Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fun Fun Fun in the Big City - Warning Long Post

I'm back and get ready to read because it was a jam packed weekend of fun!!! Now I'm back but busy with puppies and work so it's taken me a couple of days to get to the blog.

Chicago was wonderful!!! Suze and I haven't spent any quality time together in years so it was so fun to just be us girls being silly in the big city. I arrived Friday morning, via an unusually on-time United flight and headed straight to our hotel. My DH had let us use his Marriott points to score two free nights at the Marriott Magnificent Mile. What a sweety! It's a nice hotel...nothing to complain about. In fact, there's a brand new Starbucks in the lobby so lots to be thrilled about. Suze and I spent alot of time at the Bucks around Chicago...enjoying our lattes. The hotel is in an awesome location...right on Michigan Ave...a stone's throw from Nordstrom's and all of the other magnficent shopping. Wanna hear something funny? We didn't even go into any of those shops....nope, not even Nordstrom.

Friday was a whirlwind of a day. I checked us into our hotel (thank you Marriott for having a room at 10:30 in the morning) and headed down the street to get Suze. Once we were all unpacked, we headed out the door. Suze was on a mission for a camera so we scounted out the nearest Wolf's and headed there. Ooops...well, we got sidetracked by Old Navy where we picked up some cute jammies on sale then we had lunch so THEN we found her camera. Once that mission was accomplished, we were free to hang out and just have fun which we did. More window shopping on Friday then we stopped in for a quick nibble and glass of wine at one of our fave Chicago spots - Quartino - on the corner of Ontario & State Street. Awesome inexpensive Italian wine and pizza (Italian style, not Chicago style). Well, one glass of wine turned into a bottle and nibbles turned into a yummy pizza topped with fresh arugula that turned into yummy, yummy grapefruit martinis and a fun bartender named Eric so needless to say....we never made it past Quartino.

We were in bed early on Friday...both of us had early mornings and those comfy, fluffy pillows at the Marriott were calling our name.

Saturday morning was exactly what I was hoping for...luxuriously sleeping pups whining for food or attention. Heaven in Chicago...LOL. When we finally drug ourselves out of our room, we opted for a walk along the lake. It was a gorgeous day and I couldn't believe how many people were out walking, running, biking, rollerblading, swimming. It made me think for a nano-second that Chicago is a city could live in (at least until winter arrived!). We made our way leisurely back to the hotel...stopping to have a yummy cinnamon dolce latte for me at Bucks and a nice, icy 7-Up for Suze. Along the way, we stumbled upon the Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago. The church is a landmark Gothic Revival church and a welcome relief from the middle of the day heat and crowds on Michigan Avenue. We stopped for a moment of silence inside the church then made our way to the lovely courtyard and fountain. It's so nice to come upon a peaceful place in the middle of a city.

Quick showers and we were off again. We were on another mission. Both of us had done some research and come up with ONE, yes ONE, stamp store in Chicago that we wanted to visit. So it was our mission on Saturday to find it. We decided it was such a great day that we'd venture a walk down Rush Street and work our way up to North Clark to visit Stamp On In. We ventured through Chicago's Gold Coast area. In the late 1980s, the Gold Coast comprised the second most-affluent neighborhood in the United States, behind Manhattan's Upper East Side so it's not surprising that we were shopping for this:
or maybe one of these that comes with a cool price tag of $438,000!!!!

Along the way, there were the obligatory Bucks stops...a long peek into Anthropologie...a too yummy for words lunch at another of our faves: Le Colonial. This was our first trip to the Chicago restaurant but we had a yummy dinner at their New York location several years ago. So yummy that we have been talking about going back there for 4 years!!! We had a cute little table outside and ordered up some fabulous appetizers.
goi Cuon
Soft salad rolls of shrimp, rice vermicelli, lettuce, bean sprouts, & aromatic herbs in rice paper, with peanut plum dipping sauce

hao tom
Grilled shrimp wrapped around sugar cane, with angel-hair noodles, mint, cilantro, & lettuce, with peanut plum dipping sauce

ca song
Tuna tartare with tomato, cilantro, & cucumber,tossed in ginger soy dressing, served with wonton crisps

More wandering...through Lincoln Park...up to North Clark and finally...Stamp On In!!! Well, we were delighted to be there...what a cute little cute that we didn't take any pics. Well, we took some pics of samples but other than than, we were way too busy filling up our baskets with fun craft goodies. If you are a crafter and are in Chicago, definitely stop in to see Terry and Rick...the stamping guys!!! Not only do they have a great shop but they were so much fun to chat with!! Sadly, they closed at 5 and we had only arrived at 3:30 so we were unable to do leisurely was definitely craft speed shopping. We did have the time for creative genius Rick to give us a tutorial on Copic markers. Fun fun fun and now we actually know how to use them!!!! Whew...we piled in a bunch of fun in that 90 minutes. Ooops, totally forgot our earlier excursion into Blick Art Supplies where we had the craziest (not in a good way) salesperson trying to sell us Copics. She even went so far to give us a demonstration. Suze was all set to buy...until the was so weird that we couldn't wait to get out of there, much less purchase anything from the clearly mentally unstable salesperson. Did I mention that there was a mishap on Saturday and I came away with a black eye? Hmmm....
After our wonderful adventure at Stamp On In, we wandered down Wells Street, ending up in Old Town. What a glorious part of the city! We wandered in and out of small boutiques, bakeries, spice fun fun. But all that fun left us weary on a Saturday night. And although we had the best intentions to go down to the Navy Pier and watch the 10:15 fireworks, it didn't happen. Instead, we put on our new Old Navy jammies....had fun looking through all of our fun craft purchases, rented Sex and the City, ordered room service and went to bed at a reasonable hour. A perfect night if I say so myself.

You would think that all that relaxing in our hotel room would have us up at the crack of dawn...nope, we had another luxurious morning of sleeping in...had our showers and Bucks lattes then headed to the Navy Pier. Sunday we were more on a mission than any other day...probably because up until then we had pretty much just been wandering around Chicago. We hopped on a 10:30 a.m. Architectural boat ride, sat back, enjoyed the lake breeze and watched the skyline go by...what a nice way to start the morning.

We had another crystal blue day but it was starting to warm up just a little so it wasn't as comfortable as it had been earlier in the trip. Like the funny girls we can be, we decided to ride the carnival swings on Navy fun fun...but thankfully I had not eaten anything before riding them...from the Navy Pier, we took the water taxi up the river to the Sears Tower. And this , my friends, is as high as we got in the Sears Tower, once the tallest building in the world. There were too many people and we just did not feel like standing in a sea of humanity so we took our pic here at the entrance to the SkyDeck and went on our merry way.

We ended up at Bin 36 for lunch...a cozy wine bar/restaurant that was perfect. We were hungry and nibbles of cheese & olives (along with a flight of Sauvignon Blanc) were just what we needed!!!

I loved the presentation of the cheese on the tile square. Hmmm...something I could do at home with my leftover tile from the bathroom makeover???

We continued to wander around Chicago and it seemed like we couldn't turn the corner without running into these two beauties....formally known as Marina City and quite famous in many movies but also affectionately known as the corn cob buildings which cracked me up everytime we saw them because yes, they do look like giant corn cobs!!!

We couldn't end the weekend without a little culture and some much needed A/C so we headed over to the Art Institute. If you go, the museum closes at 5:00 but at 4:00, they drop the prices to instead of $12.00 per person, we only paid $6.00!!! And what a deal...we saw:
American Gothic by Grant Wood

The Thorne Miniatures - actual rooms that were recreated in dollhouse size...amazing!!! Can you see the Eiffel Tower out the window? It's faint but the details in these miniature rooms are stunning!!!

The very large Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat
and Suze's favorites, architectural elements from Chicago landmarks and buildings.

And last, but not least, ending our day at the Buckingham Fountain.
And our last evening, spent relaxing in our hotel room watching this:
Monday we both had early afternoon flights so we made a quick trip to The Paper Source for more stamping fun items and then to O'Hare to get home to our sweet hubbies.


Fifi Flowers said...

GREAT trip! Looks like FUN and YUMMY!
I would love to go back to Chicago... great city... last time there was 1995... hmmm... overdue!
Thanks for sharing!
Enjoy your weekend... Fifi

Anonymous said...

A perfect summary! Indeed, three perfect days. Honestly, I think we might have to do NY again - just to go back to Le Colonial again... Thanks Angie! Suze

Pam said...

I'm glad you had a good time in Chicago! Looks like you had great weather!
I remember that fountain. That's where our Charlotte Galloway group gathered for the Chicago marathon :-)

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