Our second day in Chicago was such a good day. We got up at the crack of dawn to go on a run, but really it was so I could see Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) without gobs of tourists. There ended up being a couple photographers with big cameras set up and some people showed up right before we moved on, but I got the picture I wanted! We ended up doing a 6 mile loop of the lake front area. It was fantastic.
We grabbed brunch at a place called Beatrix with some friends that live up in Chicago. I had the light and fluffy lemon pancakes and a couple blueberry-basil mimosas. It was so good. The lemon flavor in the pancakes was quite prominent, but I loved that. Tim had his normal eggs over easy with toast and other sides. After breakfast we all headed to The Dawson (right on the edge of the West Loop and West Town) for a couple more drinks before parting ways.
Since we started drinking at brunch, we decided on and to make an afternoon of it. Why not, right? We hopped on the train and went to Wicker Park since it was an area recommended by a couple of people. It’s more of a night spot, but we still had an okay time for the couple hours we were there. We stopped into High Noon Saloon for a beer before heading to Big Star for a margarita. If we hadn’t still been full from brunch, we probably would have ordered a couple tacos from Big Star. They looked delicious! Their patio was pretty great, but our margaritas from there were actually quite disappointing. Whomp whomp.
We headed back downtown and stopped in at The Purple Pig. It was like 3 o’clock in the afternoon and there was a wait for a table. We lucked out and found a spot at the bar. We ordered a kale caesar salad and the fried manchego cheese app, which came with an apricot sauce. It was such an unexpected and tasty combination. We also got cocktails because…well, because.
We had dinner at Quartino that night, just two blocks from our hotel. The bacon wrapped dates with gorgonzola and honey were so delicious, but the rest was only okay. It’s not that those other dishes were bad, but I’d probably order other items instead if we were ever to go back.
We ended our night with an architecture cruise down the Chicago River. It was pretty neat to learn about the buildings lining the river and the architect’s intentions when designing the buildings. At the end of the 90 minute tour, the boat stopped and we watched the fireworks being lit off the Navy Pier.
It’s only the second week of August, but it’s already turning out to be a fun month. Back in March or April Tim booked us a trip for my birthday, but didn’t tell me where we were going. All he said was that he booked us flights to somewhere in August and that I needed to take Friday off from work. Well, okay!
He knows I don’t like surprises and probably just wanted to see if I could go several months without being snoopy to see where we were headed. I had a strong feeling we were heading to Chicago, so I never felt the need to snoop. There’s only a limited number of places you can go for roughly 3 days without spending half of a day in an airport.
So we got up and flew out of St. Louis at 7:30 AM this past Friday morning and headed north. It’s such an easy flight between St. Louis and Chicago—only 47 minutes! Once we arrived, we each paid $20 for a 3-day unlimited transit pass (totally worth it). The train and bus systems were so easy to use and took us to all of the major places we wanted to go. Most hotels charge close to $50/night to park your car so it was nice not having to pay that. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, so we were able to hop on the Orange train line, eventually transfer to the Red line and get off at the Grand stop, which was directly outside our hotel. One thing I quickly learned was that I need to invest in carry-on luggage. All I have is my full sized suitcase, which was a pain to carry up and down flights of stairs while navigating the trains.
After dropping our bags off at the hotel and grabbing breakfast at Yolk, we headed up to Wrigleyville to bar hop and attend the Cubs vs Ray’s game. We stopped into Murphy’s Bleachers, The Cubby Bear and the Wrigleyville Goose Island Brewery location. Murphy’s reminded Tim and myself of the inside of Paddy O’s here in St. Louis and The Cubby Bear reminded us of Mike Shannon’s. Wrigley Field is actually a pretty neat stadium. It’s 100 years old, on the small side, only a couple advertisements in view and the scoreboard has to manually be updated. We sat low along the first base line and had a great view of the field.
We were finally able to check into the hotel after the Cubs game. I loved that our room had a great view of the Marina City towers. What I didn’t love was the amount of street noise that comes with staying in the downtown area. It kept me up both nights we stayed there. Anyway, we were pretty wiped by this point in the day (that means we’re getting old because it was like 8 PM), so we walked across the street to Rock Bottom Brewery for a beer and appetizer on their roof. Not the most adventurous place to go check out, but by the time we left there was a line to get onto the roof.
I was totally okay with going to bed early that night. I had gotten up before 5 AM and was getting up before 6 AM the next morning. My goal was to see Cloud Gate (The Bean) without the crowds!