Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Quick Getaway: Chicago

I had to go to Chicago for a conference last week. It was awesome and uplifting and at the end of a long week, Ash joined me for a quick weekend getaway. We didn't have the best weather but we made the best of it and all in all, we had a fabulous time...umbrellas, rain boots, no visibility at the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and all. Here's a boatload of iPhone photos showing some of the highlights of the trip. Forgive the quality. Low light and iPhone don't make for the most super photos.

You may think a corridor with lights rapidly changing color would be far from relaxing but this is my favorite feature in O'Hare. There is calming music and soft ambient lighting on the walls. If I could have a room like this, I'd stay in it. Much better than a white room with padded walls. LOL.

The husband's stop at  Portillos.

Love the Chicago River/Riverwalk. If the weather was warmer, I'd hang out with a book and some food for hours.

The Chicago Tribune building. Iconic.

Entrance to Millennium Park.
Cloud Gate/The Bean...not quite sure why but I was obsessed with it.

We found our reflection!

These were all over the city as part of Chicago's Idea Week. Of the ones I saw all over the city, these were my favorite--particularly because of where I am in my life's journey.

The Pritzker Pavillion lit up at night.

The grid over the Great Lawn at Millennium Park.

We knew we wanted deep dish pizza but weren't sure where to go. We fell into Giordano's, had great pizza and met a cool bartender that gave us some suggestions for where to hang out on a Friday night.

Super veggie pizza. Delish and worth the 45 minutes it takes to cook.

We decided to take refuge from the cool weather and catch a movie. Not as scary as we'd hoped but
still a fun date night.

Forgive the glare but I loved this sign for the wine bar in our hotel. I had to post it.

Saturday brunch at West Egg Cafe.

California Crepe with avocado, broccoli, sprouts, cheese, and mushrooms. Cheesy potatoes. English muffin. Yum.

Ash's brunch: 2 ginormous pancakes, the Bacado (omelet with cheese, bacon and avocado), potatoes and an english muffin. There was fresh squeezed juice too.

Normally, I plan better for a trip but I only packed a pair of heels and a pair of flats in my attempt to pack light. We got caught in a rain storm so I went shopping on State Street for some rain boots. I stopped in about 3 stores (I had a budget) and couldn't find anything that didn't look like it was made for a 5 year old. I finally gave up, grabbed these boots and some new (dry) socks, changed in the store and moved on with the day. Five minutes later, I was standing in front of a Target. I decided not to go in because I knew there would be $20 rain boots in the perfect color just waiting to mock me. Oh well. I like the new boots anyway...and they kept my feet dry.

After a bit of walking around (and getting lost courtesy of Apple Maps), we stopped in Streeter's Tavern for a quick drink and a break from the wind and rain.

After Streeter's, we hopped in a cab and headed towards Willis Tower (after being taken to the wrong part of town in an earlier cab). On the way, we hopped out and grabbed popcorn from Garrett.

Chicago Mix. Delish caramel cheesy goodness.

There are cool sculptures all over the city but I loved the way this one looked and how
 its reflection beamed off of the wet sidewalk.

Inside Willis Tower. Yes, it was raining. Yes, I knew there would be no visibility but after trying to walk there and getting lost and then taking 2 cabs (one that took us to the Water Tower shopping center on the complete opposite side of town), I decided that we were going to spend the money to go up. Sure we only saw the fog (see the next picture) but at least we can say we went up. Surprisingly, tons of people were just as determined as we were.

Yeah....I know. Waste. Of. Money. Ash made sure to note that a couple of times.

Chicago Theatre sign. Iconic despite my blurry image capture.

Back in the hotel room. Pre-dinner snack and a moment to unwind. Popcorn and Pinot. Hit the spot.
Dinner at Volare. We were walking and looking for a place and we ran into a couple who highly recommended it. It did not disappoint. I started with a caprese salad with balsamic reduction (in the ramekin). Ash had a chopped salad that I didn't get a photo of.  

Ash's sea bass. I had tortellini but the picture didn't do it justice so I'm leaving it out. It was yummy though.

Apple strudel with cinnamon custard. So heavenly that we ate it despite being stuffed. It was so good that the slightly drunk guy at the table next to us tried to trade us a piece of apple strudel for some of his chocolate mousse cake. He made for a very entertaining dessert...and left some of his cake on our table. No, we did not eat it.

New (to us) Italian beer that has been added to Ash's roster of favorites.
Walking back to the hotel, we decided to make another stop along the Chicago River.  

Pigeon hanging out in the airport by baggage claim. No one batted an eye. Such a suitable welcome home.
Only in New York.

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