May 9, 2012

The Windy City

Alternate title: Hey Everybody, Look at My Chicago Vacation Pictures!

I'm in love with Chicago. I want to move there. I've already picked out an apartment on Michigan Ave. A block from H&M. Truly, Chicago is the most wonderful place on earth (not during winter) and I loved every second that I spent there on vacation.

After our stay in St. Louis, where we learned the secrets of Budweiser, Trea and I headed north to the windy city. We stayed at the Rafaello Hotel, which is like a little slice of heaven for travelers on a mid-sized budget. I'm sure the Four Seasons is lovely, but this place suited us just fine.

Rafaello Hotel

The Rafaello is on Delaware, just a block off Michigan Ave. -- right next door to the Hancock building. We had a suite with plenty of space, and it was like having our own little apartment in the city.

It was immaculate, just our style, surprisingly quiet and in the perfect location. I cannot say enough nice things about the Rafaello. We hung out there quite a bit because we simply enjoyed being there and people watching.

Seeing the Sights
Or is it sites? Anywho... we spent a lot of time strolling down Michigan Ave. It's absolutely beautiful, and while we were there, every green inch of the city was covered in tulips. And tulips, even more than gerber daisies, just make my heart happy.

Our first stop was the Hancock building. It did not disappoint. We did not wait in line for anything, and there was no crowd at the top. It was breathtaking.

I've never been to Chicago before, so I was 100% country mouse in the big city. Sure, I've visited other large cities, but none so beautiful or so friendly as this place. Everything made me gasp with delight and my cheeks hurt from smiling. Lake Michigan is like having a little piece of the ocean right in the Midwest!

And the Hancock building has a nice little spot where you can get a cocktail or a cup of coffee while you take in the view. We were there just before sunset, so we got to see the city in the daylight and slowly watch things start to sparkle. Our little table right by the window was lovely! 

The next day, we went to Lincoln Park Zoo, which was tons of fun and offered even more beautiful views of the skyline. Then we rode the 'L' -- like real city folk! -- and went Millennium Park to check out the bean.

Waiting for the brown line.

We spent several hours at the Art Institute where I fell in love with Monet. I never knew I cared! But truly, the Monet collection is unreal and I have a whole new appreciation for art now. After we got home, we even watched Midnight in Paris for a second time to see if we recognized any more artists than we did the first time around! (We are so sophisticated!)

Rolling on the River
We took a 90-minute architecture cruise tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and it was amazing. A cold front had come through, so the weather was freezing and incredibly windy while we were out, but that's my only complaint about the experience. If it had been a bit warmer, I would've been in heaven. Chicago is so gorgeous, and cruising on the river is a fantastic way to see the city and learn a little bit about its history.

Painting the Town
Every minute was awesome, but without a doubt, the best parts of this trip were our nights out on the town. The main reason we were even in Chicago in the first place was to see Death Cab for Cutie -- the greatest band of all time. That's the only reason I cared to go there. I could write volumes on how I feel about Death Cab and why. Benjamin Gibbard is a genius, and I have never been so excited about any event I've ever attended. I was SO nervous leading up to the concert. I have loved Ben's lyrics so much and for so long, I was praying that his live show would live up to my high expectations. And boy, did it!
When we rounded the corner and I saw the Chicago Theatre marquee, I forgot who I was and started hopping up and down on my hurt hip! The theater was crazy beautiful. It's an old movie theater from the 1920s with a red velvet curtain, ornate ceilings, chandeliers and statues everywhere. Death Cab played with the Magik Magik Orchestra, and I literally cried when I heard them.
They played every single song I wanted to hear. At so many concerts, I've left saying, "I wish they would have played this or that." They played EVERYTHING that I love. Passenger Seat, Cath, I Will Follow You Into the Dark, Transatlanticism, Death of an Interior Decorator, What Sarah Said, Stay Young Go Dancing, Grapevine Fires, Title & Registration, Bend to Squares...everything. Seriously, if I could have chosen the playlist, I would have picked exactly what they did. Ben didn't talk much; they just played. And it was everything I hoped it would be.

The next night we went to The Second City. I had no idea what to expect, but it was phenomenal! It helped that we had listened to Tina Fey's book, Bossypants, in the car all the way from St. Louis to Chi-Town, so that made us appreciate the experience even more. It was basically like watching Whose Line Is It Anyway, only about a zillion times better. We laughed and laughed, and we were so sad when it was over. For some reason, this was one of our most favorite things about the trip, but we have zero photos or souvenirs to show for it. Sad panda.

The Food. Actually, just the pizza.
This won't take long. Deep dish pizza from Giordano's. NO WHERE ELSE. Giordano's. This should be the only pizza allowed in Chicago. It changed my life. We ate at a lot of wonderful (non-pizza) places, but we ate at Giordano's three times. I have dreams about this pizza.

We gave Pizzeria Due a whirl, but there's really no comparison. This was our last stop before we drove out of town.

Chicago was surprisingly fantastic, and I can't wait to go back. I swear, I would move there in a heartbeat. And next time...I will be able to run along Lake Michigan and Navy Pier. Next year's Chicago Marathon, perhaps? Hmmm...


  1. Fun and wow the pizza looks awesome! Erica

  2. Also my favorite city. We go all the time and have fun every time. Also the best marathon.

  3. I'm earmarking this because I'll be in Chiacago this fall. And it does look y'all had a GREAT time indeed!!! So glad you were able to get away and spend some time exploring a new city together!



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