Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Kind of Town

I love the city. I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia and have lived just outside of Washington DC, Baltimore, London and currently New York City , our second time here. I have visited countless more all around the world and I love all that a city has to offer in the way of food, shopping, art, history, architecture, culture and personality. While every big city is similar in certain respects each has its own unique personality that makes it special. This past weekend was my first trip to Chicago, other than some lay overs in O'Hare which most definitely do not count, and I absolutely loved it. Granted had it been about ten degrees cooler I would have loved it more but still its a fabulous place.

It seemed much quieter than NYC which is noisy, bright and in your face no matter the day or time or season of the year. The minute your feet hit the pavement in NYC you know it. New York literally buzzes and the air feels charged which is one of the things I love most about the Big Apple, but grabs you in a different way. First of all, the architecture is stunning and the city is so clean. There is lots of green space all around too which reminds me more of London with its fabulous parks and squares. The Chicago River meanders thru town and the city rises up to meet Lake Michigan at its very edge...maybe it's just me and my love affair with water but it felt so inviting. Oh I know its a miserable place in the winter but I would love to spend an autumn or a springtime there.

Monday hubs and I walked for a while...we strolled thru Millennium park with its incredible artwork, sculptures and fountains...our favorite is something entitled Cloud Gate but affectionately known as 'the bean' because that's exactly what it looks like.

Its reflective so you can see the city skyline and take some crazy pictures standing beside it. Afterwards we headed to the river and took an architectural tour of the city by boat which was really good. If you visit Chicago this is worth doing and like I said, the architecture here is amazing.

In fact you might want to be careful parking your car in this building. Wouldn't want to accidentally back up into the river. Apparently that has happened and its strictly valet parking now.

When the tour ended we hopped in a cab bound for Rush Street which is lively and full of restaurants and fun. We had a nice lunch sitting outside and in spite of it being nuclear hot we were fine at our table under a big shady umbrella. Great people watching spot too which is another of my favorite things to do in any city.

We headed next to the tallest building in North America, The Sears Tower which was bought by a British company and is supposed to be called the Willis Tower but nah, Sears Tower it is....we rode the elevator to the 103rd floor in a quick 60 seconds and admired the views all the way round. We stepped out onto the viewing platforms which are clear glass so you can look down and see the city far far far below your feet. Slightly freaky but we did it and lived to tell the story.

We wandered back to our hotel in the late afternoon since my hubs had a business dinner to attend. We were melting and tired from the heat so I was happy to shower and put on a fluffy hotel robe, order myself some room service and admire the view of Lake Michigan from our room on the 30th floor. Who else thinks room service is a beautiful thing?

I'm pretty sure if I lived in a high rise like that I'd be totally nosy of my neighbors. It's hard not to wonder about the people living in the apartments all around you. That's not just me is it?

Tuesday hubs had an all day meeting but that was okay because I had made plans to meet up with one of my best friends from my England days. Have you ever had a friend that from the minute you meet you just know, this person is a kindred spirit? That is my friend C.

She and I were only in the UK together for one year...she moved back to the Chicago area and we stayed on in England. We kept in touch though and we went with a group of friends on several trips after she moved but we had not seen each other in over three years. It was like no time had passed, like we had seen each other yesterday...we talked and laughed and talked some more. All day in fact. Oh, we also rode the hop on, hop off bus all around Chicago which is something else I'd recommend to vistors. It's a great way to get around, get your bearings, hear some of the city's history and learn a lot of fun trivia too like where Al Capone had his office and where Oprah lives. We drove by her apartment near the river which, as you might imagine, is none too shabby. I'm not really a fan but I do see why she loves Chicago.

C. drove us to the airport late in the day and I hated to say goodbye. Sigh. Two days is for sure not enough time in this city...I'd love to go back and take my girls (I haven't even mentioned the shopping). And it would be fun to see a baseball game and visit some of the museums and especially hit the stores on Michigan Ave . Next time. There will definitely be a next time. Plans may in fact already be in the works. Wink. Wink.


  1. A friend was talking about Chicago just yesterday. I've never really thought about going, but hearing everybody talk about it makes me rethink that! One of my sisters did the architecture tour at night and highly recommended it! There's just so much to see in this big world of ours!

  2. So pretty! Can you and I go and have a mother daughter shopping weekend? I am so glad you got to see your friend! She doesn't look like she's changed a bit. Love u

  3. Okay, you talked me into it ~ I'll go with the Hubs in October. :)

    I totally love Room Service ~ even as totally overpriced as it is!

  4. I was there once but it was a very very short trip. I'd like to visit again too.

  5. amazing. simply amazing. i've always wondered how the windy city compared to the big apple. ;) beautiful pix!

  6. in your 6th you see the black building closest to the water? Mubs and I stayed in one of the penthouses of that building while I was in Chicago for was awesome...there was even a jazz festival going on in Grant Park so we opened windows and listened as we fell asleep one night...GREAT memories!
    So glad you enjoyed your time there, too ;)

  7. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and I always loved going into the city. It's been many years since I've been there, and I'm so jealous! Glad you had such a great time.

    Btw, the Sears Tower will always be the Sears Tower. The Willis Tower just sounds silly.

  8. We had a great time in Chicago over 4th of July weekend celebrating my girl's birthday.... of course at American Girl! :) We didn't take the boat tour but we took the bus tour and it was so fun. I'm like you.... next time I need more shopping time! :) Have a super weekend....

  9. I'm jealous. Let's plan a roadtrip together. Actually, maybe we should get to know each other better first.

  10. I love going to Chicago. I don't get there often enough. It's such a fun town. Museums. Shopping. Food. Shopping. Navy Pier. Shopping. ahahaha. So glad you had a wonderful time. Have a great weekend. Blessings, SusanD

  11. I've always wanted to visit Chicago, too, Joyce, but haven't made it yet! *fingers crossed* I've been to NYC 4 times and would love to go back again and again. There is so much to see and do there! So enjoying your posts and pictures of Chicago! :-)

  12. Looks great. Just wanted to stop by and wish you a lovely Sunday too. Hope it's a relaxing one.

  13. I've seen that parking tower before. Crazy isn't it? I've always wanted to the architectural tour by boat but haven't yet. Glad you enjoyed your time in the Windy City.

  14. What a great post. It is so nice to hear about a city you love from someone else. Your pictures are wonderful. You have made everyone love Downtown Chicago. I remember taking the train to Chicago on St.Patrick's Day when they turn the river green in your second picture.(I was ditching HS that day) What we miss the most is the food. When you grow up with Chicgo pizza nothing else will ever compare!