Tag Archives: Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

We spent spring break week in Chicago looking at schools for my daughter and visiting family.  We also managed to do some other fun things and one of those was a visit to the Art Institute.

The Art Institute of Chicago is hands down one of my favorite museums on the planet.  It seems to have grown since the last time I was there in 1996.  There is absolutely no way to see the entire museum in one day.  Did I mention it’s immense?  Boy howdy.  We had only a few hours to see as much as we could before they closed, so we headed up the grand staircase and  we were greeted first with some Frank Lloyd Wright architectural remnants from torn down buildings.   There’s a nice Rodin sculpture just before you go in to see the Impressionists, the first of many rooms with impressionist paintings.  I think the Art Institute of Chicago may have the largest collection of impressionist art that I have seen.  There were full rooms of Monet and Renoir.  Heaven on earth for an impressionism fan.

We also visited the modern art wing and found more eye candy there.  Warhol and Picasso and Dali, oh my! And plenty of other interesting art that enriched me even more having seen them that day.  I was sad that we didn’t have time for the miniature rooms.  You just cannot see everything.  But we thoroughly enjoyed what we did see and I’m providing a snapshot in my gallery below for you to enjoy.  This museum is a must for art lovers. The collection is so vast and displays many types of art such that I think there is something for everyone here.  Click on any photo to start the gallery and enjoy!

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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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Chicago – my home town

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to my aunt’s 95th birthday party to be held in her condo complex in Chicago, where I sort of came from.  Both of my parents and both of my siblings were all born in Chicago.  I happen to be the only one in my family who was not born in Chicago.  By the time my sister came along my parents needed a bigger home.  They decided on a new development in Carpentersville, west of Chicago, and that’s where I spent my first 9 years.

My father had three sisters, two of them and most of their extended families still live in the Chicago area.  I have been back many times and always have a great time there.  This time was no different and was filled with non-stop, mostly fun, activities.  We had the hiccup that was my bag getting lost.  It decided it wanted to see Detroit instead of Chicago but was returned to Chicago the following morning.  And since I flew a budget airline, you guessed it, I had to go get my bag.  No matter, we kept our spirits up for the most part even though it cut into our sight seeing time.  But, what do you do?  Get crabby and ruin everyone’s time? I think not! I was pretty disappointed since this was my first time flying with this airlines but it all worked out in the end.  I got my bag, was able to finally change my clothes and we headed downtown for our one day of sightseeing.  On the way we all decided we wanted to go up Willis Tower.  It was a gorgeous day so would be perfect for viewing from the 103rd floor.

But first, lunch:

Outside Willis Tower:

that's a long way up

that’s a long way up

As one might imagine, there was quite the line to ascend an elevator to the top of Willis Tower on a beautiful summer Saturday afternoon.  Here’s a “time lapse” set of photos of the wait that spanned just over an hour.  And yes, it was worth it.

There are things to keep you busy while you wait, several monitors with quizzes and factoids along the walls like this one:

Finally, we got to the top!  Rather, the 103rd floor.

My sister and I decided to sit out the skydeck.  A newer addition to the building, there are four glass boxes that jut off of the building where you can look down to see the street below.  This is a photo my daughter took of my nephew’s and her feet looking down at the street:

And one more of the three brave ones in the skydeck:

We spent that evening with the family of my other aunt and had a wonderful time catching up with all of them.  The next day was my other aunt’s party and believe it or not, I took no photos?  I was too busy chatting I suppose but I did copy some that my brother-in-law took.  Here are a couple of the birthday girl:

It was a very nice party and I hope that when I’m 95 I will look as good as my aunt!

We had a little time to kill before being dropped off at the airport so we decided to take a ride down Lake Shore Drive and end up in Millennium Park.  But first my brother took us on a little tour of a few places from his childhood (before they moved to Carpentersville).   One of those was the apartment building that my grandparents and parents lived in when my parents were first married.  He pointed out our grandparents’ apartment which was easy to spot as it faced the street and then showed us the door that led up to where our parents lived.  I was amazed that he could remember where the apartment building was after so many years!  It was great to finally see that piece of history from long ago.

We decided there wasn’t enough time to park and walk through Millennium Park so we were content to just drive by.  I did get to see “the bean” just not up close and personal.  Perhaps next time.

I have just one more photo to share that I hope my blog friend sees.  I couldn’t help but think of Lady of the Cakes when I saw this shop in the airport:

It was a quick but fabulous weekend and I can’t wait to go back.  I love Chicago!  What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago?

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