A Visit to the Windy City, Part 2: Eating Our Way Across Chicago

Noelle takes us on a food tour of Chicago City. I’ve put on two pounds just by reading her post. There is some wonderful mouth-watering foods on offer. Come and take a look…maybe just before your next meal.

SaylingAway

Since retiring, my husband and I have been eating more lightly. Traveling with my daughter and son-in-law reminded us of what it was like when we were young and could eat without the subsequent explosion on our scale. Chicago has so many good restaurants, a visitor could eat at a different one – a good one – every day for ten years!

Giordano's pizza Giordano’s pizza

We began our gustatory adventure our first night, at my favorite pizza place in the whole world, Giordano’s. The fact it was about 5 min from our hotel meant I thought about returning before we left. Their stuffed pizza is sheer heaven, and I had my usual stuffed super veggie choice — mushrooms, green peppers, onions, broccoli, black olives, artichokes and spinach. We got a large and did half and half, with the guys getting the meat and more meat stuffing.

The next morning we hit…

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Newberry Library, Chicago

I thought I’d bring my Covey friends along on my family research trip to Newberry Library.

Chicago’s subway is called the el, which is short for ‘elevated.’ Most of it is above-ground but, as you approach downtown, it burrows underground. There are several different lines stretching all directions and all named after colors. I took the Brown line and transferred to the Red line, so that’s what my pictures are of. An el ride is $2.25 one-way. Most of us locals use a Ventra card, which is akin to a debit card that links up to your checking account and takes money out $20 at a time. You just flash your card in front of a circle on the front of the entrance gate (which I forgot to take a picture of) and you’re on your way. Visitors buy a ticket at the station. The card works the same way to pay for bus fare.

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I live in a neighborhood north of the city about 15 minutes by train from The Loop, which is the central district marked by theaters and a literal loop of the El. I work just a 10-minute walk from where I live, so I don’t leave my neighborhood most days. Every Chicagoan will tell you that the city is made up of dozens of distinct neighborhoods that feel like small towns unto themselves. So even though I live relatively close to skyscrapers, I’m surprised by them when I go into the City proper.

It’s my first visit to the Newberry Library, a private library founded in 1887. A private library does not lend out its assets. Everything stays in house. Its holdings revolve around the humanities— which is what brought me here. I found out in my genealogy research that it held several of my ancestors’ birth, marriage, and death records. And I love digging into old books and microfiche! I’m weird that way. I’ll let this link explain the library’s history, if anyone is interested in learning more. After a very patient librarian showed me where I could find my records, I spent a few hours zipping through microfiche and gathering my documentation. A perfectly nerdy way for me to spend a Saturday afternoon! Stomach growling I left very pleased to find out they offer a tour for genealogists the first Saturday of every month and special classes throughout the year.

An Afternoon at Chicago’s Daley Plaza

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Saturday, June 21st was Make Music Chicago. What started as a celebration of music on the longest day of the year, back in Paris in 1982 has spread to cities all over the world, making its way to Chicago in 2011. Make Music Chicago consists of performances from musicians of all ages and skill level in locations across the city. My son was asked to be part of a group who performed at Daley Plaza.

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Daley Plaza is graced with The Picasso, one of the most well-known landmarks in Chicago. This sculpture by Pablo Picasso was dedicated in 1967. It stands 50 feet tall and weighs 162 tons! It’s popular for kids to slide down, as well as skateboarders (when security guards aren’t present). It has appeared in may movies, including The Blues Brothers, The Fugitive and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

In addition to the sculpture there is a fountain, which bubbles merrily at ground level, often changing colors to celebrate a holiday or a sports’ team championship win. It is a popular location for a variety of events, including a farmer’s market and a bike rally this month. It’s also a great place to people-watch, which is what we did while waiting for our son’s group to perform.

I got such a kick out of watching these 2 little twin girls playing in the plaza. Their joy of life showed in their laughter and playful spirits. There was a protester- on a hunger strike. It was interesting to watch peoples’ reactions upon seeing him. He wasn’t asking for anything. Just to make his statement. He was left alone, although at one point he was part of a family’s photo.

The music was awesome! Instead of sitting in the “stage” area, this group chose to spread out around the space, including the Picasso, where two trumpet players stood.

Stopping by the plaza is one of the endless things you can do when visiting Chicago.

The Extremes of Chicago

Chicago in the summer is a masterpiece. As soon as I leave work, a canopy-covered street breathes with the fresh air of the lake. If I hopped on a bus and took it to the end of the route, I would find myself in Lincoln Park where Chicagoans jog, skate, or bike on the sidewalk, or they just chat on plaid blankets laid out on the sides of hills all afternoon. Just near my bus stop is a place that offers boat tours on the water. I took my niece out for an architectural tour one day. The presenter’s speech wasn’t as much fun as the spray we’d receive whenever the boat banked left. After the tour, we walked onto the pier together soaked but absolutely pleased!

Winter is also beautiful, but I have fewer pictures because it’s harder to be patient outside in the cold waiting for the perfect shot! As you can see from the picture, a lot of my neighbors decorate their yards for the holiday season. Big flashy bulbs glimmer above your head. And on the main roads, street vendors sell roasted almonds and stir vats of Mexican hot chocolate to warm up your bones. Occasionally, along the side of every street, you’ll see a lonely little chair sitting in a perfect square of snowless pavement. The chairs are to save the parking spots for the people who took the trouble to shovel their cars out. It’s just an unspoken Chicago law that if a chair is standing guard over a parking spot, you move along to another.