Today was my one and only day in Chicago, so I had to make the most of it. I woke up before Siri did, surely out of excitement and anticipation, much like a kid on Christmas. The sky was blue with the promise of a shining sun to illuminate this singular day of urban adventure. I headed down to the pool. I figured I'd get plenty of walking in, so a nice morning swim was a far more attractive alternative to the treadmill. I had the pool all to myself for most of my laps. I was joined by a very talkative gentleman from Alabama, and out of politeness ended up swimming about 50% more laps than I had intended, before finally needing to bid adieu. I learned that Alabamans say "Roll Tide" to one another. It's like a greeting of brotherhood or something. Go team.
Originally I had planned to do the Willis Tower in the morning, attend a one o'clock ball game, then an early dinner and afterward, attend a concert at Millenium Park. It turned out that the game was at 3pm (I think the confusion came from west coast time), so I had to make some adjustments. After breakfast, I headed over to Willis Tower. The line was long, but moved pretty fast, and soon I was standing 103 floors above the earth in Skydeck Chicago. Learning about the tower was interesting. It's the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere (282 Michael Jordans tall), 8th tallest building in the world. The view is magnificent. I have to be honest, I had no idea how huge Lake Michigan is! I may as well have been looking at an ocean. No wonder so many people live here. There are thousands of miles of coastline, and I do recall reading that sometimes it's even possible to surf in Lake Michigan.
What a view.
Okay, so about that 'unforgettable experience...'
1353 feet above the sidewalk. Yup, I can't even believe I did that. Am I smiling or gritting my teeth?
One of my daughters told me that I had to have a Chicago style hot dog while in Chicago. I have to say, I'm not a fan of the hot dog, but was willing to allow one of my kids to live vicariously through me. Someone told me that in the Loop, Luke's is the place to go for a great hot dog. Judging from how crowded the place was, it would seem so. I took the dog to go, and headed towards the water. I found a shaded courtyard next to the art museum and sat down to the task at hand.
Chicago Art Museum
Statue and flowers in shaded courtyard
My Chicago Style Hot Dog. Is it just me? Well at least Chicago style means loaded with fresh veggies. Pickle, tomato, onions and - a pepper! Okay, actually, it was pretty good.
Next I headed over to Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain. What a great place to view the Chicago Skyline from the ground.
I look forward to returning someday when I can further enjoy all of the offerings of this great water front city.
Just as I was thinking that it ought to be about time to start heading towards the ball game, I crossed a couple of Giants fans who said just that to me, "Time to head to the ball game!" I was pretty amazed at how many Giants fans I noticed while I was out and about my business south of the river. Of course there were a lot of Cubs fans too, but that was to be expected. I made my way back to the 'L' and hopped on the red line heading north to Wrigley, with my game ticket, my camera and a whole lot of Giants spirit. As soon as I got on the train, this friendly young lady said in the most genuine fashion, "Oh, I think you have some dirt on your shirt," and pointed towards what I thought was my shoulder. Well, I walked straight into that one. When I glanced down and didn't see anything, I asked, "Oh, where?" She pointed with her finger a huge circle all around the front of my shirt, and slyly said, "There." Alright, alright, you got me. A girl sitting across from me was looking down and trying, though not very hard, to hide her smile, like - Sucker! Well anyway, the original girl was nice and engaged me in conversation, asking where I was from, etc. I answered and remarked that I was just here for one day. She suggested that after the game, I should take a walk over to Boystown, since it was so close to the stadium and they were having Market Days, one of the biggest and most popular festivals of it's kind in the country. I told her I would check it out if I could later remember the cross streets. She kindly wrote them down for me. With each stop, more and more Cubs fans hopped on, along with a few Giants fans. I was beginning to feel a little out of place, and some of the Cubs fans were finding a wee bit of snarky humor in my outnumbered predicament, but all in good fun. A couple of comments led to more conversation, and before long, I suggested that we should have our picture taken. Later when I posted it on Facebook with the caption 'Making new friends,' someone commented, "Friends or Frenemies?" Ha ha, true dat. Cubs fans are passionate about their team as I would soon find out!
Making friends on the 'L'
Arriving at Wrigley Field was nothing short of amazing. I was so excited to be able to visit this sacred place in baseball history. The stadium really has an old, nostalgic, yesteryear feel to it. Even the walkways under the stadium seem like something out of a bygone era. It was pretty exciting, and especially so because my team was there. The Cubs fans are - PASSIONATE! Even a little bit - hard core. They love their Cubbies. But I also felt like maybe they really don't like the Giants. But most of the fans around me were - cordial . A few were rude, even after the loss, but even if they couldn't be gracious winners, I could be a gracious loser. That's - loser, not "loser."
I was amazed at how many Giants fans I saw at the game, since Chicago isn't exactly down the street from San Francisco. I asked my Cubs seat neighbor if it was typical to see so many opposing team fans at Wrigley, since the stadium is so iconic. He said that actually, no, this was not typical and he thought the number of Giants fans was somewhat remarkable as well. Hmmm... maybe it's because a lot of fans are still riding the wave of last year's world championship. Curious. (Though one thing that seems decidedly not curious, is whether or not the G's will have another shot at it this year. It's not lookin' too good at this point.)
It was really great to get to see my team play ball at Wrigley Field.
So much fun. I really didn't want it to end, and enjoyed every second of my baseball pilgrimage, even though my team was obviously struggling.
Yes, Bochy walking out to the pitcher's mound and pitchers walking off the pitchers mound was a sad, common sight for us Giant fans that day, as our team tried to no avail to best the Cubs. It was not meant to be.
The game ended with the last strike and the stadium erupted in a stupendous roar of victory, which then led to song. 'Go Cubs, Go.' I stood there feeling forlorn. The game was over, my team lost, and my pilgrimage to Wrigley was at an end. I took in a deep breath as I made one last lingering gaze at the field, perhaps hoping to somehow take a part of it back with me, then turned and headed down the steps.
Bye, bye Wrigley. Thanks for the memories.
Next, I headed to Boystown. I past a number of what looked like stage venues set up, but - no party. Where were all the people? I thought there was supposed to be a festival going on. Finally, I ducked into a fine wine store and asked a man working behind the counter. He told me that the festival starts tomorrow and encouraged me to come. It's wonderful, he said and went on about it with enthusiasm. Alas, I told him, I'm going home tomorrow. This led to a suggestion that I should do some wine tasting, and shortly thereafter, I was on my way out the door with two lovely bottles of wine, a red from France, and a white from Sonoma. Looks like I'll be checking my bag on the homeward journey.
Boystown, only one day before the big festival.
I had just enough time by now to make my 8:00pm reservation at Kiki's Bistro. I threw on a black sweater and put away my Giants hat. Of all the dining options that Chicago had to offer, I settled on French. It was delightful. The owner, Kiki is very personable. The ambiance exactly what I had hoped, and the food was sublime. The Bouillabaisse was delicious and wine offerings most satisfactory. The dessert menu was to die for, but no room for even a bite. I rounded the meal with a nice Calvados and then was on my way.
It was getting late and my feet were blistered and tired, and my wine purchase was getting heavy. I had no energy for anything else. No after dinner cocktail at the Signature Lounge, no stroll through Millenium Park. I headed back to the hotel, took my second soak of the day in that magnificent tub, and once again, it was off to Dream-land, in anticipation of a real "Dream" that was right around the corner!
Thanks for sticking with me!