10 Days: Day 4 (Chicago)

I had a total 36-hour love affair with Chicago.  It started with our hotel, the Raffaello, where we got a great last-minute rate on hotels.com, especially considering how close it is to Michigan Avenue.  It was very European (fairly small lobby, very small elevators), but we had a beautiful room with a flat screen tv and DVD player.  My favorite part was the bathroom: it had one of those rain shower heads, where the water falls directly down on top of you; there was no tub, only a shower, and only half a glass door – part of the shower (the part away from the showerhead) was completely open to the rest of the bathroom; and it had a bowl sink, one of those that sits up on the counter.  Perfect.

Since we arrived close to 1 am, we slept in a bit on Monday before heading over to Michigan Avenue to see the sights and head down to Navy Pier.  It was a gorgeous day, and it wasn’t too long until we came across people engaged in what has to be one of the top-ten jobs I don’t want:

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Skyscraper window-washing.  NO. WAY.

We hung a left to head toward Navy Pier.  The first time and only time prior to this that I had been in Chicago was 10 years ago, when the amusement park I worked for was going to open a Bubba Gump’s in the park.  They sent me and my boss to the Bubba Gump’s in Navy Pier for training, since I would be managing the restaurant.  Here it is:

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Navy Pier is pretty touristy, but I wanted to ride the giant Ferris wheel, because I like being touristy, so we pressed on.  Before we got to the Ferris wheel, though, we passed several outfits offering boat tours and decided that would be a great way to see the city.  We opted for the SeaDog Architectural Tour that would take us down the Chicago River through the city and tell us about some of the buildings we’d see, and it included a “speedboat portion” out on Lake Michigan at the end.  It was totally worth it – we learned all about the big buildings, many of which are quite iconic, and our tour guide was very funny (and punny, too!).  There are too many pictures to share here, but you can check out my Chicago album on Flikr if you like.  Here’s a couple of my favorites:

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By the time we got back, it was lunchtime, so we set off in search of some authentic deep-dish pizza.  We eschewed Uno’s in favor of Gino’s East which I had seen on our drive in the night before, and after consulting the GPS on David’s BlackBerry, we made it there without any trouble.  It takes a looooong time to cook deep-dish, so we had an appetizer while we waited and I wrote “Melanie loves David” amidst all the (management-sanctioned) graffiti on the walls.  The pizza was DEFinitely worth the wait – it was SO good and really hit the spot.

We had hoped to hit Millennium Park, but lunch took longer than we thought, so we just took a short walk back to the hotel to rest a bit before the game.  David, who seems to know how to everywhere no matter where we are, led us to the El, where we hopped a train to Wrigley Field.  I was SO excited – it’s one of the stadiums I’ve really wanted to go to (when I was in Chicago before, the Cubs were out of town, so we saw the White Sox and what was then Comiskey Park).  I had to get the iconic shot, of course:

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Then we headed inside.  I really loved this stadium.  Everyone was so friendly, and although it was packed (Cubs fans are die-hard, you know), it didn’t feel busy – the lines for concessions and bathrooms were not long at all.  The only sad part was no Dippin’ Dots.  David and I get Dippin’ Dots at every baseball game we go to, and Wrigley was the first we’ve encountered that didn’t have them.  Oh well.

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(David is not betraying his Tigers – he buys a hat of the home team at every stadium he goes to.  He even has a Yankees cap.  Boo.)

Oh, if you don’t follow baseball, you might not know that a seat at Wrigley Field can be a tough get.  Some enterprising homeowners have made it a little easier:

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That’s rooftop seating on Waveland Avenue, which runs behind left field. Clever, huh?  There’s also a bunch behind right field.

Ok, maybe the best thing about Wrigley Field, for me, was the rediscovery of something I first saw (and haven’t seen since) at Comiskey Park 10 years ago:

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It’s onion grinder for your hot dog!  Fresh onion! Right there in Wrigley!  David thinks I’m silly, but I dig this so much!

Unfortunately, the Cubbies went down to the Astros, but a good time was definitely had by all.

We took the El back, but intentionally switched trains to ride a little longer and see what we could see before heading back to the hotel.  We pretty much collapsed into (the awesome, comfortable) bed when we got back, so that’s really all there is to tell for now!

Day 5 is heading back to Detroit and the Tigers game, and Day 6 has us crossing the border into Canada on our way to Buffalo, so check back later this week to continue our journey!

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