Tuesday, July 23, 2013


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We've been talking about visiting Chicago for some time now.  Basically since my cousin married her husband and moved there three years ago.  We kept thinking we'd finally go this spring since they planned to be moving from Chicago this summer, but we had some scheduling conflicts.  Finally, Brice's day off for the 4th of July seemed to make the perfect opportunity.

Our flight didn't leave until the afternoon so we decided to spend a little bit of time at the town's festivities on the Green.  There were a number of people in period costumes and a reading of the Declaration.  We headed out shortly after the reading to get our flight out of Newark.

Since my cousin had the GRE to take the next day and she was 9 months pregnant, we planned to stay at a hotel the first night.  She and her husband did pick us up from the airport though and brought us to the hotel downtown.  From there we set off along the Magnificent Mile to the Hancock Tower.  At the base of the tower we found a Cheesecake Factory.  We hadn't been to one since a "progressive dinner" we had for ourselves when we lived in Atlanta, but the red velvet cheesecake has haunted me since.  We decided to pop in to the to-go line and grab a slice.  A bit of a wait and we ate it on the steps outside, but oh, how good.  Then we went up the Hancock Tower, skipping the tour and "official" mess for drinks on a lower level (which is just as good and highly recommended if you visit).

From there we decided to stroll down by the water and find a good place to watch the fireworks.  We got a decent enough spot, but since my husband likes to be close enough to hear it wasn't totally fantastic in his book.  We had considered grabbing a late dinner after, but ended up feeling not quite hungry enough and plenty tired enough and just called it a night.

In the morning we had a fantastic breakfast at the Corner Bakery near our hotel and then headed off to the Art Institute, courtesy of my cousin's membership.  We had a nice time there enjoying all of the art and then went to Giordano's near the Willis Tower for a late lunch.  The wait was definitely there, but it wasn't too bad and since they let you pre-order your pizza we did just fine.  Foolishly, we ordered the size for 3-4 people since we felt we could both eat for two at this point.  We nearly finished it--all but one slice and I spent the next several blocks wishing there had been two left.  I wasn't sure I'd eat again.  The plan had been to go to the Willis Tower after pizza, but the wait was far too long--it would have 7 or 7:30 by the time we got up there so we decided to try again on Monday when there would be fewer tourists.  Instead we took our time getting to Millenium Park to meet my cousin and her husband for the free symphony concert.
It was hot and we were glad to find a little channel in the park where people were dipping their feet.  It turned out my cousin was waiting very close by for us after finishing her test and we found her and her husband arrived soon after.  They were kind enough to provide a picnic that we ate very little of (due to the pizza) and we were able to meet their friends.  Afterward my cousin was tired so she and her husband went home and Brice and I went to a jazz bar for a bit.  We saw two bands and he liked the first better and I liked the second better.  I thought the first was a bit strange...

On Saturday my cousin accompanied us to the Field Museum and was able to get us both in free with her membership.  We saw an exhibit on animals that light up (like those weird fish and fireflies) and plenty of dinosaurs before having a picnic out back.  Then Brice and I split off from my cousin for a walking architecture tour that was pretty good and has left me a bit more attentive to other architecture since.  We met up with my cousin and her husband again for a free dancing lesson in the park.  Unfortunately, it was a bit more crowded than usual being a holiday weekend and there was just not much room on the floor.  (And the long, hot day had taken its toll on the aroma of those assembled.)  Our plans had been to go out to eat anyway so we went back to Hyde Park and spent a little time chatting and relaxing before walking to a nearby Thai restaurant.
On Sunday we went to church at Holy Name Cathedral and then to a Cubs game.  The outcome of the game was not looking great and we wanted to fit in a stop at Lou Malnati's before our show at the comedy club so we left in the 8th inning.  While at Lou's we saw that the game had gotten better and the Cubs ended up winning.  But if we'd waited we'd never have had time for the pizza.  Lou's was definitely different from Giordano's, but I liked them both and could see occasions were I would crave one over another.  Brice ended up deciding he preferred Lou's while I preferred Giordano's.

We stopped at a bar for a drink before the comedy show.  If you're unfamiliar with the Second City comedy club, a lot of famous actors went through there.  Names like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler.  So maybe we saw the next big name--who knows.  After the two acts that are rehearsed there is a third act of pure improv and they often bring a special alum in to mix things up.  We had Scott Adsit from 30 Rock.

A bit of a wrench was thrown into our plans for Monday since it was pouring rain and evening thundering.  There was no way the Willis Tower was going to work so we ended up at the science museum.  It turned out to be really great.  They have an entire German u-boat in the building and a great exhibit on it.  Admission is a bit steep (no student prices either--I still counted when we were there), but I felt the u-boat exhibit alone was worth it.  The other thing I really enjoyed was the fairy castle.  I won't go into detail here, but it's full of amazing, tiny and rare items.  It even has a chapel with a sliver of the True Cross in its tabernacle.

When we returned to my cousin's we had a great pasta salad for a quick lunch and then took the bus to the airport.  Our second flight out of St. Louis was delayed for a couple of hours so we got in late, but the airport is much closer than when we lived in CT so the hour wasn't too bad.

All in all it was a great trip and wonderful to visit my cousin!


  1. What a great trip! I've never really visited Chicago (driving through on our way west and staying in a hotel there when our flight was canceled don't count), but it seems like a fun city. And did you blog twice yesterday? Wow! Once a day is about all I can manage at my best. :)

    1. Yeah, we had a great time! Especially eating pizza :-) No, not two posts in one day, just forgot to share!


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