October 17, 2012

Chicago eats, observatories, and shops

This week is going to be post and picture overload week, but I know if I don't immediately record things, they'll all fade and slip out of my mind. And I want to remember every second of Chicago because it's my new best friend. So brace yourself for overshares.

Today started with a trip to The Magnificent Mile, a mile (or more) of shops and shops and shops.

Most of these shops aren't really my speed of shopping (i.e. too freaking expensive), but I did find some places to love amongst the $500 dollar handkerchiefs. Leonida's Chocolate Cafe was the home of my one and only Magnificent Mile purchase. Definitely worth it. 

Even though I didn't buy anything else, I discovered some items to covet at the North Face store, but I'm hoping I can find the same thing back in Alabama and support my local economy. Don't worry, Chicago, you are still getting loads of our funds. 

But back to the coveting, this running skirt was so light and airy, and then I realized that the undershorts are made of equally light and airy mesh. Best idea ever! North Face, you are so smart. 

Plus, I fell in love with those boots on the left. I have a boot obsession, but I only need to wear them like two minutes a year. Maybe less this record-breaking-high-temperatures year. 

So I played it cool (or hot) and walked quickly back to my hotel. 

Trump does this hotel junk right. 

Next on the agenda was meeting my Oiselle teammate for a run. We met in front of the Trump and took off on a little around-the-town adventure. I only ran into her four hundred times during the run because I'm a very awkward city streets runner. Today's run proved that I have a horrible sense of traffic movement and direction in general, so it was lucky that I had Kelly to help navigate. She was super nice about me almost taking her out all of those times, and bonus, she's amazingly easy to talk to and has great insight on the city! 

We took the run out to the trail running along Lake Michigan. It's so nice that right next to the crowded, never-ending activity of the city are almost 20 miles of trails along a peaceful expanse of water. It was extremely calming and beautiful. 

Thanks, Kelly, for this picture. And let me just point out that 1) we were extremely cool in our matching Oiselle knickers and 2) I need to take photo posing lessons from Kelly. She looks like a super model compared to my linebacker-ishness (or some other equally unladylike thing). Meeting her today is another step towards cementing the Illinois Marathon as a plan in my mind. 

We ran about three miles together, and when she headed back to work (go, Kelly, for running on your lunch break!), I decided to utilize the Trump facilities to finish off my run. I wanted to experiment with a little speed work this week on my newly healed foot. Speed work and city streets don't really mesh, but this view from the treadmill made coming inside pretty bearable.  

I even squeezed in some planks, lunges, leg presses and foam rolling. The gym at Trump does not disappoint with variety of equipment. Plus, they dispense water at hot, cold, or room temp, and I need that. 

After the workout, I had to hustle down to shower before heading to catch my husband's presentation. Taking pictures in the elevator mirror is one of my new hobbies for the week. 

For anyone interested (that's everyone here, right?), Yo Husband talked about driving successful risk technology projects. And even from my non-quant, non-banker perspective, it was interesting and held my attention. Way to go, dude!

By the time he finished the presentation, it was 2 p.m., and I was about to gnaw my own arm off. So I took to the elevator (and more self portraits) and then out to find some Chicago dogs.

But I got distracted by the cool looking people sitting outside of M Burger. That many hipsters can't be wrong about delicious food, right?

So I had to check it out. The simple menu was a clue that it would be good. I ordered the Old Fashioned with some fries, and the walk back to the hotel felt soooo much longer than the walk over. The burger and fry fumes were burning a hole in my will to live another moment without scarfing this food.

This is the picture of my ultimate happiness. 

The burgers tasted just like the many truck stop burgers of my childhood. Truck stops in the 80's had the best burgers on the planet.

After only a couple of hours of down time after my late lunch, I was ready for food round two. The best part of restaurant hunting is walking the Chicago streets and making big city discoveries. First, we discovered that under the L is the worst place to try and talk on your cell phone. You're welcome for that little tidbit.

Second, we discovered the most ambiguous sign in Chicago. Is it a warning for the senior citizens or against them? Or is it just informational. Like, note to everyone: senior citizens exist. 

The only thing that could cure the uneasiness we felt about this sign was some more delicious food. We found BIG and little's based on awesome Urbanspoon reviews

The staff had this weird we-could-care-less-if-you-like-us-or-this-restaurant attitude when we came in, but somehow during our visit they got slightly friendlier. Kind of a weird vibe. 

Here I am confused about why they were acting so cray.

Weird, y'all, but at least you have happy paint colors and plenty of menu options. 

We basically ordered any taco that sounded delicious. Some of our choices were listed on a secondary menu by the register. Our final taco selection: mahi, shrimp, spicy thai, fried plantain, sweet pork, and tilapia. Our favorites were the shrimp and sweet pork, but the friend plantain taco was surprisingly awesome too.

If you go here, remember that they only accept cash.

After stuffing to the max, we headed to the John Hancock building. We heard that, in lieu of purchasing $18 observatory tickets, you can just head to the lounge and order something in exchange for equally good views. Great tip!

We ordered one dessert to share, but left a good tip to make up for the lameness of our order. But we got to stare at this for a half hour. The city view is as mesmerizing as a campfire. No one can take their eyes off of it. 

The picture absolutely does not do the view justice. And standing right next to the window and looking down was freaky to the max, but I had to do it anyway. 

Day two of Chicago = even more awesome than day one.


  1. Sounds (and looks) like you're having a great time! When I tagged along with my hubby when he was at some conference...I did window shopping on Magnificent Mile...the stuff is good to look at but man you are right, it is freaking expensive and I am cheap, lol. Your eats look mighty yummy and glad you were able to get in a run with a friend! :) Looking forward to your posts...I really liked Chicago!

  2. You guys are dominating Chicago! Love that senior citizen sign, what the heck is that about. Maybe if it said Slow Senior Citizens- like the sign for children it would make sense? I am a little jealous of the Lakefront running:). Yes Illinois marathon, yes!

  3. Since you are enjoying Chicago so much, you have to run the Chicago marathon!! Absolute best race experience ever! This was my fourth marathon - but first Chicago. Absolutely awesome!!

    1. Also on my wish list for sure! It's just so hard to get in.

  4. Glad you are enjoying Chicago! I love it here!!!! I am also thinking about the Illinois Marathon. We'll see!

  5. Love your pictures and the views are incredible! Looks like your having a great time.

  6. Senior citizens sign and commentary = epic, too funny

  7. Wow, that is a lot of Chicago in one day! I'm jealous! :) Also, I now want a hamburger for lunch. There is not an M Burger near my office, but there is a Five Guys.

    1. Dang it ... forgot that I brought my lunch today! No burger for me.

    2. Is M Burger an Illinois chain? I've never seen one before.

      And just don't pack your lunch tomorrow!

      Also, do you work downtown? You should have come running with us!!

  8. I love the post, love the pictures... but I just want to say that I'm obsessed with your glasses. They are perfect on you. So cute!

  9. You feel very free to post as many photos and travel stories as you can. Chicago is on my list of places to go and so I love the info. I also love your stripy outfits (nice 'capsule' packing strategy) and the view from the gym which is PHENOMENAL!!!

    I can't imagine living somewhere warm all year round and not wearing boots. Ugh. I love the sunshine here in NorCal but can't wait for boots weather. No pleasing some girls, eh?

    1. And I'm wearing stripes again today. It's getting out if control!

  10. Loved this post. love lots of photo. the north face skirt=adorable. I am so jealous. I need a vacation. Oh and those boots are to die for!!!!!

  11. I love this little adventure you are on. I've only driven through Chicago, never stopped. But my son, J, loves Chicago. He's been to many major cities but he's never been as excited as he was about Chicago! I hope to visit some day!

  12. What a gorgeous view! Hope the dessert was delicious too.


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