August 10 – “Soliciting and Gambling are prohibited on CTA Vehicles.”

The Green Line

When Madison and I decide to tour a city, we OWN it. Starting on Wacker, we walked along the Chicago River and then down around The Loop. I just can’t get over the beauty and variety of the architecture – there is always something catching your eye. Coffee caught my eye on Jackson – Intelligentisa Coffee. I think I say this a lot (easily confirmed through looking back on past V Life posts) but they have the best lattes! Amazing flavor and awesome baristas. There are several locations around the city so you have NO EXCUSE not to try it the next time you visit.

What better way to see the city than touring around on the L? We took the Green line almost from end to end – getting off to explore Oak Hill (Frank Lloyd Wright homes) and University of Chicago (beautiful campus, although kind of in the ghetto, and reminded us of touring Cambridge colleges). When I studied abroad in Paris, if I couldn’t walk to my destination I took the bus whenever possible so I could see the sights and not be underground in stinky metro stations. In the same way, it was great seeing different parts of Chicago I would not have been able to see just by walking around.

My favorite part of the day was driving up to Lincoln Park and stopping at Lake Michigan which had awesome waves.  There was a storm brewing and the wind was absolutely insane – walking along the beach the sand was blowing around and the waves were crashing on the road. It looked like we were in the middle of the ocean, not on the edge of a major city.

Moving inland a little we found our way to a lily-pond that reminded me of Giverny.  I hope I get the chance to go back in the spring when everything will be in bloom. Part of the reason I like Chicago so much is that it reminds me of Paris – so I am delighted that there is a Giverny just down the road!

Hands down, Lincoln Park is my favorite Chicago neighborhood. We went to a fantastic tapas restaurant, Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, and then walked around the surrounding streets for a few hours before we could barely keep our eyes open.

I can definitely see myself here.




August 9 – Chitown

Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago

We’re backkkk! Want to know a fun fact? Almost exactly a year ago I was in Chicago visiting Madison during his travel team stint in Chicago. I am so happy to be back exploring this wonderful city – and this time, we aren’t just touring, we’re neighborhood shopping! That’s right, after living in DC (and still loving it) for 6 years I am ready for a change and it looks like Chicago will be the next V Life home.

Who here likes early flights? My hand is not raised. We flew out of DCA this morning at 8am and last night I fell asleep around 2:30am. When I know I have to wake up early I just can’t sleep. As you can imagine, I arrived in the windy city as a very sleepy V. Even an hour’s time change confuses my circadian rhythm (I am very sensitive) so when we arrived at the hotel at 10am CST, I was beyond ready for lunch. We tried Pizza Due, the second location opened by the Pizzeria Unos guys.  Unos, as all of you people not living under a rock know, is a chain. Due remained a one-location restaurant, so you can only find it in River North, a section of Chicago (one of the neighborhoods on our “I-could-live-here” list). The verdict: Deep dish is okay but I prefer thin crust pizza.  Their toppings are perfect- chunky tomato sauce, cheese and sausage but I’m not a fan of the crust…. which is the point of deep dish.

After walking around for an hour on the Magnificent Mile we walked back to the hotel to get some warmer clothes –  the heat wave they were experiencing turned to fall the day we arrived. I decided to lie down for a few minutes and close my eyes. Three hours later, Madison woke me up asking if perhaps I would at any point on our trip, like to see Chicago?

Rested and feeling a million times better, we set out to explore. It was storming outside so we wandered around with our umbrellas, stopping at a few stores to buy me sweaters and warmer clothes, when we stumbled upon the Chicago Institute of Art. If you ever go to Chitown PLEASE go to this museum! Oh my goodness, they had all my favorites – Monet-VanGogh-Gaughuin-Cassat-Singer Sargent, etc. There was also a fabulous exhibit featuring Roy  Lichtenstein’s collection.

After indulging in some post-art viewing hot dog chowing (mustard and relish, maybe some onion please – no pickle or pepper or tomato on MY dawg) we hopped on the L to Wrigley Field. We met up with Madison’s friends at a few bars, waiting for the game to start, which was delayed due to very imposing rain clouds with fantastic lightning. After a few hours though, the game had started and it became clear there was no intention of actually going to the game. Madison kept saying I had to go experience Wrigley so eventually (around the 7th inning) we tried to buy tickets but no scalpers had a group of 9.  Well what do you know, I sweet-talked my way into the stadium and was able to walk around and take pictures and see a little bit of the Reds beating the Cubs. I am very proud of my clearly powerful persuasive skills and now I can say I’ve been to Wrigley!