Monday, July 6, 2015

5 Days in Chicago



For whatever reason, Chicago is one of the cities I always knew that I would like, and had been looking for a reason to visit for a few years.  I heard about the Out of Chicago photography conference on a favorite photo blog, and decided it was as good an excuse as any.  I ended up spending 5 days in the city, 2 of which were spent in different photography classes. The rest of my trip, here's what I got up to -


FOOD

The Purple Pig - The number one rated restaurant in my area, according to Yelp, The Purple Pig was high on my to-do list.  I ended up going at 9 on a Saturday night, and lucked out with bar seating, rather than waiting 2+ hours...  The wine list made my head spin, but the lovely bartender saw my look of terror, asked me a few questions and recommended a (delicious) glass of Spanish red.  It's a tapas place with mostly meat options, but I was grateful to eliminate those - it would have been impossible to choose.  I ended up with bobota (greek cornbread with feta and honey), smashed potatoes with a tzatziki sauce and salt cured greek yogurt.  Everything was divine.  A definite must-do.  It's a little expensive (small plates between 8 and 14 dollars, entrees around 25), but so worth it.

Glazed and Infused - Apparently, artisanal donuts are the new cupcakes. Who knew?  Though not a big donut eater, I figured I'd take the plunge once.  If I had the time, I would have gone to Doughnut Vault, which is apparently the best, but involves long waits in line on Saturday mornings.  Instead, I opted for a fried ice cream donut from Glazed and Infused. It was pretty spectacular, as far as donuts go and the coffee was delicious.  While I don't think I'll be adding donuts to the regular menu, it was a pretty great treat.

Native - As the least crunchy of vegetarians, I rarely gravitate towards vegan restaurants, but this place had some pretty spectacular reviews on my beloved yelp, so I figured it was worth a go.  While it would never fool a meat-eater, the "bacon cheeseburger" I had was delicious, and the lavender blueberry lemonade was even better.  Honestly, I would go back just for the drink options.

Giordano's - A no-brainer on the Chicago-style pizza front.  I went for dinner on a Friday night and had to wait for about 45 minutes.  They have you order while you wait, because the pizzas take so long, and once I was seated, dinner came quickly.  The pizza is unbelievably delicious. It's also about 4 days worth of calories in a personal size and I ended up taking half of it to go.  Time did all sorts of wonders for the slices, they were even better cold.  An absolute must do.


ATTRACTIONS

Millenium Park - Try and avoid this when you go to Chicago - it's impossible. The park is sprawling, beautiful and even better after dark.  A picture under the Bean is required, but there are tons of other cool things going on.  Playgrounds a plenty, easy access public restrooms and I got lucky and caught one of the free concerts they put on in the amphitheater.  If you're looking for a place to see the sunset, head out to the Adler Planetarium - gorgeous, full views of the skyline and a vair convenient bus the will drop you back off in the city.

Lincoln Park Zoo - I'm a zoo lover, so I figured a trip to a free, gorgeous park was a must.  The day I went was pretty overcast and drizzly, which ended up being great.  Other than having to battle several hundred school children for the best views of the gorillas, I had the park to myself. The monkeys were my favorite part - I grabbed a seat right up against one of the windows and was able to spend 30+ minutes communing with the gorillas.


Pride - Very happily, SCOTUS made the marriage equality decision a few days before I was able to attend Chicago Pride.  It was my first Pride parade, made all the more exciting by the great news.  I had a blast watching the parade, taking a ton of pictures and watching the two police men in front of me trying to avoid frequent attempts to put beads on them or make out with them.  Great fun was had by all.

Architecture - I didn't end up doing the official architecture tour, but wish I had. Chicago is so diverse in terms of building styles, and while I love walking around and observing it all, I wish I had learned more. One of the classes I did with my conference was a photowalk focusing on urban landscapes, which I loved and was thrilled to see more of the skyline.


STAY

Freehand Chicago - Dudes, this is the coolest hostel/hotel ever. Seriously - it's immaculate, the rooms have private bathrooms and there's a deeply cool bar on the first floor.  Plus, free breakfast and some of the best coffee I've had.  An absolute, all around win.

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