Saturday, September 8, 2007

My kind of town

Chicago got off to a bit of a rough start. I felt a little out of place in our fancy schmancy hotel that we got for a steal off one of those discount travel sites. The room was fantastic and I'll never complain about heated marble floors in a bathroom, gorgeous granite countertops, luxurious bed linens or a high-tech temperature system. But the concierge had a giant stick up her ass. A Sears Tower-sized stick.

After a day of traveling, missing lunch and only having a light breakfast, Jerry and I were famished. So rather than just aimlessly wandering the streets and hoping to find something appealing, we asked for a recommendation from the concierge on our way out.

"Well, I hope to do better than a recommendation," she said. "Lets make a reservation."


We told her we were in the mood for seafood and she whipped out a full-size leather-bound menu to a place called Devon. And even though we said repeatedly that we wanted something casual, the prices indicated anything but. In my opinion, any restaurant that offers side salads a la carte for $9.50 is not an appropriate place to wear shorts and flip flops.

Besides, even though it sounded delicious, we knew we would be splurging on Jerry's birthday dinner the next night. We just wanted a place we could talk openly and laugh freely without spending a fortune.

But Ms. Stick Up Her Ass was persistent. She made reservations. For two hours later. Then she drew us a rudimentary map and explained that we would take a left, then a right and start looking for the "street with no name." Seriously.

WHAT IN THE HELL KIND OF PROFESSIONAL DIRECTS TOURISTS TO A STREET WITHOUT A NAME? A woman who wears pearls and a silk neck scarf at the same time. That's who.

Well, we didn't find it. And we started getting snippy with each other. And the hunger and our disorientation and the fact that we were exhausted didn't help.

But, after mutually cursing Chicago to hell, we stumbled upon one of the deep dish pizza places the Windy City is known for. Perfect.

Sure, the wait time was an hour and 30 minutes, but after smelling the aroma permeating the air outside the building, we would've waited until dawn. And we almost did.

More than two hours and many rounds of drinks and trips to the bathroom later, we finally got seated. We had pre-ordered our pie, as recommended, and it really was fabulous. Granted, even the rotting carcass of week-old road kill would've tasted good at that point, but we still gave it our conjoined seal of approval. And, frankly, it re-established Chicago in our good graces.

The next morning we beelined past the thankfully empty concierge's station and opted to set off on our own. We found the Hancock building just a few blocks from our hotel and enjoyed gigantic Jamba Juice concoctions while sitting next to a fountain.

Our walk led us to the Navy Pier where we immediately hopped on a boat tour highlighting the city's architecture. One thing not many people know about me is that I am an avid fan of gawking at gorgeous buildings, particularly ornate works of the early 19th century. And because of that, the tour did not disappoint.

Next we grabbed a low-key seafood lunch and it appropriately felt like giving that stupid Devon place the middle finger. Then we just walked the pier, stopping to take a ride on the farris wheel and see the skyline. On the way back, we opted to go inside for the air conditioning and stumbled upon my favorite part: a stained glass exhibit including original Tiffany works. I was in heaven.

That night we celebrated Jer's birthday dinner and went with a few people's recommendation to go to Hugo's Frog & Seafood Bar where we found the largest portions of food on the planet. Jerry got his "big steak" and even a gigantic vat of creme brule with a candle in it after casually mentioning to our server that the one thing he wanted for turning 30 was a good cut of meat. Instead, he got a scary shouted rendition of "Happy Birthday," too.

The next day we window shopped and retreated to the hotel a few hours later after I thought I was going to give birth almost 10 weeks prematurely in a weird eighth-story food court. We had simply been in search of a bench and ended up riding escalator after escalator then chugging a bottle of water next to a Taco Bell. But at least it was air conditioned.

A three-hour power nap later, we rode the redline train to the Cubs/Dodgers game where we scrounged up a ballpark dinner and had awesome time rooting for the home team. It was a ton of fun even though they lost miserably.

On the way back, despite the fact that it was late and we had an early flight to catch, I had a little energy and suggested we walk through a nearby park area. And wouldn't you know we found Devon. Right there on a street without signs. The same street the subway let us out on.

Then we laughed our asses off.

It just seemed like a fitting end to our time there.

Our hotel room rocked. We had turndown service and tons of free chocolate.

Our fantastic Chicago deep-dish.

We learned all about the Sears Tower on our boat
tour, but didn't make our way over to look out the top.

And here is the bridge that the Dave Mathews Band dumped their poop
all over a tour boat below -- much like the one we were riding in. Mmm.

This was one of my favorite buildings. It's so big the
post office gave it its own ZIP code. Amazing.

Hanging out on the ferris wheel.

View of the Navy Pier from the top.

City skyline on Labor Day. The weather was perfect.

One of the Tiffany stained glass windows on exhibit.

I could've stared at some of them for hours.

Jerry with his "big steak" and equally large baked potato.

Our favorite spot for breakfast in front of the Hancock building.

A water sculpture there.

This is the guy that RUINED the picture I was SUPPOSED to get
of Jerry's name and happy birthday wishes on the scoreboard at
Wrigley Stadium at the bottom of the fifth inning. Ironically, his hat
says CME. Yeah, I saw you buddy. Because you STOOD UP
right as my husband's name flashed across the screen. Asshole.
(Special thanks to Chicago-native Matteo for making it possible.)

Devon. We finally found it. Three days after our reservations.

Just a really cool building.

I've always wanted to take a picture out of an airplane
window but never have. I'm glad I finally did.

Jerry reading a Sky Mall magazine on the plane. You
have no idea how dangerous this really is. He is the type
to see a crazy apparatus and say, "WE NEED THAT!"


julie said...

I love the stained glass. And that potato? It's bigger than Jerry's head!!!

Shalini said...

ohhhh that pizza looks soooo good... too bad i am about 12000 miles away!

Chicago looks like a great city.. but we were stupid and tried to drive in it when we went.. that was waaaaay crazy. We gotta go back and do it the right way.. mass transit!

Wendy said...

What a perfect babymoon! The stained glass window was amazing. I hope to someday have Tiffany inspired stained glass in a home.

Katie said...

Ohhh, I love Chicago.. Gibson's is amaaaazzinggg. I haven't been up in the Navy Pier ferris wheel for a few years.. The last time I went I sent in a complaint because the speakers were blaring commercials so you could barely enjoy the ride.. Were they still playing? I live like 35 minutes outside of the city, so it's a pretty regular place to go spend a Saturday.

Mia said...

That was the biggest baked potato I've ever seen!
And it sounds like you had a ton of fun! I love Chicago!
I'm kind of surprised that the Stained glass exhibit was still at Navy Pier- I was there back in March and went through there!

Janice said...

haha those pictures are amazing! That potato was ENORMOUS & you really look AMAZING in those photos <3

Sarah said...

Oh wow! Chicago is amazing! So is your hotel room. Now I really really want to go there some day.

Especially since I'm in love with potatos. Lmao.

Oh, and those Sky Mall magazines drive me crazy. When I went to Florida I got read one and I couldn't believe some of the wacky things in there, or some of the prices... o___O

Emilee said...

I've never been to Chicago, but it looks like so much fun! The steak & baked potato are HUGE! And the picture of the pier is pretty amazing. Seems like a great babymoon!

Chelsea said...

Gah, isn't obnoxious when you mention that its some one's birthday and next thing you know the whole staff is coming out clapping their hands and singing like there is no tomorrow!

Great pics! Too bad the Cubbies lost!

its_just_ang from Xanga said...

Holy moly! That is the biggest pizza I've ever seen. But it looks soooo good. Glad you guys had a good time!

Randall said...

Holy baked potato! Glad you all had a nice trip. Oh, and tell Jerry that the pepper grinder with the light on the bottom for those dark candle lit dinners is a must have!

Anonymous said...

I was in Chicago tonight for a Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society...anyway, Gino's? Best pizza on earth! There's just something about Chicago. Can't really explain it. I just love it. You and Jerry are the FUNNIEST people on earth.

Marina said...

Ferris wheels scare the crap outta me. I can do rollercoasters and other random crazy rides, but I actually freak out on ferris wheels. Keep them away. Other than that, sounds like a great trip. :)

Ray said...

Looks like you had a great time despite the stupid concierge woman who was OVER-ACCESORIZED! And it's just fitting for two people like you and Jerry, to find that restuarant at the end of your trip. Kind of like in the movies the way things happen like that. Funny, though.

Take, care.

Virginia said...

Can I just say that those pregnancy hormones are doing you well? Your skin looks flawless.
I had my first kiss at the top of a ferris wheel. They can be very romantic.

kristin said...

I want to go to Chicago now! What a great trip. Good idea on you pre baby honeymoom.

"I wanna pizza" plainsman said...

Kelly, not only do you have a way of painting pictures with your words, your photographs are worth thousands of them. Your compositions are interesting and balanced. Even what could have been an average snapshot, one of Jerry in an airplane seat, looks compelling in they way you shot it! Jerry looks great for a 30 "years old man," but it is no doubt due to the fact he is married to the one of the most amazing pregnant women around!

Steph said...

Aw, I got engaged at Navy Pier, its where my husband and I had our first date! Did you go to Geno's for pizza?
And psst-locals will yell if they hear you call Wrigley FIELD Wrigley stadium! :)