Last fall Ashley told me she was already making plans for her third anniversary, and wondered if Marcus and I would be interested in going to Chicago with her and her husband. They had honeymooned in the Windy City, and wanted to show us the sights. I told her to COUNT US IN! I was just a little excited.
We found a great hotel deal on Hotwire, and Ash sent me an email from time-to-time, suggesting activities for our time there. I didn’t care what we did, but only that I had an opportunity to see Chicago and Ashley (and Matt)!
We had a fantastic time. Our cheap, clean and very conveniently-located hotel permitted us to use our legs as transportation. The architectural boat tour took us down the Chicago River, and the guide explained the fascinating history behind the buildings along the shoreline. How about that Old Chicago Main Post Office, with an abandoned 2.5 million square feet? Matt said he bought the space for us, so we are open to suggestions on how to use it.
We ate breakfast in our room, then tried to find an inexpensive lunch (almost impossible), and had wonderful suppers (twice we gorged on Chicago-style pizza). Despite what the menu and waiters told us, we were only able to barely eat a medium. Don’t order the large!
We traveled to the top of the John Hancock Center at warp speed ( I don’t want to think about how the elevator ascends that fast), and were allowed full reign of the cocktail lounge and its spectacular view if we bought a drink. Bottled water went for $5, but I ordered a Skyscraper. How could I resist?
Ashley and I gawked at every building and took a picture of it, while the guys waited patiently. We also did a bit of shopping. I am sure there were deals to be had, but we didn’t find many. Going into a store on Michigan Avenue is an experience in itself.
The people were as interesting as the architecture, and we took them all in each time we stopped to rest. Matt saw some professional hockey players, and a hockey coach. I am sure Ashley and I saw some famous people, too. We just didn’t know it.
Many things were free: walking into a car dealership that sold Porches, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Bugattis. We tip-toed into a cathedral. We admired the planters along the sidewalks, and enjoyed all the green spaces. A lady saw us admiring a beautiful building, and told us it was free to go inside – the adjacent museum was $20/head, so we tried it. A surgeon had started an association of surgeons, so they could gain credibility. He built this mansion as their meeting place. There was an art showing there, featuring an artist who painted Chicago landmarks. It was so fun to recognize the buildings in the paintings! They had great bathrooms, too. Public bathrooms are a rare commodity in Chicago!
The last night we revisited the special restaurant Matt and Ashley fondly remembered from their honeymoon: McCormick & Schmick’s. We shared our meals and everything I tried was top-notch.
The only drawbacks I had was that the food was more expensive on the trip than I anticipated. We finally found a reasonable lunch spot on the last day, where we ate chili-cheese dogs and Chicago-style wieners (hotdog, dill pickle, mustard and onion). Also, by the third full day, all of our legs were turning to lead. Had we known two full days of walking on concrete would have left us so tired, we could have planned more sedentary activities for the last day. As it was, we made impromptu plans: we hauled our carcasses to the huge downtown library, which is a true architectural monstrosity, and rested, trying to find something to read. It was harder to find a book there than expected, so Ash and I read what was already on the table. Upcycling couldn’t have come at a better time. Ash and I almost split a gut laughing at the ludicrous suggestions: sewing old belts together to make a door mat; dipping plastic bananas in silver paint, then hot-gluing them together to make a fruit bowl; hanging pillow filling from the ceiling for decorative clouds? We felt like we had been up all night giggling at a slumber party when the library closed.
I have trimmed our trip down from five hundred pictures, but there are still too many. Scan through at warp speed, and slow down if you see something interesting. Then make plans to see Chicago yourself!
Notice the lovebirds hugging in this picture.
The “corncob” towers.
The previous four pictures were from the Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the downtown library. (FREE!)
The Bean and the outdoor amphitheater in Millennium Park. The Bean was worth the whole trip.
Matt was first in line at The Doughnut Vault, which he had heard about on The Splendid Table. At 6:00 a.m., he had walked to Do-Rite Doughnuts. Then he went to the Vault so we could compare. The Vault won sticky hands down.
Lake Michigan from the John Hancock Center.
Trump Tower. No sign of Donald.
Slurpee break on the last afternoon.
The library Ash and I almost got kicked out of.
We should have peeked inside! Next time.