It's hard to believe that the holidays are over and despite my initial reluctance to put up my tiny little Christmas tree (with even tinier ornaments), I have to say that I am sad to say goodbye to the yuletide celebration.
Last year I spent the majority of the holiday in booze-fuelled revelry which, in its own way, created some very funny Christmas memories. This year however, was always going to be a different story. Because THIS year, I was getting out of Chicago and spending "Christmas in the Country" at the Lake Geneva Resort & Spa in Wisconsin.
K had decided a couple of months ago that it would be a blast to spend the holiday season together. So that prompted my November excursion to New York for Thanksgiving, and then K visited me here in Chicago for Christmas. We spent a couple of days in Chi-town because I still had to work, but it was a good opportunity to bid farewell to the Chriskindlmarket in Daley Plaza as well as catch up with a few friends before they too left town for the big day.
Pete was kind enough to lend us his car for the road trip and I have to say, Kate was the perfect highway driver - alternating as she did between appropriately aggressive overtaking, and fantastic duet partner for radio karaoke. Even when I talked her ear off so we missed the toll booth exit, she never once seemed irritated. And despite the ugly weather on the drive from Illinois to Wisconsin, we made it to Lake Geneva with both the borrowed car, and our long-time friendship, intact.
We had a lakeview room, though you wouldn't know it because of the near foot of snow that had blanketed the landscape outside. Most of the snow had fallen over the golfcourse and surrounding property, so it was untouched by human feet (though some deer and rabbits had obviously left some prints behind).
The hotel itself reminded me a bit of "The Shining" at times, simply because it was so deserted. And then at mealtimes, people seemed to surface out of nowhere, to the point that it was often quite tricky to get a dinner reservation at a "usual" time for America, so me and K instead had to revert back to our European roots and dine in a more continental timeslot. No harm done for us, let me assure you.
Our retreat to Lake Geneva was never meant to be one of those non-stop vacations of frenetic activity and action. The whole point of the trip was to get a White Christmas and enjoy some down time from the City, our offices, and our lives. And given how much we ate, drank, and slept over the weekend - I think you could easily say that we achieved everything we set out to do.
We even sat through a floorshow called "Hooray for Holidays" which, now that I think about it, defies explanation. Suffice to say it featured high-kicking legs, vocal arrangements of "power ballads" and men in turtle necks under their unitards. You know what I'm saying; thank god for open bars.
Always one to make a scene, I fell out of the trolley car that ferried resort guests around the property to the various buildings on the campus. The bruise that developed on my butt over our weekend was pretty impressive (but in the interests of all that is holy and decent, no one but me can verify that statement).
It didn't actually snow on Christmas Day, but I don't think that really mattered. After all, there was so much snow on the ground, and chill in the air, that the holiday itself was the very embodiment of the "winter wonderland" we all sing about.
Lake Geneva itself is a very pretty town, with beautiful weatherboard houses and charming antique stores and gift shops. Not a dynamic place by any means, so living there might be a bit of a yawn, but as a tourist destination it is just lovely. And at under 2 hours from Chicago, it is a perfect weekend retreat.
We were treated very well at the resort, pretty much left to our own devices, until it came time to enjoy afternoon high tea in the Lobby Lounge, wasabi snacks & vodka at the bar ("Evolve"), or big fat steaks in the Chophouse. Delicious.
It was a shame that I did not get to do the sleigh ride but that will teach me for not booking in advance. Lesson learned. If I loved massages and/or facials, I would certainly head back to Lake Geneva and take full advantage of their spa facilities.
But even without all that pampering, I still walked away from my Lake Geneva Christmas Vacation feeling relaxed and ready to face 2009 in the big city.