A couple weeks ago I hung out in Chicago with my friend Jewel for her 40th birthday. (And I'm sure she won't mind me saying that out loud, because she pretty much told everyone we met.) And once again, I fell in LOVE with Chicago! We stayed at the W Lakeshore and had a wonderful view of Lake Michegan, Ohio Street Beach, Lakeshore Drive and Navy Pier:
The room was nice, although the beds were uncomfortable (at least mine was; I woke each morning with my back in painful, nearly paralytic spasms), and while the bathroom was nice (LOVE the rainfall shower!), there was no fan, so we ran the water in the sink to cover the sounds of our, ahem, business, and there was a window into the room covered only by shutters which could be opened if desired. Personally I thought that was, well, a bit odd.
Our first day there, Jewel and I wandered along the Magnificent Mile, had an amazing spa experience at Bliss (I had the Youth As We Know It facial and Hair Dew treatment with a pedicure - so, so nice!), and dined at The Grande Lux Cafe (which, ironically, or convieniently whichever, is directly across the street from where we were dining the next evening!). The food was pretty good, but not, in my opinion, great. Except for the mini chili dog appetizers. Those? Were amazing!
The next day, we went to Milennium Park and saw the Cloudgate sculpture more popularly known as The Bean:
We snacked on chips with guacamole (delicious!) and two types of salsa (the traditional one was watered down and bland, the fruit one was okay) at the outdoor lounge/cafe (The Park Grill & Cafe), tolerated obnoxious tourists and watered down margaritas, did a bit of shopping along Michigan Ave. (or thereabouts), then took an Architechtural Tour of the city via riverboat. That was awesome! Our guide, Joan, was very knowlegable and interesting and had even written a book about the tour (which I totally bought because there was no way I was going to remember all the information she was providing about the various buildings/archetechs/etc.). We agreed that tour was one of the best parts of the trip.
The other best part was dinner at Lawrey's The Prime Rib. To say this restaurant is an experience is an understatment! The decor is beautiful - formal-ish with lovely dark, polished wood and Victorian-style prints and patterns - perfect for a fancy dining establishment! - the staff is friendly and courteous (and adorably dressed; the waitresses wear the original costumes!) and go by their surnames (our server was Miss Bowers). And of course, the food is fantastic! Jewel and I had prime rib, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and shared a lobster tail. For dessert, Jewel was presented with a lovely little birthday strata and serenaded with "Happy Birthday". It was one hundred percent perfect!
On our last day in Chicago, I was determined to visit Navy Pier - a goal I've had since first visiting Chicago two years ago - so I set out mid-morning to do just that. It was only a few blocks from the hotel, so I was able to walk (and find the way under the uber-busy Lakeshore Drive!). My first stop was at the Ohio Street Beach so I could dip my toes in Lake Michigan:
The water was cool, but no more so than at Pismo Beach in January. In between the Ohio Street Beach and Navy Pier was a nice park with biking/jogging paths, lovely mosaic benches, a dancing fountain and a frolicing children sculpture:
Another goal of mine was to ride the ginormous ferris wheel I could clearly see from our window. As I got closer, however, I became intimidated by the sheer size of it and may have (MAY have, mind you) had a small panic attack. I'm a little scared of hights.
I started talking myself out of riding it almost immediatly: I wouldn't bother waiting if the line was too long (we had to check out of the hotel and drive back to Ohio after all); I wouldn't waste too much money on it, etc. Well, when I got up there, the line was next to nothing, and it was only six bucks to ride, so pretty much all my excuses flew out the window and I hopped on.
It was pretty awesome, but kinda scary at the same time. It was really REALLY high! I just prayed it wouldn't break down or crash or something equally horrible. Of course nothing happened and I was back on solid ground in no time!
Jewel and I scheduled a late check out, so we could take our time packing and making sure we had all our things before leaving Chicago for the long drive back to Ohio. I was really excited to see the kitties, and Dash, Esme and Fester were pretty excited to see us, too! (Well, they were probably more excited to see Jewel than me, but still ...)
I spent a relaxing couple of days at Jewel's house in Ohio before coming home. It's always nice to be back, but it's still sad to have a vacation end. Coming back to reality can be a bit abrupt and depressing, but I can always go back and look at all the pictures and remember the good times!