Sunday, July 29, 2018

University of Notre Dame



For the past six years I have been making my way to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend each summer to attend the Shakespeare Festival. I have a son who has been involved in a youth theatre group where they do a Shakespeare production each year through their Education Through Theatre Program. In mid-July, he and his fellow youth actors take the stage at Washington Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame for Shakescenes - a variety of Shakespeare-related skits from several youth theatre groups. 


It's something I look forward to each summer - obviously it is exciting to see my son perform, but even moreso when it is on a stage at the University of Notre Dame! However, I also love this annual event because it gives me a chance to spend time on this amazingly stunning campus. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I take a deep breath as I enter the grounds and I can just feel the stress melt away. The winding roads, architectural masterpieces and natural beauty make for a very peaceful setting.


On our visits to Notre Dame, we've also visited the bookstore and the Eck Visitor Center next door, which is where my sister happened to get married five years ago. Her husband grew up in South Bend where he could see the Golden Dome from his yard, so it seemed a fitting place for them to marry - and a central spot for family coming from Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The Golden Dome is another place I have enjoyed visiting on our trips to South Bend. The Golden Dome serves as the administration building and is located next to Washington Hall and it wasn't until last year that I ventured inside. As beautiful as that dome is from the outside, it's more amazing from the inside.


The Basilica is also a very popular spot on campus and if you have the opportunity to pop in there, you must. You may even want to work in time to be there for a mass. There are 
often weddings there on weekends and if one it taking place, it is closed to visitors. It is absolutely breathtaking and well worth waiting a bit if you have to so that you can get a glimpse of the inside.



On the way in to campus, there's a pond that I pass that is usually occupied by ducks and surrounded by those jogging, walking or biking if the weather is nice.


So far on my visits there, I haven't had time to venture further into campus, but the football field and "Touchdown Jesus" are two spots on campus that are also popular with visitors.

Aside from the campus, which is enough of a reason to visit South Bend, there's much more to see an do if you plan to spend a full day or a weekend there. You can take in a game of the South Bend Cubs, tour the historic Oliver Mansion, check out classic cars at the Studebaker Museum and pick up some chocolate treats at the South Bend Chocolate Factory...and much, much more. Also, an eatery that I highly recommend is Chicory Cafe, a New Orleans themed restaurant that has amazing mufalettas, po' boys and more. For more info on the area, go to visitsouthbend.com 




Friday, July 13, 2018

Palmer House Hilton

As I was cleaning out my inbox this week, I noticed an email from the Palmer House Hilton for a special July deal with rooms for this winter starting at $115 per night. I'm tempted to plan a little getaway because that is a great deal - especially during busy times of year. The deal is good for bookings through July 31 for stays from November 16 - January 31. When I hit the link and plugged in a couple dates, I came up with rates even lower than the advertised $115. I found some dates as low as $94.

The email also took me back to a couple years ago when my son and I stayed there in January when we attended the Cubs convention. This Chicago hotel is a historical and architectural gem built for business magnate Potter Palmer. It is said that the hotel was a wedding gift to his bride Bertha (who was 23 years younger than him.) The hotel burned in the Great Chicago Fire just 13 days after its grand opening. He rebuilt and the new hotel opened in November 1873.

The Golden Empire Dining Room, which opened in 1933 hosted such entertainers as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Harry Belafonte, Judy Garland and Liberace and you'll see the halls of the hotel lined with photos of the performers.

In recent years, the hotel has undergone a $170 million renovation and the place is simply breathtaking and somewhere everyone should stay at least once.

I've also heard that they do historic tours of the property and I've got that on my bucket list. 

By the way, when we stayed there our room was very spacious and nicely decorated and we took advantage of room service. Breakfast was very good and a nice little luxury before we set out for a day of standing in lines at the Cubs Convention to meet players. 


Palmer House Hilton
17 E. Monroe
Chicago
312-726-7500
palmerhousehilton.com

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