Chicago - Touristy Stuff and Weird Stuff

For our first full day in Chicago (Saturday), Rachel and I decided to start out with a tour of the city. My friend Carl was kind enough to pick us up and then drive us around for about an hour and a half. Let me just say that the dude knows the city. We got a feel for a few of the neighborhoods, such as Bronzeville and Lincoln Park. He showed us some Chicago landmarks and included a lot of history and architecture, too. I have a terrible memory, but the Monadnock Building is one that stands out from the tour. Towards the end of the tour, we stopped along the lakeshore and took some photos of the Chicago skyline.

It was very chilly and windy on Saturday, so I probably would have been fine with letting Carl drive us around all day in his heated Volkswagen. However, eventually it was time to move on. He dropped us off at Millenium Park, home of the gigantic reflective bean. The bean doesn't seem like it would be that exciting, but it's oddly compelling as you get closer to it. First you wonder how close you have to get before you can see yourself. Then you start to notice how the curve of the bean does interesting things with the reflection of the skyline. I took a photo of it on my phone and sent it to my husband so that he could show my daughter. It seemed like something she'd get a kick out of.

After walking around for a bit, we headed to the Art Institute. Carl had recommended that we go ahead and eat lunch there, so we did. It was fabulous. Not cheap, but what the heck. We were on vacation! We spent a couple hours in the galleries; a highlight was a Picasso exhibit. It was amazing to see so much of his work all at once - I probably won't see anything like that again until I check out (leave the planet, I mean).

We couldn't decide where to go next and I was game for just about anything (I was wearing some good "walking shoes"), so Rachel suggested we grab a cab and head to the International Museum of Surgical Science. My friend Kate (Carl's wife) had told me about it.  The cab driver had no idea what we were talking about, so we quickly Googled the address and he zipped us over there. Speaking of cabs, we took a few harrowing cab rides while in Chicago. Holy cow. They sure give those horns a workout, too. Rachel and I quickly learned that it was best not to look at the road at all and just to talk to each other. It was better that we not see all the near-misses and whatnot.

The surgical museum was interesting. I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares that night, in all honesty. We spent about an hour and a half looking at glass cases full of scalpels, glass eyes, drills, and other scary stuff.  The museum also features lots of painted murals depicting fun stuff like amputations and trepanning (drilling a hole in someone's skull). Oh, and I can't forget the fetuses in jars. :::shudder:::

Once we were done looking at weird medical stuff, naturally we were ready for dinner. We knew it was the most touristy thing you can do in Chicago, but we hailed a cab and had him take us to Geno's for deep dish pizza. We ambitiously ordered a medium and only managed to eat about 2 1/2 pieces between the two of us. It was good. Normally I eat thin crust pizza because of the fat/calorie thing, but what I truly love is deep dish pizza. It was worth the trip and worth the wait (we drank adult beverages while we were waiting - we had a designated driver, after all).

After Geno's, we caught yet another cab and headed back to our hotel. We decided to swim and just hang out for the rest of the evening. We also sat in the whirlpool.  As we were soaking in there, a family with lots of kids climbed in, so that was my cue to leave. They were nice, but I wasn't up for it. Rachel, on the other hand, loves chaos (she has three boys) and loves talking to strangers, so I left her there while I went back upstairs and took a shower.

Don't worry, I'm almost done!

The scariest thing I have ever seen in my life (below):


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