May 31, 2021
Feeling adventurous, Teresa and I headed north to Chicago, fully vaccinated and hoping that the worst was over for our pandemic. On the way, we stopped in Louisville, home of the slugger, horses and hot Kentucky Browns. And by stopping in Louisville, I mean actually Indiana, with an amazingly great view of the city. Time to find some horse races!
June 1, 2021
The next day we continued north to Chicago, the Windy City. The Second City. Chitown (careful with that pronunciation). Arriving late afternoon, we wandered around aimlessly looking like locals or hobos as the numerous locals appeared to be. But as the song goes, “if you can make it here you’ll make it anywhere”. Start spreading the news.
June 2, 2021
Our first morning in Chicago was spent touring the downtown area around “the loop” and visiting architecturally significant sites. After several hours and many miles, we stopped at a little Puerto Rican Korean restaurant for some lunch. They are still very strict in their adherence to COVID safety measures.
Such a difference compared to the Atlanta “Covid? What Covid?” attitude. It’s hard to know what’s more sensible at this point given the wide availability of effective vaccines. But the strong measures still being taken in Chicago probably explains the ghost town like atmosphere in “The Loop”.
Later in the afternoon, we took the much-recommended river cruise and saw it all. The city is proud of its architectural heritage unlike so many other cities that ignore it (New York City) or are adverse to it (Atlanta). And the food here’s not bad either.
June 3, 2021
Today was Frank Lloyd Wright Day. Heading into the western suburb of Oak Park we took a tour of Frank’s first design, a home he designed in 1889 at the tender age of 20 for his newlywed wife after getting his first job with the big Chicago architecture firm of Louis Sullivan. A rather oddball of a house that was added on to numerous times, it was a test lab of sorts for many of his design ideas. Fast forward 20 years and we find Frank newly divorced but on his way to fame, fortune and scandal. He put his now ex wife, five children along with his elderly mother into this house and converted it into an apartment of 8 rental units that JOINTLY shared only one indoor bathroom. Oh, Frank!
We then headed to Chicago’s Southside (gulp) and the site of his famous “prairie style” designed, Robie House constructed from brick, granite and steel beams. Along the way we toured the Oak Park neighborhood, home to more than a dozen of his designs evoking a long lost past when architects were commonly used in the process of home building. Sigh.
Later that evening we had dinner at a rooftop restaurant. On the way back we walked thru Chicago’s financial district. It was dead. Nobody. Here’s a picture I took from the middle of the street, no traffic in sight, in front of the equivalent of Wall Street.
From there we headed back to the hotel on Grant Park and stopped at a bar where, finally, they asked for proof of vaccination before allowing us to enter. Upon showing our vaccination cards, we were allowed in. It was a vibrant and raucous crowd. Finally, I thought, some rational, scientific and common sense. Viva la vaccinacion!
June 4, 2021
It’s our last day in Chicago and it’s art day. We started off by visiting the Art Institute of Chicago. Like the Met in New York or the Louvre, the place is just too big to see in a day so we focused on the current major exhibit – The Claude Monet Exhibit. Chicago is rightfully proud of its connection to Claude Monet and the institute purchased several of his works for their collection while he was still living.
One thing I didn’t know about Monet is that he started off as a street caricaturist in Paris before turning to the Impressionistic paintings for which he is known.
Miles later we left the museum and headed to Chicago’s now most famous landmark, rivaling the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty, the BEAN. We gawked in amazement for a couple of seconds and headed on ending our tour in front of Picasso’s famous and controversial statue.
Dinner and cocktails at the end of Navy Pier. An Uber ride of 2 miles during the day is $12. But now? At 6 o’clock on a Friday night? It’s $48. Everything has been turned into a battle of supply verses demand.