Chicago – USA – 2016 – Day 2


It was a very cloudy morning. We started it off by doing a quick workout in the hotel’s fitness facility. Our first full day in Chicago and my itinerary was jammpacked. First stop was to Bowtruss (406 Wells St) to grab some coffee beans. When I travel, I like to pick up a bag of beans for my father from places that have unique approaches in either roasting their own beans to sourcing directly from smaller partners where the purchase of beans gives back to the farmers and whatnot. I picked up a bag of Canopy ($14USD), Foundation ($14USD) & Huehuetenango ($19USD) which also gave got me a free large chai which was very delicious.

Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. I ordered the Cheddar Bacon Turkey Flatbread ($3.39USD) but stayed for the free WIFI.

Chicago has this nice gritty city setting that was the perfect place to film the Dark Knight as the city of Gotham. We walked to Randolph & Wells St – Standard Parking – a location that was used in the film Dark Knight. We went up to the top of the parking structure for that nice spiral but security was quick to come to us and kick us out.

We hopped on the brown line 1 stop and made our way to the Skydeck. Prior to arriving, I booked the Skydeck & Art Institute combo ($135USD+tax). We got to the Skydeck at Jackson but were told at that time if we were to go up, the visibility is 0% due to the clouds. We decided to come back another time as our ticket combo can be used up to 7 days of the intended date purchased. You can also split it up on different days. We started to head towards the Art Institute with some stops along the way. I tried to take us on our own architecture tour but alas I failed. We passed by the Rookery (under construction) and missed the Chicago Board of Trade & Federal Plaza. Next time I will actually go on an architecture tour so someone else can lead us through the buildings no problem.

We finally arrived at the Art Institute and walked through the main building (Blue building) which housed the Asian, Indian & African art as well as miniatures, paper weights and photography. My favourite section was the Japanese and Southeast Asian art. We felt our stomachs rumbling so we left and walked over to the Chicago Athletic Association Building which now holds a few restaurants including Shake Shack on the main floor – 12 S. Michigan Avenue. It is such a beautiful building with gold and marble detailing but I wish we joined the tour to learn more about the building and the ability to explore the building which otherwise had security guards. Back to Shake Shack – I got the Shackburger and my ultimate GO-TO Peanut Butter Shake ($5.29USD + $529USD).

After our late lunch, we returned to the Art Institute and finished off the blue wing and moved towards the Green wing which houses the modern art. I have to say I don’t understand art or at least I can’t appreciate it as well as others. I know some of the notable artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock and whatnot but there were some pieces of art that I can’t comprehend how it actually made it into the collection. Let’s just say it was a interesting day taking in art but the ancient artifacts were more appealing to me. The Art Institute is very large and we didn’t make it far into the other 2 wings as well as the added exhibit of Van Gogh’s Bedrooms (extra $5USD).

We ventured over to Millennium Park like every other tourist to see Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate also known as The Bean. It reflections the city’s skyline but my favourite part of it was of course walking under it into the middle. The mirrored sculpture is distorted on its underbelly making for beautiful photos. By this time, we saw the skies had cleared and decided to make our way back to the Skydeck.

We weren’t the only ones to think of visiting the Skydeck as there was a good amount of tourists there as well – go figure. The Skydeck still referred to as the Willis Tower – Sears Tower features 3 glass box ledges that let you overhang from the top of the skyscraper 108 storeys above ground. It allows the visitors to experience the views Chicago has to offer. In my experience, the CN Tower has more appeal as well of the Top of the Rock – Rockerfellar in New York.

We lined up in a line to take our photo in one of the boxes and stayed up there to watch the sunset. It doesn’t get really hot up there with direct sunlight just so you know.

We made our way to Bottlefork (441 N. Clark Street) for dinner. We ordered Korean BBQ wings ($10USD), Brussel Sprouts with chorizo ($10USD), Octopus ($21USD) and Curry Lemongrass Mussels ($12USD). The mussels were overall my favourite. The Korean BBQ wings had a nice zing to it but a little too saucy for me. The Brusselsprouts with chorizo was flavourful but also very vinegary and the octopus was a little too salty. Nonetheless, all the food was tasty. The ambiance in the restaurant was also nice especially for a place to go to grab a drink and tapas styled food after work.

After dinner, we wanted to make our way to Suite Lounge however the weather did not agree with us as we saw long and distinct lines of lightning in the skies so we headed back to the hotel with a bottle of wine to end the night.

Chicago – USA – 2016 – Day 1


We booked a pretty decent deal with that included flight and accommodation for $555CAD/person. I travelled with my friends Klarice & Crystle during March break for a 4 day, 3 night short trip to Chicago. Main goals of this trip: eat and shop.

We flew with Air Canada – Rouge Express and got there in about an hour and half. Chicago is an hour behind of Toronto but seeing as the Sunday prior was the start of daylight savings; it didn’t feel any different.

Once we got through the airport, we went straight for the CTA train terminal and purchased the Ventra Card ($5USD) and loaded up a 3 day CTA day pass ($20USD). Be warned that the machines don’t give you any change! So bring exact change. You need to purchase the Ventra Card if you want to purchase anything more than a 1 Day CTA pass.

We hopped on the Blue line to Washington and then got off and walked through a mall and hopped onto the red line to Chicago / Grand. We stayed at the Godfrey Hotel (127 W Huron St, Chicago). The hotel is in the heart of North River and features its own restaurant Dolce and a lounge with a balcony on the 5th floor. We made ample use of the fitness centre although it is very limited with its equipment. The main lobby is beautifully decorated and smells like cinnamon. The staff were all very helpful and friendly. We got a double bed room and it was very spacious and clean including 2 sinks in the washroom and 1 at the “mini bar” area.

Once we checked in and dropped off our things, we walked around to find some food. We had an early dinner at Pizzeria Due (619 N Wabash Ave). Our waitress Janae was very delightful and attentive. You can’t come to Chicago and not have deep dish pizza. We of course ordered ourselves the Numero Uno – cheese, fresh sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. Between 2 people, a small is more than enough! (small – $18.49USD) and a individual Spinach ($8.49USD) and washed it down with a bottle of Beringer White Zinfandel ($17.97USD) with a shrimp and crab dip to start ($11.99USD). Be warned that the deep dish pizzas take about 45 minutes to cook! The crust is nice and crispy whereas the interior is the perfect consistency and delicious.

After dinner, we walked across the street to Trader Joes – where I purchased my go-to item: Unsulfurated & Unsweetened dried mangoes; to my disappointment there were no dark chocolate edamame beans. The night was still young and we had enough time to walk the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Ave to find ourselves at Uniqlo. It is open until 9PM and we sure made sure to use up our time there. Needless to say, Uniqlo is one of my main stores that I shop at especially since it is not available in Canada yet. I ended up purchasing 8 items but all items that will be used beyond the price I purchased them at. The Easy Pants will change your life if you haven’t tried yet ladies!

We returned back to the Godfrey Hotel to rest momentarily before heading out to Beercade HQ North River (213 W Institute Pl,) to end our night. All the games (minus 3) are free play as long as you purchase a minimum of 1 drink. We ordered the fries as well as a mango beer, Steigl Radler and Delirium. They have classic arcade games including Ms Pac-Man, 2 rows of pinball machines, NBA Jam, Time Crisis, Frogger, Tron, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter just to name a few. If that doesn’t bring back nostaligia for you (80’s and older) they also play older movies such as Ferris Bueller, Karate Kid, & Back to the Future on the TV screens there as a DJ spins live.

What was strange about our first day was that as the day went on, it was actually warmer at night than it was during the day.