Monday, December 7, 2009

The Windy City

For my birthday this year, Mike surprised me with a ticket to meet him in Chicago after a conference he was attending.  He arranged for the kids to stay with my mom and all my flight and travel.  I got ridiculously sick on Monday night, Mike left for his conference on Wednesday.  I went to the doctor where the official diagnosis was that I had a "crappy virus".  That's what the doctor called it.  By Thursday night I was starting to come back to the land of the living and by Friday at noon when my flight took off, I was just incredibly stuffy.  I'm sure my flying companions appreciated that.

Anyway - Mike had arranged for a car to pick me up at the airport which was very fun and very easy.  Mike was actually in St. Charles which is about an hour outside the city.  We stayed at the Renaissance and I got to the hotel before he did.  I read a blog that said you should always ask for a free room upgrade - maybe you get it, maybe you don't - but just ask.  So I did.  The desk guy said he did have a room he could give us and I was soooo excited!  I got up to the 12th floor and it was a really nice room.  It had a little sitting area with a couch and chair, a nice little closet, a bay window area with a desk.  The only picture I took was of our view:

What you don't see is what was making this humming noise every two minutes: the El.  It ran right alongside the building and it was like a mini-thunderstorm rolling in on a fairly regular basis.  I don't know where our first room would have been, but I couldn't go downstairs and ask for our original room back because I'm the one who asked for this upgrade.  I thought it would drive me nuts.  Luckily it didn't run at night and we were gone most of the days.  Still...beware of what you wish for.

Anyway - Friday night Mike made reservations at Smith & Wollensky's which is one of his favorite restaurants in Chicago. It was delicious and we decided to walk it off by going the Christkrindlemarket area.  There we were able to look at the "official" Chicago Christmas tree:

As you walked closer, it was a little sparse.  Like a mix between a Charlie Brown tree and Rockefeller Center's tree.  We went back to this area on Saturday which was a German Christmas market.  It was crazy packed.  SO full of people that we really couldn't even get over to the sides to see the booths.  We were basically herded through a throng of people and when we got to the other side we decided we didn't want to try again.

We stopped for drinks.  I ordered a "S'more Martini".  Pretty good stuff.  I took a picture of that for Tracy.  It came with a tiny s'more garnish which was cute, but soggy.  S'mores are one of her favorite treats.  She already makes a delicious Chocolate Martini, so maybe this can be her next creation.  I will happily be the taste-guinea pig.

Saturday we decided to head to Michigan Avenue for the "Magnificent Mile" of shopping. 

Mike bought a hat because his head was frozen and that was our only purchase.  We did look in Cartier and Tiffany and Co.  Despite seeing about a dozen things I would love, we didn't make any purchases, but I made sure to point out anything for future gifts. 

We decided to warm up by heading inside the Hancock Building which has the "Signature Lounge" on the 96th floor; it's the highest that the public can go in this building.  Jake had informed me before leaving that if I saw the Sears Tower we should definitely go to the top of it.  We did see the Sears Tower, but we didn't go inside.  We hope a picture of it is good enough for Jake:

Next is the view looking down.  It's for my mom.  She'll never go to the 96th floor.  She hates heights.  She's also claustrophobic and the way they jammed everyone in an elevator was not something I recommend for her.

We did so much walking on Saturday that getting back to the hotel I put my feel up and noticed this:

Which is too bad because these were brand new socks. 

Saturday night we ate at Pizanno's and had Chicago deep dish pizza which was totally not what we expected, but tasty none-the-less.  Then we headed to see "The Jersey Boys".  It was a fantastic show and we recommend it highly.  Keep in mind though - not really a show for kids.  Or those faint of heart in the whole profanity arena.  The only downside was our seat location.  This show has basically two levels that it performs on and we were in the Mezzanine level so the floor above us blocked out most of the second level performances.  But the music was awesome and I now have "Oh What a Night" in my head.  It's been there since Saturday night.  If that just put it in your're welcome.

Sunday morning we decided to give Dunkin' Donuts a try since we've heard how great it was an how awesome the coffee was.  Eh...we weren't that impressed and will take our local "Donut Connection" any day of the week over Dunkin' Donuts (and I mean that literally.  Stop by any day of the week with donuts and we'll happily greet you at the door).

There was one place we never actually visited, though we walked by many times:

We were curious though because they served these:

An no, we are not so immature that we would giggle at this every time we walked by.

Sunday night it was back to our regular life.  But it was a fun weekend away!  Thanks, Mike!!!

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