Saturday, May 27: Chicago – Day 1


Chicago River

I don’t remember what time I went to bed last night; 11pm probably. Dan was already asleep. We were up a little after 5am. Breakfast was at 6am and there was no coffee in the room so I went out right on the dot. Dan joined me a little while later and we had a leisurely meal, leaving about 7:30 to go to the gym. The gym here is the best I’ve seen in a hotel, except for the one in Dresden (of all places) which was pretty incredible.

 I needed a round two of breakfast after the gym and came out to the lounge for some fruit and a muffin. It was a little more crowded than it was last night and at 6am this morning that’s for sure.
We headed out about 10am I guess. We had no plans really, so unlike us: the weather was great and we just wanted to walk around and enjoy until Irene, Dan’s niece, contacted us around 2pm to get together with her. That was as much structure as we had to the day when we left the hotel.
 We love cities with a big nice downtown and beautiful skylines and Chicago’s is great. So lots of photos of just that.
 The black building up the center is the old Sears Tower, now called with Willis Tower. At 110 stories, it’s the tallest building in Chicago.
 Above and below: Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Built in 1927, inspired by a fountain at the Palace of Versailles.

 

 The areas closest to Lake Michigan have been built up quite a bit since I was here in 1979. There are lots of new or at least refurbished parks and many new buildings, many of them condos. You can generally distinguish condos from office buildings by the presence of outdoor space (IE balconies).
 I don’t remember there being much around the Standard Oil Building in 1979. It’s the plain white one left of center. Although now it’s called Aon Center, it’s the 3rd tallest building in the city.
Lots of nice parks dot this part of the city.
A staircase up to the street level so we could cross the river.

 

 Trump Tower – 2nd tallest building in the city.
 Chicago River

 

 

 We were headed towards Navy Pier. This is probably about halfway down it.
 There are a few rides on the pier, including a Ferris wheel. I thought this was an interesting angle.
 A free little stained glass gallery at the end of the pier, with Tiffany works from 1870-1910. Same family, but the son of the founder of Tiffany & Co.

 

 

 Towards the end of the pier and huge Lake Michigan.
As we left the stained glass gallery, we were talking about taking Lyft to the restaurant we were going to go to for lunch, which was about a mile away. By this time it was about 12:30, we were hungry and ready for a rest. Then Dan saw a sign pointing to a free trolley. We followed the sign and the trolley pulled up as we walked out of the building. It gave us a much needed break and dropped us off about 2 blocks away from our destination.
 On the trolley. The black building with rabbit ear antennas on the right is the John Hancock center, 4th tallest building in the city.

 

 Our destination for lunch: Lou Malnati’s. We saw the crowd outside and were like “oh man, what kind of wait is this going to be?” We walk in, they ask how many. We say 2. “Follow her.” We couldn’t believe we were seated right away. Everyone waiting must’ve been in larger parties. We were very pleased about that.
 We were seated just behind where I’m standing.
 We were hungry but didn’t want to eat too much at one time. So we split a chicken BBQ salad and a personal pizza. The salad was very tasty, although highlighted differences in taste between me and Dan: he says “I wish it wasn’t drenched in dressing.” Me: “I’ve seen drenched before and this is not it; I’d call it lightly coated.”
 We both agreed the deep pan pizza was very nice – sausage, mozzarella, and tomato, and I’m pretty sure the tomatoes, though stewed, were fresh. Have never had any from a can that tasted that good.
 The iconic Marina City on the banks of the Chicago River.
 We loved the skyline views along the river.
 We stumbled upon the Memorial Day Parade going along State Street. I managed to catch a decent shot of an armed services group in front of the Chicago theater. Dan couldn’t resist the marching Chihuahua below with another group.
 The entrance to our hotel from Monroe above, and the first glimpse you get of the lobby below.

 Same room just the opposite angle.

 We were only at the hotel for a minute; I don’t remember now why we went back. But pretty much left again to catch a bus to meet Irene.
 Irene lives in Lincoln Park the neighborhood to the west of, well, Lincoln Park, behind me. Below, the front view from where I’m standing and where we met her, the Conservatory.

We spent most of the afternoon just walking through different neighborhoods, which Dan and I always like to do. It’s nice to get out of the tourist stuff and see how the real people live. We walked some through Lincoln Park then over into Old Town. We stopped for lattes (me and Irene), a cappuccino (Dan) and a few treats.

 

We ordered Lyft as we were leaving, and had him take us farther north to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. As the true sports fans we are (baseball, right?) we forgot to take a photo. I swear we were there though. But mostly we were there because it was close to Boystown, Chicago’s gayborhood, and we wanted to check that out. (See, priorities…) And we walked, and walked, stopped for popcorn, walked some more.

A little display of all of Chicago’s Sister Cities. 

 

 And eventually we ended up downtown again. According to the Health app on my iPhone we walked 14.4 miles today, probably a new record for us. And look, we’re still smiling (with still about 2 miles to go at that point).

 

 This is when I need Photoshop: Irene’s face above with mine below, and vice versa.

 

We stopped at the hotel while Dan worked with the staff to try to change rooms. He’d asked for a different one before we left (this one is really small) and they texted him in the afternoon that they’d found one and put it aside for us. Only they didn’t. Kinda like not having the room he picked when he checked in online available when we got here. Remember the classic Seinfeld scene about the rental car reservations? Kinda like that. Twice. They eventually offered us a smaller room with a bigger bed. Uh, no. We stayed where we are and headed out to dinner. We went to The Dearborn a few blocks from the hotel.

 Irene and I both had a local farm salad, with blueberries and candied pecans towards the bottom. It was very nice.
 Fish and chips for Dan.
 Scallops for Irene.
 Oxtails with chorizo, polenta and spinach for me. It was great.
Irene caught a bus home just outside the restaurant. Dan and I came back to the hotel, only I stopped at Target on the way to pick up a couple of things. Which is why I found myself alone in the elevator on the way back up, below. We kept joking about taking a photo of the elevators with seats in them so I finally remembered to do it. This is one of two express elevators that go up to floors 22 and 23.
And that’s the day. Beautiful weather, great food, lots to see. And so ready for bed 🙂

 

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