Monday, January 18, 2016

Girls' weekend in Chicago

Way back in October, I spent a wonderful weekend in Chicago with my mom and two of my sisters. It was just a couple of days after I'd been told that I needed to take a week off running (but still didn't know it was a stress fracture), but while I didn't run I walked about 20 miles around Chicago! It ended up being pretty achy and I had to take elevators instead of stairs, but was such a blast!! 

I met my mom halfway to Chicago and drove in with her; we went to our awesome boutique hotel that was a block off the Mag Mile (and on the Chicago Marathon route, and yes I cried watching the marathoners when I couldn't run) and met up with Ruth, then we walked over to XOCO to meet Mary Beth, who works downtown. Dinner was amazing, especially the loaded guacamole.

We wandered around downtown a bit and oohed and aahed over Eataly, bought a few yummies and salivated over all the cheese, determined that we'd come back the next day for dinner, then stopped for a midnight snack at Shake Shack.

The next morning we got up bright and early. Ruth and I worked out, then we all ate some of our delicious Eataly purchases from the night before, and walked down to the MI Ave. bridge and bought tickets for the Chicago Architectural Foundation's river cruise. The docent was absolutely fabulous, incredibly informative, and I learned SO much! Unfortunately it was also freezing cold and rained off and on, but hey, that's Chicago, and we still enjoyed it anyway! But I was supremely excited every time we went under a bridge and the rain stopped momentarily. :-)

View of the skyline from the harbor--no matter how many times I see this, it never gets old. I was pretty bummed though that I didn't get to run along the river & the lake; this is the first time in years I've come to Chicago and not gotten in at least 10 miles on that route.

After the river cruise, we headed to Gage for lunch (sooo yummy and loved the atmosphere!) and then spent the evening at the Art Institute. I can't find all of the photos we took imitating various works of art, which is a real shame because some of them were super inventive and made good use of props. Loved revisiting the Impressionist collection and some of my very very favorite pieces, including my beloved Sunday on La Grande Jatte--and my mom bought me a magnetized mini-version of the painting so now I get to enjoy it on my 'fridge every day!! We spent a long time in the Thorne Miniatures, wandered through the Renaissance galleries (my second-favorites), made sure to stop by the Chagall windows, and did some quick blitz-style whirls through the statuary and Asian galleries. Love love love the Art Institute!

We hit Eataly for dinner and had some delicious pasta and pizza, plus some gelato and Nutella bar yumminess. I remember being tired enough and my leg was aching sufficiently that I just sat down on the floor for the hour that we waited for a table. Then we went back to our hotel and changed into our comfy robes and ate Garrett's popcorn and more Eataly treats.

The next morning after Ruth & I did our workout we walked to Yolk and had the most delicious, obscenely large breakfast you can possibly imagine.

Then we rolled out and walked for a loong time to sort of get our stomachs back into some semblance of decency.

We ended up on Navy Pier, where we rented a surrey and had literally the BEST TIME EVER. I was laughing so hard that my stomach muscles were throbbing! I seriously don't think I went 90 seconds without laughing like a maniac. If you've ever spent much time in Chicago, you may be familiar with how there's a pretty steep ramp from the pier down to the north side of the Lakefront Trail, and then the trail itself is super super cambered for a couple of miles until you get down to North Beach? Imagine driving a surrey (since I somehow got appointed as driver) down that ramp when half of it is closed for construction and cyclists are supposed to walk their bikes, and then pedaling like crazy on that camber against the wind trying not to fall off (sometimes more successfully than others). Long story short it was so stinkin' fun and something that I will always remember with great fondness (especially when we would get really competitive and try to pedal like crazy to pass runners...let's just say that we were so not fast at all, despite my ever-so-motivational timing via my Garmin and yelling out our lap numbers). Despite my best efforts, no pedestrians were harmed, although it was pretty darn close a few times (we also went off-roading more than once). 

This is up away from the Lakefront Trail and was about the most beautiful path you can imagine. It reminded me of the eastern end of the Champs-Elysées, plus the addition of a beautiful azure Lake Michigan and the breathtaking Chicago skyline, which you can sort of see on the right of this picture in front of Ruth. 

At some point we rode on a trolley. It was fun. But not as wildly fun as the surreys. 


Also at some point we stopped by Mary Beth's office and while she did important lawyer things in the conference room, my mom & Ruth and I decorated her private office with Post-It drawings of all of the really important people in her life, like us. We also spelled out her initials on the wall with Post-Its. Turns out her boss liked the personality that we gave her office and told her to leave it up. Haha! I know we have photos somewhere of this awesomeness, but I don't have them myself. There are also good photos somewhere of Ruth watching the sunset from Mary Beth's office window, which overlooks the river and is a truly spectacular view. We also did some wandering and window-shopping on Michigan Ave. and made the obligatory stop at Wow Bao, where we also did the obligatory make-a-mess-on-the-stairs thing, but this time it was lemonade instead of chocolate bao. It's important to have traditions like that. 

After our Navy Pier fun, we went to Lincoln Park and wandered through the zoo. There was a fall festival going on so we bought elephant ears and popcorn and enjoyed ourselves hugely, and then were very tired and almost fell asleep on this bench before we got up to walk to this really awesome little Lebanese place in Mary Beth's neighborhood. Sidenote: I am SO jealous of her gorgeous neighborhood, since she lives in Lincoln Park which is the neighborhood I have ALWAYS wanted to live in if I were ever to live in Chicago! All the homes are so beautiful and we did a lot of wandering around exclaiming over particularly gorgeous ones.

We also went to a Chinese reflexology place one of the nights--Ruth assures us she told us what to expect, but maybe we didn't listen? It was intense! Glad I didn't know my leg was broken or I would have probably been freaking out a little bit. I was next to my mom and I kept hearing these muffled noises from her as the lady walked on her back. Haha! And we totally maximized Uber and managed to get every single ride for free thanks to strategic new customer bonus credits carefully plotted so as to give everyone the maximum amount of credits. It was quite impressive, really.

The last day we went to church, had lunch at Range, where the food was SO good and I wanted to go back almost the instant that we left, and then we sat on a bench in the park eating macaroons and watching kids play before we had to say our sad goodbyes and sent Ruth off to the airport.

Man oh man, I am so lucky to have such an awesome family! I can't even tell you how grateful I am for my parents and my sisters being some of my very favorite people on this planet. We really missed Elise and Rosalind on this trip and I was SOOO glad that we had an everyone-together-New-Year's to look forward to (plus our amazing beach trip later this year!!). And of course, hugely hugely hugely grateful to my dear husband who held down the fort at home while I was off gallivanting. :-)

1 comment:

Meghan said...

It was the perfect weekend. Aside from the cold rain on the boat, the rest of the weekend was sunny and gorgeous. And I didn't realize how much of the food I didn't eat until I read your recap. All of those Eataly treats and elephant ears (makes up for not working out with you in the morning). What a lovely, lovely time we had.

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