Monday, February 01, 2010

Whirlwind Tour, The Windy City aka My 2nd Favorite City

Thank you for being patient with me-the cable company messed something up so when I came home last night I had no television and no Internet. Which means I could not edit pictures and of course, could not, without further ado, here is the story of my very first trip to Chicago!

The flight to Chicago was great-not only was I excited, but I didn't have to sit next to anyone! I took the opportunity to sleep a little bit because I knew I had a long weekend ahead of me. When I arrived in Chicago, found the train station and began my way to the hotel.

Arriving at Chicago O'Hare

Let me just stop here for a minute to say that the "el" as they call it, is disgusting. It's dirty and smelly and if I didn't have a large suitcase and 2 bags, I would have stayed standing up. I laughed at the announcement that denounced smoking, eating and drinking but failed to mention peeing. Because let me tell you, there's a lot of peeing going on.

The hotel was only a few blocks away from the train station, so I buttoned myself up and pushed through the cold. When I finally got to the hotel, I saw the sweetest face I've seen in a long time smiling at me from in front of the fire. I dropped my bags (literally) and ran over to him (literally) and got my long overdue Mo hug.

Let me stop here to say that the hotel was really pretty-very much my style with a funky modern decor. In fact, Mo said that a few of the items there should belong to me! The colors, the pretty much suited me perfectly. And the staff was super friendly and the beds...well, the beds were HEAVENLY!

Hotel Lobby & Fireplace

Mo wanted that purple glass thingy. It's not a vase because it's closed on the top. Pretty neat, huh?

I told Mo that if I didn't think there were strange naked butts on these pillows at some point, I would have shoved them in my suitcase! Especially the 2 on the right.

I mean, c' perfect is this shower curtain!

After catching up for a little bit, we ventured out to Navy Pier. The hotel told us about a FREE trolley just a few blocks up. We were psyched because we did not want to spend money on a cab. Let me just say, the trolley was fun! Perhaps it was because the driver loved me! He told Mo that the only reason he picked him up was because he was with me! And then when he picked us up later, he used the loudspeaker to say "Only for you honey" before he stopped. He also told Mo to "Stick with her, kid!". It was a fun way to start the trip and it gave Mo and I something to laugh about.

Our delightful trolley driver

And then we got to Navy Pier...

Deep dish Mo

(Ms. Maggie) Moo cows

Mo brought me to see the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. It was so breathtaking and quite a treat in the middle of a mall...

And then there are the views from outside...

And the beautiful garden on the roof (where we saw a homeless woman preaching to 2 tourists!)...

We then made our way back to the hotel and took a few pictures.

Then we went to dinner here:

It was Mo's first time having tapas, and I'm pretty sure he loved it! Though it was loud inside, we talked over lots and lots of food. It was fun for me to introduce my good friend to a type of food that I love. I'm so glad he was with me!

On our way home we saw this place. I think it's a restaurant, but it had fireplaces on the wall all the way up and really neat drippy lights.

And we tried to capture it in the background...but failed. (But I love this picture!!)

This is a cool rose on the outside of a weird and cluttered store.

The next morning we got up early to go to breakfast at a very cool restaurant. I was told I "had" to go and over the last couple of weeks my excitement grew knowing I'd be tasting cinnamon bun pancakes. I think Mo got excited after looking at the website too. Which is why we were so disappointed when we arrived (after walking several blocks in the cold!) to see this:

The website did NOT say that it was not open yet. I was so sad!! But the hotel breakfast was actually pretty good and the fact that it was free made it ever better! So, it turned out well. After breakfast, we made our way to the Shedd Aquarium for a few hours.

Yeah, I'm a 3 year old. But c'mon-it's funny!

You can't tell in this picture, but this sucker is HUGE. And it hid itself pretty well and Mo and I both gasped at the same time when we saw him.

I thought it was funny that they said, #1 and #2.

The aquarium was very pretty and because we got there right at opening, it wasn't very crowded...until we were leaving, actually. I'm glad we got to visit and that we got to see the baby beluga (born 12/14/09). But by noon rolled around, I was hungry for pizza and excited to meet Melisa, who was picking Mo and I up for lunch here:

Because I was only in Chicago for 2 nights and Melisa wanted to show me as much as she could, she suggested we call our lunch order in before getting there so we wouldn't have to wait 40 minutes to eat. What a genius idea! Even though we got a little lost (and my GPS didn't want to admit it was in Chicago) we made it in time to eat these lucious little balls of cheese:

Cheddar Cubes

And then there was the pizza...delicious! The crust was crispy instead of spongy like I thought it was going to be and it was kind of buttery. I had the sausage pizza and it was SO good. Just the right amount...mmmmm. I would like some now please!

Melisa, Mo & I after Cheddar Cubes and Pizza

Before I move on, I should tell you that Melisa rocks. I am always amazed when I meet someone who makes me feel so comfortable right away and who is just...well, nice. She really is a wonderful, funny woman who I feel so blessed to have met in person.

OK, moving on...

Before bringing Mo to the train station, Melisa "snuck" Mo and I into the John Hancock building. Well...not really. But she took us up the the Signature Room so she could buy a gift certificate for a friend of hers and "suggested" we take a look around while she distracted bought the gift card from the hostess. I didn't get any pictures because I got caught entering a private room, but let me tell you, the view was amazing.

They had the coolest hand dryers. You stuck your hands in and pulled them slowly out kind of like a car wash. It was so neat! And yes, I realize this was the 2nd picture I took of bathroom stuff. I swear it's the last one!

Sadly, the next part of the trip was when Mo had to leave. So Melisa and I whisked him over to the station and said our goodbyes, promising to see each other again soon-ish.

And this is the part of the trip that I can entitle, "The One Where Melisa Tried to Kill Mags...Twice." :)

Melisa was kind enough to agree to drive me to see Wrigley Field. Even though my Sox don't play the Cubs, I'm a huge baseball fan and almost everyone who goes to Chicago seems to have a picture in front of the stadium. So we went! It's here when Melisa pulled a fast one and said, "I'm going!" and turned left. This time, the car wasn't really that close, but I joked with her and thanked her for making that decision-the one where MY side of the car would have been hit! We laughed and moved on.
It took us about 15 minutes to get to THIS message!

Yeah, we're cute!

After pictures we jumped back into the car and took a ride around the city. Melisa drove slowly past certain landmarks pointing them out while I did drive by shooting:

I believe it was actually about this time when Melisa really almost killed me. She had another "I'm going!" moment and turned left (I see a pattern here) WHILE someone was crossing the street and also WHILE a bus was pulling out toward me.

The bus driver didn't stop. The pedistrian kind of did...Melisa halted and I said a Hail Mary. But we all made it the skin of our teeth! (Again, thanks for making THAT decision! LOL!)

The day was winding down and we had plans to meet Lou for dinner, so we parked (for free...kinda) and walked over to the Tribune Tower where Melisa pointed out the various rocks implanted in the building.

We walked around and then made our way to Portillos.

There, we met Lou who was such a sweetheart because he had his mother knit us hats! He read the post about my bad hat experience and he came to the resuce! Aren't they beautiful?!?

We spent the hour chatting and getting to know each other over hot dogs and other yummy foods and then took a few pictures...

At this point, I had to part with both Lou and Melisa because I was hosting an event at the iO Theater. So we said our goodbye's and I went to the hotel to freshen up. One thing I realized after seeing these pictures is that I can NOT wear my hair wavy when I'm going to be outside. I look washed out and gross. But, I had fun and that lesson was learned, and luckily I had time to curl my hair before going to see the show.

I told you I'd explain why I wasn't so creepy when I got home. Here's why: the guy in the show has a fiance who moved from Chicago to Boston about the same time I was deciding to move to one of those cities. So I googled Chicago versus Boston and was brought to her blog. I read her blog while she lived here and he showed up there, of course. I saw that he had a blog and I followed him too. They are both very funny people and seem really cool so I continued reading here and there. It's been about 2 or 3 years and when I knew I was going to Chicago, I knew I wanted to see one of them perform if I could. It turns out that he was, and so I organized an event to see the show.

I have to tell you that I did have a geeky moment. I was waiting outside for the group and he walked off the street into the theater...and he nodded and said hello to me. :) I was a little star struck. Yeah, I am a geek.

Anyway, he is really quite funny-in fact, the group I was with and I all agreed that he was one of the funniest ones in the group. I'm really happy that I got to see him perform and I highly recommend that anyone visiting Chicago go see his show.

Afterward, the group and I went out for drinks. They were a fun group of people and I felt really comfortable there. On the way home in the cab, I smiled because while I am very happy I decided to Boston, I know that had I chosen Chicago, I would have fit in there too. That's a good feeling.

Chicago's my beer, but NOT my hand holding it.

When I finally made it back to the hotel, I was tired and sad that my stay in Chicago was almost over but happy that I decided to take the trip, even though I probably should have waited until money was a little less tight. I went to be smiling because I am an independant, likable person who can adapt to many different places. I am thankful that I am open to new experiences and willing to try new things and that there are people in this world like Mo, Melisa and Lou (and the 4 strangers who I hung out with on Saturday night) who are willing to share their lives with me and to show me the things they know.

I'm planning a 2nd trip to Chicago, hopefully this summer....Life is good.


Desert Songbird said...

Man, now I'm craving deep dish pizza! I really miss that. Sigh.....

I think one of the things I adore about Chicago is the great architecture. Wonderful scroll work, elaborate doors and entryways, and fabulous unique touches like the embedded rocks.

Great photos, Mags. Thanks for sharing!

Melisa with one S said...

I had so much fun with you! (and you're really nice too!)

You're the only person I know besides me that could wring a weekend out like that until it's totally dry. Good for you on seeing ALL OF THAT STUFF. You and I must be tourist twins.

Oh, and sorry about those two near-death experiences. haha

LceeL said...

I am so glad I could be a small part of your weekend .. and I'm glad you both liked your hats. So is Grannie.

When you come back, I hope I can be more 'involved' with your time here - my camera and I would like to get to know you better - and there is much that I'd like to be able to show you.

"Lois Grebowski" said...

Wow, that was an action-packed trip. I'd be dead by the first day! I'm so glad you got to see all your blog buds... and I await my time to a real MO hug...

And the food... I need to hit Chicago the next time we decide to head up North.

Bond said...

Wonderful post Mags...told you that Chicago was cool (but too cold for me at this time of my life)

Glad you had a marvelous time

what is going on in the bloggosphere...everyone is going to word verification again - ugh

CrAzY Working Mom said...

You got some magnificent pics! What a wonderful time you all must have had. Mo totally needs to change his profile pic to the Deep Dish shot! *LOL*

The trip must have been a blast for you all. Thanks for sharing your great time with those of us stuck at home. ;)

SilverNeurotic said...

Those pictures of Navy Pier reminded me of the pictures I took with my cousin's camera. I never did get to see how they turned out.

Linda said...

Whew! I'm totally worn out but wanting to go to Chicago even more now than I was before! Of course, like I told Mo, I think I would rather go when it wasn't so cold as I'm having trouble enough dealing with the cold around here!

It doesn't look to me like you had a bad moment anywhere during your weekend - even when Melissa tried to kill you! The only thing that I would have liked to see in all this is a picture of you throwing your hat in the air aka Mary Tyler Moore. I know it's a different city than hers but honestly, you looked like you couldn't be happier there and it would have been perfect (you have that same Mary Tyler Moore smile and hairstyle!).

Bravo to you for going and living part of your dream! You rock!

Travis said...

Wow! It sounds like you saw almost the whole city in just a couple of days!

I'm actually glad you went now to get that positive validation. You can always go back for longer at another time.

Marilyn said...

Now I'm so hungry I could eat Mo's hat... seriously.

It's so wonderful that you got to go.