Tuesday, August 13, 2013

24 hours in the Windy City

On the way back from Michigan a few weeks ago, my mom and I spent 24 hours in Chicago, one of my favorite cities.  We wanted to squeeze a lot into a little time, so we focused on enjoying the city instead of on shopping (hard for two girls to do).  My mom had been to Chicago last autumn and had discovered the best of the best for tourists there.  She had so many places she wanted to take me and things she wanted to do with me.  

The first day was cloudy and humid--just like the midwest days I so love--and we took a architecture boat tour down the river and out onto Lake Michigan.  It was really wonderful and I highly recommend it.  It's both relaxing and interesting and you get a fantastic view of the city from the river and from out on the lake.  I know absolutely nothing about architecture, so it was really interesting to learn about how much of it is deliberate.  I had no idea how much architects designed for both aesthetic and functional purposes.  Additionally, you get to move through Chicago's lock system and have a beer on the boat if you wish.  We did the 90 minute tour with Wendella Boat Rides and had the nicest tour guide, too!  So relaxing and fun.  

After the boat tour we did do a little shopping (a girl's got to visit the American Girl Store and get her Frango Mints, right?) and then went back to our hotel room to get changed for a late dinner. 

My mom took me to Hugo's Frog Bar on North Rush Street (which was happening on a Friday evening) and I loved it!  It was so charming and cozy inside and the food was delicious.  They also had the funniest, sweetest bathroom attendant.  My mom and I split a giant crab cake and then each had a small meal.  We had originally planned to get another drink or something after that, but in the end we were both exhausted and went back to our hotel room to crash! 
Day 2 was also the day that both my mom and I flew out of Chicago so it was a little different.  My mom left early and I was on my own to explore the city (my flight wasn't until late).  I walked for miles, from Navy Pier along the lakeshore to Lincoln Park and back through the cutest neighborhoods (I loved this one) in the city.  The atmosphere was amazing on this Saturday--it was sunny, warm and everyone was out swimming, sunbathing, jogging, biking or just lazing around on their yachts ;-).  I loved the vibe which was both beachy and refined, laid back and put together, fun but not crazy.

One thing that really impressed me about Chicago was the friendliness of the people there.  Everyone was so gosh darn nice!  They were way more helpful and open than Californians and made Germans look cold and rude.  I had a police officer offer to take a picture of me in the city because I was alone and had no one to do it for me (when he called me over to him, I was certain I was getting in trouble).  I had some guys offer to let me slackline with them.  And, I never once had to carry my own suitcase up and down the stairs on the subway to the airport.  Though the men were real gentlemen, even women helped me with my heavy bags.

All in all, I loved Chicago and would love to go back there and maybe move there someday!  The city is absolutely beautiful, it's close to my grandpa's house in Michigan, it's got water and nice people but also a very polished and professional feeling.  There's plenty to do, lots of great places to eat outdoors on summer weekends, midwestern weather (storms, snow) and beautiful old brick buildings to live in.  What more could one ask for?

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