Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Chicago Recap

We survived! We survived the rain and the concert and the food! Chicago was amazing and we can't wait to go back.

View from our Architecture Boat Tour

Overall thoughts:

  • Don't hate me... I liked it better than NYC. 
  • The water - lake and rivers - are such a huge, beautiful part of the city and you can even go to the beach right off down town.
  • The people were lovely and welcoming and I didn't feel under-dressed, even at the nice restaurants.
  • The people of Chicago LOVE their city, and it shows, in a great, proud way.

View from our seats at the White Sox Game - daytime fireworks! (huh?)

How we travelled/accommodations:
  • We chose to fly out of the Kitchener airport. About $100 more expensive but on our way home we walked out of the plane at 10:29pm and walked into the house at 10:49pm. Worth the extra cash. 
  • We both travelled with carry-on only which is basically the only way I've been travelling lately. If you haven't done it, try it once. You'll never go back. 
  • In Chicago we either walked or took the train/subway/L. Very walk-able city and the trains are convenient and simple. We walked a lot but everything is very close so we never walked more than 15 minutes to any destination. 
  • We spent two nights at Hotel Felix - smaller rooms but excellent service, would recommend. 
  • We spent one night at the Conrad. Seriously exceptional service and quality. Probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. We got a great price on it through Hotwire. (We booked our hotels separately to get a better overall price, I should probably write a post on Hotwire/Priceline as we are obsessed).

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park
What we saw:
  • Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour. There are several river tours offered, I chose this one as it seemed the most intelligent and least touristy. The tours are run by volunteers and I got the vibe that our tour guide could have talked for days beyond the short 90 minute tour. Very professional and friendly. 
  • White Sox game. There are many sports teams to see while in town if that's your sort of thing. The Cubs were out of town and it isn't hockey season. It was fun to be at the game with the locals and we got the very worst cup of coffee I've ever had. Don't get the coffee at US Cellular field. 
  • Michigan Avenue/Magnificent Mile: so much shopping on one convenient street. If shopping is your thing make sure you go all the way up to Chicago Avenue as the shopping continues north. If you are walking north or south and don't care to shop, go one street over to Rush Street. It's less busy with no traffic signals so you'll have a quicker route. 
  • Second City: HILARIOUS. Wonderful experience. Tickets are relatively cheap at $23 pp. Get there early to get a good seat. Seriously - DO THIS. You won't regret it. 
  • Crazy Ass Thunderstorm: 5:00pm on Saturday the sky busted open and it poured rain, sideways. It was the craziest 30 minute storm I've ever seen. It also caused an evacuation at Lollapalooza.
  • Lollapalooza: by the time we were looking for tickets there were only single day passes so we went for Sunday to catch Florence + the Machine and Justice. I'm glad we didn't get a 3-day pass, one day was about all I could handle. 
  • Wrigley Field tour: as it's one of the most historic stadiums in the league, and in professional sports in general, we figured we'd go have a look. 
BEACH! Right off of down town!

What we ate... I'm going to write a WHOLE POST on this. Because it deserves it. Stay tuned. 

Pros:
  • I scoped out many restaurants and bookmarked them on my phone so when we were hungry we could just look up what was close. 
  • Hotel Felix and the Conrad were exquisite.
  • The 'L' was easy and cheap.
Water Tower Building on North Michigan Avenue

Cons:
  • While Millennium Park was very cool it only took about 20 minutes to look at everything, we allotted too much time for this. 
  • While the 'L' is very simple to ride, it is in fact ELevated and thus you hear the train rumbling all the time.
  • Arriving/departing during rush hour - our own faults, really. We had to ride the 'L' from and to O'Hare with our luggage and way too many people. Much sweating.

View of down town from Grant Park/Lollapalooza
For next time:
  • We went during Lollapalooza because we wanted to go to Lollapalooza. Otherwise, I don't recommend going during this concert. Hotels were crazy expensive and there were many (MANY) drunk hipster kids everywhere. 
  • As it was our first time we only scoped things out that were right downtown, next time I'd like to check out the rest of the city.
  • Go to the beach. The one that's right in the city. 
  • Art Institute - didn't make it this time
Outside of Wrigley Field before our tour

I seriously have 50+ pictures of food. I'll get my food post done ASAP!!

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