We drove into Chicago on a stormy day (November 11th, incase you are wondering). We stopped for a break at a rest area, which happened to be the Indiana Welcome Center. Even though we didn’t spend any time in the state, we decided to take a quick superwoman picture.
We stopped in Chicago because John had never been, and I wanted to visit my friend and former roommate Jordana. Jordana lives in a neighborhood north of downtown, where street parking was thankfully easy to find, though we did have a strange confrontation about parking with a local woman. We parked at the end of the block, where a fire hydrant was on the corner. Since we were unsure how far back from the hydrant we needed to be, we backed the van up as far as we could, parking inches from the car behind us. The car had plenty of room behind it to get out, and we allowed more space than the first time we parked the van in Brooklyn. After parking, we were in the van getting our things together, and a woman was standing outside staring at us. Really staring. After a few minutes, John went out and talked to her. She expressed concern about how close we parked to the car behind us, though did not answer when John asked if it was her car. He obliged and pulled forward a few feet, but she still wasn’t happy and kept motioning for us to come forward more. When she realized that we would not move any closer to the corner, she made a point of looking at our license plate before finally walking off. [ John here: Happily our van didn’t get keyed or ticketed the two nights we were there. The woman was just trying to scare us and be crazy. ]
Our first evening in Chicago we spent eating with Jordana at her apartment and catching up. Jordana recommended a few things for us to do the next day, in addition to John’s two top requests, which were to eat Chicago deep dish pizza and to visit a sculpture he described as a “shiny bean”.
The morning of our full day in Chicago we began with a cinnamon roll from Ann Sather, which Jordana said was the best cinnamon roll she had ever had that was not made by her grandmother. I am not a cinnamon roll aficionado, but that was high praise and we had to try them. We picked up the rolls and ate them on a bench at a small park on the lake.
After breakfast, we decided to ride bicycles to downtown, along the lake. After some deliberation, we decided to take the bike share bikes rather than our own, so we wouldn’t have to worry about our seats getting stolen (we have heavy duty locks for the bikes, but no locks for the seats), and so we could park and walk around and not have to return to the same place. We had a lovely ride down, stopping to enjoy the lake view several times along the way.
Cloud Gate (the actual name for the “shiny bean” sculpture) was our first stop. On our way through the plaza to the sculpture, we stopped in front of Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion for a superwoman opportunity.
Chicago style pizza is more like a hot sandwich than a pizza. The toppings are layered between two crusts, with the sauce over the top crust. It is unlike pizza as I am used to, but it is a tasty sandwich! 🙂
We spent the afternoon walking through downtown, taking care of some errands, before bicycling back north to meet Jordana for dinner at a delicious beer bar and restaurant, Hopleaf.
There was much more to see and do in Chicago, but we had to keep moving to stay ahead of winter, so we left the following morning. As usual, I arose from bed much earlier than John; I spent the morning at a café down the street recommended by Jordana. I really enjoyed it; it had been many years since I spent time in a café like Metropolis, where you can sit and drink coffee and read (or write blog posts) for hours because the music is good and there is enough space to spread out.