This should really be called Touristy Tuesday: Ferris Bueller edition! Last week Eliot and I hit the hot dog highways and headed to Chicago, Illinois, where the Windy City greeted us with zero degree weather and good times.
Before I really got into tourist mode though, I set out to catch up with friends in the area.
The first night in town I headed over to Deerfield to have dinner with David. He was my first friend at Mizzou. In fact – we were friends even before we made it to campus in August. The summer after high school a few of us from the area met up downtown and bonded over bleeding black and gold for the next four years. Of course, we instantly became closer when I showed up at his dorm room door crying, looking for a friendly face after hell week … err sorority rush week. Four years later I showed up at his door again, but this time in a giant hot dog!
We went to this cool Korean place in the area, where David took on the role of Grill Master, cooking our dinner right at the table-top grill. Having taught in Korea last summer, where this style of dining is common, David was a pro at grilling everything – well, except the broccoli!
I also met up with Maggie, a girlfriend all the way back from middle and high school. (Speaking of the Chicagoland Mizzou Meet-up, she had also been there that summer.)
We did two things you have to do when you’re in Chicago: shop and eat pizza! Even though it was a chilly nine degrees, I still ended up buying three dresses that evening! (I guess I just can’t accept that I am back living in the Midwest!) We also had dinner at Lou Malnati’s. I’m not sure it beats Gino’s East for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza in my book, but it was close!
Friday night was a reunion of a different kind – a Hotdogger Reunion! Now if I had been up on my blogging you might recognize one character – Ron, who is a fellow Hotdogger and Mizzou Grad. He picked the Chicago Brauhause on Lincoln Square. Perfect for Hotdoggers because they serve beer in boots, and if there is one thing these people like in large sizes it seems to be hot dogs and alcohol.
Adam (Class XXII), Allison (Class XXI), and Taylor (Class XXIV) all joined as well. As Allison so eloquently put it, when Hotdoggers get together it becomes a shouting match of intoxicated Type-As one-upping each other with stories from the road. Let me tell you – that’s fun!
A three digit bar bill, two boots of beer, and one lost iPhone later, we called it a night.
After adventures in Germantown and even a stop in Boystown, I had to get a taste of the Chicago Jazz Scene as well. This is Chicago after all – you can’t skip a night of live jazz music for the itinerary! Saturday night proved to be a fancy night out at Andy’s Jazz Club, putting to use at least one of the dresses I so foolishly purchased with Maggie earlier in the week.
As much fun as I had with the Hotdoggers, this jazz place was much more my scene. The accordion from the Brauhaus had been swapped with a grand piano. Instead of schnitzel, I had an absolutely divine tuna steak. And the two boots of beer were exchanged with two bottles of wine.
Both nights were a total blast though and I couldn’t have had better company either evening.
The second half of the Chicago stint was where I went into tourist overdrive. I think I was just lacking the fanny pack. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a Ferris Bueller kind of weekend. If Baseball was in season and I could have gone to Wrigley Field, I would have hit all the hotspots. Sears Tower – Check! Deep dish pizza – Check! The Art Institute – Check! I even added a few that weren’t around back in the 80’s, including Millennium Park, the Bean, and The Second City.
Sunday started with a trip to the Skydeck at the top of the Wilils Tower. Yep, over the course of a 110 story elevator ride, I must have been brainwashed to refer to it by the Willis Tower instead of the Sears Tower. Maybe it was all those fun facts. Did you know there are 25,000 miles of electrical cable in the building? There are also 992 toilets and 16,100 windows, to be exact.
The Skydeck itself was pretty cool. After skydiving, I feel like an old pro at heights! You can fit about 10 people on the ledge at once. No one was amused when I tried to get us all to jump at the same time. I wonder why…
Unlike all those squares on the Skydeck who didn’t want to test the weight limits, I didn’t lose my appetite up there and instead was ready for some food. Just down the street was a Giordano’s. Just to be contrary, I didn’t order deep dish pizza (maybe once that week was enough for me) and instead went with a light and refreshing order of bruschetta. Turns out it was anything but light – it was massive!
Once the waiter brought it out and I recovered from gasping, I had to ask him just how many tomatoes went into it. There were six. Six whole tomatoes! In case you’re wondering, there are only four pieces of toast under all of that!
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Shedd Aquarium. For $9 you get into the aquarium, but they charge you an extra $20 if you want to see the sharks, dolphins, or whales – and let’s be honest, isn’t that the whole reason anyone goes to the aquarium? Frustrated by the bait and switch (pun intended) I decided to make the most of the $9 ticket, which proved to be well worth it!
I had goose bumps the whole time (for some reason fish, eels, and everything else in there just give me the willies) but it was a lot of fun! I decided that out of all the exhibits the animal that best represented me was probably the otter. Those guys are fun, cuddly, and just a little bit mischievous.
Having been a nerd most of the day it was time to do something a little more adult. Back in May I had gone to a performance at The Second City and had so much fun I wanted to go back. A lot of it is improv, so you’re bound to get something new every time. This was no exception – it was absolutely hilarious!
It might have been even funnier because of the wine tasting across the street at Dinotto’s right before the show! If I ever go back to a show at The Second City, I would definitely go back to Dinotto’s – their staff was just as charming as the restaurant itself.
On my last day in Chicago I had to do a few things that would make my mom happy: mainly see the Chicago Art Institute and the Bean. We had a spectacular time together when we went to the grand opening of Millennium Park in 2004, and she had previously taken me and my sister to the Art Institute when Toulouse-Lautrec was on exhibit.
I was a little reluctant to go back to the Chicago Art Institute because I’m not really artsy fartsy and I figured I had seen it all before. Was I wrong! The three hours there were not long enough. I mean, half an hour was probably devoted to the miniature rooms exhibit alone! (The Paperweight exhibit only took about five minutes to get through though.)
As much as I think I lack creative disposition, going back to the Art Institute, exploring the contemporary wing, and thinking about how much fun I had at the ICA in Boston, I’ve realized I might actually really enjoy these art museums! There is a Picasso exhibit coming to Chicago this month that I might go back to see when we come back in March.
After the museum, it was also necessary to get a few photo ops with Cloud Gate, the bean-shaped sculpture in Millennium Park.
And just like that, I was on the train back to the hotel. After a week of sightseeing, drinking, and playing tourist, it had come to an end in a uniquely Chicagoan way – surrounded by bums all trying to stay warm and out of the winter wind.