So we (my friends and I) have been collectively throwing around the idea of a girl's weekend trip to Chicago since last year. This September we started rumbling again about how nice it would be to get out of town again and it just so happened that our friend Leah was going to Chicago for a Saturday Shakespear workshop on the 3rd of October. Our weekend getaway was born...
The next morning Caroline, Elena and I had a leisurely breaksfast at a nice little hole-in-the-wall on our way to the Art Institute of Chicago (Leah was attending the teacher's workshop, so unfortunately, could not be with us that morning).
Elena resurrected that old battle-axe the "slash proof" purse, our reliable friend over this summer's Paris trip. We also enjoyed seeing this replica (below) of Winged Victory - the original we saw in the Louvre.
On our way to see the Buckingham Fountain, we passed the Congress Hotel. We were very close to booking a room here, as they were priced well and its location was fantastic - until I looked it up on TripAdvisor and found out it was the MOST HAUNTED HOTEL in all of Chicago. I thought it would spooky fun to stay at a haunted hotel, but Caroline protested and Leah and I found a perfectly regular business hotel to stay in instead. Anyways, it DOES look haunted doesn't it?!
The girls (all of whom had visited Chicago before) were eager for me to see Lake Michigan. It was beautiful! Buckingham fountain was also very impressive. It's best to stay out of the way of the prevailing winds, though, as my misted glasses could testify to.
After walking the shorefront, we made our way back to the Art Institute and enjoyed their impressive collection of impressionist art!! Elena, as usual, was in heaven and enjoyed the collection of Monet Haystacks on one of the walls, while Caroline and I explored a bit more.
It was really great to see this world-famous Seurat.
The painting (above) was one of our favorites. It's called The Song of the Lark and was pianted by Jules-Adolph Breton in 1884. We had never heard of this artist before, but everyone kind of gasped when we saw this painting on the wall. I thought it was wonderful.
One of the things I really appreciated about Chicago as we were walking around, was the extent of their public art. It was just everywhere! You can tell that this is a city that values its artists and their contribution to public spaces.
After visiting the parks, we started making our way north on Michigan Avenue in order to meet Leah for a late afternoon lunch. On our way we crossed the river and also saw what little evidence remained of Chicago's hopes to be an Olympic host city (below).
After meeting up with Leah, we had a delicious Spanish lunch, stopped at a Chicago bakery for pain au chocolat (my favorite) and coffee. We spent the rest of the afternoon and in to the evening strolling Michigan Avenue and going shopping. It began raining in earnest at this time, so I have no photos as I didn't want to get my camera wet.
After trudging home the 2 miles sopping wet and exhausted, we decided to take a two hour break before getting back out in the city. Elena and I had originally planned on taking an evening river/lake cruise of Chicago and then watching the fireworks from the boat as well. Sadly, it was (1) too cold and (2) too wet to make this feasible and so we had to come up with another idea. Elena (home to all good ideas) suggested that we go see Second City. Once we agreed on that, the rest of the evening just fell in to place.
Giordano's "stuffed" pizza. The wait to get in to one of these joints is usually a couple of hours, but we must have visited during the witching hour, because we got seated immediately.
Which gave us all the more time to enjoy the most delicious, decadent, over-the-top pizza I have ever had. I am not kidding, you could scoop up the melted mozzarella with a fork. It was heaven.
Which didn't keep us away, however, from making our next engagement - Second City etc!
Second City is an improv/comedy group and is considered the proving grounds for many Saturday Night Live actors (Tina Fey, John Candy, Chris Farly, Bill Murray, etc). Illustrious claims notwithstanding, I was mildly concerned since I am not a huge fan of stand up comedy and imagined strained, awkward jokes falling flat and me being embarrassed for the performers. Thankfully this was not the case. Second City "Stud Turkel's Not Working" was the absolute highlight of our trip! The show started at 11 o'clock and we didn't get out until 1:30 in the morning. And it was worth every bit of lost sleep!
The next morning, perhaps not so birght eyed and bushy tailed, we made our way to the Shedd Aquarium.
The biggest treat by far, was being able to see the beluga whales! They were just so majestic. We were able to watch a training session for the whales, and below, one of the belugas is rising out of the water to give his trainer a high-five.
I promise that I will not go overboard with the photos I took at the aquarium....but look at those jellyfish! And that crazy sea horse (below)!