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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 06:44 pm
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srossi

 

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Back from a few days in Chicago.  Great, great city, by far my favorite that I've visited.  Just blew Boston away.  If I had to move, that would be the city I'd pick out of the 10 or so I've visited in the past few years.  Reminded me a lot of NY but with the Chicago River flowing through it, creating a very unique experience that you usually don't find in a big city.  I knew about the Michigan Ave. Bridge but didn't realize that every street in that area has a bridge across the River.  Just awesome to walk down that way on beautiful night.  Loved the L too, simplistic but practical and the trains seemed to run really well and get you wherever you needed to be.  I figured it out in about 5 seconds and even the vending machines to get the CTA card is identical to the MetroCard machines we have. 

Day 1 we did sightseeing around the Loop (our hotel was on Randolph St.) and the Magnificent Mile and made it to Union Station and Grant Park.  We went to the top of both Sears and Hancock.  My favorite views of the skyline came from in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.  At night we went to Second City and saw "South Side of Heaven", with the first 2 acts being scripted sketches and the 3rd act being improv.  The scripted stuff was hilarious, the improv not so much. 

Day 2 we took the train (I think that was the Red Line) out to Lincoln Park and then over to Wrigley Field to see the Yanks lose to the Cubs 3-1.  Best atmosphere I've seen at a game in years.  Place was electric and there were almost as many Yankee fans there as Cubs fans.  There was a lot of taunting but all in fun.  After the game we had dinner at Harry Caray's and who walks in about 20 minutes into our meal but A-Rod himself.  He sat at a corner table with an older woman (mother?) and 2 kids (his?).  The wait staff said he comes in all the time but they didn't seem like very big fans.  They loved Giambi because he was a much better tipper.  I was tempted to approach him but didn't because no one likes being interrupted while they eat, especially when they're with family.  After dinner it was on to Buddy Guy's Legends for some blues and we saw Biscuit & the Mix and Kenny Neal.  Biscuit was awesome but Neal didn't go on until about 11:00 PM and by that point we were exhausted and wound up leaving after 3 songs.  The drinks were super-strong for a place like that and only about $7 for top shelf vodka.  Managed to be touristy yet authentic, upscale yet dive bar-like all at the same time.  Great place.

Day 3 was a South Side day.  We took the Green Line down to the Hyde Park area (the woman at the front desk actually told us not to because of gang activity!).  It certainly wasn't the best area in Chicago but it didn't feel dangerous.  We checked out the University of Chicago area and the remnants of the World's Fair and walked the Midway Plaisance.  Then we did the Robie House tour (Frank Lloyd Wright building) and took a taxi up to Navy Pier, where we had lunch and rode the ferris wheel.  I managed to squeeze in Millenium Park at dusk.  At night we went to a dueling piano bar called Howl at the Moon just outside the Loop.

Day 4 was spent entirely in Oak Park for the Frank Lloyd Wright tours (not my choice).  We took the Green Line again, this time in the other direction, and it's really a beautiful suburb that's still fairly close to downtown.  I could see myself living there if not for all the annoying tourists (like us) walking on the lawns because a Wright house is next door.  Then met a former co-worker who was on a business trip for a very late lunch before taking the Blue Line to O'Hare. 

For the first time ever, I actually want to go right back to a city that I just vacationed in.  What did I miss and what should I do next time?  I definitely need to do a Wrigley tour and I found about about a bus tour based on one of my favorite books "The Devil in the White City" about the World's Fair that I'd like to do, but didn't have enough time.  What else?

The only con was the ridiclous number of aggressive homeless people/street performers.  They chased you down the street and threw newspapers at you expecting payment for them.  In NY they either come through the subway panhandling or sit on the side of the street with their cups, but in Chicago they specifically target individuals and follow them until you tell them you're going to punch them in the face if they don't leave.  Everyone's got a story and it often takes them 10 minutes to get around to the point (which is to ask for the money).  Also apparently anyone can set up a drum kit or play guitar anywhere they want in the hopes of making spare change, there seem to be no enforced street performer guidelines whatsoever.  I don't know if the city was always like that or if the economy has just hit Chicago particulaly hard, but actually when I was in Montreal and to a lesser degree Boston it was similar, so maybe we're just much tougher on our beggers here in NY but they can't get away with that harrassment shit here. 

Anyway, not to end it on a sour note because the whole trip, the city, and the (non-begging) people were really fantastic.  I need to come up with an excuse to go back soon. 

Last edited on Tue Jun 21st, 2011 06:47 pm by srossi



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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 07:03 pm
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DaNkinator



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Yeah, awesome city.  You went at a better time than I did my first time there.  I went in mid Jan and it was COLD. 

I love the food, the skyline and everything about the city.  Still not my fav (that'd be the bay area in CA), but a close second.

Next time I go, it's going to be in the spring or fall.  What were the temps like?

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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 07:05 pm
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srossi

 

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DaNkinator wrote: Next time I go, it's going to be in the spring or fall.  What were the temps like?

Beautiful.  High '70s-low '80s every day, although it got a tad humid at times.  Thunderstorms in the forecast every day but we never got them.  Sitting under the overhang at Wrigley with the wind blowing, we were actually chilly.  The rest of the time was comfortable to slightly warm. 



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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 08:35 pm
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DaNkinator



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When I was there, I was at the library and saw a documentary on the big heat wave they had back in '95.

I'm from the south, so when I was there in the winter...it was pretty wild.  I'd never seen completely frozen over lakes, ponds, or rivers. 

We did the Hancock on our second night there, and then checked a map and decided that it wasn't that far to walk to our hotel.  We ended up walking a mile in -29 degrees and my buddy ended up with pneumonia.  We should've caught a cab along the way, but we were stubborn and sure we were close.


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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 09:33 pm
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mike3775



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You didnt hit up the Sears Tower(I refuse to call it the new name) and go out on the walk out thingy they have?

You need to do that

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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 10:09 pm
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srossi

 

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mike3775 wrote: You didnt hit up the Sears Tower(I refuse to call it the new name) and go out on the walk out thingy they have?

You need to do that

Yeah I did, one of the first things I did, and I got a pic of me hanging out over that thing.  I kept calling it Sears too even though many of the locals seem to have caved in and call it Willis.  Most people told me Hancock provides the better view though, but I thought it was a bout the same.

Last edited on Tue Jun 21st, 2011 10:18 pm by srossi



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 Posted: Tue Jun 21st, 2011 11:58 pm
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mike3775



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srossi wrote: mike3775 wrote: You didnt hit up the Sears Tower(I refuse to call it the new name) and go out on the walk out thingy they have?

You need to do that

Yeah I did, one of the first things I did, and I got a pic of me hanging out over that thing.  I kept calling it Sears too even though many of the locals seem to have caved in and call it Willis.  Most people told me Hancock provides the better view though, but I thought it was a bout the same.
yeah they caved like idiots, just like they caved with Comiskey Park  lol

That thing is awesome, I had a blast standing out in that thing when it first opened, all my kids but 2 and the wife were to scared to go out on it.  My oldest biological son and my 7 yr old son were the only ones to do it, the rest would have pissed their pants if forced out

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 Posted: Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 03:32 am
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HBF



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You got most of it out of the way.
Hancock-that's where Chris Farley died. I went to the bar at the top to get a drink and "observe".
Did the Sears years ago.
Wrigley is a must.
Buddy Guys-place rocks!

Go back when they have the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park or for a Bears game.



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 Posted: Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 01:06 pm
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DaNkinator



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Also, gotta hit up Goose Island Brewery.  Some of the best microbrew in the country!

I went because Machine Head were on tour with Metallica.  We saw them at the AllState Arena.  We took the train, that was a trip.  You really see all kinds of crazy fuckers on that thing.


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 Posted: Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 01:12 pm
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Count Grog
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ws there in 2004 and a guy who works in our Chicago office took me and my wife to all the blues clubs tourists and white people don't see.  All over town and the outskirts, saw great blues and drank gin and juice cheaply.  at the end of the night he took us to Blue Chicago to see where they send tourits and that placed sucked, expensive drinks and bands playing generic blues.



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 Posted: Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 06:37 pm
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tamalie
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I love Chicago and feel very lucky that the Twin Cities are close enough to be a reasonable drive or a quick flight away. My most recent voyage there was over Memorial Day weekend.

The Museum of Science and Industry is full of great stuff and you can easily kill an afternoon there. My favorite exhibit is a German submarine captured in tact during World War II. An interesting sub exhibit shows how they actually got the sub to Chicago and across Lake Shore Drive to the museum.

The Lincoln Park Zoo has free admittance, is close to the main tourist hotel areas, and offers a wide array of animals. It's superior to the Central Park Zoo in every respect.

This most recent trip we ate at Vermilion, a fusion restaurant that combined Indian and Latin food, and a Japanese place Ai. Both were good and with good atmosphere and Ai's service was exceptional.

There are some good bars if you venture out of the tourist areas into the neighborhoods, but my hardcore drinking days are largely over, so I'm not sure what's where at the moment.

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 Posted: Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 07:53 pm
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I'm fortunate enought to live in the greatest city.

Dankinator is right about Goose Island Brewery. The food is so so, but the beer and atmosphere is awesome.

Scrossi, Hyde Park in itself is a very nice expensive community. Unfortunately, it's surrounded by not so nice areas. The thugs have been known to enter Hyde Park because they know there's people with money hanging around.

I may have missed it, but did you have any pizza? Lou Malnatti's is without a doubt the best pizza ever. Also, if you're ever back in Chicago, and this goes for other tourists, and you have a taste for Burritos, La Pasadita is where it's at. I don't know who thought of this, but there's three of them on one block. It's on Division and Ashland.

I never took the Frank Lloyd Wright tour. The Pullman tour is very cool. Unfortunately, it's located a stone throw from Roseland, which is one of the worst neighborhoods in the country.

Last edited on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 07:58 pm by BlueThunder

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 Posted: Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 08:06 pm
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srossi

 

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No pizza.  Probably should've tried some but I don't think I'll like their deep dish style and I was always on the run and just grabbing food wherever I could anyway so meals weren't planned out very well.  Maybe next time.

Pullman city I heard about but it seemed really far away.  I watched the excellent PBS documentary on Chicago a month before I went though and became interested in Pullman, Palmer, Field, Sullivan, etc. so it would've been interesting.  I did go in Macy's just because it used to be Marshall Field's though.  Walked in and walked right out just to say I was in the store.  lol 

Last edited on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 08:10 pm by srossi



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 Posted: Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 08:43 pm
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DaNkinator



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Chicago style pizza is the best pizza ever. 

The crust is great, but it's the sauce that makes it amazing. 

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 Posted: Fri Jun 24th, 2011 04:07 am
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The Ultimate Sin
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Blues Fest in Grant Park is pretty sweet and relaxing. I went a few times. It is around Memorial Day IIRC. at least it was one year I went.

I love the Billygoat. It's a dive, but the original owner is the dude who cursed the Cubs. It's also the place from the SNL Skit, "Cheezeburga, Cheezeburga!!" I believe they have a few locations, so you have to go to the original which is below street level. It's a shitty dive, but it has character.

http://www.billygoattavern.com/home.html

You want the Michigan Ave. location.

Last edited on Fri Jun 24th, 2011 04:22 am by The Ultimate Sin



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 Posted: Fri Jun 24th, 2011 05:24 am
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Chicago Italian beef sandwiches are better than Philly cheesesteaks.

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