Chicago – Part 1

Trip to Chicago was kind of spur-of-the-moment thing. I saw and ad on Facebook that SAS has an offer of direct return flights to Chicago from Stockholm for 280€ and this price was truly unbeatable. I had a huge project, which lasted for almost a year, which was going live in October, so I thought that a trip in the beginning of November would be just perfect timing to have a break from work and have some time off.

The hotels in Chicago in November aren’t too expensive either and I booked us Hyatt Place Chicago River North, which was a really nice hotel in a great location. We paid $863.43 for 7 nights, which seemed like a good deal for Chicago. The breakfast was included, but it was not good and Chicago has such an amazing food scene, so I still regret the one morning that we ate breakfast at the hotel instead of a restaurant.

I think that seven days in Chicago is a bit too much and there is not really anything a day trip away, so we ended up taking really easy and actually working on our last day while waiting for the flight to leave, but I really enjoyed Chicago and especially the food it had to offer. The only downside I found was that it’s almost impossible to find a decent cocktail in the city. We’ve ordered something in almost every restaurant we went into and most of them were not great.

The first evening we only had time to get to the hotel from the airport and grab something to eat. Chicago O’Hare is conveniently reachable by subway, but it’s not without its flaws. Subway trains seem quite old, are very loud, crowded, and on the way back there was a junkie loudly talking to himself, so while I wouldn’t consider them dangerous, some trips were a bit unsettling.

We checked in and went to have dinner at Frontera Grill, which was just around the corner from our hotel. I’ve been hearing a lot about this restaurant, but the food was rather disappointing.

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Frontera Grill
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Chicago – View from out hotel window

The next morning we went to have breakfast first and stumbled upon the sight of the bridge being raised, which was quite cool.

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Chicago
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Chicago

We had breakfast at Yolk – Marina City, which we liked a lot despite this being a chain of restaurants, but the portions are insane. Especially when I travel and have just one or two chances to visit the same place, I would like to try several dishes, which is impossible unless I want to be in a food coma all the time.

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Yolk – Marina City

After breakfast we headed out to Millennium Park and saw a few really cool buildings on the way.

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Chicago
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Chicago

The colours of the foliage were also amazing. One of our Uber drivers told us that normally there are no leaves left on trees at the beginning of November in Chicago, but at least this year, it was beautiful. The downside is that in order to take your picture, you need to wait for your turn for half an hour as instagrammers come out and they sure take their sweet time taking pictures. 😀

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Millennium Park – Cloud Gate
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Millennium Park – Cloud Gate
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Millennium Park – Nichol’s Bridgeway
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Chicago

We walked to the shore of Lake Michigan, but there was nothing there at this time of the year. There is a large boardwalk, so I imagine that this place is quite popular with joggers and there is much more to do during the warmer season.

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Lake Michigan
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Chicago

We decided to visit the skydeck of the Willis Tower, which had the great view over Chicago. The ticket cost $25 per person and the upside of going there on a Thursday in November is that there was absolutely no line. Normally the fast track ticket costs $49 or alternatively stand in line for a couple of hours. This time we walked directly to the elevator and the only place we had to wait in line for maybe two minutes was the small plexiglas deck where you could see what was beneath your feet.

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Willis Tower
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Willis Tower
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Willis Tower

You’re allowed I think 90 seconds on this deck and they forced us to take an official picture even though we told them that we don’t want to do it and have no intention of purchasing any photos. They had one more photo spot in the beginning, but that we managed to avoid. I really don’t understand who buys photos anymore and I really get annoyed with these “photo shoots”. Not that I feel the pressure to buy the photos, but very often they print them anyway and I’m more annoyed by senseless waste of resources.

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Willis Tower
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Chicago
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Chicago

In the evening we went to Little Goat Diner. I really wanted to go to Girl & the Goat, but when I was making dinner reservations a few weeks before our trip, it was already fully booked. 😦 Another restaurant the we stroke out with was Alinea. It would’ve been an insane amount of money for dinner, but I really wanted to experience it, but alas, all the two-person tables were booked in like 30 seconds after they became available and we didn’t want to spend all that money for a four-person table and to try to find somebody to join us. Too much hassle and a risk of not finding anyone and having to spend  double the money.

The diner was actually pretty good and we split the appetizer because we were still stuffed from breakfast, but I’m still a bit upset that I didn’t manage to get a table at Girl & the Goat. 😀

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Little Goat Diner

The next day we had breakfast at our hotel, which was a major disappointment and I didn’t eat much. We went out to check the 606, an abandoned rail, line, which is now a walking trail. There wasn’t much there. There were some Halloween activities on the trail for Halloween and apparently there are similar things arranged on the 606 every now and then, but in the middle of the day on a weekday there was nothing and almost nobody there.

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Chicago
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The 606
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The 606

The good thing is that we spotted a pizza place from the walkway. A quick google later, we decided to go to The Stop Along for lunch and I’m really happy we did. The pizza was really good and we had to try the soft ice with olive oil and salt, which sounded weird, but was surprisingly good.

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The Stop Along

In the afternoon we walked along the Magnificent Mile, which had a lot of high-end shops, which is not something I’m interested in, but it is interesting to see the entire building branded as Burberry tartan pattern. We stopped in a couple of shops, but didn’t buy anything.

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The Magnificent Mile
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The Magnificent Mile
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The Magnificent Mile
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The Magnificent Mile

In the evening we had a reservation at Boka, which turned out to be right next to Alinea. The food at the restaurant was actually really good. The downside was the company next to us, who were celebrating a birthday and had a photographer with them. The restaurant is quite dark, so the photographer used a flash for every photo and took tens of pictures. At some point the restaurant staff told them that they need to stop and after they didn’t quite stop, they basically threw them out (in a very polite way). They also gave us a rather big discount from our final bill for inconvenience. But we enjoyed the evening despite the photographer incident and the food was after all amazing.

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Boka
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Boka
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Boka

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