ORD: How to Fill Your 2-hour layover

It's day twenty (for me) in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my Christmas/New Year travels to Canada – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter is Y for our journey from YUL to ORD to ATL as we headed home.

Auberge du Vieux-Port Hotel hotel room view

With our flight scheduled for lunchtime, we needed to get up early to finish packing and get to the Montréal airport. Rather than put more money into our hotel by eating breakfast there, instead we opted to have breakfast at the airport. Why not?

Hurley's Irish Pub had just opened when we arrived at 10am.

Having fallen in love with breakfast poutine at Les Enfants Terribles at the Observatorie 360º, the plan was to get that, a cup of hot tea (for me), a cup of coffee (for Justin) and the Hurley's Fry-Up (pictured below). Of course, that's when our nosey waitress informed us that we didn't need all of that food before boarding the plane. It would result in heartburn. (How old do I look?!?) So we got one of the two plates, and I found myself still hungry even after we finished… *sigh* But, at least, my tea cup was never empty!

With so much extra time on our hands, rather than getting up immediately after paying, we just sat our table watching the goings-ons of the airport out the window. Our gate was only a few minutes away, so we were in no hurry to get there. Besides, we were making bets on which vehicles would slip and slide on the ice. (And somehow this didn't make us nervous about take off?!?)

And take off! 

view from the plane

We were in a rather small plane. The pilot stayed on the intercom almost the whole time pointing out things in the sky, updating us on the flight schedule, and even informing us which gate we were flying into when we arrived into Chicago. He was incredibly talkative!

Christmas at ORD

crowds at ORD

Considering I was still hungry after breakfast at Hurley's, I was thrilled to touchdown in Chicago. The first goal: lunch. We took a walk around the airport looking for the most appetizing restaurant and ultimately found ourselves at Publican Tavern where we split a burger and fries.

I also may have gotten a glass of sparkling wine to go with Justin's beer… 

Then, it was time to explore! We had two hours at ORD, so we had more than enough time to discover all that the Chicago Airport had to offer.

Fun fact: In the 1950s, Midway Airport (Chicago's main airport at that time) became too congested to handle the growth of the aviation industry. Because of this, Chicago opted to expand a smaller airport, named Orchard Field, northwest of the city to provide another option for travelers. With the Orchard Field expansion completed in 1960, the renovated airport received a new name O'Hare after Edward O’Hare, a U.S. Navy flying ace killed in WWII, but kept the initials from it's previous name. :) (source)

rotunda at ORD

One of the first places inside the airport we explored was the rotunda, and how fitting that was!

rotunda at ORD

This is the only section of the Chicago airport that has remained the same for more than half a century despite all of the numerous updates O'Hare has gone through in the time since it was originally constructed in 1963. 

rotunda at ORD

Along with bars and restaurants, the second floor opens up to an aeroponic garden, where plant roots are suspended in 26 towers that house over 1,100 planting spots. (source)

Chicago mural at ORD

animal relief area at ORD

Art can be found in a corridor between terminals 1 and 2. Apparently Chicago has a deal with their Public Art Program to display artwork throughout the airport and beautify it. In my opinion, it totally works as this is one of the nicest and prettiest airports I've ever been to!

At about this point, we decided we needed to turn back and head for our terminal. 

On our way back around the airport, we spotted Butch O'Hare's World War II fighter plane in terminal two. While the airplane on display is not the original, it is similar to one he might have flown during the fighter missions he participated in. This particular "Wildcat" was pulled from Lake Michigan after having been dumped there when fighter pilots could no longer be trained using this type of aircraft. (source)

My husband was thrilled to find self-serve beer while we were exploring beer. And who am I to deny him one of his favorite drinks?

Christmas trees at ORD

I loved seeing Christmas trees sponsored by local organizations throughout our walk…

sunset view from ORD

sunset view at ORD

And, of course, the sunset. *swoon*

American Airline Plane at ORD

Taking off from ORD to ATL

And take off! Just like that our vacation was over. (And so is April A-Z for me.)

Have you ever had the opportunity to explore an airport during a layover? What about Chicago's O'Hare? Do you think you would have found enough to do at ORD to keep yourself entertained for a few hours? And would you be willing to take a multi-hour layover just so that you would have time to explore an airport?


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