I could have been the Queen.
I might have been a rich mafia alpha male or married to a professional sports star.
But I was just me. 103 floors above the streets of Chicago, alone in my all-encompassing panorama made for royalty.
Good Morning Chicago!
It started like any other day. I was browsing for things to do in Chicago when I came across Viator’s Breakfast in the Sky: Early Access to Skydeck of Willis Tower. When Viator confirmed they would love us to try it out we were thrilled.
The previous night I was laying in bed exhausted after an energetic White Sox baseball game at US Cellular Field.
“Thank God we don’t have anything on tomorrow,” I sighed, snuggling further into my comfy bed.
My husband, who diligently reads his diary before bed every night, glanced at me and remarked, “Actually, we have the Willis Tower breakfast tomorrow.”
“Argh, whose idea was that?” I cried.
So early the next morning we caught an Uber into the city and arrived at the Willis Tower by 6:50am. The front doors were closed and after re-checking our tour instructions, we walked to the side entrance where all the office workers go. We were instructed by security to take a seat and wait for our escort.
I have to admit, I am not a morning person and waiting for anything this early in the morning can induce a less-than-pleasant response from me. But today was different. Click clack, click clack. The sound of high-heeled shoes on marble tiles. A finely dressed young lady greeted us, clipboard in hand, earpiece, business suit and perfect makeup.
“This way, please,” she said.
We followed her down unmarked corridors and through back-office doors. The lights were off within the SkyDeck ground level foyer and we bypassed all the usual security measures.
Our escort explained that the elevator ran on two modes and since it was breezy outside our journey to the top would last 90 seconds instead of 60. I don’t know about 60 seconds, but even scaling 103 floors in 90 seconds was darn fast.
The doors opened and the first thing we saw was a floor-to-ceiling glass window revealing the Chicago skyline stretching out in all directions. The next thing I noticed was a solitary white cloth table with black napkins, glasses of fresh orange juice and a scrumptious pastry basket.
“Is there anyone else coming?” My husband asked, adjusting his new Chicago baseball cap.
“No, it’s just you this morning,” she replied.
She introduced us to our waiter who took our hot drink orders and they both quietly disappeared leaving Josh, Mia, Caius and myself all alone 103 floors above the street below in Chicago’s tallest tower. Did I mention, completely alone?
Previously known as the Sears Tower (and still called that by most Chicago residents) the Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world for nearly 25 years, and is only second in the United States to the brand new Twin Towers in New York City.
On the east side of Willis Tower stretched Lake Michigan. The sun was rising slowly spreading a golden path across the glistening waters, reflecting off the sea of skyscrapers sending shimmering sparkles in all directions.
The city stretched for miles and miles and every time I looked there was something new to see. Inspiring architecture, green parklands and tiny people bustling to start their workday.
Nearby our table were several glass boxes protruding from the building. While my kids eagerly jumped on these and lay down to stare at the tiny ants (I mean, people) below I found myself struggling to put one foot in front of the other. Finally turning my eyes upward to the horizon, instead of downward, I cautiously walked out onto the glass box.
Soon our waiter returned with our breakfasts. At the time of booking you can choose one of 5 dishes. The kids both had a typical American cooked breakfast: bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs and potatoes. I chose an egg fritter while Josh feasted on a breakfast of scrambled eggs and a thick, juicy steak. It doesn’t get any more VIP than eating a steak for breakfast 412 metres (1,353 feet) above the plebs below.
We didn’t sit still for long opting to take another walk around the quiet observation deck. I couldn’t believe we were the only people up here. What an incredible experience! I felt like the richest person alive.
One and a half hours flew by way too fast and it wasn’t long before our escort returned giving us the option to stay longer with the crowds that were about to arrive or to depart via our private back-door. Holding on to that last possible VIP moment, we choose to be escorted back down leaving our private observation deck behind.
This was easily one of my top 10 experiences in over 3 years of non-stop travel. It was so romantic I half expected my husband of 13 years to propose on one knee again.
If you are looking for a unique moment to spoil someone special or perhaps you are just seeking to have a little VIP moment of your own, I can’t recommend this tour highly enough.
When people ask me what my favourite countries are, I always tell them we don’t have any. But we do have favourite experiences. Hot air ballooning in Turkey, the lantern festival in Chiang Mai, husky sledding in Finland and now I can say enjoying breakfast all alone 103 floors above Chicago… like a queen.