical of this choice — even admitted it was one of their favorite things about our trip! This made me very happy.
Upon licking the last bit of raspberry drizzle from our plates, we headed back into the city to summon an Uber to bring us back to our “home away from home.” We’d need time to unwind, pack, and try to get some sleep before tomorrow’s train ride home. The air of the city had a magical feel to it; the music and lights entranced.
Earlier this day, one of the mamas and I, on our way to the pancake house, had spotted a Catholic Church, and made a mental note that if it were possible, we wouldn’t mind dropping in for daily Mass before departing the city.
The next morning, things came together to make it possible. While the others finished collecting their belongings and eating at the hotel, we slipped into Holy Name Cathedral — founded in 1874 — for a Friday morning Mass.
Each first Friday of the month, the congregation processes into the Adoration chapel at the end of Mass. A bonus! It was the first Friday. After such an amazing journey, we two felt a strong desire to return to the good God who’d blessed us so greatly, in so many ways, and offer something back, even if just a humble prayer of thanksgiving.
“Thank you, dear Lord. You are a good, good Father.”
After breakfast, it was time to hit the streets one last time, for a proper exhale.
Finding a few coins remaining in our “slush fund,” we all met at the grocery store to buy lunch items, then headed to the train station. Soon, we were on our way, admiring again the green countryside by rail…
…and gathering in the dining car — moms only this time — to share a delicious meal of steak, shrimp and chicken with trimmings — part of our sleeper car offering.
It even came with dessert! A sweet way to end our time together.
I don’t often have a chance to travel just for fun, so this Chicago trip was something to hold very close. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to discover this city, in this particular time and place, in this unique way, with my youngest daughter and her friends.
And, happily, I learned that the sunset I love so much was willing to follow me everywhere, even on a train…
Q4U: If you could go anywhere, just for fun, where would it be?