Monday, April 23, 2012

Springtime in Chicago Part 1

Chicago River from the 19th floor

Mrs. Spadoman and I just returned from spending the weekend in Chicago. As we were both born and raised there, it was a homecoming of sorts because we spent the time downtown and reminisced about the times we spent there when we were younger. The time went by so fast. We promised another visit soon as we were reminded of all sorts of places to go and things to do and we wanted to do everything.
I had mentioned in an earlier post that we were going to use the Megabus to travel. Right around 25 bucks a person each way. Downtown Minneapolis to downtown Chicago. I believe what I saved on buying gasoline, paying for parking, driving through traffic and the aggravation of trying to find parking spaces for the activities we attended more than made up for the taxi fares and tips we paid to the cabbies. Would you believe I got at least half of the cab rides as a senior and saved a dollar?
We arrived at 3:00 PM on Friday and went straight to our Hotel, the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, located on the Chicago River near were it meets Lake Michigan. (View of the Chicago River from our hotel room in the top photo). We used Hotwire for the hotel and got a bargain there. We did not upgrade to get a room facing the Great Lake, but we had a wonderful view of the river and downtown landscape despite the dirty windows. I don’t think they clean them every week up on the 19th floor.
Since we both lived in Chicago at one time in our lives, and since I even used to drive trucks in Chicago, we knew the general direction of things we wanted to get to. Our first order of business was a quick meal before we got ready to get to the theater to see the Broadway musical, Jersey Boys. We walked the half mile or so to Portillo’s and had the mainstay of existence for any Chicagoan, Italian beef and Chicago style hot dogs. (I’ll do a food post later and describe the fabulous meals and the diners we found to enjoy them in)
We grabbed a taxi back to the hotel, relaxed a bit and got dressed for the theater. It is called the Bank of America Theater these days, but it was the LaSalle Theater in the days of old. A beautifully ornate interior. Bank of America bought out LaSalle Bank and changed the name very soon after the theater was restored. It is quite the beautiful place.

The view of the theater from the stage

We saw The Jersey Boys. A play about the 1960’s singing group and their story of origin along with the many hit songs that topped the charts in that era. The show was fabulous and like the food, I’ll report on the show as a stand alone feature very soon.
After the play, we headed out for a late night snack and ended up at Pizzeria Due. We had a corner booth to ourselves and shared a small 10” deep dish Chicago style pan pizza. A romantic setting. Just the woman of my dreams and I sitting and talking in the dimly lit bar/lounge atmosphere.
When we lived in Chicago, prior to 1974, there was Pizzeria Uno. The story goes that someone created their own recipe for a deep dish pizza and broke away and started Due’s. Number one and number two. Two, Due’s, was suppose to be better and the last place we had a deep dish pan pizza alone together was Due’s around 1972. We did go to Due’s a couple of years ago on a hot summer afternoon with the complete array of Grandkids in tow. This visit was somewhat, (No, a lot), quieter and romantic. We didn’t get back to the hotel until about 1:00 AM.
Saturday had a full day planned, but with the late night the night before, we didn’t get going until after nine AM. Of course we brought our own ground coffee from home and used the coffee maker in the room for the morning caffeine fix before we ventured out anywhere.
This stock photo shows all that yellow, as in Yellow Cab Company, plying the city streets

We grabbed a taxi to Glenn’s Diner on Montrose, (Another great dining experience that will be covered in its entirety in another post), and had a fabulous breakfast. I had found this place by accident while doing a search for something else. We took a chance and were not one bit disappointed.
Joey Votto, Cincy's 1st baseman and fellow Italian at bat during the game

From the diner, we walked a few blocks, then took another taxi ride to Wrigley Field and were in our seats in time for the 12:05 PM start of the game with the Cincinnati Reds. I might mention that Friday’s weather was cool and very windy with a dark and cloudy sky. Saturday, the wind had died down a bit and the sun was shining brightly. It was still cool, but the sun helped with the attitude of the day tremendously.
The larger than life Macaroni N' Cheese noodle showcases the famous Wrigley Field sign

The Cubs won that game and we enjoyed being back at the ballpark. Mrs. Spadoman grew up only 8 blocks from Wrigley Field, and her Grand parents lived less than one block from where we had breakfast at Glenn’s Diner. We figured from recalling memories that we had been to a ballgame together at Wrigley probably back in 1971 or 72. This was our first return to see the Cubs in 39 or 40 years. The ballpark looked beautiful for as old as it is. We both noted it sounded and smelled the same.
Mrs. Spadoman with the scoreboard in the background

The crowded streets after the game made it hard to find a taxi. We did ponder using the city bus, but the line to get on the bus was crazy. We used a bicycle powered rickshaw to get us a mile or so away from the ball park. We only waited moments for an empty taxi to drive by and take us back to the hotel so we could plan and get ready for the next activity.
Our rickshaw ride was in a cart that looked exactly like this one

So far, we’ve eaten at three restaurants, took a ride in a bicycle powered rickshaw, seen a broadway play in one of Chicago’s premier theaters and went to a Major League ball game where the home team wins, and we clocked just about 24 hours in the city.
Part Two will be posted soon, maybe tomorrow or the next day. Please come back to hear about the second half of our trip.



Jeannie said...

Sounds like a lot of fun - and exhausting!

I'll bet it's hard to get high rise window cleaners in the Windy City. Scary!

Anonymous said...

The only time I have been to Chicago I was driving a U-Haul, it was rush hour, terrible. For sure if I were to visit again I would take the Megabus as that just is so much easier than anything, let somebody else drive.
Okay a funny Chicago joke. A person had a cat that had bad gas, they named the cat Chicago because it was a "windy kitty", not sure if that is true, but it sure is funny. Great blog, I love to read about people's travel destinations and such. Enjoyed.

Mel said...'ll have to go back then! Sounds like you and the Mrs. had a phenomenal time of it--and that's just the first 24 hours. WOW did you have a packed agenda! Maybe next time will give you some time for wandering around purposes.

What lovely photos---and it sounds like the trip was everything and MORE!
AND the Cubbies won!! LOL JUST for you and her....and it was a FUN win to boot. (thought of ya, just so ya know!)

Annie Jeffries said...

Haven't been to Chicago since I was a kid. It's at the top of my list of American cities I want to visit.

susan said...

Great pictures - especially the one of barb at Wrigley Field. How nice the Cubs gave you a win.