Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's/President's/Family Day in Chicago!

Alison and I had a great weekend in Chicago. We had decided to go because it seemed like the best way to use the $100 United vouchers that we got when United lost our luggage for 3 or 4 days during our otherwise wonderful vacation to New Mexico last year. I had enough Aeroplan miles to get the hotel room for 2 nights, so it was a very inexpensive trip.

I had been to Chicago twice before. The first time was when I was returning home after graduate school in Berkeley. I had a drive-away car from San Francisco to Detroit (an arrangement where I move someone's car where they want it, and get where I'm going for the cost of the gas). I was driving along the I-80, listening to the radio, and landed on the first game of a Cubs doubleheader at Wrigley Field. I looked at the map and the clock and realized I could make it for the second game, so I pulled off the freeway, parked near Wrigley, saw the game, and then hit the road again afterwards. That was before they had lights at Wrigley field, and all the games had to be played in the daytime. That's all I saw of Chicago my first visit. My second visit was for the annual SIGGRAPH conference. I saw a few things near the conference center, and I think we went out for dinner one night on North Wells, but that's about it. So this third time was really the charm.

After landing at O'Hare (and being told that if we looked out the left-side windows we could see Air Force One), we bought 3-day transit passes, and took the train downtown. Do you still call it the "El" even when it's running underground like a subway? I loved how close the neighbouring buildings were to the passing trains, and how the old lines cut through the town, in some places blocking out the sun from the street below. Not beautiful, and noisy as hell, but it's cool.

We arrived at our hotel around lunchtime Saturday, and decided to start off with the classic Chicago food: deep-dish pizza. Our hotel steered us to a popular touristy place a short bus ride away: Gino's East. There was a huge lineup, but it was worth the wait (while we ate salad & breadsticks, which were probably a mistake) and the touristy atmopsphere. The pizza was great, and we ate the entire small thing, which stuffed us so much that we didn't really have dinner that night.

To atone for the gluttony of lunch, we walked around downtown Chicago for the rest of the afternoon. It's a beautiful city, combining nice buildings (old and new), great public spaces, and some cool art.

Saturday night we went to see a comedy show. We expected a lot, because it was a Second City show, called "HORSE!". Too bad it wasn't funny.

Sunday we had breakfast at a great place called Yolk right around the corner from our hotel. It was so good we went back Monday morning! We spent the next while at the Art Institute of Chicago. The highlight for me was the exhibit of Yousuf Karsh portraits; the Edvard Munch exhibit was also pretty good. The rest of the day was spent doing some shopping and checking out cool Chicago neighbourhoods.

After a siesta, we went for dinner at Adobo; we had a great meal, with delicious food & excellent service. Alison had a couple of excellent margaritas, the salsa verde was the best I've ever had, and my lomitos - pork tenderloin in a dark mole sauce - were wonderful. So I guess we disagree with most of the reviews in the link above!

We did a bit more shopping Monday morning on our way back to the airport. It was a short trip, but we had a blast, and left with a really great feeling about Chicago.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a test comment for you.

    Chicago sounds like fun! Too bad about "Horse" not living up to expectations. :-/