Chicago, still an excellent town to visit

Hello! I’m back after a week in Chicago and ready to tell you all about it.  Wow.  I’m still in awe of this great, great city.  It’s hard to imagine, but I feel like I love it more and more with each visit.   Our week started off by hubby taking Amtrak from St. Paul to Chicago.  Amtrak warns you that trains might not run on time.  Oh, I guess this isn’t Spain huh? I’ve ridden trains all over Spain and they always leave on time.  His 8:00 a.m. train left about 9:45 but they made up time and his expected 4:00 arrival actually got in at 4:45.  Not so bad but he said lunch was pretty disappointing. But, he arrived safely and checked us into the Kinzie Hotel in the north loop of downtown.

My daughter and I took an evening flight so that she could go to her music rehearsals that day.  We would have loved to join the husband on the train, alas, it was not meant to be.  Our plane was only one third full!  I’ve never seen a more empty plane but this worked out great since we needed to put Miss M’s viola in the overhead bin.  It couldn’t have worked more perfectly!  Hubby met us at the airport and we took a taxi to our hotel. I didn’t want to deal with suitcases on the L and then walking with them late at night in downtown so this worked nicely.

Our first day was spent having lunch with family and then the fabulous Art Institute (a separate post on that coming soon!).  Two of John’s cousins live in the area and they met us at Hub51 near our hotel.  It was so fun to see everyone and catch up a little.  Then it was on to the Art Institute, about a 20 minute walk from our hotel just across the Chicago River. I consider this museum a must for any traveler to Chicago.  It is extremely vast and it seems like it got bigger since I was there in 1996. You are greeted by two lion statues and a grand staircase on your way into the main doors.  And then some more steps up into the museum. We spent about 3 hours there and didn’t see everything.  More on our visit in my post.  All I can say is: Wow. That place is awesome!!

On Monday we toured the University of Illinois at Chicago.  This was our first train ride and we got help from a nice guy who was selling something on that corner.  He directed us to the correct spot, we thanked him and we got on our way.  UIC is a nice school but it’s apparently out of the running now. Afterwards we went to the Museum of Science and Industry.  We didn’t have much time to spare since the museum closed at 4:00 and instead of spending time on public transportation we opted to take a taxi to the museum. It didn’t cost much more than public transportation and better to use the time at the museum. Note the photo of the pendulum. We waited several minutes to see it knock over two pegs.  Fun times :-)  We did many of the interactive exhibits and I especially enjoyed the film about how they installed the United Airlines Boeing 727 plane into the museum.   I was hoping to feel a bit nostalgic as I went there on field trips as a child. Alas, one cannot go home again.  Too much had changed and I barely recognized anything.   This is another huge museum where it is difficult to see everything.  We enjoyed what we saw and I’d love to go back again.  By the way, did you know it’s the only building remaining from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition’s “White City”?

On Tuesday we had a visit at Loyola in the morning and at DePaul in the afternoon.  Both are excellent schools and very impressive. Love the social justice theme.  Both are close to L stations and Miss M is an expert at public transportation.  She is favoring DePaul big time since they have the music program she is seeking.  We shall see what happens!

The rest of the week was spent in the western suburbs at my cousin’s house. My cousin told me of a train to take from downtown to the town she lives in.  It was about a 40 minute ride and my uncle picked us up. We spent that afternoon and evening with my aunt and uncle.  Hubby went home on Wednesday and this train ride was much more pleasant.  It left on time and he had a delicious dinner. I’m so glad at least one of those train trips was nice.

Our last college visit was on Friday so we hung out with family, went shopping and Miss M practiced a little.  We even polished up and sent in her essay for a music scholarship too!  We had two appointments at Wheaton College Friday, a tour in the morning and meeting with the music department in the afternoon.  I knew within 10 minutes of the tour in the morning that this was not the college for Miss M.  A bit too religious and you need a pastoral recommendation to apply and oh yes, chapel three times a week with assigned seats?  And they take attendance.  We could maybe get my old college friend who is a pastor (and who married us!) to do a recommendation but…..no, not the school for her.  So we cancelled the afternoon meeting.  Why spend time on our last afternoon in Chicago if you know you’re not going to apply? Instead we had a nice, leisurely lunch at Egg Harbor in downtown Wheaton (photos below) and had a relaxing afternoon.  We had shabbat dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house complete with matzoh ball soup, oh yum!! Miss M really wanted to go to synagogue with my aunt and uncle and we spent our last night in Chicago doing just that.  It was a nice service and a great way to end a wonderful week in one of my favorite cities.

We absolutely loved our location at the Kinzie Hotel.  It was centrally located and within walking distance of the Art Institute and shopping on State Street and two L stations.  We had great meals at Hub51, Mercadito, Lou Malnati’s and Yolk and you’ll find some of those photos below.  I didn’t take photos of all the food but I’ll guess you’ll be drooling when you see what we ate :)

The week went by too fast as it usually does when you’re having fun.  Chicago has something for everyone with its renowned museums and great food.  The people are so nice too.  From the bus driver who drove us to the bus stop after our visit to the Museum of Science and Industry to the older gentleman who sat next to me on the L to the excellent staff at Mercadito who comped us for the dessert because we went back a second night.  Yes, Chicago is still a great town to visit and I can’t wait to go back again!!

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Chicago, still an excellent town to visit

  1. Toby, thanks for sharing. It is a great place to visit. I love walking it as there is so much to see downtown. I had a business trip there and all my meetings were up and done Wacker, so I got a nice day to stroll and met an old friend at Lawry’s for dinner. I am glad you had a great time. Keith

  2. Pingback: The Art Institute of Chicago | travels with toby

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