I landed in Chicago at about 5:40 on Saturday, and made my way out the terminal to the CTA station. I hopped on an ‘L’ train (orange line) to downtown, and sat next to a great gal named Angela. A schoolteacher, she was very helpful as I tried to figure out where I was going.
First things first: I’ve been to Chicago before, but I’d forgotten how awesome the city is. My station was at Randolph and Wabash, but turning the corner onto Michigan Avenue is a mind-blowing experience.
We surprised my Mom (who didn’t know I was coming) in the lobby of her hotel, the Sheraton, where she promptly burst into tears. After that, it was off to dinner at Heaven on Seven. The joint has Cajun cooking, and I ate my fill. The menu: crab meat-stuffed shrimp, a combination of my two favorite seafoods.
Since we weren’t allowed to carry-on shampoo or toothpaste, we stopped off at a Walgreen’s and bought some cheapo stuff. I also picked up a few disposable cameras, so forgive the poor quality of the photos. You’re lucky to get any at all!
On Sunday we spent the afternoon in the Art Institute of Chicago. No flash photos allowed, but I will say I saw a whole mess of paintings by great artists, including Georgia O’Keefe, Salvador Dali, Georges Seurat, Monet, Manet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Pissarro, etc. There are also some famous pieces there, including Water Lilies, Picture of Dorian Gray, Nighthawks, and American Gothic.
Next we hit up Millennium Park, featuring its incredible amphitheater and the Giant Bean (see above). I don’t know if that’s its real name, but that’s what I’m calling it. We stopped for some beers and some hot dogs, and watched the Cubs and the White Sox at the bar there. That night, we saw World Trade Center, a movie with a good premise that started to drag just a little toward the end.
On Monday my mom was off to a conference, and my sister Aislinn went to visit friends at her alma mater, Northwestern University. So, I took a walk along the shore of Lake Michgan, before making a stop at the Nature Museum. My sister met me there, and we toured the Lincoln Park Zoo. They’ve a wonderful primate section, and all-around great value (price=$0).
Afterward, we hoofed it to Marshall Field’s, the famous department store, where we met my mom for dinner at the Walnut Room. I also stopped for the only souvenirs I bought while in town: Frango chocolates. Before leaving, we also checked out the famous Tiffany ceiling inside the store.
Me and the sis
We grabbed breakfast at Mary’s Cafe a few blocks from our hotel on Tuesday morning, before cutting my Mom loose at Navy Pier (the site of her conference). Then Aislinn and I rented bicycles, and rode to the Shedd Aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in the world. We saw their excellent sections on river systems and oceans, and their exhibits about reefs and lizards. We also stayed long enough to see their Pacific Northwest white-sided dolphins.
Once back at Navy Pier we grabbed Mom and made out way to the old Water Tower, one of the few buildings to survive the fire of 1871. We stopped at the Ghirardelli’s ice cream store for some sundaes, and then headed back to the hotel.
Our trip winding down, we finally made it on a boat tour of the city. We left the dock (alongside the Chicago River) at 7:30, and spent 90 minutes out on the water. Stunning light along the buildings preceded a beautiful silhouette of the skyline from Lake Michigan.
We wrapped it up that night with a baked deep-dish Chicago pizza.