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Tag-Archive for "Chicago"

Something else to do in Chicago 4 Dec 04

Our family has a tradition of visiting Brookfield Zoo on Thanksgiving afternoon. Admission (not parking, though) is free, and our clan is big enough to justify waiting for the free day.  The place wasn’t crowded; perhaps everyone else was out shopping, watching football, or sleeping.

Brookfield Zoo is not a traditional zoo. No cages with tigers pacing back and forth all day long. The zoo is a collection of large buildings with large, natural-feeling environments for the animals. Frequently several species share an area. It’s the humans who are confined, to paths with barriers. You can find plenty of signs describing the animals, and a fair number of interactive displays for children. Our favorite joke was the danger of having the kids get mixed in with the monkeys.

One of the interactive exhibits. Lousiana bayou environment.

One of the interactive exhibits. Louisiana bayou environment.

Speaking of kids, we let them use the video camera and my Nikon DSLR. Both devices paid for themselves in entertainment value, they didn’t get broken, and the kids paid close attention to the exhibits. The even got a few pretty good pictures. Consider a having a digital camera handy just for the children about seven and up when you go on a trip.

We did some shopping, but you probably don’t need a description of how to do that. But here’s a picture anyway. The Lego store was the busiest one we visited.

The guy on the left is made from Lego.

The guy on the left is made from Lego.

That’s about all for the Chicago trip. I hope you picked up a few travel tips. Please share your tips in the comments.

Something else to do in Chicago 2 Dec 01

The true travel sophisticate, who visits the same place more than once, often finds the most interesting feature of a good destination is the food.

In Chicago, you’re supposed to try the Chicago Style Pizza.

Its reputation extends clear to Delaware, and one thing my dear sweet wife wanted to try on this, her first visit to the windy city, was some Chicago Style Pizza. So after we checked out Fox and Obel’s food market, we asked around (Traveler’s rule for asking directions: Always get directions from more than one person. Keep asking until you get two people who tell you the same thing. The first two people we asked suggested the same place), and got directions to a place that had authentic, genuine-not-imitation, real Chicago-style pizza, Gino’s East. It was walking distance. We plopped our $75 worth of exotic groceries into our vehicle, and headed off.

Halfway there, we stumbled on Lawry’s, of seasoned salt fame. (The salt is a product of the restaurant.) We were going to be in town one more day—the pizza could wait. I took my dear sweet patient wife to Lawry’s, and therein hangs a tale. But this post is getting long. Here’s a link to the tale: Chicago Adventure.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the Chicago-style pizza feast that actually happened.

Something else to do in Chicago Nov 30

Chicago’s a good place to do a lot of touristy stuff. (How’s that for a generalization?)  The loop is built near enough to the shore of Lake Michigan that the lake shore has pretty much always been a nice area, and it is lined with museums, parks, expensive high rises, and public beaches. One of those museums is the Art Institute of Chicago. If you don’t like art, this huge building will be really boring, because it has a lot of art in it, ranging from an area where children are encouraged to touch things, to original paintings you see in all the art textbooks, with electronic barriers to keep you from touching them. (They look just like what you see in a good art book, except a lot of them are a larger.) A room full of fancy paperweights. Another room of miniatures—think extremely detailed and accurate doll-house rooms. Art from many cultures and periods of history. Art in all sizes. Sensible, realistic items (chairs); weird, nonsensical items (other chairs). Pictures of architecture. Architectural models. Illustration and ornamentation. Folk art.  Statues. Musical instruments. And in the whole place I saw only one Pre-Raphaelite painting, which tiny Delaware has a magnificent collection of in its art museum. It felt like The Music Man’s one and only bass.

If you like art, you’ll love it. How can I possibly show a representative picture of a place like this? Here’s a link to the place: Art Institute of Chicago.

What kind of art do you like? Where do you go to look at it? Comment and share.

Something to do in Chicago Nov 29

You can visit relatives for Thanksgiving, of course, but you can’t eat turkey all the time. If you’ve never been to the windy city, you’ll find plenty of things to do. The secret to really visiting a place is to ferret out the out-of-the-way places that the locals know about but the tourists miss.

One such place in Chicago is a grocery store. I suppose every big city has its really interesting grocery store, and Chicago’s is the Fox and Obel food market. They wouldn’t let me take a picture of the interior, but here’s a rendering of the outside on their web site:

One of three entrances

One of three entrances

Proximity to places like this is a good reason to live in a big city. They have a small restaurant/ neighborhood hangout (breakfast, lunch, and supper); they do catering; and their inventory is the most scrumptious selection of cheeses, meats, fresh produce, candy, and exotic goodies you won’t find anywhere else. French foot-long marshmallows, tea in pyramidal tulle (I think it’s tulle) bags, cheeses with unpronounceable names, grass-fed organic beef aged on site, $175 vinegar (no lie—it’s so old that half has evaporated though the wax seal), not to mention ready-made foods fit for a gourmet, and fresh baked goods from the kitchen, said kitchen visible through large glass windows. And the people behind the counters are experts, eager to talk about their products, and generous with the samples. Worth the trip just to shop there.

Do you have a favorite grocer? Tell us about it in the comments.

Life’s embarassing moments Oct 09

I was a kid in college. A friend was returning from a visit to England, and she has a stopover in Chicago.  Swain that I was, I decided to surprise her with a personal welcome-back-to-the-US greeting. So without consulting anyone, I hitchhiked across Wisconsin to Chicago. This was back in the mid 1960′s, so it wasn’t as impossible or foolish as it would be today.

Anyway, I arrived at the Palmer House hotel, where my family had taken me on a trip when I was in sixth grade, so I had some affection for the place. I stopped in the men’s room, and the hand towel dispenser happened to be empty, revealing a sign asking the reader to notify a bellhop for a refill.

I stepped into the lobby and spotted a uniform off to one side, so I went up to the gentleman and announced that the towel dispenser was empty.

He looked at me like I was nuts and said, “So?”

I explained that the dispenser had a sign, etc. etc. Thinking to myself that I had heard about city folk being rude, but hadn’t believed it until now.

His lip curled involuntarily, and he said, “Who do you think I am? I’m an airline pilot!”

Oops. I turned around and walked out. Never did connect with my friend, either.

Have you ever committed a gaff on a trip? Click the comment link below and spill your guts.