Sunday, June 19, 2011


Day One

I have wanted to visit Chicago for as long as I can remember. It all stemmed from watching teh Cubs play in spring training in Phoenix, it's when I became a fan. While our driving force was to watch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, the city offers so much to see and do during the visit. We had a blast and loved every single minute of it. I am looking forward to going back soon.

Beautiful sunrise on the flight to Chicago. I booked the first flight out, which was 6:05am. At the time of booking I didn't think much of it, but DAMN that was an early flight. We made the flight by the hair on our chiny, chin, chins. First off... we didn't allow enough time in the morning to get up, get ready and love on the pups before leaving. Then when we pulled up to the parking lot, there was a "Lot Full" sign... and then I just about shit myself since we didn't really have a back up plan. BUT they let us in since we are "frequent members". AND THEN we walked into the airport to a line at the check in counter and a long line at the security line. We know better, but we just let the morning get away from us. Thankfully a person let us cut in line at the security line and we had about 5 minutes to spare before boarding.

We took the train from the airport to the hotel. We had a very small walk from the train station to the hotel. I absolutely LOVE city's that have public transportation that is usable. The ride cost us $2.25 (per person) and took about 30 minutes.

Once we checked in at the hotel we took off to look for the architecture water tour. Luckily we walked up at the right time and only had to wait for about 10 minutes for the next tour. This tour was highly recommended by everybody that has visited Chicago. We truly enjoyed the tour and listening to the history of Chicago and the buildings. Our tour guide gave us a lot of great information and it was relaxing to sit and float along the water.

Jim checking out the bridge as we went under it on the tour boat.

Looking up through the bridge at the buildings and cars passing by while floating on the boat

Here is the Willis (formerly Sears building) with the structures popped out of the building. We are going to visit the Willis Building in a day or two. SOOOO excited to step out and look down ;) (more on that later....)

I love the detail on older buildings.

A few of the bridges are double decker bridges... cars on the bottom and train on the top.

There are a few walk ways along the water that are under the bridge... I didn't realize that they were mirrored until we floated by

Beautiful skyline of Chicago

Love this view from the train

FINALLY... food! We probably should have eaten before the water tour because we were starving. We came across this restaurant and stopped in to eat. We had an awesome Chicago hot dog and a hot beef sandwich which was "dipped". While we were eating, it started to pour so we took our time in the restaurant. While at the restaurant we tried to plan our next destination, which is the Art Institute. Well....... my navigation system led us on a little trip to South Chicago. Yeah.... not the touristy part of Chicago. We turned right around and headed back to the hotel.

At the hotel, we decided to sit in the hotel bar and enjoy an adult beverage to unwind a little after all of our adventures. The bar had gorgeous views of Chicago, and probably had the best view that i have seen from a bar.

I was enjoying a drink with Gin and Pomegranate juice. Very tasty

After enjoying our drinks and the view, we went up stairs and got ready for dinner. We were a bit sluggish since we had been going since 3:45am, but we toughed it out for good food :)

Right after we started walking to the restaurant it started to POUR again. So we had to hurry up and hide under a walk way until the rain calmed down. If you look at the back left of the photo you can see the buildings are being covered by the clouds.

Our dinner plans were to eat at Fronter Grill, but since they had a 1.5 to 2 hr wait, we decided to walk down the street to a bar to have a drink while we waited. Hubbard Grill was a restaurant on the bottom floor and a bar on the 2nd floor. I loved the decor... brick, dark woods, glowing lights and rustic furniture mixed with leather couches and one side of the wall was all windows.

I also found out that I am in love with a local craft brew called Goose Island. It is a light beer with a slightly fruity after taste. I could have sat at that bar drinking and enjoying the view all night. We were on a good streak for finding bars with exceptional views.

We ate at one of Rick Bayless's restaurant, Frontera Grill. I first learned about Rick during one of the Top Chef shows, and then more about his cooking on Top Chef Masters. I knew that he created dishes that Jim and I would love.

We started off with an appetizer of Sashimi-grade Hawaiian yellowfin tuna, avocado-tomatillo guacamole, tangy mango-grapefruit salsa. As we ate the fish, the big flavors really became apparant. We needed to mix it up to get all of the flavors, and once we realized that we loved this dish.

Jim ordered the Grill-roasted Gunthorp pork loin, fruit-studded ancho-almond mole, grilled pineapple tamal, braised quelites (bacon, grilled white onions), crispy chorizo. His dish was good but the meat was a little dry and the flavors weren't as bold as you might think based on the description. I ordered the special which was the Cochinita Pibil: Achiote-marinated Maple Creek Farm suckling pig roasted in banana leaves. My dish was FANTASTIC, the pork was so tender and flavorful. I didn't get a good picture of it, it was to dark and I didn't want to mess with photo because I couldn't wait to eat it :)

We took our time walking home so I could take pictures of Chicago at night. I could have spent all night taking photos but I didn't have my tripod with me so I was limited on the type of pictures I could take.

Reflection off of a shiny building

On the bridge

What an excellent first day and night in Chicago, we fell in love with the city after this day.

More to come!!!

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