Breezing Through the Windy City

Monday Musings by Melinda M.

Recently, I traveled to Chicago for work. I had never been and didn’t have any expectations, except that it would be sweltering hot but it wasn’t – the weather was beautiful!

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The famous “bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park

Our meetings and accommodations were at the Silversmith Hotel which is in The Loop, Chicago’s downtown core. It was a sweet hotel in pewter and gray tones with a quiet feel and comfortable rooms. Is this what’s called a boutique hotel? Not sure, but I did like staying someplace that wasn’t a personality-less chain.

I arrived at 6:30 am – rush hour. Reluctantly (because I was exhausted), I took the L train which is very easy to find in O’Hare. For $5 and within an hour I was at my hotel’s doorstep. The L was clean, comfortable, much cheaper and probably faster than a taxi or Uber. I dropped my bags, met a coworker for a delicious, nutritious breakfast at Goddess and the Baker (where the baked goods looked divine!), and then walked the two blocks toward Millennium Park.

 

Wow. Another surprise! There’s nothing like nature in a city. It makes you really breathe! And since it was summertime, the park was bustling with people taking an early lunch and just enjoying time together – strolling through the colorful flowers, the fountains, across the paths and through the playgrounds. There was even a mini golf course and a climbing wall center. Around every proverbial corner, this park delivered an aesthetic surprise. Then, in the not too distant distance, there was Lake Michigan with sailboats docked at the pier and sand – SAND! – along its banks. I was super surprised by its color. I expected a dark blue but instead was confronted with turquoises and blues that I see in the ocean here.

I took an architecture boat tour on the Chicago River which I recommend even for non-architect buffs like me. Seeing the city from its river and being asked to focus attention on individual buildings made each one fascinating. I had cheeseburgers and beer at midnight at the Billy Goat Tavern under Michigan Avenue, went to a taping of Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, strolled through The Art Institute of Chicago with my mouth agape and enjoyed the new American Writers Museum where, surprisingly, nearly every exhibit was interactive! What a find.

 

The thing I noticed about Chicago is that while it’s a city with its requisite skyscrapers, the sky had that mid-western expansiveness about it. Just really wide, blue and seemingly within reach. Maybe it’s the lake, maybe it’s the river, but the city just felt comfortable. It was a delightful week!

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