i love chicago! love, love, love! the lake, the buildings, the little neighborhoods. it's a neat town! if i had unlimited funds, i would spend a month there just exploring everything i could! : )
aunt judy picked me up around 10:30 friday morning, then we headed to pick up aunt nancy. the trip up was lots of fun, chatting & excitement & all. : ) we ate lunch at arthur's (YUM) in the rock falls area (the original one?). it was aunt nancy's first time & she loved it - of course! (i will be working on a menu post later.) we stopped at a mall somewhere along the way to use the loo & right by the restrooms there was a chicago gift shop, so we went in there for souvenirs. i figured i might as well get them early so i wouldn't accidentally spend all my money & not have any left for them later. LOL i picked up a tshirt for leyton (i hope it fits!), some postcards (of course!), a shot glass for phil (duh) and a surprise for trish, because i saw it & HAD to get it. idk if she'll actually use it or if it'll just be decorative, but hopefully she'll like it either way! : )
we got stuck by some traffic going into the city, of course, but we found our hotel really easily. : ) it was the congress plaza hotel, and it was AMAZING! not luxurious by any means, but it has been around since the 1800's, so... i can understand how the rooms at double tree or staybridge feel more lux, but the VIEW. oh my heck, the view! we had a corner room, and it was rather large. tiny bathroom, tho. heh. the beds were comfy, there was plenty of seating for us (desk chairs, but that's okay), and the view from one side was lake michigan & buckingham fountain, and the other millenium park & the skyline.
mr bear & i were SUPER excited to have a lake view. : )
we ate dinner in the hotel restaurant, rafael's steak house. the service was really good & the food quite tasty! we went exploring after, found the soda machines (PEPSI, hooray!!) & a gift shop for snacks. the gold room of this hotel is apparently rather famous for having hosted the premier of Return To Me (love that movie!). there was a nice display w/ a signed script & magazine articles about the movie. and one of the lounges had wonderfully comfortable chairs & a neat staircase that i liked.
we were pretty pooped & ready for bed soon after dinner. but we managed to stay up til 10. even got to watch Grimm! : ) heh!
saturday, we went down to breakfast at the gazebo, the hotel's breakfast restaurant. (yes, separate restaurant for breakfast, that was cool.) it was insanely expensive, IMO, tho, for the buffet, so we all just ordered from the menu. we all enjoyed our breakfasts, tho! : ) the aunts went back up to the room & i went to my little nook outside for a moment. it was right across from roosevelt university & also apparently an auditorium of some sort. there was a tv monitor playing ballets, so i watched that for a bit. met a nice young man who was a student there. : )
jenni arrived after an overnight flight from alaska, and once she was all settled & cleaned up, we headed out to catch a cab to water tower place. our goal was to find jenni a bridesmaid dress for a wedding she's in. the requirement was that the dress needed to be a certain shade of green. we didn't have much luck, as this particular shade is more suited to winter... but she did find a dress she sorta liked... after the dress, we stopped for lunch in the food court. there were lots of choices - burgers, smoothies, pizza, hot dogs, and panini's. we chose the panini place & it was quite yummy! their dessert counter was beautiful, but we didn't purchase anything. jenni & i were amazed/amused by the jello art, tho... (and seriously, look at the size of the FROSTING!)
interesting sightings while we ate - a group of navy sailors at a table near us. we thanked them for their service. they were very polite. : )
after jenni was done eating, she went to the loo & said we could give her chair away if needed (very hoppin place, that food court!). after a bit, a young lady was looking around & had her tray & we said she could have the chair. we thought she was w/ a group, but then instead of taking the chair & joining the table we thought she was at, she sat w/ us. (trust me, that takes confidence!) we learned that she was visiting from ann arbor, michigan, where she currently was going to school. she originally was from brazil, and was trying her very first chicago-style pizza. she enjoyed it. : ) super, super nice girl!! we chatted for awhile til jenni got back & then we were off on our next adventures!
we started at the 7th floor & explored all the way down the mall. macy's, candyality, godiva, vera bradley (holy cow, expensive!), coach (holy cow, i want some!), LEGO... awesome sculptures! and a wall of blocks! if i could have come up w/ something creative to make, i would have gotten a nice container of blocks... heh.
aunt nancy & i hung out for a bit while jenni & aunt judy went back to macy's at the end of our mall tour to pick up her dress. we sat by the neat stair fountain, and i remembered Wow Bao, so we went down there for a chocolate banana bao & pom ginger ale. i'd planned to get some iced tea, but couldn't pass up the ginger ale! oh, we also saw a really neat clock shop, and swarovski crystal store, where i saw a CUTE seahorse that made me think of my friend marianne. i snapped a picture & then got "in trouble." not really, but the sales associate did say, "well, technically we're not supposed to take pictures..." i was like, "okay, i won't take anymore, but i'm not deleting this one!" lol
when jenni & judy got back, we went outside to explore the chocolate shops - ghiradelli & hershey's. neat set ups in both, and i got mom some G chocolate to go w/ the godiva i'd gotten her earlier. : )
we went into the visitor's center for a loo stop & to see about a show that we wanted to go to. sold out, darn it! really, that was okay, tho because i probably couldn't've afforded to go really. we did get a recommendation for a good pizza place, tho, and headed over there for dinner. Pizzone's - great neighborhood hang out, tiny, lots of atmosphere & GREAT service. the food was scrumptious, too!
we hopped into a cab that had just let some guys (cuuute!) off at the restaurant & headed back to the hotel to put down all our packages. we took a minute to rest & then set off to explore the neighborhood. we walked the howmanyever blocks to millenium park, home of some really neat sculptures including THE BEAN! : )
the walk was BRIIIIIISK, but good. and i didn't get winded. yay!! PTL for that! : ) saturday was apparently prom night, so there were kids everywhere in BEAUTIFUL evening attire. a group of them got out of the coolest corvette...
this same group of kids were later serenaded by an a Capella group of guys in suits... can i just say, shades of Glee and i may have been crushing on one of the guys because he would sing & then take a drink of his coffee/tea/whatever he was drinking, and his mannerisms reminded me of somone on glee & ... yeah. also, he looked older than a college kid, or he was going silver realllly early! mmmm.
*cough* anyway! it was neat. : )
on our walk back to the hotel it was REALLY windy & cold, so we stopped into a corner bakery for hot tea (chai for me & nancy) & chocolate. yummy!
once again we arrived at the hotel exhausted & ready for bed!
speaking of which - it's 10:30 & i am exhausted & ready to sleep, so i'll finish up about today, tomorrow! : )
praise the Lord for the amazing, amazing, AMAZING family He's blessed to me! i am just so very grateful for them! : )
what were you grateful for this weekend?