Day 2: Chicago – A Windy City Indeed

Saturday. I woke up three times, not because the bed was hard, but mostly because I don’t sleep well, ever? I mean sure, I am an infamous napper. Known for such feats as being an hour late to my own birthday party because of sweet sweet slumber. My favorite tale of heroic nap-dom however is passing out in a convertible with the top down, after wine tasting through Napa.

They call it “Nap-a” for a reason.

The first time I looked at my phone and it was 5:30am. This translates roughly into 3:30am PST. Right on the mark of where my shitty sleeping has been landing. I flip over and mentally force myself back to bed.

The second time I wake roughly at 6:30am to the rambunctious patter of children running around and laughter. Jen’s dad would later mention something to the effect of “I hope your friend isn’t annoyed by all the kids waking up so early.” In my head however I just thought it was genuinely nice as we didn’t have such family events like this in my childhood, before rolling over and going back to sleep again.

The third time it’s about 10am, and now I can hear Jen’s voice from behind the closed door. I tumble my lazy self out of bed onto the hardwood floor to do a quick push up to rouse the senses before popping out to the bathroom to get ready.

After everyone’s set we take the minivan to the train station. The stop that is closest to Jen’s parent’s house is the last stop on the Yellow Line – Skokie. On the way there we’re serenaded by Jen’s young cousin-nephew, who warms up with the alphabet song, and then makes the grand transition to a rousing rendition of Frozen’s “Let It Go”. Up until that point he had spoken mostly in Korean, but his Elsa was flawless. I come to the realization that Frozen is adored by all children, regardless of gender. Here I was being sexist thinking the story would only resonate with little girls, and adult women such as myself.

At the station Jen and Jason quickly figure out the pass situation and then we headed into the city. The train ride is about 30 mins to Chicago Downtown. When we come out from underground I notice that each station exit I’ve seen thus far is beautiful. They are mostly glass with golden art deco details. Jen mentions that the Great Chicago Fire was responsible for all the rebuilt beauty that resides today. Chicago is a lucky city indeed.

Public Transit in Chicago

Beautiful transit exits.

As we’re walking Jen plays an excellent tour guide, pointing out which streets in where Christopher Nolan’s epic sequel to the Batman reboot, “The Dark Knight” was filmed. Christian Bale will always and forever be my favorite actor ever to play Batman, second best for me would be Adam West. Seriously!

Chicago Board of Trade

Chicago Board of Trade, home of Wayne Enterprises in Batman Begins

We head to the beautiful Willis (Formerly known as Sears) Tower and the wait is 2 hours. Oh holiday weekends I hate you. Instead of waiting we decide to make a reservation and pre-order for lunch at Giordano’s. With some time to kill before our reservation would be ready, Jen takes us to look at The Rookery, a building originally designed by Burnham and Root, but the interior was redesigned by one of my favorite architects of all time: Frank Lloyd Wright.

Little did I know that he spent his youth designing for 20 years in Chicago. And it’s lovely.

We head back towards the restaurant with a little time to spare, and languish outside the park in front of Willis tower where I have the opportunity to take this shot.


Loved the reflection, symmetry, and asymmetry, not to mention the flag. Perfect setting for Memorial Day weekend.

For lunch Jen has ordered us two Chicago deep dish pizzas. She got one meat lovers and one vege. Annihilated the meat lovers and pick at the vegetarian one without finishing it. We are a carnivorous crew.

It's the meatsa! Imagine saying this with an Italian accent.

It’s the meatsa! Imagine saying this with an Italian accent.

The afternoon is spend walking by a plethora of famous Chicago attractions (pictures in the gallery below):

  • The Art Institute of Chicago – The kids took photos by the lions
  • Crown Fountain – Amazing rotating faces display
  • A very crowded Bean – We took customary selfies here.
  • Jay Pritzker Pavilion – Designed by Frank Gehry, I can recognize his work anywhere. Are all great architects named Frank?
  • Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain – Go on the hour, they have jets 150 feet in the air.

The kids are tired and the family heads back home with Jason shortly after Buckingham Fountain, leaving Jen and I to frolic more in the city. This is when we hit up the following places.

  • Field Museum – It closed early this day and they wouldn’t let us in because a wedding was going to take place. Damn you, I wanted to see my trex!
  • Eataly – Most delicious 24 month aged proscuitto I have ever had. I LOVE THIS PLACE. We took this to go and ate on the couches in the Bloomingdales across the street. I had wanted to go to Bloomies because they were in this ridiculous old church building, but once inside the interior was just like any other shop. Quelle disappointment.

For dinner after being completely brainwashed by Brian and Annie, we decided to go to Purple Pig and put our name down. The wait would be 2 hours long. Is this a trend Chicago? Will I need to wait 2 hours long for everything? Nevertheless, we weren’t hungry yet, so we decided to wander down to Navy Pier. It was pretty, but uneventful. On the way home from our journey I would realize that the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel is the one Tris and Four scale in Divergent during the game of capture the flag. I now pout realizing the photo angles similar to the movie that could have been.

For dinner we made the mistake of asking for a table that would be the fastest. This is how I really learned the truth of the nickname “The Windy City”. The table we were seated at was directly in the line of gusts between buildings. While we tried to enjoy our lovely meal which consisted of bone marrow, foie gras and tender pork it was difficult to with the chill. After drinks, we had to order hot tea to keep us warm. Overall our experience at Purple Pig was so so. It might have been better to go with a larger group so that we could order more and then be seated in the warmth of the indoors. Alas for next time we know better.

After dinner we were chilled and defeated, and decide it’s time to head home and catch the train. We need to switch trains once in our journey to get back to Jen’s parents place. During the switchover, we’re running to catch the connecting train as this couple in front of us block the path entirely and slowly meander to the exit. What? Are we at Costco or something? Jen and I shoot them a glare of disgust as they have successfully made us miss our connecting train. Which could be the last train of the night.

I pull out my phone and quickly use Google Maps. Breathe a sigh of relief to see that there is one last train after this one. Google Maps public transit times, I love you. Don’t ever change.

Jason picks us up from the station and on the way back he’s lamenting how it would be nice to have an attraction like the SkyDeck in the suburbs, instead of having to go to the city. I think it would be nice as well, but say instead the reality of what would happen, “But then we’d try to go there and the line would be super long because it’s the only thing to do in the burbs.” Jen adds, “And the line would be 8 hours long.”

As soon as we get home and my face hits the pillow I pass out.

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