Monday, June 13, 2011


cloudy skyline picture, but best bridge for a pic!

I spent the weekend in Chicago with one of my very dear friends, Connie.  We go way back, back to middle school in Orlando.  We were best friends through high school and while we don't see or talk to each other all the time, when we do we pick up right where we left off.

I was only able to fly up on Saturday morning and had to come back Sunday evening, but we were able to cram TONS of fun into just 2 short days.

Our first stop after we dropped off my stuff at the apartment was to walk around her neighborhood and take it all in.  Connie lives in Lincoln Park which is far more beautiful than I expected it to be.  Maybe because I only associate the name Lincoln Park with the band??  There were parks around every corner, beautiful tree-lined streets and fun restaurants and bars on every block.  Such a cute part of town.  AND the zoo is FREE.  What a great bonus for the people of Chicago.  It isn't a large zoo, but they have the big three - big cats, primates and reptiles.  It must have been nap time because every animal we saw was napping, but it was still amazing to me that something like that was just a few blocks from Connie's apartment - and it was FREE!

When I asked two people at the office what I had to do when I was in Chicago - each one said that I had to eat an Italian Beef.  So be it - off we were to eat an Italian Beef at Portillo's.

The much anticipated Italian Beef 

The rest of Saturday was spent walking around town checking out the fun boutiques in different neighborhoods.  One of Connie's favorite stores was having a huge sale and I got some great necklaces for $7 each.  One of them I've worn twice (once in Chicago the night I bought it and today at work) and I keep getting compliments.

Saturday night we went to dinner at a cute Italian place in Lincoln Park and then headed to The Southern, a fun bar not too far from her place.  All locals.  It was a pretty good mixture of an older and younger crowd.  I didn't feel out of place at all.  We met some pretty interesting people and had a bunch of laughs.

Sunday the weather was fabulous and thank goodness because we had an architectural boat tour down the Chicago River!  WHOOP WHOOP!  Totally a tourist thing to do and I'm so glad I did.  There are SO many amazing buildings in Chicago the tour was such a great way to see all of them and really take them in without being distracted by the things around you.  Come on - you're on a boat, nothing else to look at but the buildings.  Our tour guide was amazing - she knew the year, architect, style and little tid bits of knowledge about basically every building we passed on our 90 min voyage.  We toured with The Official Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise.  HIGHLY recommended to anyone visiting Chicago.  Book early!  Our tour was at 1:00 and the rest of the day was already full.  Connie knew to book early because she'd missed out on a tour once when her family was visiting.  Also fun to note - there is a full bar on the boat.  Bloody Mary's and a cruise through the city. Yes, please.

Trump Tower in Chicago from the river

Heading back downtown under one of the old drawbridges 

We grabbed a bite to eat, did a little bit more shopping and headed back to the apartment to relax a bit before I had to head to the airport.

It was a very quick trip, but I fit so much in that It feels like I was there much longer.  I can't wait to go back and see even more of the city.

Things I loved about the city:

  • FREE Zoo
  • Parks (green space) around every corner
  • The Chicago River and Lake Michigan right there!  Water makes any big city better... and why is Atlanta the only one with out a large body of water?
  • How clean the city is.  It's a huge city, with lots of people and so many different neighborhoods, and everyone of them that we visited were CLEAN.  Even the cabs felt cleaner than in ATL or NYC
  • Shopping
  • Two airports - again, why is Atlanta the only large city with just one?
  • I didn't see many homeless people at all.  In Atlanta I feel like there is at least one homeless person on every street corner and in some areas even more.  It just gets depressing.  I know Chicago has rough areas, but everywhere we went, and we went all over the place, it was very nice not to feel like a bad person by not giving someone money

I have so many pictures, but I've only added a few.  Hopefully Connie will move back to Chicago after her few years in Baltimore. 

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