A Wedding in Chicago!
♫ On State Street, that great street
I just wanna say
They do things there
They don’t do on Broadway, say
They have the time, the time or their life ♫
I saw a man, he danced with his wife
In Chicago, Chicago, my home home town ♫
– Written by Fred Fisher, 1922
78 degrees on October 9!
It’s not my hometown, but I was in Chicago last weekend….and I saw a groom who danced with his bride! I was there for M & M’s wedding. I was only there for two nights, but it was a fabulous weekend. The wedding was so much fun, and I can’t imagine Chicago being any more charming than it was last weekend. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s, it was beautiful.
Hotel Allegro, in the heart of downtown Chicago, was the venue for the Friday night wedding. It seemed to me that the hotel did an amazing job, and the bride confirmed that everything had been perfect – just the way she and Mr. T wanted it!
The Lion King was playing next door to Hotel Allegro at the Palace Theatre
The last time I visited downtown Chicago, I was 18 and I flew there with my Mom from Minneapolis to go shopping for clothes for college. I remember that it was a fun mother/daughter trip, but we were really focused on shopping and didn’t really do any other touristy things. This time I loved walking around the city.
The Chicago Theatre on State Street
On Thursday night, eight of us decided we wanted a real Chicago pizza. The groom, who is from Chicago, recommended Giordano’s. We went there and six of us ordered their “world famous” stuffed pizza with sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions. The other two chose the “world famous” veggie thin crust pizza.
I really wanted to try the deep-dish (stuffed) pizza, even though I am a thin crust fan. I have to say that, although I can appreciate that Giordano’s does a fine job with their stuffed pizzas, I remain in the thin crust camp. If you like that style of pizza, you’ll probably love it. I am glad I had the opportunity to experience a Chicago-style pizza. (Sorry, I failed to get a picture of the pizza.)
After dinner we walked to Millennium Park. The Cloud Gate and the Crown Fountain were beautiful at night. (Unfortunately, I only had my cell phone camera, so most of my photos didn’t turn out well.)
The other Chicago taste-treat that I wanted to try was a good Chicago hot dog. The night before Byron had noticed Portillo’s at 100 W. Ontario Street (the corner of W. Ontario and N. Clark Street). The line of people waiting to get hot dogs was going out the door. We took that as a good sign; he, Margaret and I walked there for lunch on Friday, the wedding day.
Orders are placed at the counter, but before you get there friendly employees come down the line to write your order on a paper bag. I told the woman that it was my first Chicago hot dog and I wanted the full experience; she grinned and asked if I wanted “everything”. Not knowing what “everything” would be, I said yes because I wanted a real Chicago hot dog.
I turned my paper bag in at the counter and walked to the pick-up counter. Within a minute, I had my bag with my Chicago hot dog ready to go.
So how was it? Well, I must say that it was one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had! The combination of flavors was so good with no one ingredient over-powering the others. I learned that a hot dog with “everything” means a skin-on all-beef hot dog with mustard, relish, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, a dill pickle spear and sport peppers on a warm poppy seed bun. (Sport peppers were new to me. They are small medium-hot pickled peppers.)
My third Chicago food discovery was Garrett’s CaramelCrisp® popcorn. I had never heard of it, but it has been a favorite in Chicago since 1949. M & M treated us to this taste treat in the hospitality room at the hotel.
While walking around town, I came across one of the Garrett Popcorn Shops.
Garrett’s caramel corn is fabulous and addictive; I highly recommend it if you are in Chicago. (Or you can order it from their website.)
On Saturday, my last day in Chicago, I returned to Millennium Park to see it in the daylight. It is an amazing gathering place for the people of Chicago as well as for visitors. On such a gloriously beautiful day, it was a great place to spend the afternoon.
The Cloud Gate (aka “the bean”) beautifully reflects the city and the sky. I loved walking around it and under it and viewing the changing reflections.
Chicago, reflected in the Cloud Gate (That’s me in the green shirt.)
The Crown Fountain is a fascinating fountain that consists of two 50-foot towers separated by a shallow reflecting pool. The towers each feature an ever-changing display of the faces of about 1,000 Chicago residents. Each video image is displayed for about 5 minutes. The eyes blink, and eventually the lips pucker and a stream of water flows from the lips. It is mesmerizing. On this particular warm Saturday, there were a lot of people enjoying wading in the water.
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry, is a gorgeous outdoor venue for concerts. It has 4,000 fixed seats and an immense grass field that provides seating for an additional 7,000 people. Above it all is a crisscrossing system of steel pipes which support the sound system; apparently, it’s able to deliver the sound of a concert theater. I’d love to hear a concert there some day.
The Great Lawn of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
My last stop at Millennium Park was The Art Institute of Chicago. I had long wanted to visit this world-class art museum, and it did not disappoint. It’s always amazing to see paintings that I love “in person”. Photos, even in the most beautiful art books, can never fully capture the colors and the light. I spent almost 4 hours there; although I was able to see a lot, it was not enough time to see everything.
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942
Van Gogh, The Bedroom, 1889
Roger Brown, The Leaning Tower of Touhy, 1980
While in The Art Institute, I heard a variety of languages spoken by other visitors. I’m sure it’s not unusual for Chicago to attract tourists from around the world, but there may have been a few more last weekend.
Sunday, 10-10-10 was the date for the Chicago Marathon. 45,000 people from around the world competed, including the best man from M & M’s wedding! On Saturday I rode the elevator at the Allegro with a couple who were dressed for a morning run. I asked them if they were running in the marathon on Sunday. They replied that, indeed, they were, and asked me if I were running!….. I think Bob laughed a little too hard when I told him about the encounter.
I’m so glad I went to M & M’s wedding! I love going to weddings, but especially when the couple seems so happy and so perfect for each other. I felt privileged to be able to share their joyous day. Bob and I wish them a lifetime of love and happiness!