Saturday, 11 October 2014

Scenes From Chicago

And I'm back after a little hiatus that involved gearing up for my sister's wedding and lots of fun weekends in the city and jetting off to Chicago for the weekend! Our visit to the Windy City had been in the works for a while before we went last month. We've been trying to branch out to more American cities we haven't visited (very American of us, right?) I'd always thought of Chicago as an intriguing city but hadn't heard much beyond the typical icons like deep dish pizza and terrible winters. Let me tell you, there is so much more to see! Plus we lucked out with our stay at Hotel Palomar in River North. Read on for a day by day guide of our tour de Chicago.
The first stop after our 4-hour flight & delicious to-go sandwiches from Xoco (get the Woodland Mushroom Torta), had to be the famous Bean. It really is a trip to look at....Jim spent a long time looking at it, taking pictures and getting artsy with photography. It's right in Millenium Park which is beautiful and reminds me of Central Park. I love seeing green amidst a sea of skyscrapers.
After the Bean, we walked over to the famous Art Institute of Chicago (the #1 museum in the world, according to TripAdvisor). For $20, you get access to the whole museum and it has some pretty fabulous paintings by Claude Monet and David Hockney.
I absolutely love that Chicago sign; so iconic. What's not pictured here is the rest of our day, which involved going to the Girl & the Goat for a late dinner. It's such a cozy spot, perfect for a date night. My fave dishes were the Mt. Lasen trout with Pumpkin Brandade, Fried Brussels Sprouts, Candied Pecans and Pomegranate plus the Johnny Applecheese Bread with Chili Cheddar Butter.  
The first stop on our second morning was Glazed + Infused, an awesome recommendation from our hotel concierge. Wow is all I can say about these incredibly fresh donuts. Jim went old fashioned and I had the vanilla glazed. Filling but worth it.
We'd signed up in advance for the Architectural Boat Tour  after literally every person we know recommended it once they found out we were headed to Chicago. It was definitely worth the $45 for a 1.5 hour ride. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable about the architecture and also the city heritage and developments. There's something about sitting back in your seat on a boat that's so relaxing. I highly recommend putting this at the top of your to-do list when you're in town.
Lunch was a flurry of Italian activity over at Eataly. There are several locations around the world and all feel like a really lovely Italian marketplace with everything from produce stands to a coffee bar to a craft beer bar and restaurants in between. My idea of food heaven.
This is the stunning view from the Willis (Sears) Tower, which used to be the tallest building in the world before the Burj Khalifa was built in 2004. We braved the crowds to make it to the top and luckily we had a perfect day to see a 360 degree view of the city.
Cubs fan for a day, I suppose (although my heart stays with the Giants!). Wrigley Stadium is old but full of character. They weren't playing when we were there but it was still fun to see. Not pictured was the earlier part of our day spent wandering around Wicker Park & Bucktown, where you can find some adorable shops, cafes and restaurants. We felt like locals and for a second, thought maybe we could live there (and then quickly came to our senses when we thought about the long winters).

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