Chicago was amazing! Although we weren’t able to accomplish as much as I had hoped, we were able to see a lot . . . and we had a great time being able to do things at our own pace!
Our flight to Chicago was delayed, causing us to lose most of the day Thursday to travel. Once we arrived in town, we navigated the Blue Line and found our hotel pretty quickly. Unfortunately all of the new motion (plane, train . . . and probably the chili cheese nachos we ate prior to departure) did a number on Brandon’s stomach so we pretty much laid low for the rest of the night.
On Friday, we woke up bright-eyed and full of energy! We mapped out a route to get our trolley tour passes and our GO cards, and set off on foot for a 14 block trek. 40 or 50 blocks later (I lost track after all that walking), we finally found our destination. Needless to say we got more than a little lost . . . unfortunately that’s a theme that followed us throughout the trip.
We rode the trolley tour for about an hour before we arrived at The Art Institute of Chicago
. Their Impressionism and Post-Impressionism collection is amazing – we could have spent hours checking everything out! But, in an effort to be efficient, we selected our favorite sections and spent about 3 hours looking. The Institute has several pieces by Picasso and Van Gogh, my favorites on display were The Old Guitarist
(one of Picasso’s works from his Blue Period before he started the Cubist movement) and The Bedroom
(a colorful painting by Van Gogh that showed his bedroom). We also had an opportunity to see the classic American Gothic
by Grant Wood, and La Grande Jatte
by Georges Seurat. I couldn’t get over how large La Grande Jatte really was . . . until now, I had only seen in printed in textbooks.
Next we caught the bus and headed north to the Contemporary Arts Museum
. I can’t say that I was a huge fan of the exhibit Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll since 1967
. . . there was a lot of video and audio which isn’t really conducive of large, mostly empty spaces with hard wood floors. The echo was loud and after a few rooms, all of the sounds started blending into one big headache. There was some cool pieces, and an interesting piece of performance art (an entire room was dedicated to a guy and girl, dress in blue jeans and white t-shirts, making out on the floor).
We then headed back to our room, enjoyed an hour of cocktails and appetizers at the hotel’s happy hour, and then headed to the theater district to see Wicked the Musical
. The show was impressive – the set was very grand with lots of scenery and props, and the costumes were fun. The cast sang and danced for the majority of the 2 1/2-hour show – they had to be in great shape to pull that off!
Late that evening we met up with one of Brandon’s friends from high school, Suzanne DeBauge. We spent a couple of hours hitting two local bars that were far away from the tourist trap that is the Magnificent Mile (don’t get me wrong, the Magnificent Mile is cool; but if you’re on a budget, the shopping is less than ideal). It was a nice change in pace from the rest of the day!
With last night being such a late evening, we decided to sleep in little and got off to a late start. We caught lunch (technically breakfast for us) at the Rain Forest Cafe. I’m glad we decided to stop there because the table we sat at was next to an aquarium full of tropical fish, and that was the closest we came to seeing the any fish on our trip. The visit to the Shedd Aquarium just didn’t fit in our schedule very well this time.
After eating, we once again escaped the downtown/loop area and headed north to meet up with Ian and Lauren, long-time friends of several of our Topeka friends (Arron and Larry). We spent most of the afternoon hanging out at their place, exchanging stories about Topeka (they both lived here before they moved to Chicago) and about our mutual friends. Brandon and I both really enjoyed our time with Ian and Lauren – their hospitality made the trip very special, and we enjoyed the local insight to life in Chicago!
Ian pointed out several local art galleries that we visited on our way back downtown. We spent most of our time at the Judy A. Saslow Gallery
where we decided to purchase our token souvenir for the trip, a cool little 10" x 10" Monotype Collage by local artist Jordan Scott.
We had a tough time deciding between the collage and another huge acrylic piece from Italy. But in the end, the acrylic painting was going to be too big to hang in our house . . . and we always try to support local art.
That night we took a horse-drawn carriage ride around downtown and then visited The Hancock Observatory.
We went up to the 94th floor for a view of the city lights – it was pretty impressive to also be able to see lights from across Lake Michigan – 69 miles away!
Our trip back to Kansas was a breeze compared to our experience 3 days earlier . . . but it still took up the majority of the day! We got back just in time to unpack, watch a movie and then head to bed.