I think it goes without saying that last weekend’s trip to Chicago was superfun. It was our first vacation since Minnesota in August, and our first car-less vacation ever (well, together. I’ve gone on car-less ones before and presumably so has Jeff, but not as a couple. Public transit is the ultimate test of matrimonial harmony, let me tell you.)
We were at the Amtrak station (via cab to the Metrolink, then Metrolink to the station) by 6:00 on Friday morning. The train ride was pretty OK. Seats weren’t that comfy and the people next to us were annoying, but it was all right. As I blogged on Saturday, I knitted a bunch, and listened to my iPod the whole way:
When we got there, we took a bus up to our hotel (the Fairfield Inn on Ontario and St. Clair – right in the thick of things!) and dropped off our bags, then had lunch at Pompei, a small Chicago pizza/casual Italian chain:
I don’t know if it was because we were so hungry, or if it was truly that good, but YUM. Jeff had sausage pizza, and I had spaghetti with marinara:
(Next trip we’re going to Pizzeria Uno, but I didn’t want to go this time b/c our hotel didn’t have a minifridge in the room and I didn’t want to waste precious leftovers)
Do we look tired yet? Sorta? JUST YOU WAIT.
(hehehe that makes me look really short. ….er.)
Here is where I show my total dorkiness. Because look! It’s actually a car that’s double parked! (I always heard people talk about that on Seinfeld and stuff, but had never seen it. UNTIL NOW.)
The multiple levels of my lameness:
1)I’d never seen a car double parked before
2)I thought it was picture-worthy
3)I took the picture through the restaurant window, ninja-like
4)I’m now blogging about my exciting Big City Experience
ANYWAY. After lunch it started snowing mightily (SO FREAKING PRETTY. Is there anything prettier than snow in Chicago? WOW.) so we took the bus down to the Field Museum and hid out in there for a good long while. We didn’t take too many pictures there, mostly because photography was prohibited for all the fun stuff – like this:
Yes, that’s a (blurry) picture of a sign. A sign for an exhibit which was awesome. Sparkly! Shiny! Pretty! And, of course, no photography allowed.
And here’s a rather ominous-looking shot of my dear husband…
What’s he doing? Looks intent. Let’s see…
Aah. Intently reading a map. Can I get a show of hands – who’s surprised?
Little did I know that mere moments later…
Sue would viciously attack my poor, tired, map-reading husband. That sorry little fence did NOTHING to keep her in, I tell you what. I’ll be writing a strongly-worded letter to the Field Museum for THAT one.
And here’s me, looking remarkably happy for someone who just saw her husband savagely eaten by a T-Rex:
Oh did I say happy? I meant “tired with bloody stumpfeet”. Same difference.
Before I go any further, let me just say this – when you’re traveling, when your entire purpose in going to a new location and experiencing fun and exciting things, WHY would you eat at Subway or TGI Friday’s? That’s seriously beyond me, why anyone would do that. Unless your fear of the unknown is so severe that you can’t handle getting your burger from an unfamiliar restaurant. I just can’t fathom why there were so many other tourists having lunch at Chili’s right off Michigan Avenue, when you’re only a couple blocks away from (what we discovered to be) a truly amazing little joint – a local Chicago chain. ESPECIALLY today, when yelp.com and other review sites remove the guesswork, and so many places post their menus online, in their front window, or both. /rant
Anywho, after the museum we went to dinner at Boston Blackie’s on Grand and St. Clair (the aforementioned “amazing little joint”). If you’re in downtown Chicago, tired and starving and all you want is a beer and a quiet dinner, GO HERE. It was one of those bar/grill dealies, with (unusually) equal ratios of each. At 8:00 on a Friday night it was pretty quiet, but I’m guessing it really picks up later in the night.
Jeff had a Blue Moon, and I asked the waitress to bring me “something good, and local”. She came back with a Two Brothers Blackie’s Golden Ale, which was AMAZING. One of the best beers I’ve ever tried – very sweet, very drinkable. Great paired with a grilled chicken sandwich and thick, salty fries 🙂
I neglected to take pictures of our food, but it was delicious too. Jeff had a burger and I (as mentioned) had a grilled chicken sandwich. Both were loaded with perfectly caramelized onions. It was the perfect way to cap off a crazy day 🙂
Plus, they had an awesome motto:
Saturday was Jeff’s internship fair thing, so I’d made my own plans for shopping (everyone wins – I get to shop, Jeff doesn’t have to!) and we agreed to meet up later. That’s not quite how it panned out, however. For one, I was apparently working from an outdated CTA map and had directions that told me to get off the red line at a stop which no longer exists. So I got lost and spent a while riding the train 😛 THEN, the internship fair thing ended up being *much* shorter than Jeff had anticipated, so he was done by about 11:00. He came down to meet me at the Filene’s on State St., and was thus – from that point out – roped into coming along on my shopping adventure (which, yes, I did curtail on account of “it’s his vacation too.”).
After Filene’s and Nordstrom Rack (you can see my finds here, if you’re interested) and as long as we were in the neighborhood, we decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants in Marshall Field’s Macy’s. They have a food court-ish thing (which – to the best of my knowledge – is a Macy’s thing. So there was no Sbarro or Panda Express :-P) on the 7th floor adjacent to the other restaurants , so we ate there and took a while to admire the architecture and hugeness of the store.
(These photos would all be so much better if it were still Marshall Field’s. Just sayin’.
All Jeff said was, “If you drop that camera we’re NOT buying you another one!” ::gulp::
After lunch and shoe shopping (oops) it was back on the red line, to:
Squee!!! They‘ve moved since I was there last, and the new location is AWESOME. So huge – LOVE all that basement/classroom space! And the Valentine’s window display is too cute 🙂
The only thing that disappointed me a bit was that the Wall O’ Lorna’s has been greatly reduced, but that also meant that there was a bunch of it in clearance – 25% off! – so the pain was fleeting.
I don’t look *too* heartbroken, do I?
My only regret is that I didn’t buy more. But I did come away with a couple good souvenirs. An adorable tote bag, illustrated by Franklin:
Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool (less blue, more green than it appears here) to make a Split Cable Wimple (I’m going to CO this week! 🙂 ):
It’s a bit heavier than the pattern calls for (I’d call it a light sportweight), but it’s also definitely not a DK. Even if I don’t like how it swatches up, I’ll stash it for use another time – yarn doesn’t “go bad” :-D)
And, of course, some Lorna’s:
I really shoulda bought more. Really. Shoulda. (Any Chicagoanite readers wanna help me out?)
All that shopping made us a bit tired (Jeff probably moreso than me :-D), so we had some delicious hazelnut gelato (NOM) in Lavazza, and rested our feet for a bit:
Then it was back to Michigan Avenue:
And the Lego Store 😀
(Just me ‘n Darth Vader, hangin’ out)
And after visiting a used book shop and dinner in Water Tower Place (and losing an earring AND my 3-day CTA pass 😦 ) we headed up to Lincoln Park to see a show.
What kind of show? Well, it was one with lots of famous alumni…
One that’s got a prestigious nickname:
Yup, we got to see…
(I could name about half the people on this poster)
And that’s as far as the show pictures go; I didn’t take any pictures during the show itself. But it was SO funny – that was the hardest I’ve laughed in months! This was maybe my favorite 🙂 Until my bloody stumps hobbled back to the hotel and into bed and I fell asleep all comfycozy. THAT was my favorite (note: I am an old lady).
Sunday morning we woke up early, checked out of the hotel (and left our bags there) to go wander around Lincoln Park a bit, and visit the zoo.
We walked down Astor Street because I wanted to see the bigpretty houses, and WOW. Just…wow.
I want that one. Especially the pretty fence.
This one was under renovation, to be purchased by me.
I also bought this one, just so I can decorate it for Halloween and Christmas:
And this one because I like the roofline:
And then I was gonna buy this one…
until I found out that it was just the *guest house* of this one…
And that’s just too much. So I passed on it.
You know what else is too much? The high-rise condos interspersed throughout the otherwise-lovely neighborhood.
Ick. DO NOT WANT.
Anyway, we walked all the way to the Park, and then to the zoo. And then to the LION HOUSE (ooooh!):
This is my new favorite. The lion roared!
It may not look like much there, but I promise you it was earth-shatteringly loud. And scary. (And sad – I hope they don’t keep the animals in those tiny enclosures 24/7/365? I wanted to set them free but Jeff wouldn’t let me).
I even made a pressed quarter (no more pressed pennies – inflation, I guess ) to celebrate the occasion of LION ROAR OF AWESOMENESS.
Then we went to the reptile house, where this little tortoise *didn’t* roar:
but he was my buddy. He nodded his head, then I did. It was pretty cool.
I laughed out loud when I saw this enclosure:
Can you see why? (probably not)
How ’bout now?
“Whatcha doin’, Mr. Gecko?”
I love his little feetsies!
It obviously drew forth great emotion in Jeff:
After the zoo we took a bus west to Fluevog (which took freaking FOREVER. We waited for like half an hour!):
But unfortunately we were out of time and money so it was a quick stop – but I’ll be back! (Especially since I’ve seen my beloved Chinoas in person. ::lust::)
After a quick turn in the store we (attempted to) race back downtown to meet our Amtrak, but what with the crappy new bus schedule and all, we were too late. So we had lunch at Potbelly, got some Garrett caramel corn, and wandered Michigan Avenue for a few minutes more. Then it was time to meet the MegaBus (we’re able to refund our Amtrak tickets, and MegaBus was actually LESS than Amtrak was, so it’s a win-win situation :-)) and go back to St. Louis.
Goodbye, Chicago! I really enjoy visiting you!
I’ll come back soon, for more caramel corn and Fluevogs. I promise.
PS>Our hotel? The Fairfield? Was just remodeled and is GORGEOUS. And with the “Name your own price” thing from Priceline, we only paid $40 a night. That’s less than PARKING. ‘Twas awesome. Highly recommended!