Bernie Roche of HRG Worldwide / Club Travel is our July winner in the Irish Travel Trade News Budding Travel Writer Competition, sponsored by Travel Counsellors Ireland. She thus wins a €100 One4all gift voucher and an invitation to the 22nd Irish Travel Trade Awards gala event at the Burlington Hotel, Dublin, on Wednesday 11th December 2013 – when one of our five monthly winners will be presented with the 2013 Budding Travel Writer of the Year Award and a cash prize of €1,000!
Bernie participated in United’s familiarisation trip to Chicago in June 2013 and her report was unanimously voted the best entry received in July by the four judges: Ronan Flood and Neil Steedman of Irish Travel Trade News and Cathy Burke and Bernie Whelan of Travel Counsellors Ireland.
If YOU are employed by a travel agency or tour operator in Ireland (North or South) and have participated in a fam trip or taken a trip won as a prize at a travel trade event in Ireland over the past 19 months (since 1st January 2012) then send 500 words and one or two photos on your trip, along with your name, job title and company, to email@example.com. (click here for competition rules)
Here is Bernie’s winning report on United’s Chicago fam:
Chicago: Memories to Last a Lifetime
By Bernie Roche, HRG Worldwide / Club Travel
Blues Brothers in full swing, champagne flowing, excitement filling the air – and we hadn’t even left Shannon! The departure gate at Shannon Airport was alive, what an exciting start to our UA fam trip to Chicago. Here I met up with the rest of the group and I knew it was going to be a great weekend.
Flight UA 67 was a very comfortable flight, due to our Economy Plus seating (which I will definitely be recommending to my clients), very attentive UA staff, and good food. Two movies later and we had arrived in O’Hare.
It was my first visit to Chicago and, thanks to the team at Choose Chicago and UA, I definitely got to see it in style. We stayed in the Essex Inn: its logo says “your key to the city” and this is so true. The hotel is on Michigan Avenue, an excellent location, the rooms were bright and clean, staff were extremely helpful, and I had a great view of Lake Michigan. What more could you ask for?
Friday night we headed to Grant Park to enjoy the Chicago Blues Festival where Bobby Rush, now in his 80s, had us and 50,000 people rockin’ n rollin” to ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’.
Saturday morning we had breakfast at the John Hancock Observatory with its amazing 360-degree views over the city (I even managed a spot of window cleaning!). We then headed for the Art Institute of Chicago, most famous for its collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and American paintings.
At Maceys on State Street, the second largest department store in the world, we had a guided tour of this ornate building with its Tiffany glass ceilings, famous Walnut Tea room, Great Clocks and Lost Fountain – it was truly a wonderful experience. I did manage to melt the Visa card as well!
You cannot go to Chicago and not sink you teeth into their famous deep-dish style pizza and nowhere better to do this than Lou Malnatti’s Pizzeria.
Saturday night we took a river cruise that takes you down all three branches of the historic Chicago River for close-up views of the city’s iconic skyscrapers. The evening ends at Navy Pier’s spectacular fireworks displays at the mouth of the Chicago River.
Sunday morning we headed off on a Segway tour and for me this was one of the highlights. What a fantastic way to see the city, I loved it! Last but definitely not least, we went to the House of Blues Gospel Brunch, which was not about the brunch but all about the music – and boy could they sing. At one point we were singin’, clappin’, jumpin’ with the choir, having an absolute ball.
Chicago is a great city with so much to offer, a skyline of architectural beauty, exceptional museums, hassle-free shopping on the famous Magnificent Mile, and an endless culinary festival of food, which I completely over indulged in because it was just tooo good.
“Make a memory and it will last a lifetime.” Thank you Chicago, I have loads…
Marshall Field was right when he said: “Give the lady what she wants”, and for me Chicago was definitely it. I will be back.