Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicago Weekend

Andrew and I made the most of my 3-day weekend after parent/teacher conferences, and we escaped to the Windy City. We stayed at the Ambassador East Hotel, a grand old monument to glory days gone by, and I mean that in a good way. You could just feel the "see and be seen" quality of the Pump Room, and the whole place just had a stately, dignified charm. It was fairly reasonable, pretty close to everything we needed, and it had wireless internet access, unlike the modern Marriott where we stayed in California!

My mission for Friday night was to eat Ethiopian food. I'd eaten Ethiopian food with college friends many times, and I was hungry for it! If you've never eaten Ethiopian food, I highly recommend it. It combines Middle Eastern/Indian flavors with the fantastic experience of injera, a bread that is also your silverware! I'd researched a place called Ras Dashen, and it totally delivered. DELICIOUS!

The next morning, Andrew and I set off for Michigan Ave. We hoped to find a sports bar along the way where we could catch the Hawkeye game vs. Indiana. We were decked out in our Hawkeye finery, of course. A guy walking his dog called to us from across the street, "Hey! Where are you going to watch the game?" We struck up a conversation, and it turns out he was an Iowa grad in sports medicine. He told us about a place across from Second City where we could watch the game. That's how we found Wells on Wells... a Hawkeye bar in the heart of Chicago!

Andrew outside Wells on Wells

me inside Wells on Wells

Our dear Hawkeyes almost gave me a heart attack (if the Hawkeyes didn't give me a heart attack, my Grilled Cheese from Hell might have... 3 kinds of cheese and actual mozzerella sticks in the sandwich!), and I was going to be pretty ticked if they didn't pull off a win after I'd spent over 3 hours of my getaway weekend sitting on a hard stool in a pub watching them. Luckily, and by the seats of their pants, they came through. We were more relieved than anything, and we went to sightsee on Michigan Ave.

We caught a quick bite at the Original Pancake House, where I finally got to try the Dutch Baby that I'd seen on Food Network. Andrew wasn't impressed. I liked it!!!

Then, for the highlight of the weekend. We drove to the Steppenwolf Theatre to see our friend Claire Wellin play Mayella Ewell in their production of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is my favorite book of all time, if you didn't know that. I also read it out loud to my 8th grade GOAL classes every year (we're on Chapter 3 right now). The whole production, from the set to the actors to the adaptation, was stellar. Andrew & I were so proud to know Claire. We've seen her on stage in Fairfield with Way Off Broadway many times, and it was so cool to see her making it big in Chicago. She was sensational... such emotional range! We were also super lucky to meet up with her in the elevator before the show, so we got hugs too. Bonus!

We took our time getting out of Chicago on Sunday, having a leisurely breakfast in the Pump Room. Before leaving the city, I wanted to see the Bean in Millenium Park. If you have never stopped at this sculpture (it's official name is Cloud Gate), you NEED TO! It's fascinating, amazing, incredible, mind-boggling, beautiful... how many more adjectives do you want? I could probably come up with a thousand! I had seen it on TV and in friends' pictures. I'm so glad I've seen it in person now. It's wonderful. It was fun seeing it and also watching other people experience it... I could have done that all day! The day was so beautiful, it was hard to believe we were in November. If you ever have some time to kill in Chicago... head to the Bean.

Cloud Gate, aka: the Bean

Trying to take our picture in the Bean's reflection... not as easy as it sounds...

Another try...

Finally, someone took pity on us and took our picture!

Reflecting on our trip... literally!

It was a quick weekend, but it was totally worth it. I feel recharged for the week and for the month of November. The holidays will be here before we know it... crazy thought!


  1. Shad used to live on Wells St. about a block from Second City over the Fireplace Inn. We have eaten at Wells on Wells twice. To bad you had to leave Sunday because Shad's Second City Touring Co. does the matinee show on the main stage on Mondays and he could have gotten you tickets! Looks like you had a great time though. So much to do in the Windy City but I've never seen the bean! Jeri

  2. all true - and don't forget the Ambassador East had great plain yoghurt in its buffet. And a million black and white celebrity photos hanging on the walls.


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