Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Heart Chicago

Let me begin by saying I have not visited many large cities. I currently live near Charlotte and lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area when I was younger. I traveled to Hong Kong and Washington, DC during my junior year of college. I spent a quick afternoon in Baltimore for an Orioles game while visiting a college friend. I have also driven through/visited Atlanta numerous times on my trips home to Alabama – and that sums up my almost 25 years of experience with large metropolises.

With that in mind, I hope you can understand why I am absolutely smitten with Chicago and that you will not mock me too much as I express my utter fascination with “city life”.

Our hotel was in Waukegan, IL so we could be close to Paxston’s base. As I said previously, we spent Friday in the Great Lakes area for Paxston’s graduation and waiting for him to receive liberty so he could spend time with us. The goal for Saturday was to spend the entire day in Chicago sight seeing and finding the best pizza in town.

After consulting numerous taxi drivers and the concierge, we determine the best way to get to downtown Chicago would be by train. We agreed to take the 9am train into the city so we would have a full day for sightseeing. On Saturday morning, we found ourselves in need of transportation to the train station. (Remember – had a 5 person sedan and 7 people needing transportation!) It was only about a mile drive so instead of taking a taxi, we opted to just cram into the Infiniti and drive. There we were - mom and dad sat comfortably in the spacious front compartment while Paxston, Crickette, Ethan, Jordan and I crammed into the itty bitty back seat. Jordan sat in Paxston’s lap and Ethan sat across Crickette and me. It didn’t help matters any that we were running behind and were afraid we were going to miss the train. Needless to say, by the time we reached the train station, we were all slightly on edge and just ready to get the show on the road. (Again – we are from the South – worrying about train schedules isn’t exactly something we were accustomed to!) (And yes – I use a capital “S” for “South” because it is a place…it’s my home…it deserves capitalization.)

I was mesmerized by the small towns as we rode the train. I called Steven and said, “OMG – this place looks just like Scranton on The Office!” It really did – old style neighborhoods with dated architecture. Hundreds of older, tightly spaced row homes sprawled as far as I could see. Plants and factories were spread haphazardly with smoke and fumes billowing into the sky. Honestly – I haven’t seen anything like it. There aren’t many old school communities like this in the South. We have country areas with older homes or new construction areas where most homes are less than twenty years old. Yes, many towns have “historic districts” with refurbished shop fronts – but these are meant to give the town a sense of heritage, of past. I’m not exactly sure how to describe the differences, but it was just incredibly different.

If I was impressed with the small towns from the window of the train, I was blown away by the city of Chicago. It is a perfect blend of beautifully preserved historic architecture and newly built modern buildings. Gorgeous churches and cathedrals stand amidst throngs of skyscrapers as if the city were meant to be a tribute to the past and present simultaneously. I swear I could walk around for hours taking in the architecture and monuments. I love the fact that it’s a city on the water – the lake adds an element of natural beauty that only amplifies Chicago’s charm.

Total tourists in front of "God Bless America"
Views from Michigan Avenue

We took a taxi to Michigan Avenue and did some shopping. We walked a few blocks to a highly recommended pizza parlor – Giordano's. Oh wow – never having experienced Chicago style pizza – this was a huge treat. The pizza slices are HUGE and the cheese is so gooey…yum! *YUM!!*

I would highly suggest vacationing in Chicago. Thankfully, Paxston is posted there for at least another year. Hubby and I would like to make a visit during the summer. See a Cubs game and spend an evening at Navy Pier. One day just wasn’t enough – there are so many attractions that we didn’t get to see and I’m really looking forward to going back!!


Alissa said...

I've always wanted to visit Chicago! Wow talk about a pizza that looks fantastic. I'd be all over the tourist thing too. Looks like fun.

Sole Matters said...

Im from GA and I've been to CHI 2 times and the first time I fell in love.

Stephanie said...

These are some great pictures of the city!! I have never been, but would love to go!

Kelly said...

Omigosh, your pictures and stories have made me want to visit Chicago soo badly! I've never been! I just might have to bring this up to the husband tonight-- sounds like a fun spring mini-vacay, right?? ;-) Hope you're having a great Friday Eve!

Ams said...

Those pictures are great :)
I spent the night there one night but I was HATING it because I missed my flights due to mechanical failure on my airplane. Basically I cursed the city the whole entire time!! lol... I must have to go back soon... and try to love it :)

Taylor @ Jimmy Choos and a Baby Too said...

How fun!!! Glad yall had a great trip!

Mykla said...

That pizza looks like something from one o fmy dreams! Ha! Ha! It just went on my bucket list!

Thank you for the comment about my daughter! She's a mess but such a blessing! I love your blog! Now a follower!

Classy in Philadelphia said...

So jealous! It looks amazing, especially that pizza!

Classy in Philadelphia said...

So jealous! It looks amazing, especially that pizza!

Katie F said...

The hubby and I love Giordano's. The hubby and I used to eat there every time we would go to chicago for the day. I miss there pizza!!
So glad you had a great time

Mrs in Training said...

Loved your description and pictures. Tyler has been, and loved it there, and is dying to take me there. We might have to plan a weekend away this summer :)

Annie said...

i have never been to chicago. it looks and sounds like you had a lot of fun though!! i want to visit now!! esp to eat that pizza! holy moly! ;) it looks delicious!!
great pics!

happy friday, have a great weekend!!

Risley said...


Nishant said...

These are some great pictures of the city!
Web hosting india

Stacie said...

Glad you enjoyed your visit to Chicago :-) I'd definitely make sure you go to a Cubs game over the summer, there's nothing like it and Wrigleyville!

Young, Fabulous, Newlywed

Button Love

My Blogger BFF

Designed By:

Munchkin Land Designs
Elements by Karen Funk