Chicago, Illinois, Greatest City on Earth

final minutes in the hostel
final minutes in the hostel

I went to a wedding in Chicago a few weeks ago. I love Chicago. Really love it. I get this big, stupid grin the second my plane touches down there. And I walk around grinning the whole time I’m there. I’m really gonna have to move there one day…

I tried to Priceline a room, but had no luck, so I ended up staying at the Arlington House International Hostel. What a stroke of (accidental) genius! The hostel was clean, convenient, cheap – $65/night for a private room w/ half bath (showers down the hall) – and located two blocks from Lincoln Park! Perfect!

I arrived early so I could screw around in Chicago for an extra day. And I planned not to do anything I’d done there before (I’ve been in a rut). I made one exception.

best pancakes in the world
best pancakes I've ever tasted

The Salt & Pepper Diner (there are several locations) serves my absolute favorite pancakes in the world. I had to go. I took a really, really packed redline train to the Addison stop, and I soon realized why the train was so packed: Cubs v. White Sox. The diner location I prefer is the one by Wrigley Field and when I got there around 10am on a Friday morning, the whole area was totally bumpin’. Cubs &/or Sox fans as far as the eye could see!

Cubs v. Sox mob
Cubs v. Sox mob

As a native Texan, I am unused to the feeling of being caught up in a rush of humanity. Sure, I’ve been to some Spurs games, maybe some other pretty crowded places, but there’s nothing like being in a big city at rush hour. All the people on the streets and trains are amazing to me. I never tire of just wandering about in Chicago checking the people out. And the train ride to Wrigleyville was perfect for this. It was packed! Everyone was in a good mood since they were probably playing hooky & had a whole day of fun ahead of them. The crowd was so delightedly boisterous!

Lincoln Park Conservatory
Lincoln Park Conservatory

On Saturday, I went to Lincoln Park without a plan. I wanted to hit the Conservatory, but other than that, I just wanted to wander about. And I did. I checked out the zoo, I accidentally went to a street fest (the back gate was open & I didn’t realize I’d snuck in w/o paying until I happened upon the real entrance!), and I had some Indian food for lunch.

a lion sunning his balls
a lion sunning his balls

I checked out the Lincoln Park Zoo, too. There’s no admission and the crowd was totally respectable, without being a mob. The weather was just lovely, as the above lion can attest.

I also took in the Architecture Foundation’s Architecture River Cruise. It was pretty good. The tour guide knew lots and was relatively entertaining. Unfortunately, I’m kind of a geek about Chicago architecture and I was hoping for something different. It was a lovely tour, though. Really.

There were more good times, but if I told you everything here, well, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about when we meet in person, would we?

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Chicago, Illinois, Greatest City on Earth

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