Hello! This is Matthew checking in from the bustling metropolis that is Chicago.
Welcome to Day Three.
Today has been full … of rain drops. Thankfully, we aren’t talking deluge-level rain — more of a constant light mist, occasionally tipping into a bit more. You know the medium-low setting on your stove? Kind of like that … but with water instead of fire. So, basically nothing like that at all.
The rain hasn’t hindered much, really. Our plans all still remained mostly intact. What did cause a bit of an issue was how much we decided to sleep.
Yes, we slept in. Something to the tune of 30 extra minutes. We hate sleeping in while on vacation, but for whatever reason, Sunday mornings are hard.
After our 30 minutes of tardiness, our first port of call was Sawada Coffee in the Fulton River District. About a 30-minute ride on the eastbound CTA Blue Line dropped us within walking distance of the coffee shop, so we were soon making our way along the surface streets to the next destination, coffee and breakfast in hand.
As touristy as this bit was, I was decently excited about it. We were headed to the 103rd floor of Willis Tower to experience the grandest views of Chicago from the SkyDeck!
The trek toward Willis Tower led us through the maze of steel, glass and concrete of the area dubbed “The Loop.” There were some amazing views that can’t really be captured properly with a measly camera phone.
Camera phone. I haven’t used that phrase in a while. I do remember when that was a novel thing to own, though.
I feel old.
Anyway, the trip to the top of Willis Tower only took 60 seconds. It was the security check, the queuing, and the meandering through the informative exhibits and gift shops that took up all of our time.
I will say I found the actual SkyDeck bit very frustrating. This had more to do with the poorly timed technical difficulties (when are they not?) than it did with the SkyDeck itself … but I could have dealt with the issues had we been given more than 60 seconds; $50 in admission ($25/person) and you only get 60 seconds in what boils down to a glass box.
I completely understand not letting people stay as long as they want — because we all know that one person that would just set up camp in there — but 60 seconds seems a bit crazy, especially when our GoPro decided to throw a fit at that precise moment.
It had been fine for two days before this, and a few moments earlier in the line, but it chose this particular 60 seconds to not cooperate. The attendant was nice enough to hop in at the last minute and snap a couple of shots with our iPhones, but the images would have been so much better if my original plan had worked.
This, of course, put me in a pretty foul mood. Now that I’ve had time to cool down a bit and my troubleshooting skills have reengaged, I’m beginning to suspect that it’s not the camera’s fault and we have faulty storage media. I’m hoping that is the case, anyway.
I’ll stop my rant now and let you see what photos we did get.
As you can see, there was a bit of fog beginning to roll into the area. It hung around all day, which gave the skyscrapers an eerie/mysterious appearance, with their top halves seemingly disappearing into a cloud layer. You’ll probably see evidence of this throughout the rest of today’s photos.
After SkyDeck, it was on to the Pilsen Food Truck Social!
The Pilsen community closes off a few streets and brings in around 20 food trucks from around the city. There is music coming from stages, arts and crafts being sold from tents, and tons of saliva-inducing smells wafting from the various food trucks. Valeri and I decided on a food truck simply named “Lucy’s”.
I don’t know who Lucy is, but the girl knows what’s up.
I ordered Lucy’s Signature Spicy Fried Chicken sandwich. The spicing was just about perfect, the breading was as crispy as it comes and the aioli-covered fries were perfection. If I did this whole trip again, I would order the exact same thing — probably twice.
Oh, yeah … and Valeri had a burger. Lame.
Next, we walked along the shores of the mighty Lake Michigan to see a fountain.
“A fountain?” I hear you say.
Yes reader, the King of Fountains … but first, a shot from the shore:
For your viewing pleasure, I now present Buckingham Fountain. Bask in its splendor.
Alright, I might have played it up a bit much there, but it is definitely grand enough to be placed outside the Palace after which it was named. I’m not sure how the water was actually flying, but it’s definitely the tallest fountain I’ve ever seen.
After Buckingham fountain, we wandered around The Loop before heading toward the restaurant we had selected for our supper: Giordano’s.
This place is renowned for its deep dish pizza, and for good reason. It was excellent. Personally, it doesn’t hold the top spot for pizza (that position is still held by a little pizza shop we ran into during another trip), but it’s still very close to the top. Valeri and I couldn’t agree on a pizza to share (If you know us, you’ll know our culinary preferences are very different), so we opted for two personal-sized pizzas — which were more than filling. So filling, in fact, that I had to abandon the last piece’s crust so I could keep enjoying the flavors and not explode from over indulgence.
On our way to the pizzeria earlier, we passed by our next stop: the Chicago Blues Festival in Millennium Park.
The park is home to a couple of really neat things — the coolest of which is Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean.” We’ll actually be headed back tomorrow and will get a few photos that Valeri will include in tomorrow’s post.
There were several stages scattered around the park, all playing host to a different blues band. Each drew a very different type of crowd — from big, loud and rowdy to small and fairly reserved. The one thing they all definitely had in common was an appreciation for great music.
Now we had to work off all of that calorie-infused pepperoni and cheese we ingested earlier, so before heading back to the Airbnb for the night, we strolled through some parts of Chicago that we had seen before and a few we hadn’t. Not much to report for this segment other than to say we found that Sundays in Chicago aren’t quite as busy as we expected, and quite a few more shops are closed than what we expected. There were times we struggled to find an open cafe to pop into. Even our last-resort cafe choices were shut for the day. We’re used to this in our little town of Jefferson City, but in a city the size of Chicago?
Coffee, food, walking, fountains, more food, music, more walking.
Yep, that pretty much sums up our day. I’ll leave you to the rest of yours and get some rest myself — tomorrow is a busy day.
Check back in tomorrow for tales of Day Four.
“I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail.”
– H. L. Mencken