June 17, 2010

Sweet Home, Chicago

The Girl pointed out that this trip (our third) officially makes Chicago our most-visited vacation destination.  Also in the running are Santa Fe (2 trips), Grand Canyon (2 for me), Los Angeles (2 abortive trips for me), New Bedford and surroundings (2 trips).

With only a couple of full days plus an extended evening in Chicago and two baseball games already on the docket, we didn't have a whole lot of other time to spend in the Windy City, so our trip was a fairly brief one, even briefer than our Christmas trip this past winter.  (How have I not yet posted photos from that trip?  Slacker...)

A quick recap with some detail here and there...

  • Drove in from Cincy.  Left 'round 9am, got to O'Hare around 3:30 Chicago time.  Parked in economy lot F ($9 daily) and took the shuttle to the CTA train.  Blue line in to within three blocks of our hotel (Grand stop on the red line, Conrad Hotel at $90 a night via Priceline).
  • Stopped at Chik Fil A near Lafayette, IN for lunch and to try the spicy chicken sandwich.  Surprisingly spicy, in fact, a little too spicy for me.  Still perfect cooking, two pickles, good bun.  I'll stick with the original.
  • Checked in an went walkies 'round the north Michigan area of Chicago.  Dinner at Pizano's on State - very tasty but huge Giambotta A La Harvey for me, Chicken Parm for The Girl - on the recommendation of The Mother in Law who travels via PBS almost exclusively.  Turns out that we'd been to Pizano's before, just to the Loop location.  
  • Some walking around before heading back to the hotel.  Walked by Xoco but decided to pass on dessert for the night in spite of seeing the mack daddy himself walking away from his restaurant.
  • At Pizano's we realized - I remembered - that the Stanley Cup finals were ongoing with the Blackhawks leading 3-2 heading into Wednesday's game.  I stayed up to see the final goal (4:06 into overtime) and hear the start of the screaming and honking in the streets of Chicago.

  • Breakfast at Xoco - empanadas and churos for each plus a bread pudding to split.  Wonderful, wonderful food.
  • Across to the Lake, through Millennium Park, into the Loop and down to US Cellular (White Sox) for the game around noon.
  • Lunch at the stadium - brat for The Girl, Italian beef for me, soft serve for both afterwards.  Nice stadium, another crossed off the every-growing list.  Saw the White Sox win handily, but Alex Rios and Miguel Cabrerra didn't do much for my fantasy team.  Very enjoyable stadium, nice seats ('bout 2/3 of the way up in the lowest level, out by the left fielder.)
  • Back to the hotel for a quick lie about and clean up heading out the red line to meet Katydid at Belmont.  Hopped a bus to Kuma's Corner to continue our burger quest.  Details will be forthcoming, but expect a high score.
  • Homeward - well, hotelward - to watch game four of the NBA finals (go Celtics!) and fall asleep happy for the second straight night.

  • Up earlyish for a walk to the Wabash and Washington (breakfast walking along the way from the Corner Bakery) to get a good spot for the Blackhawks celebration parade.  We set up at the corner of Wabash and Washington resting against a concrete planet to make sure we had somewhere safe to be.  The Girl recorded the whole thing on her Flip camera, and I'm going to do a bit of editing and throw it up on YouTube, but you can check the view from about twenty feet above where we were standing on this video in the meantime.  There are a bunch of great photos from the Chicago Tribune here (we are on the right side of photo #78 though you can't nearly make us out...we're also vaguely 25 seconds into this, in front of Staples...why, oh why doesn't Flickr have a button that says 'find me at recent public event'?).  After hanging out with a couple million of our closest friends at the parade, The Girl mentioned that this was what a Macy's Thanksgiving parade in NYC was like and again stating how disappointed she was after coming to The Hometown and seeing the smallness that was the Harvest Homecoming Parade.
  • We didn't hang around for the rally, instead cramming into a packed subway train up the red line to Addison to Wrigleyville.  Our seats - thanks, Stubhub - were under cover and in the absolute top row of the stadium which actually afforded a great view of the field and a nice breeze coming out of the south.  We got a couple of drops of rain on our backs, but the game wasn't remotely near a delay at any point.  Two games, two days of pretty perfect weather.  White Sox all over the Cubs with Rios going 4-4 with a HR and three runs scored.  Good day had by all except BP whose sponsorship of the Crosstown Showdown trophy was roundly boo-ed in the park.

  • Wandered around a bit after the game, all the way down to the Belmont station, just to let the crowd clear before taking the train back to the hotel to clean up for dinner at the Weber Grill Restaurant.  Excellent steak (not quite up to Jeff Ruby standards but still very, very tasty) and mashed spuds.  Then a wander over to Xoco for dessert of churros and homemade vanilla soft serve with pecan-maple-bacon streusel topping and salt caramel sauce.  Enjoyed it all while being lucky enough to sit out on the streetside seating. Outstanding work from Rick Bayless again.
  • Crappy breakfast at Così, back onto the CTA red to blue to O'Hare.  Gave away our three-day passes at ~9:30 - still good until 3 that afternoon.  Rolled homeward with a stop on the NE side of Indy for lunch of salads at a mall food court.
  • And home again, good evening, Sebastian.
So, anything else you want to know?


calencoriel said...

I'm pretty sure you've been to Gatlinburg more than you've been to Chicago.

Just sayin'

Ame said...

You were at the canyon as a kid at least once. I was there twice, but once was for a Moose ceremony they made me be in.

PHSChemGuy said...

Calen - Technically, we have been to G'Burg more, but I don't think of that as a vacation. That's a weekend away. Chicago wins.

Ame - Again, technicality. I was there once only, but here I'm talking about places I've chosen to go. I wasn't in control of the initial Canyon vacation.