As soon as I got that invitation for the wedding of my high school best friend, I knew I was attending come hell or high water. She has been living in Chicago for several years now, and I had yet to go visit her over there. Luckily for me, Scott was able to free up his schedule and give me the go ahead to make arrangements for our trip.
I, of course, crowd sourced all of my social media and blog outlets to get the skinny on all of the must-sees and must-eats in Chicago. As usual, the recommendations didn’t disappoint. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
I started getting cold feet about leaving my babies behind for so long. Except for when I am at the hospital delivering babies, I had never left the children for more than a few hours or so. Scott was double checking our wills and life insurance policies while I was spending that last day before we left snuggling my babes as much as possible. A calm and laid-back couple we are not.
My last snap of little Rhea before I dropped her off. Waahhhhhh!
But, we overcame our fears and left our babes in the capable hands of my parents. My sisters, grandparents, and a few of my mom’s friends also came over all that weekend to help. I am eternally beholden to them.
When we boarded the plane, we discovered to our delight that we happened to be seated behind the brother of the bride, someone I have known since he was a kid. How time flies! We shared a taxi to our hotels in Chicago since they were a block away from each other. Seeing those skyscrapers on the horizon excited me to no end. I couldn’t wait to explore the city with my main man.
The view from our hotel room. The building in the center in the gothic style with the gray roof was the venue for the wedding and reception, and you can see Lake Michigan in the background.
Our hotel, the Palmer House, was jaw dropping. The decor was in the old world, glamorous, Art Deco style. There was a Starbucks on the street level, and the lobby was a marvel. It was a block away from Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park, and the Art Institute, and perhaps a 10 minute walk away from Lake Michigan.
Getting ready to explore on our first day. I really hope Scott looks at me like that forever.
Here in Atlanta, late April weather means high 70s, low 80s (Fahrenheit) and a nice breeze. While we were packing, I noticed I still had a lot of room left in my carry-on bag. Should I take my wool coat? It would probably just waste space. Last minute, on a whim, I decided to toss the coat in my bag just in case. This was the best packing decision I have ever made. The weather in Chicago was in the low 40s with a wind chill that bit you clear to the bone. I should have packed a few more sweaters, long underwear, and a parka. I am only a wimpy Southern girl, after all.
Since Milennium Park was so close to our hotel, we decided to walk there first. Despite the cold, the pear trees were all blooming and were simply sublime. We took the obligatory tourist picture by the Cloud Gate, I mean, the Bean. If they didn’t want everyone to call it the Bean, then they shouldn’t have made it look like a giant bean.
You can’t really see the Bean in the background, but unlike almost everyone else there, I did not come armed with a selfie stick. Next time I won’t make such an egregious mistake.
We ended up wandering all the way down Michigan Avenue onto the Magnificent Mile, which is the stretch where there is a lot of upscale shopping. Scott stopped in the flagship Nordstrom’s and went crazy. He deserved it, he probably hasn’t purchased any new clothing in the past 10 years. I made sure to purchase some hose to go under my dress for the wedding because Chicago is cold, y’all.
We ate dinner at Quartino’s nearby. It was pretty delectable. We were sitting at the bar since the dining room was booked for the rest of the evening, and Scott decided to play up his Southern accent and chat with the couple next to us. They were Catholic too (so many Catholics in Chicago! Very different from here in the Bible Belt) and were from Philadelphia. They had a condo in Chicago and jetset over there whenever the mood strikes them. What a life, you guys.
We thought about going to the Hancock Tower for drinks and the magnificent view, but then remembered that we were the exhausted parents of four who were unused to so much walking and trudged back to our hotel. I pumped and we fell asleep immediately.
I awoke bright and early at 6:30 am Chicago time at the usual time Rhea nurses and pumped. I was wide awake and decided to get some tickets to the Chicago architecture boat tour. (The one thing everyone unanimously recommended.) I woke Scott and told him we had a 10 am boat tour to attend. I enjoyed a mind-blowing mocha from Intelligentsia Coffee, and off we trotted to the dock.
They don’t call it one of the best tours in the nation for nothing. It was so amazing. I would just recommend that you bring a down comforter if you plan on going at any time but the dead heat of the summer. That wind on the river will freeze your face off and make your teeth chatter.
Our view from the river boat of my favorite building in all Chicago: the Wrigley Building. It was built in the 1920s. Isn’t it beautiful? At that time, they would build clock towers on their buildings so that people without watches would know the time. Our tour guide had fascinating information about all of the breathtaking buildings along the river. (Way more fascinating than that banal tidbit I just shared, I can assure you.)
Our view from when the river boat swung wide toward Lake Michigan and was looking back at the Chicago skyline. The tall building in the center is the Trump Tower with a gigantic “TRUMP” written on the side of the building. Humility isn’t really his thing. I just loved the color of the water. I don’t know if that was because St. Patrick’s Day was recent (they dye the river green in celebration) or if it is that color year-round.
We decided to have a Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordano’s. We thought it was good, not great. Apparently, to get the authentic Chicago deep dish experience, you need to go to Lou Malnati’s. But, there wasn’t one within walking distance, and we were headed right past a Giordano’s to get back to our hotel, so Giordano’s it was! I am already plotting our next trip to Chicago, and we are hitting up Lou Malnati’s next time for sure.
Will we survive the bitter Chicago cold? Will our feet ever recover from so much walking? Will we ever return after having such a fabulous trip? Tune in right here for my next post to find out!
Here is Part II!