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Chicago for $4.50

Posted Sep 11 2010 4:32am
I'll take it.  $4.50?  I had a block of time on Friday where I could either drive to the Naval Base and mill around for the afternoon...or, I could think outside the box and how to maximize my time.  I chose the latter.  Arriving before noon to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, I previously spoke to the Alamo Rental Car counter who graciously offered to lock up my luggage for me so I could take the Blue Line into the city.  After a shuttle ride to Alamo and then back to the airport, I found the train's kiosk.  This machine, just like the one I encountered in Washington D.C. a month ago, kicked my mental butt.  I just stared at them trying to figure out what to buy and how to buy it.  You got to love the unanimous rule: "No credit card.  Cash only.  No change given."  So for the "only carrying 20s" traveler and needs a $2.25 fare, sorry about your luck.  Seriously...that's the racket they have going on.  Luckily, I had a few dollar bills and for $2.25, I took the 45min train right into the heart of the city.

I'm a die-hard "Top Chef" fan.  I love the show and you know what, I don't cook a lick.  I do make a killer homemade hummus recipe, though.  The bomb!  Anyway, there are a few places I wanted to go by.  One was Frontera by Chef Rick occasional judge on the show with his restaurant on Clark St in Chicago.  I got off the train at Clark and walked north, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of it and the menu.  I took Clark all the way to Chicago Avenue and never did see it.  That's OK, because I wanted to walk through the Magnificent Mile..ya know, where Oprah is!  (I never did find her, by the way)  When I got to Chicago Avenue, the top of the Mile, I realized I was only a block from Moody Bible Institute.  I'd never been there before but have had family go there and I'm an avid listener of WCRF, 103.3FM which is a Moody Radio station.  A few moments later, I was walking through their campus amongst students wearing ID's, texting, studying, and enjoying life.  In all honestly, I wanted to walk in their shoes for a day...I never was a "typical" college student...night school, distance education...that's how I got my degrees.  Anyway....moving on.

Time was now past noon and I was starving.  On my To Do List was Giordano's deep dish, stuffed pizza.  Thanks to my iPhone, I knew it was only a few blocks away...the original location.  Dubbed "The Best" by countless publications, I had to try it.  Walking in, I was told 15-30min to wait and if I could, please pre-order my pizza.  Pre-order?  In a sit-down restaurant?  So I did.  $19 for a small pizza, too.  "This had better be good!!!"  This price was far outside of my comfort zone but I splurged for just once.  Once seated and my pizza came.  Wow!!!  Well over 1" high in the center...sauce on top..and super good.  1/2 a pizza later, I was done.  Next time, someone needs to be with me to give me some help!  I carried those leftovers around for the rest of the day...they're in the fridge now..not so sure I should eat them, though.  Hmmm....

I then made my way down the Magnificent Mile, heading south.  I swear I walked by some models.  They looked like they could jump right on to the Victoria's Secret runway.  No surprise, though.  I walking through the high-end shopping places I "shop" by walking by and observing all the "suits" inside the stores standing by for the next self-indulgent customer to walk in.  But there!!  An Apple store!!  As a newly-christened Apple customer, I just HAD to visit.  iPhones were everywhere, laptops, iPads, desktops...beautiful sea of white enamel-covered technology.  I went over and eyed one of those desktops...secretly wishing for one, then carried myself back down the Mile.  Along the way, I simply took my time and soaked in the sights, snapping pictures as often as I saw something I wanted to take with me.  Eventually, I got to Millennium Park.

I saw an events sign at the street mentioning something about opera rehearsal and thought that might be cool to observe for awhile.  I thought nothing of it and started a stroll through the park.  Not long, though, I spotted a performance pavilion that was a shiny monster of metal art from a distance and faintly, I could hear the orchestra and singing.  I found my way and spent the next hour just listening and letting those little hairs stand up on the back of my head.  I LOVE listening to orchestras play and combining excellent acoustics and the singing in this facility was just magnificent...certainly a highlight of the day.  I caught one song via my iPhone and it is below.  If you don't want to enjoy the who 4+ minutes, I recommend moving to about 2min, 50sec and listening from there to the end...the most powerful parts by far.

More walking, including a walk along Lake Michigan, a huge fountain, a wine-tasting event, a bike path littered with bikes and afternoon runners (JEALOUS!!!), and finally a rest stop at a Starbucks.  That was my day.  It was now coming up on 7pm and I was pooped.  I found my way back to the Blue Line (again, the iPhone showed me the direction and how it was only 2 blocks away...LOVE THAT THING!) and bought $2.25 worth of fare back to O'Hare the way I came.  Below, is a slideshow of my photos from the day.  Clicking on it will allow you to view full-screen, if you'd prefer.  Absolutely wonderful architecture in this city!  I will return!  (hopefully, with Marjie next time....she was the only thing that could've made the day 100% complete)

So not bad, eh?  Outside of the pizza, Chicago for $4.50.

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