Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thoughts on Chicago

No matter how much time you have available to explore Chicago, it’s never enough! We thought we had five days here, however we lost one to tropical storm Gustav dumping over 3 inches of rain here in a single day—we stayed on the boat to clean, read, and “piddle”. Fortunately, we were securely tied down in our marina, so the high winds didn’t affect us at all. Plus, Louis was sick with a 24 hour virus the next day, which kept him tethered to the boat for the duration—we’re both glad we were not “traveling” during that time.

We do have a few highlights of our stay here in Chicago:
**The architectural boat-tour that takes its passengers through downtown Chicago on a 90 minute tour is well worth doing. Although we will be going through the same route on our way south, we learned things that our many guidebooks couldn’t tell us.
**Navy Pier doesn’t have much to offer us—except the magnificent stained glass museum, with its’ huge collection of 1890’s-ish panels, doors, and archways that could have been lost during the 50’s and 60’s when stained glass fell out of favor. Many of the stained glass pieces were made by Tiffany, but the prettier pieces for me were not his. I have never seen a collection as large as this one, and would highly recommend it to anyone. It takes about 2 hours to go through completely. Supposedly, Wheel of Fortune was being filmed at Navy Pier this week. The Ferris Wheel is half as tall as it used to be, but on the day we were there it was not weather friendly enough to ride it.
* *Fogo De Chao is always a fabulous restaurant—and we’re constantly on the outlook for one in a large city (there are not that many in the states). What a treat for us and a “dining experience” for our friends—thank you—burp, Brother Jay, for introducing us to Fogo’s many years ago!
**Bike and Roll’s Segway tour is the best in Chicago! We started our tour in Millennium Park, and for the next 2 & ½ hours, we had a ball. The view of Chicago from the Aquarium has to be the most photographed angle there is—spectacular—wow. We saw 10 brides and their bridal parties while we were briefly there (Saturday @ 3:30pm)—all wanting to get that perfect shot/background for their albums! I imagine there’s a steady stream all day long of wedding parties—especially on Saturdays—it was fun looking at the beautiful dresses! We glided through the Museum Campus, the South Loop Lakefront, Michigan Avenue, Grant Park and we stopped mid-way to get a “famous” Chicago hot dog and cola. The second Mayor Dailey has definitely left his stamp on Chicago by elevating this city’s position from #28 to #2 in the country in beautification ranking—Seattle being #1. Every park is exquisitely decorated with huge planters, fountains, sculptures, statues, benches, and flowers—and every outdoor restaurant, by law, must now have flower boxes outside separating the diners from the walkers. So big city pretty and welcoming to us tourists!
**The play, The Jersey Boys, is simply fabulous. I would see it over and over. Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons was the first concert I ever saw as a young girl—and their music I have loved ever since. I have had the original Broadway production CD now for months—and love it, love it. Thinking of you, Jeannie!
**The bike/walk pathways are wonderful here. They connect all areas of downtown—we have “pounded the pavement” daily and nightly, feeling safe and secure at all times. The Chicago Marathon will be run in October with a limit of only 35,000 participants (why?)—I believe half of them were out training on these pathways Saturday morning as we were trying to get to the grocery. Bicyclists do not slow down on these paths—they fly!
**The DuSable Marina on Lakeshore Drive is a great spot for staying a few days in Chicago. Michigan Avenue used to be “the waterfront”, but after The Great Chicago Fire (where Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over a lantern) and where 17,000 businesses and houses were burned to the ground, all the rubble was pushed towards the water—extending “the land” two long blocks wide all along the lake—now Lakeshore Drive is waterfront. A mammoth removal like that could never be done in today’s times—otherwise Manhattan would now be larger than it was pre 9/11.
**Trump Towers will be the second tallest building in Chicago when complete—only behind the Sears Tower. The Trumpster wanted to build it higher, but they wouldn’t give him a license to do so!
**Oprah lives on a whole floor in Water Tower Place—home of the Ritz Carlton and fabulous shopping. Her opening show of the season was shot in Millennium Park with the Beijing USA Olympians—we could have gone (they were giving out tickets) along with 8,000 other people—but six of us had already purchased other tickets for a tour during the same time—all “unrefundable”, of course. I would have loved to see Oprah’s show, but Louis would have hated it!
**Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is OK—thick crust and a good 2 inches deep in cheese. We both prefer a thin crust pizza—good ole’ North Carolina style—one that you can roll up and eat with your fingers.
**Chicago must have the country’s largest fleet of stretch limos. We have never seen so many in so many different locations in one city—they’re everywhere, everyday—unbelievable. Also, especially on a Saturday afternoon and evening, this town is hopping—with food, music, boats, cabs, lights, and people. You can find anything you want here—and in any language—the town is so diversified. It’s wonderful to see and experience the energy—we’ve been happy with our time in The Windy City.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Hey Diane and Louis,

Kim and I loved the Chicago Segway tour, too - wasn't it fun?!? And on one trip, some girlfriends and I did Sunday Brunch at the Ritz Carlton (secretly hoping to run into Oprah) and we were so stuffed we didn't want to eat the rest of the day. My favorite thing in Millennium Park is the big 'cloud' sculpture, and we were sad that we didn't get to do the architectural tour last summer. Totally agree with you about Navy Pier. Sounds like you're still having fun. We got about 5 inches of rain here and no bad damage. Keep me posted on Paducah!