How Much Did It Cost?: Chicago St. Patrick's Day Trip 2019

What's up guys?! It's Madison Square Darden with another blog post. This past weekend, I went to Chicago for a variety of reasons, but the main reason was to attend the Big Ten Men's Basketball Championship game. It was a great game with Michigan taking on Michigan State for the Big Ten crown and the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. I also got the chance to see the Chicago River dyed the color green for St. Patrick's Day. It was cool to see the local plumbers' union dump a red-orange powder into the river, turning it green. Here is my travel expense report for the Chicago St. Patrick's Day trip.

All Prices are US Dollars

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TRANSPORTATION: $122.48

  • Miller Transportation, Round Trip to Chicago: $88.00
  • CTA Ventra Card reload: $25.00
  • Uber: $9.48

LODGING:  $144.99

  • Freehand Chicago: $144.99

ENTERTAINMENT:  $153.95

  • Big Ten Men's Basketball Championship Game: $114.68
  • Captain Marvel at AMC Navy Pier: $21.27
  • Navy Pier Ferris Wheel: $18.00
  • Chicago River Dyeing: Free
  • Window shopping at Best Buy: Free

FOOD:  $140.20

  • Greyhound Vending machines: $1.75, $1.60, $1.10, $2.50
  • Portillos /Barnelli's: $13.70
  • Protein Shake: $5.75
  • Pizzeria Uno: $24.32
  • Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen: $24.05
  • Ben & Jerry's at Navy Pier: $7.67
  • Bottled Water at AMC: $5.01
  • Mrs. Levy's Deli at United Center: $27.00
  • Ice Cream at United Center:  $4.75
  • Downtown Dogs: $21.00

MISCELLANEOUS:  $13.00

  • Day Pass at Quad's Gym: $13.00

GRAND TOTAL FOR TRIP: $574.62

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Let's put the numbers into context. For transportation to get to Chicago, I took Miller Transportation and left Columbus at 3:30 am on Friday, March 15 and arrived in the Windy City at 10:25 am Central Time. I'm a little mad at myself because I could have purchased the ticket at a cheap price if I had bought it sooner. It would have been around $60 instead of $88 if I had bought it 2 weeks before the trip instead of 3 days prior to the trip. 

The "L" train was my primary mode of transportation while I was in the city. I already had a Ventra card with $5 value on it from the last time I was in Chicago. I spent $20 at the Addison Red Line station and $5 at the Illinois Medical District Blue Line station to fill up the card. The Uber ride was used to get to the Greyhound station before the trip began.

I stayed at the Freehand Hotel in Downtown Chicago on Ohio Street. I've stayed at the Freehand in the past and I'm always happy with my experience there. My room was a 4 person shared accommodation with bunk beds. I had a top bunk which I was slightly miffed at because I had a sore tailbone and moving around was somewhat of a problem. I seriously thought about staying in hotel by O'Hare airport but realized how far of a train ride it would have been to get into the city.

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The Big Ten Men's Basketball tournament took place at the United Center and I went to the championship game on St. Patrick's Day. It was the Michigan State Spartans vs. the Michigan Wolverines for bragging rights and an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. After being down by as many as 10 points, Sparty came back and claimed victory 65-60 against their in state rival. I bought the ticket on the Ticketmaster app and I was in Section 227. Again, I am mad at myself because I could have had a 100 level seat for the same price of I had purchased the ticket earlier. Lesson learned: buy basketball tournament tickets BEFORE the final two teams are determined. 

On Saturday night, I went to Navy Pier and saw Captain Marvel at the movie theater and I would rate it a 7.5/10. It's a good movie exploring the background of Carol Danvers and explaining the post credits scene in the Avengers: Infinity War. After the movie, I rode the ferris wheel at Navy Pier and it was cool seeing the skyline of Chicago at night.

I woke up early on Saturday morning to see the Chicago River being dyed green. It was a short 5 minute walk to the river and I found a good lookout spot at the Trump Tower. When I got there, the river was already starting to turn green. It was cool and fascinating seeing the plumbers' union dump a red-orange powder into the river and use little boats to mix it up. When it was all set and done, the river was bright green.

I ate A LOT of food while I was in town and, surprisingly, I didn't spend as much money as I thought. The first stop was Portillo's/Barnelli's where I got a pasta lunch. The next stop was Pizzeria Uno where I got a small pepperoni pizza with cheesesticks. Since I stayed at the Freehand, Pizzeria Uno was conveniently located two doors down from the hotel. I had to get my deep dish pizza fix while I was in Chicago. On Saturday, I went to Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen on the West Side and got a corned beef sandwich with a potato pancake and pickles. It was a great sandwich that hit the spot after going around town that day. At the United Center, I went to Mrs. Levy's Deli and got The Stack: a pastrami sandwich topped with swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread. I washed it down with a Green Line beer and had some cookies and cream ice cream later in the game. My final eating stop was Downtown Dogs where I had two hot dogs topped with pickles, mustard, and chili and a side of fries.

My new book, IT'S GAME TIME FOLKS!: Quest for 30 is now available in the shop and you can purchase it for 20% off using the promo code OPENINGSERIES. Offer valid through March 24th. Thanks for reading! 

Pasta Lunch at Barnelli's

Pasta Lunch at Barnelli's

Downtown Dogs

Downtown Dogs

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen 

Manny's Cafeteria & Delicatessen 

Pizzeria Uno

Pizzeria Uno

I am 274 miles from Columbus

I am 274 miles from Columbus

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Mrs. Levy's Deli at the United Center

Mrs. Levy's Deli at the United Center

Michigan vs. Michigan State for the Big Ten Championship 

Michigan vs. Michigan State for the Big Ten Championship