Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chicago Sightseeing, Day 1

Check me out! I'm actually getting my recaps started as planned. I'm such an overachiever.

Eric and I left for Chicago last Wednesday evening. We caught an 8:00 p.m. flight out of LaGuardia, and after arriving at O'Hare we took the train into the city. We had no trouble finding our hotel, which was older and inexpensive (with abysmal water pressure), but perfectly serviceable with a large room, king size bed, fridge, microwave, and location near Millennium Park that was perfect. We got all checked in and settled before running across the street to Dunkin Donuts for a late-night snack, then it was off to bed to rest up for our Big Day of Sightseeing.

We got an early start on Thursday (our anniversary!) because we wanted to hit the Doughnut Vault, a delightful little place a couple of Eric's coworkers recommended. They open at 8:30 a.m. to sell their fresh, delicious doughnuts until they are all gone, then they close up shop. We got a little turned around on our way there but ended up finding it in plenty of time to get in line.

Waiting in line at the Doughnut Vault

The line moved quickly, so we had doughnuts in hand in no time. We decided to get one of everything, which included: an old fashioned buttermilk doughnut (my favorite), a gingerbread stack, a glazed chestnut doughnut, a glazed chocolate doughnut (Eric's favorite), and a glazed vanilla doughnut (a close second favorite for me). The inside of the store was small and rather charming, and the doughnuts were every bit as delicious as they look. This was a good way to start the day!

This really is about as big as the little shop is. Teeny tiny!

Almost to the front of the line!

(Clockwise from top left: gingerbread stack, chocolate glazed, chestnut glazed, vanilla glazed and buttermilk.)

I was a happy girl. This doughnut is as big as my face!

Not to worry, we were not enormous pigs and did not eat all of those doughnuts in one sitting. We tasted all of them and then wrapped most of them back up to take with us, and ate them for breakfast the next two mornings!

After doughnuts, we made our way over towards the Navy Pier, enjoying some sights of Chicago along the way.

Chicago streets

Harry Caray's

We made it to the Navy Pier and did a little roaming around for a while.

Navy Pier

Fun with statues

This thing will haunt my dreams.

Fun with funhouse mirrors

More Navy Pier

We had several different people tell us that we should take an architectural boat tour while we were in Chicago, so we decided to do just that. Our timing was perfect to hop right on a tour after our Navy Pier stroll. We thought the boat tour was a great suggestion - it was a very cool way to get a feel for Chicago, while learning a bit about Chicago's history and well, architecture.

The boat for our tour

Let's do this!

Beautiful city!

The Wrigley Building, one of my favorites.

One of my favorite parts of the tour pointed out these three buildings. The two on the left are affectionately called the "corn cob buildings," and are clearly all about curves. The one to the right of them is very straight, with rigid, precise lines. Interestingly enough, the architect who designed the corn cob buildings was a student of the architect who designed the very straight building! What different outlooks for teacher and student, right?

Forgive me for forgetting the name of this building (they threw so much info at us in just an hour!), but if you'll notice, it is not symmetrical. There are more windows on the right than on the left. Originally it was symmetrical, but as they were designing the street grid, they would have had to upset the straight grid lines to go around this building. Instead of doing that, they just knocked out some of the building on the left so the street could continue on it's perfect path!

This is Trump Tower, and the cool fact about this one is that each of it's different levels matches the height of a nearby building. Isn't that cool how it took from the surrounding architecture and paid tribute to it?

This one is pretty recognizable - the Sears Tower! (Or Willis, or whatever you want to call it these days.)

After our boat tour, we walked along the water for a bit. It warrants mentioning that our weather was spectacular for the whole trip. We're talking high 70s/low 80s and sun. Picture perfect!

Eric enjoying a beautiful day in Chicago

Our wanderings eventually brought us to Marilyn, who is just as big and immodest as we expected.

Giant Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn, really. Let's be a little lady-like here.

One thing that was crazy was that there was this fighter jet zooming all around the sky all afternoon. I don't know if there was an air show going on that weekend or something (there were a bunch more jets to be seen during the baseball game at Wrigley on Friday), but all afternoon on Thursday this one jet kept zooming by, so low in the sky and so loud. It was really freaking me out, to be honest. I just kept thinking, "this would not fly in New York!" (For example: remember when an Air Force One lookalike flew over NYC without warning and people freaked out? It was just for a photo-op, but really. Can't we Photoshop that business these days? Why scare the living daylights out of New Yorkers?)

But anyway, I digress. After Marilyn we made our way back across the river and stopped for lunch.

Photo-op on a bridge

After lunch it was time to explore Millennium Park, which was one of my favorite sights of our trip. We saw the Bean, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (a super cool concert venue at which I would have loved to see a show), and the Crown Fountain, which projects different faces on two large towers that periodically spit water at the children playing below! We even took our shoes off and waded through the fountain water for a bit, which was very refreshing.

Millennium Park

I mean, seriously - how cool is this concert venue?

THE BEAN! I was so excited.

This picture was taken from underneath the Bean, looking up. Can you spot us in the middle there? Eric is wearing a black shirt, and I'm standing in front of him (in purple) with my arms stretched out to my sides.

There we are in the side of it! We had fun checking it out from all angles.

Loved it.

One side of the Crown Fountain

The other side, spitting water!

Splish, splash!

We think Chicago rocks.

After letting our feet dry, we proceeded on to the Art Institute, which we did wander through for a couple of hours. We saw some great artwork, of course. My favorites were the Monets, but I'm just a Monet kind of girl.

Art Institute of Chicago

Examining Monet's Haystacks. I made the joke that it looked like he was trying different Photoshop actions on the same picture. Ha!

Water Lilies, my favorite.

Vincent van Gogh's self-portrait

Georges Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte"

Renoir's "Woman at the Piano" (another of my favorites), and El Greco's "The Assumption of the Virgin"

Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks"

Grant Wood's "American Gothic"

Picasso's "The Old Guitarist"

By this time we were getting pretty worn out, so we made our way back to our hotel to rest up a bit before Baseball Game #1 that night.

Stay tuned for some baseball talk tomorrow!


moderndaywife said...

Awesome pictures girl, those donuts wow I want some haha :-D Thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh about your comment about the fighter jet flying around! Yes, we had the air and water show here this past Saturday and Sunday so on Thursday and Friday there was lots of random activity in the sky!

Dad said...

Looks like a great time in a great city.

Jessica Renee said...

Seriously, I did NOT need to see those donuts!! haha.. It looks like you guys had an amazing time and you're so lucky to have had perfect weather! :)

KSK said...

I'm glad you guys had great weather!! That doughnut shop sounds amazing!!! I think I would've been a hog and ate them all in one sitting! :)