Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicago, my birthday, St. Patrick's Day and the visa appointment

We had a great time in Chicago this past weekend.  My visa appointment went swimmingly and we had a blast celebrating my dreaded 30th birthday and St. Patrick's Day.

After all the stress and worry over our acte de mariage, two of the three packages ended up showing up Wednesday afternoon, so we had more than enough copies for the Consulate and I was thankfully able to sleep on Wednesday night as a result.  The appointment couldn't have gone better.  We showed up about 10 minutes before our scheduled appointment, as they requested, and we were out of there less than 20 minutes later.  We had no problems, they didn't ask for any documents that weren't on the list (even though I brought my entire life just in case), they were quite nice and efficient and I must say it was my quickest and most pleasant encounter ever with French administration.  Now I just have to wait to get my passport back in the mail with my visa in it.  I should have it in the next three weeks and then I will be good to go!

After the appointment Friday morning we spent the day in the freezing cold and rain exploring Chicago since Lionel had never been.  We also did a fair amount of eating and shopping in an attempt to warm up, but overall we enjoyed the day.  We checked out the Magnificent Mile and Water Tower Place and spent some time exploring Grant Park and we had time to grab lunch at a Thai/Chinese place I had found years ago on one of my visa trips and really enjoyed.  For dinner we did some Chicago style deep dish pizza at Giordano's and then grabbed a drink before heading to bed early for an early start Saturday morning.

view from in front of the French Consulate building

visiting Grant Park

along the river

Water Tower Place and the old water tower that survived the Great Fire of 1871

along the river in the rain

Millennium Park and the Cloud Gate (though it looks like a giant metal bean to me)

Chicago Theater

trying out Chicago style deep dish pizza

Saturday was dedicated to celebrating St. Patrick's Day Chicago-style and my 30th birthday and we had an amazing time.  Two of my friends came along for the weekend to help me celebrate my birthday and we met up with another friend who lives in Chicago and was able to show us around a bit and take us to plenty of fun and interesting bars and restaurants.  We started Saturday off at the river to see it get dyed green and from there we walked around, visited the Loop and Lake Michigan and just spent the day relaxing, trying to keep warm and joining in the St. Patrick's Day revelry.  We had dinner at a Chicago staple called the Billy Goat Tavern, which is this great little inexpensive burger joint hidden away underneath Michigan Ave. and then headed back out for a few more drinks before calling it a night.

 the green river for St. Patrick's Day

 freezing our butts off while checking out the green river

a green fountain for St. Patrick's Day

visiting Lake Michigan all decked out for St. Patrick's Day

a cute bar we went to, I just loved the decor
waiting for the river dyeing in the freezing cold
Lionel all ready to celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Overall our weekend in Chicago was incredible, despite the less than stellar weather, and it was a wonderful way to start my 30s!


  1. You got the visa, that's great! I had a feeling it would come through. I'm glad you got to celebrate. You must have been floating on air.

    Don't worry about turning 30, I feel the same as I did when I was 29. I do like that people take me more seriously now that I am 30. There are some perks to turning 30.

  2. Glad you had fun in my pseudo home city. Chicago has a lot of great food, museums etc.. If it wasn't for the weather :)

    And also congrats on the easy Visa process.

  3. Den nation - Well, I will have the visa, just have to await for it to arrive in the mail (and knowing my bad luck with all postal services, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there are no problems!) which hopefully won't take more than a few weeks. One step closer to the move to Bordeaux!
    I guess I'm still just having a difficult time handling the idea of being 30. I feel like my life should have been a little more stable at 30, but here I am getting ready to drop everything and move across the pond again to start all over. I hope you're right about the perks though...

    Wonky73 - Chicago really is a nice city, weather aside, and has a lot to offer. I've been in the summer before too and the lake is just beautiful on a sunny day. It definitely felt good to be in a city again, if only for a weekend!

  4. Mmmm, Giordano's! We went to Chicago for our honeymoon to make our marriage legal in France before we went back to the US. I hadn't heard of Giordano's before that trip, but boy was I glad I discovered it!

    We had a mostly good experience with the consulate there as well. (Personally, I think most of the people there have lost their sense of being French fonctionnaires... and that is a good thing!) Glad your paperwork arrived in time.

    1. I have to agree, I think they have lost their sense of being French fonctionnaires as well, but I'm not complaining because it made for a very pleasant consulate experience, even better than my 2 previous visits to the Chicago consulate! And I even already got my visa back in the mail, it arrived 1 week after my appointment, and they said it would take about 21 days!

  5. Happy Belated Birthday! Welcome to the 30s club :) So glad your Visa stuff worked out (I had a feeling it would though), and that you were able to celebrate your birthday stress-free!

    Lots of great pics from a memorable weekend :)

    1. Thanks Crystal! Still not thrilled about entering my 30s, but I'm hoping I'll get used to it and even start to appreciate it. People keep telling me your 30s are the best years of your life, and I really hope it's true! I'm thinking I'll feel better about it once we get settled back in in France and find jobs. Hopefully that will happen quickly!

  6. I am SO far behind on your blog!! But I was in making modifications to my Blogger profile to comment on someone else's and saw your post, and had to come and wish you a Happy 30th Birthday!

    I'm going back a few posts to see what is up. I have had a lot of changes, too. I have a new blog now (linked to this profile as of 5 mn ago) but if you go check out An Alien Parisienne you can see what has been up with me, too.

    Be well & now I am off to check out a couple of those older posts to see what is going on with you guys. :-)


    1. Thanks for the birthday wishes Karin! After seeing your comments I hopped on over to your blog to see what was up and I just can't believe your story! I hope things turn out well for you in Denver and I'm going to keep following your new blog.

  7. A day later...

    My friend, Amy Reverdy, whom I mentioned to you in another comment. I just realized she is in TOULOUSE, not Bordeaux. :-( She just posted something this morning, and I looked at her page and said, "DOH!" She and her husband were *thinking* of Bordeaux when they were deciding to move out of Paris. It's one reason I thought she was there.

    BUT, I am sure there are so many other people there who are expats and will connect. And I really think it is one of the most lovely French cities I have been to, and while I have not been to many, it is pretty terrific there, IMO.

    Best, Michele!