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Sunday, April 8, 2007


we had fun. we walked...something like 20 miles? we ate at some of the city's best restaurants. we laughed and caught up with wonderful friends. we shopped. we got scared on a cab ride. i drank some fine wine. sara sampled tap water. we felt the cold cold wind and were so glad we brought warm coats (and gloves and scarves) and good walking shoes. we soaked up a little culture. we learned about turn-of-the-century french art (and fell in love with it). we didn't get much sleep. we saw wicked - wow! in short, it was a fabulous visit! {i thought about this trip in terms of eat, love, pray and thought it could be called eat, walk, shop - but that didn't seem to do the trip justice - hence the short, to the point, 'chicago'. }

we arrived on wednesday, april 4th - snow flurries - which i tried to capture in a photo, but those light flakes are elusive. so trust us, we saw snow! {4/9 edit - sue reports 'big fluffy flakes' this morning - i think we left just in time}

we took the train (my idea, but sara did agree, for the record) from the airport. i'd done my research and knew grand was the closest station to the hotel. but didn't figure out til we were actually on the el that meant a switch from the blue to red line. but we figured that out. and finally came above ground at grand and i knew we needed to go east and then south. and our first street took us north and we decided to hail a cab. thank goodness! i should mention that sara had her backpack and my small rolling suitcase and could have walked blocks - i had my big vera bradley tote and an old lands end duffel - i couldn't have walked another two feet by the time we got to that cab! {note to self - must get rolling duffel bag before next year's trip with katie}

we checked in (very nice room!) and then asked the concierge for an 'american' lunch recommendation that wasn't more than 4 blocks away. recommendation=grand lux cafe. very good. actually perfect for what we needed then (food, wine and in that order!)
view from the back window of the lobby - we could see snowflakes, but they don't show up on camera
view from the window of our room

our room=home for 3 wonderful days

...and i got off to a slow picture taking start (i'm sure i overcompensated for that on the next 3 days-here's a link to the entire album) - except for the weather, the view from our hotel (and in our room) i took no photos that first day. even with a wonderful dinner with my dear friend sue and her husband dave at coco pazzo supposedly a hangout for jennifer anniston when she was in town a few years ago filming the break up. she has good taste. food highlight for me=strawberries with basil and balsamic vinegar for dessert.

we started thursday with breakfast at west egg (which i remembered from a december 2003 visit with sue & dave) - i'm getting into full picture taking mode now
sara and mary outside the restaurant - we're not too warm in our winter gear!

- and then the art institute. the only definite plans i'd made for this trip (other than wicked) were tickets to the cezanne to picasso exhibit. we could've spent our entire trip in this wonderful museum...and still not come close to seeing everything. the permanent collection rivals the impressionist exhibits i've seen in atlanta. and there was a cool 'silk road' installation that we still need to figure out. i loved seeing sara enjoy the art. even the museum itself was cool.

the plaza just west of our hotel (the river is to sara's right)

sara at the entrance to millenium park

i'm quite proud of this photo - the 'bean' in millenium park

across the street from the art institute

from inside the museum at the back, i think, looking to the front wing

my favorite part of the cezanne exhibit was the nabis - particularly the lithograph albums {and I found this cool blog researching those albums - can't seem to find any in print - a shame}

we decided to see the sears tower that afternoon - since we were sort of in the neighborhood. great architecture all along the walk. great lunch at one north kitchen. picked from the guidebook because it was only two blocks away. across the street from the lyric opera. (more walking - west on adams, then north on wacker.)

corner of adams and lasalle - good for us directionally challenged that the street signs are built into the buildings

another street shot

the lyric opera building

at one north kitchen

the sears tower was ... an experience that i'm glad we shared. i was nervous. heights aren't my thing. but this one didn't bother me. go figure - last year, i was maybe 50 feet off the ground on a lighthouse and scared. this year, 103 floors (1,500 feet?) and i'm fine. it's a very well-done exhibit (and as dave pointed out it should be for the $12.95 admission price). we had a clear day and really could see forever.

back to the sky deck after lunch

looking north (east) - the tall black building is the john hancock tower

another long-armed shot from the sky deck

for dinner (and i use that term loosely -more for the time of day than the food we ate - stay tuned!) we met up with boyd and paul - two guys i'd worked with in the late 1990's, before they moved back to chicago - we'd shared a lot of laughter, good food and good wine back then. picked up where we'd left off. starting at bin 36 with a variety of tasting flights and a yummy cheese platter. much later, deciding we really needed something more substantial, we moved to enology - after all, they had chocolate in addition to the wine and cheese. our 'dinner' ended up being two cheese plates and three chocolate truffle flights. we laughed a lot.
group shot before we left bin 36

the camera managed to capture the 'eno' better than the naked eye could...

paul and boyd

and sara and mary

proof that i wasn't always the first one to fall asleep - but sara was in her pjs and face washed when i got up the next morning - guess she maybe was the last one up?

for some reason, we were hungry for breakfast the next day - fox & obel for breakfast! sara had a chef's special omelet that featured bacon, tomato and avocado. then we headed out for boutiques and browsing in the halsted/armitage neighborhood. how did we know about it? it was featured in the shopping guide (same one where i found one north kitchen) and one of the streets was 'sheffield'. good reasons? - i say 'sure'. i found a great t-shirt deal at lucy. and we got lipbalm at fresh. and then i was overstimulated at papersource. sara enjoyed spending the hour-plus visit checking out books. i put together a 'goody-bag' for katie... and for me. and totally wish they had a store in atlanta.
only up north would you see a sign like this!

and maybe only in chicago would you see a shot like this?

the place i'd picked for lunch was only open for dinner (note - this was the only pick i made without a concierge, a guidebook or another recommendation - should i read anything into this?). so we took a cab back to michigan avenue. cab driver not speaking english, talking on his cell phone. we raced down lakeshore (good views) and then hit michigan. we were both a bit shaken and said 'this is fine - we can get out here' and sara had her door open and was ready to get out - and the cab started moving again - rounded the corner with sara half hanging out holding onto the door. cabbie did finally let us out. right across the street from bistro 110 - a sign? so we picked that for lunch. and the only art photos of the trip :-)
probably can't really qualify as 'art' if i include the photo on its side - but doing this from my laptop and i haven't figured out how to get the photos that i simply download (no software on my laptop) to format correctly...and it's getting late and i'm getting impatient to get this done!

they don't show up too well, but there are about 7,000 blue ribbons tied to the trees in the churchyard across from water tower place. 1 for every child abused in cook county. very sad.

on a lighter note, we did a little shopping - stops at northface and j crew and sara got two more head bands - you can see the new skinny one in later photos. very cute (and from the mom perspective functional!).

rested briefly before dave picked us up for dinner and wicked. we met sue at another wonderful restaurant (maybe all the chicago restaurants are good, but somehow that seems unlikely) on wacker called catch 35. a relatively short walk, too. another great meal and wine - despite the server's insistence that i not order my first choice syrah - stuck to my guns and enjoyed two glasses thank you very much. we decided to hold dessert til after the show.
sue and dave at catch 35

and sue, sara and mary

...and wicked - this show was honestly the spark for our trip (i read wicked over christmas and talked to sue about it and she said we really needed to see the show and it was in chicago so ...) - it lived up to all our expectations plus some - the oriental theater is a wonder. makes the fox look a bit second rate and i hate to say that. we had excellent seats (thank you sue & dave!). and we were enthralled with the performance from start to finish. sara saw beauty and the beast about 10? years ago, otherwise this was her first show - and what a high bar to set. not sure who reads this, but if you're wondering if you have to read the book - answer is 'no'! except for the names of a few characters and maybe the idea of a backstory, the show bears no resemblance to the book. but it's ok - both are really really good!
looking up in the lobby of the oriental theater

then we found dessert at grand lux cafe - good seats in the 'round room'. very glad sara and i had skipped that course at wednesday's lunch. more fun conversation and an even later bedtime. we're leaving. brunch at wishbone with sue and dave - very funky, very good and very glad we didn't have to walk! right across the street from oprah's studio. after, dave dropped us at the top of michigan avenue (and we were all thankful he wasn't talking on his cell, in a foreign language and that he didn't make sara hang out an open door - funny how conventional we are about car rides). more shopping, browsing really, my first (and sue's?) visit to urban outfitters. wow - i feel old sometimes. sara asks why? ok - sex games and books on the table as you walk in and clothes that a 40-something should not be caught dead in. oh well.

mary and sue at wishbone

sara and mary

where they film oprah

sara and sue - view looking down oak street (?)

then sara's long-awaited trip to virgin records. sue and i enjoyed it, too. we picked up the wicked soundtrack and sara recommended o.c. mixes for sue. ...and i would be lying to say that was all we picked up. also the new corinne bailey rae cd, love actually soundtrack (to replace the "!" in our itunes library) and two cds to further my french cafe listening - manu chao and bebel gilberto.

lunch was another great food and wine experience. viand. fish tacos. flatbread (which is really just a very good, free form pizza) and the shrimp cocktail with - how cool! - guacamole mixed table side. we had a cute, young waiter who didn't mind giving us his views on politics - he's an obama fan right now - or food, or wine, or really anything we happened to be discussing. and in case you're wondering how we might have been talking politics - it's easy - we started out talking about golfers (masters weekend!) and then female golfers (cute young ones who wear cute clothes and earrings) and then fox & friends (cute maybe not so young announcers) ... and then fox/cnn... and you can fill in the blanks from there. sue and i are still waiting for that fiscally conservative, socially liberal (or better yet - who cares what you do?) candidate.

then a very quick cab ride (and let the record show that was sara's idea - sue and i were perfectly game for a short walk!) back to the karch's so dave could drive us to the airport.

sue, sara and mary (sue's dining room)

goodbye chicago

hello atlanta

and our flight left on time, arrived on time and we were safely back home by 10:45. i spent a few hours catching up on what i missed on-line. not much. lesson to be learned? do wish i could've spread this posting across a few days, though!

yesterday was a good nesting day. laundry, unpacking (still not done) and gearing up for the final push to school's out. and then the sopranos and entourage. perfect end to a wonderful week.

...and in closing - a shot of all the ephemera i collected!this will challenge my new scrapbooking skills, no?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am completely jealous, and love you (both)! hope we can talk very soon. and i'm dying to go on our trip next spring, mama. can't decide where though--i'm still absolutely in love with new york, but thinking that san francisco could be wonderful too! xo

Monday, 09 April, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cab ride from hell brought back memories of my Chicago cab ride in June 1955. I had time between trains (Calif. Zephyr from Calif. and the Milwaukee Road to Madison, WI) so took a cab from the train station to Marshall Fields. What a ride!! Have never gone so fast--not even in NYC or Atlanta. Glad you survived.

Wednesday, 11 April, 2007  
Blogger Mary said... see, that's an interesting story! sadly, Marshall Fields is now Macy's...just not the same - but the train station (Union Station?) is still there and going strong!

Wednesday, 11 April, 2007  

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