Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We just returned from a short family vacation to Chicago.  There was so much packed into a walkable distance, and the weather was in the mild 40's.  Thus, the city tricked me into asking, "Should we move here?"  My husband promptly said, "No."  However, he did say we could visit again.  These were the highlights of our trip -  

Highlight #1 - The people

I would change Chicago's name from "the windy city" to "the friendly city".  I kept expecting people to be like New Yorkers, but they weren't at all.  I never find New Yorkers to be rude, but they don't go out of their way to be nice.  So, in Chicago I was continually surprised when someone would say "sorry" for bumping into me on the street or a cab driver would wave me on in front of him.  And the waiters in restaurants were all cheery and helpful.  We made such good friends with one waitress that my daughter hugged her at the end of our meal.

Highlight #2 - The hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Monaco, and to the great (squealing) delight of my daughters, the hotel room was outfitted with two window seats hidden behind curtains.

They played in them morning and night.

The first day, the hotel delivered a real goldfish to our room.  On the second day, they delivered stuffed fish that the girls could take home with them.

Every morning hot chocolate was served in the lobby in front of a continuous loop of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (which was set in Chicago).  The hotel was definitely a hit.

Highlight #3 - The stores

The famous "miracle mile" is comprised mostly of chain stores, but they are the best versions of the chain stores that I have ever seen.  I could have spent all day in Room and Board.  And my girls could have spent all day in the the American Girl Store -

It was like little girl heaven.

I had fun being able to walk around the city.  Christmas shopping is so much more pleasant when you don't have to deal with traffic.  I even got to walk a few blocks behind some cute "sweater over sequins" style -

And there was a free little museum in an old building right in the middle of the square -

And speaking of museums...

Highlight #4 - The Art Institute of Chicago

It may be the best museum I have ever visited.  They had so many amazing paintings in the same building.  I have always loved "Sunday in the Park" by Seurat, and it was stunning in person -

I love looking at the all of the small, colorful brushstrokes that make up this huge painting -

It was fascinating to see several examples of how Monet would paint the same exact scene at different times of day -

The Van Gogh's are always my favorites.  They are so simple yet so brilliant and colorful -

And on the other side of the spectrum, we had to find the painting by Rembrandt, whom my daughter is studying in school.  His painting is so realistic it looks like a photograph -

In addition to the amazing paintings, we had the pleasure of seeing this -

Tiny dollhouse rooms that look completely real.

There were 169 of them including a few modern ones with tiny abstract paintings and acrylic chairs -

Because of my interest in origami style fashions, I was excited to see the display of clothing made by Japanese designers -

I am looking forward to making my own 3-D garment in the new year.

I could have stayed in the museum all day.  However, not everyone felt the same way -

Due to waning energy levels, we had to leave.  However, I happened to notice that she had no lack of energy for the 5K the next day -

We experienced a lot of the city but still didn't get to visit the Field Museum, eat deep dish pizza, or see the view from the John Hancock observatory.  We will definitely have to go back.

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