So I went. Okay, so it was really to celebrate J's birthday, but I went to see you. It was a blind date and we only met briefly, but you've totally won me over..deeply. It was short, yet sweet and here I am back in California still tempted to return. Your amazing architectural icons took my breath away--little by little--I found myself completely captivated by your charm. From the grandiose John Hancock Tower that took me miles above the city to the gothic castles that made up the University of Chicago, I was beyond mesmerized. Your neighborhoods in Wicker Park, Andersonville and those nestled by Lincoln Park made me envision how happy I could be running through the city, wind whispering in my ear as I make my way along Lake Shore Drive, while crooning jubilantly towards Lake Michigan. Yes, I could really be happy with you, Chicago.
And until we meet again, here are my best memories of you.
Wicker Park/Bucktown: Big Star Mexican Food (no signs at all, just happy people dining al fresco)
**Walking along an up and coming Wicker Park, the first thing that caught my eye were the mustard yellow chairs in front of a remodeled gas station that serves up the freshest fish tostados, pork belly tacos and mini glasses of Schlitz beer to wash down the goodness. By far, the best meal of my trip--cheap, quick and so much fun!**
Making our way to Millenium Park. The entire park felt like I had just wandered on to the set of Alice in Wonderland. The neatly manicured hedges adorned with vibrant lavender-, rose- and tangerine-colored tulips made me want to set up tea time right smack in the middle of the park. Oh, if only, right? And then there was the "Bean" (or formally known as Cloud Gate). Now a Chicago landmark, this was the hub of touristy activity. Of course, yours truly just wanted to take a peek.
The Chicago Water Tower was the only building to withstand the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
And of course, dinner at Reza's Restaurant in the lovely neighborhood of Andersonville thanks to our native Chicago tour guide, Rose. We feasted on a huge family dinner that consisted of herb roasted feta cheese w/tomatoes and black olives, baba ghannoouj, grilled (moist and soo tender) chicken & beef skewers, dill rice and possibly the most buttery chunk of grilled Chilean sea bass I've ever tasted. I was filled to the brim after this extravaganza and if I recall, I think I may have had to unbutton a few buttons to make room for my extra belly. The portions were ginormous, but our waitress could have benefited from a bit more practice. After dinner, Rose gave us a personal whirlwind tour of much of Chicago and I can honestly say the womyn knows her city (and her food)!
And then of course, capping off our weekend with our hostess through the outskirts of Hyde Park and the University of Chicago campus. If there's any campus on your list of places to visit, U of Chicago has got to be one of them. Taking a cue from our bus driver into Cottage Grove, we took the scenic path on foot towards the University and had an amazing time. The gothic structural castle-like wonders teeming with ivy are drool-worthy for anyone who appreciates a dose of beauty (and may even cause you to imagine that you're among royalty or even gargoyles for that matter) and the lush green sycamore trees that line the entire block will simply knock your socks off.