Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicago Bound

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...

We left St. Louis at 4 o'clock on the nose and arrived in Chicago around 9:30 ish pm. Not wanting to waste precious Chicago time we changed out of our travel clothes and tried to fix ourselves into something decent. Oh, and did I mention that it was about 45 degrees outside? Yes it was, so our adventuring around Chicago that evening went as far as the bar next door. They served a mean cheesecake!

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.

The forecast called for rain most of the day, so we decided to take advantage of the sun and strolled around Grant Park (which was hosting a Country Music Festival).

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.

And I love, love, love Renoir and his amazing use of color.

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.

After visiting the art museum, we made our way to Millenium park, full of fun and funky outdoor art. Like the "bean". Apparently it is quite the tradition to get your photo taken in its reflection and we were no different. I was surprised (below) at how little our reflections were distorted.

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.
We made our way through the still soggy streets to have what many consider to be the quintessential Chicago meal...

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.

On our way to the aquariam we walked the shore of Lake Michigan. The scenery was lovely, or at least those part of the walk that wasn't covered in duck grossness.

The Shedd Aquarium was truly amazing. It was just so cool to see all of these rare animals!
Like this guy from the amazon!

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)!

We left the aquarium after a few hours and then got back in the car to head home. It was a whirlwind trip to Chicago and the next time I go I would definitely want at least 4-5 days to really get to see this city, but it was a blast nontheless. Shout out to Leah for driving, and the rest of the girls for a wonderful weekend!!


Sarah M. Anderson said...

So glad you guys had fun. I miss it so!

Anonymous said...

Next time, swing by Ames and take me with you!! D:

LauraBlab said...

What an awesome travel blog! You made me totally want to visit. You can come with me next time and we can stay at the Congress Hotel.

Julia said...

Dave will be sad that you all went to Giordanos and not bring him back a piece. Save usually wants to eat there at least once a day when we are in Chi-Town.

lucylucia said...

Sally - It was so much fun! I couldn't imagine living there like you did!

Lee - we HAVE to go. Aili I think, would be up for that being our Sister Trip next summer??

Laura - when you come up we are going to so Haunted St. Louis like never before!

Julia - Don't tell Dave that I had leave 2 whole slices at the restaraunt. I was so sad to leave them, but there was no way to keep them cold. :(

Aili said...

Wonderful Pics! I would love a sister trip up the chi-town! Lee, how's the weather up there?

Shay said...

I LOVE THE SLASH-PROOF PURSE!!! Oh, how I missed it! Everything goes in it, and nothing ever comes out!

Great pics, Lu! Love the jellyfish!

BTW, I stayed at the Congress Hotel, and it really is spooky. I'll tell you my story of the 13th floor sometime.

Mama Nae said...

Someday, Lucy, you will have to take me on a trip! I love that you plan it all out and get to shove so many things into your time! Someday I will have a weekend babysitter willing to watch my two kids and then you HAVE to travel with me! For now, I will just read your blog and live vicariously through that.... (love the pics)

lucylucia said...

Janae - I think you would be a lovely travel companion!! Maybe we could think of a fun day trip to do without the, me, Cayce and anyone else who wants to come!! That would be great!

Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Oooo! I love Chicago!! Looks like you had a wonderful trip :-)

I think you should go back and stay in the Haunted hotel...

Shelley said...

Thank you for the wonderfully nice comment on my blog. You also now have a new found follower! :o) The photos of your trip look wonderful and sure looks like ya'll had a good time. Take care!

lucylucia said...

JAPRA - I think next time we go, we WILL stay at the haunted hotel!!

Shelly - Welcome! I hope you enjoyed your blog-visit. I've been enjoying your site for sure!