Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chicago for $4.50

I'll take it.  $4.50?  I had a block of time on Friday where I could either drive to the Naval Base and mill around for the afternoon...or, I could think outside the box and how to maximize my time.  I chose the latter.  Arriving before noon to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, I previously spoke to the Alamo Rental Car counter who graciously offered to lock up my luggage for me so I could take the Blue Line into the city.  After a shuttle ride to Alamo and then back to the airport, I found the train's kiosk.  This machine, just like the one I encountered in Washington D.C. a month ago, kicked my mental butt.  I just stared at them trying to figure out what to buy and how to buy it.  You got to love the unanimous rule: "No credit card.  Cash only.  No change given."  So for the "only carrying 20s" traveler and needs a $2.25 fare, sorry about your luck.  Seriously...that's the racket they have going on.  Luckily, I had a few dollar bills and for $2.25, I took the 45min train right into the heart of the city.

I'm a die-hard "Top Chef" fan.  I love the show and you know what, I don't cook a lick.  I do make a killer homemade hummus recipe, though.  The bomb!  Anyway, there are a few places I wanted to go by.  One was Frontera by Chef Rick occasional judge on the show with his restaurant on Clark St in Chicago.  I got off the train at Clark and walked north, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of it and the menu.  I took Clark all the way to Chicago Avenue and never did see it.  That's OK, because I wanted to walk through the Magnificent Mile..ya know, where Oprah is!  (I never did find her, by the way)  When I got to Chicago Avenue, the top of the Mile, I realized I was only a block from Moody Bible Institute.  I'd never been there before but have had family go there and I'm an avid listener of WCRF, 103.3FM which is a Moody Radio station.  A few moments later, I was walking through their campus amongst students wearing ID's, texting, studying, and enjoying life.  In all honestly, I wanted to walk in their shoes for a day...I never was a "typical" college student...night school, distance education...that's how I got my degrees.  Anyway....moving on.

Time was now past noon and I was starving.  On my To Do List was Giordano's deep dish, stuffed pizza.  Thanks to my iPhone, I knew it was only a few blocks away...the original location.  Dubbed "The Best" by countless publications, I had to try it.  Walking in, I was told 15-30min to wait and if I could, please pre-order my pizza.  Pre-order?  In a sit-down restaurant?  So I did.  $19 for a small pizza, too.  "This had better be good!!!"  This price was far outside of my comfort zone but I splurged for just once.  Once seated and my pizza came.  Wow!!!  Well over 1" high in the center...sauce on top..and super good.  1/2 a pizza later, I was done.  Next time, someone needs to be with me to give me some help!  I carried those leftovers around for the rest of the day...they're in the fridge now..not so sure I should eat them, though.  Hmmm....

I then made my way down the Magnificent Mile, heading south.  I swear I walked by some models.  They looked like they could jump right on to the Victoria's Secret runway.  No surprise, though.  I walking through the high-end shopping places I "shop" by walking by and observing all the "suits" inside the stores standing by for the next self-indulgent customer to walk in.  But there!!  An Apple store!!  As a newly-christened Apple customer, I just HAD to visit.  iPhones were everywhere, laptops, iPads, desktops...beautiful sea of white enamel-covered technology.  I went over and eyed one of those desktops...secretly wishing for one, then carried myself back down the Mile.  Along the way, I simply took my time and soaked in the sights, snapping pictures as often as I saw something I wanted to take with me.  Eventually, I got to Millennium Park.

I saw an events sign at the street mentioning something about opera rehearsal and thought that might be cool to observe for awhile.  I thought nothing of it and started a stroll through the park.  Not long, though, I spotted a performance pavilion that was a shiny monster of metal art from a distance and faintly, I could hear the orchestra and singing.  I found my way and spent the next hour just listening and letting those little hairs stand up on the back of my head.  I LOVE listening to orchestras play and combining excellent acoustics and the singing in this facility was just magnificent...certainly a highlight of the day.  I caught one song via my iPhone and it is below.  If you don't want to enjoy the who 4+ minutes, I recommend moving to about 2min, 50sec and listening from there to the end...the most powerful parts by far.

More walking, including a walk along Lake Michigan, a huge fountain, a wine-tasting event, a bike path littered with bikes and afternoon runners (JEALOUS!!!), and finally a rest stop at a Starbucks.  That was my day.  It was now coming up on 7pm and I was pooped.  I found my way back to the Blue Line (again, the iPhone showed me the direction and how it was only 2 blocks away...LOVE THAT THING!) and bought $2.25 worth of fare back to O'Hare the way I came.  Below, is a slideshow of my photos from the day.  Clicking on it will allow you to view full-screen, if you'd prefer.  Absolutely wonderful architecture in this city!  I will return!  (hopefully, with Marjie next time....she was the only thing that could've made the day 100% complete)

So not bad, eh?  Outside of the pizza, Chicago for $4.50.


Kimberlee J. said...

I'll volunteer to help you out by finishing a Giordano's pizza anytime!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful day! Giordano's was the restaurant we ate at the two days we were in Chicago for my review class. It was in Greek town and owned by Greeks. We loved it! Beautiful pictures!