Hold on to your pants folks, this is going to be a long one.
One of my long time friends invited me to visit her for a quick weekend in Chicago, and we finally made it happen! I love Chicago. I have so many fond memories of time spent with family and friends there, from when I was a little kid taking the train into downtown with my grandparents, seeing full frontal male nudity in a production of 1984 with my family, our foreign exchange student, and my aunt and uncle at Thanksgiving, drinking too much Rose at Whole Foods with my cousin, to running the coldest, wettest half marathon in my running history along Lake Michigan. I know I say this about every city I go to visit, but I could definitely live there some day.
I flew in late Friday morning and took the Blue Line to downtown and the Loop area. I walked around and did some touristy things while Rachel finished her work day. I started out by going to the Observation Deck in Willis (Sears) Tower. It was a rainy, gloomy day with some cloud coverage, but the city looked really beautiful from above. I had some really awkward photos taken of me on the part of the deck that sticks out, so that you can see right down to the street from 1,353 feet above.
From Willis Tower I headed down towards the lakefront to see the Bean (AKA Cloud Gate) and walk through Millennium Park. Fun fact: Anish Kapoor, the creator, also created the C-Curve that’s outside the Cleveland Museum of Art.
I kept walking through the park and down towards the lakefront, where I walked along the Lakefront pathway for a bit before turning back to heads back towards the Lyric to meet up with Rachel.
We took the bus back to her place, then grabbed dinner at Lady Gregory’s. From there we headed to Hamburger Mary’s for some drinks and a drag show with her boyfriend. It was a riot.
On Saturday we started the day with brunch at Big Jones diner where I ate the most delicious banana pancake and drank the biggest mug of coffee I’ve ever seen, before taking a walk through Andersonville up to Rosehill Cemetery, where my great grandfather is buried (and where our empty plot of land is located- long story). I thought the office was closed (oops, just trying to go into the wrong one), so I didn’t find his grave on this trip, but a few years back my uncle and I located it, which was neat. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the cemetery, it really reminded me of Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland with it’s old, fancy buildings and grave stones, along with the lakes and expansive paths. There were some glass encased ones that were eery- and I’ve never seen a cemetery encase them in glass.
On the walk back we headed down Hermitage Avenue, which is where my great grandmother and grandmother lived throughout her childhood. We found the house, and only slightly weirded out the people living in it now.
We grabbed a quick (and delicious) bite to eat at Taste of Lebanon. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a falafel and baba ganoush wrap that’s under $5 (and a free baclava because the guy pitied your struggle for actual cash). From there we headed downtown to the Lyric Opera House to see JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR!!! I introduced Rachel to this amazing production back in high school (more like subjected her to it and my terrible singing while driving around in my chevy cavalier), and it’s been apart of our friendship since. I really enjoyed it and thought they did a great job with the set, and I will be singing it in my head for months to come.
On Sunday Britt and Alex took the train into the city to hang out for the day. I grabbed a coffee from La Colombe Coffee Roasters (amazing) before hopping on the bus downtown. I loved the route from Andersonville to The Loop because it passed Wrigley Field (Go Cubs!) and the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was fun to see all of the different places in the different neighborhoods throughout the ride. I picked them up at the Ogilvie Transportation Center and from there our first stop was Stan’s Donuts. I feasted on a blueberry fritter, which melted in my mouth and was deliciously cinnamon-y. From there we walked to the Shedd Aquarium, where we ran around like little kiddos looking at all of the neat marine life. We even got to see a dolphin show, and we may have been more excited about it than all of the actual children. My favorite of the aquarium was probably the jellyfish though. They are so majestic and just so weird.
We refueled (aka ate way too much) with some Chicago deep dish pizza at Lou Malnatti’s Pizzeria before walking down towards Millenium Park, towards Navy Pier, and then back along the Riverwalk towards my bus stop home and their train station. Our feet were tired by the end of the day, but it was so wonderful to see them before their big move!
I headed back to O’Hare Monday morning after a much needed weekend with friends to replenish my cup. On the bus ride to the train I talked with a woman who worked as a flight attendant. She told me how she has gotten to travel the world and is meeting her twenty year old daughter in Italy tomorrow to spend a couple of weeks traveling around together. I’ve decided flight attendant is my plan B if nursing school doesn’t work out.
But truly, I feel so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends in my life and feel even more lucky that the connection remains even as we all go about our lives in different places.