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Our Journey In: Chicago, Illinois

Before Tristan and I got engaged, I saw a great deal on Virgin America for roundtrip flights to Chicago.  It wasn’t on my list of top places to see in the States, but it’s definitely on the list.  I couldn’t resist a good deal, so when I brought it up to Tristan, he was all in!  Next thing you know, we’re booked, we’re engaged, and we’re on our last big trip before we become husband and wife.  Definitely a treat!

We were here for 4 days, so during our stay we bought the 3-day bus pass, and to get us to the main attractions in the city we discovered the CityPASS.  All worth it.  The bus pass was definitely great as it showed us how most people here get around, and it definitely was a nice little break from driving our own car.

 

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We were here in November, so the weather was a little chilly.  It snowed a tiny bit the night we arrived, but the other days were pretty easy to work with.  You just need to bundle up when you’re outside then remove your layers when you’re indoors since they tend to blast the heat.  I thought it was pretty fun to bundle up too since we pretty much never get the chance to do so in California.  I definitely expressed this same sentiment when we went to New York in March.
Anyhow, one of my good friends from college was living in Chicago to get her master’s degree.  We met up with her and went to one of the must-go places in Chicago — Gino’s East Pizzeria.  Hello, Chicago deep dish pizza!
Okay, I’ll admit, it was a lot for me to take in.  One slice is more than enough.  I normally don’t eat food quite this heavy, but it was good to try!  Cheesy, saucy, tasty goodness.
The next day we explored the city and really got to know Chicago.
One of the places that friends had suggested us to go to was Wow Bao, and we found it to be pretty good for a hip Asian-inspired (fusion?) joint.  We had a rice bowl and some of the baos for breakfast — oh and a little pun I had to play along with.
If my memory is still fully in tact, I think we had the pumpkin spice bao and some kind of custard bao.  I just remember they were tasty and that I wished they were bigger. We also wished we had a chance to go again for seconds, but there were just too many food options to visit!
Part of the CityPass included a visit to the Shedd Aquarium and The Field Museum.  The Shedd Aquarium is pretty amazing.  The way it’s set up is so different from any other aquarium I’ve seen, and it’s a lot bigger than you’d expect.  They also have a dolphin show that’s indoors, but I think they can start to do away with that.  Dolphins don’t need to be stuck in an indoor pool, but that might just be me.

 

 

The aquarium and the museum are pretty much right across the street from each other, but I have to say, the view in this area is amazing.  If you want to get a great shot with that Chicago skyline, this is the place to go.

During our break between the two places, we found a cart that served up those famous Chicago dogs.  How are we supposed to go to Chicago and not have a Chiciago dog?  We had to grab a bite.  It’s a hot dog with a bit of veggie kick with fresh tomatoes, pickles, chopped onions and a pepper as well as some mustard and relish.  I didn’t think it was half bad.

Anywho, the Field Museum was pretty nifty with, of course, the key highlight being Sue.  She’s one of the largest and most well-preserved T-Rexes.  Check her out smiling at the camera with the hubs.

Nearby the museum is also Soldier Field which we wandered around to for a bit.  Maybe one day we’ll actually go inside.  Maybe.

The next day, we found ourselves at Eleven City Diner for breakfast.  It took us a while to find a spot to eat, and I remember getting pretty restless.  Luckily, this spot didn’t disappoint with their french toast.  I cleared the plate!

 

After that we headed to The Adler Planetarium which reminded me a lot of our own Griffith Park Observatory.  Once we were done, we took a walk around the city to cross the river and also visit Millennium Park to check out the famous Bean.  We stopped at a few landmarks too where they shot scenes for Gotham City in the Dark Knight movies.  That was pretty cool.

 

We went up the John Hancock Observatory to see a full bird’s eye view of the city (I guess it’s now called 360 Chicago) which was pretty cool.  You wouldn’t know that it was a chilly day with a view like this.

And I’m just posting this picture because they had an awesome holiday train set in the lobby… and we spotted Batman swinging through the city.

With my friend actually living in the John Hancock Observatory, we had to call her up to hang out a bit more and enjoy another Chicago meal.  She suggested Franks ‘n’ Dawgs in Lincoln Park.  My thoughts?  Let’s just say it’s the number one place I recommend people to go to when they head to Chicago.  I didn’t get to go to a ton of places, but out of the ones that I did go to, this spot was definitely the most unique and memorable.  Pretty delicious hot dogs in my opinion.

That evening was a Pacquiao fight, and being the loyal Filipino that my husband is, we had to find a spot to catch the fight.  We found ourselves at Lucky Strike enjoying some drinks and appetizers with a pretty cool and diverse crowd.

On our final day, we had just a few things left on our to-do list.  I still remember trying to map it out and gauge if we really had time to fit it in, but we managed to get to the United Center to get a photo with the iconic Michael Jordan statue.  We really just had to and risked it.  I remember rushing to make sure we made the next bus out!

Heading back, we wanted to try out this famous fried chicken spot.  It wasn’t too bad.  All orders come with fries and a slice of bread.  I’m not sure why the slice of bread, but it was nice to add a fluffy touch to the meal.  One of the big things I remember about this part of the trip was noticing how spirited the city was when it came to sports.  I think the Chicago Bears were playing that day, and everywhere we looked, there were people in jerseys.  There were people in jerseys in every parking lot tailgating.  There were people in jerseys coming to the restaurant for a pre-game snack.  There were people in jerseys on the subway.  It was pretty cool.  You just don’t see that in L.A.
The final big stop?  Sky Deck.  You go to the 103rd floor of the building and stand on a ledge that’s pretty much a clear extension of the floor.  You basically have to stand in line if you want to stand on the deck and get a picture taken, but it moves pretty quickly since not many people can really handle standing there for too long.  If you watch the news, this deck recently cracked, but luckily it wasn’t the case with us!  It still made my heart race!

 

 

Okay, just kidding on the Sky Deck being our last stop.  While on the train on the way home, I had to had to had to make a stop at the Chicago theatre.  How could I not?  I think I’ve seen Chicago live at least 3 times and the movie at least 5 times.  I’m in the city.  Shouldn’t I see it? 🙂

From there, we grabbed our bags and took the train ride from the city back to the airport.  I wish L.A. had something as convenient as this.  It’s so nice to go straight from airport to the city and back with no worries about traffic.One day, I’d definitely love to go to Chicago again.  I think out of all of the cities we’ve visited in the U.S. it’s one that we enjoyed a lot more than we expected to.  The vibe of the city in the buildings and in its people were just welcoming.  Not to mention, I think our kids would really enjoy their aquarium and to meet Sue!
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