Eight Days in Chicago, May-June 2007

Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 06:07 pm

This was such a rewarding (last) trip to Chicago, I thought sharing some of the highlights would provide a glimpse of what the Windy City has to offer any visitor, and why it has such a large fan base of tourists.

May 29, Tuesday:
The flight from San Jose to Chicago is about four hours each way, and we lose two hours going east. I took the Express Shuttle from O'Hare to the hotel, the Belden-Stratford, on North Lincoln Drive West. The roundtrip ticket cost $46.00, a $4 savings.

The Belden Stratford is an older hotel facing Lincoln Park, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The rooms are very large with a sitting area, a king size bed, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. My room, number 915, faced the park, and could see the Conservatory from my room. Very nice.

The Belden-Stratford facing Lincoln Park

After settling down at the hotel, I changed my clothes from sport coat to shorts and t's, and walked towards North Clark street, two blocks away to look for a restaurant to have lunch. I walked a few blocks to a currency exchange store to purchase a seven day CTA pass for $20 (good on both bus and L-trains). I walked another few blocks north to find SCREENZ, an internet café. I walked back towards Belden Avenue, and ended up on Michigan Avenue (The Miracle Mile where many popular shops and the Hancock building is located), and walked back west to Clark Street where I stopped at a small Italian restaurant for dinner. By the time I returned to my hotel, I've walked 13.2 miles.
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Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 06:36 pm
Oh, goody! More please?
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Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 07:12 pm
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 07:31 pm
May 30, Wednesday:
The hotel provides a continental breakfast in the Atrium (basement floor), and a newspaper every morning except Saturday and Sunday, so my daily routine was to go down for two cups of coffee and to read the newspaper. I took the #22 bus on Clark Street down to the Loop to Adams Street, to the Palmer House where I exchanged my receipt for the 2-Day GO Chicago Card *($89 on the internet). The GO card provides "free" passes to many of Chicago's attractions, and if used wisely can save some money. The only problem with the GO Card is that multiple days must be used consecutively. I walked around the LOOP for a couple of hours before heading towards the Mambo Grill (412 N North Clark Street) where I was scheduled to meet with joe, Wandel and JPB for lunch. We enjoyed a long lunch, then JPB and I walked joe back to his office in the LOOP, and Wandel went north to his office. JPB and I walked towards Millennium Park, visited the botanical garden, then JPB used her membership card to get me into the Art Institute where we said goodbye for the day. I spent three hours in the museum to view some of my favorite impressionist paintings. Some of the pictures on display are Renoir's "Two Sisters," Daniel Chester French's "Lincoln" - a replica of the one in Washington DC, Caillebotle's "Paris Street - Rainy Day," Monet's "Water Lily Pool," paintings and sculptures by Remington, and last but not least "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. I also noticed a painting called "the eruption of Vesuvius (1771)" where Voltaire is sitting on a hill watching the eruption that destroyed Pompeii. The impressionism and postimpressionism galleries are my favorites here.

Mambo Grill:

JPB, joe and Wandel:

The Remington sculpture and painting (background):

Famous Remington sculpture:

The American Gothic:

Paris Street:

Two Sisters:
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Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 07:35 pm
JPB? You are now officially forbidden from saying that you're not photogenic, 'K?

That's about the best one I've seen of Joe too, and nice little smile from Wandel, good job C.I.!
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 09:00 pm
May 31, Thursday:
Took the #22 bus this morning to the LOOP, then walked to State Street stopping by Gene Siskel's theater and the ABC News building next door (somebody claimed they saw Oprah through the window) - across from the famous CHICAGO theater where I took the 12-noon 1.25 hour tour. What we saw at the CHICAGO was the backstage area where performers such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Liza Minnelli, Julie Andrews, Joel Grey, Paul Anka, Bob Newhart, Tom Jones, and many more played there. We learned about the history of the theater, sat in the orchestra and box seats, and visited the lobby area. We were also told about the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, and the first player, Jesse Crawford, during the silent movie era. It's a great tour for five bucks. Visited Borders bookstore on the corner where I had some OJ, and visited their clean, public WC. While walking towards Canal Street (where I once worked for Florsheim Shoe Company), I stopped at the Thompson Center and had a Chicago-type hotdog for lunch. Yummy. I walked to the METRA station on Canal Street, then took the free trolley to Navy Pier where I spent 2.5 hours. It was a good thing I visited the Pier, because a heavy shower started on the way, and I was able to be indoors for most of it. I purchased a poncho with CUBS written all over it at the Pier, because I didn't bring my raincoat; it was back in my hotel room. I took the bus back to the LOOP to meet up with Walter, joe and JPB for dinner at the Berghoff restaurant, an institution in Chicago (in the same family for over 100 years). As I approached the restaurant, Walter was already standing in front. After drinks and dinner, I caught the #36 bus back to the hotel. I then went to SCREENZ to get the May's stock market closing numbers.

The CHICAGO theater:

Frank Sinatra was one of the first to sign his autograph on the back stage wall:

Front of Thompson Center:

First floor at the Thompson Center:

The Navy Pier:

Inside the Berghoff:

The Berghoff:
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Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 09:22 pm
Very nice pictures, cicerone, and the one with JPB, Joe, and wandel
is exceptionally good. I assume the other picture in the restaurant
was taken after a few beers, eh? A bit shaky there... Laughing
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Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 09:35 pm
I'm thoroughly enjoying the travelogue, c.i.! It is reminding me of the great time we all had at the gathering last year. Good to see those faces again!
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 09:48 pm
CJ, It wasn't me shaking; it was them moving. Earthquake in Chicago? LOL Wink
Eva, We missed you this year, but we are planning a gathering for the Second San Francisco A2K Gathering. Look for the thread started yesterday. Off to a good start.
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Reply Thu 7 Jun, 2007 10:18 pm
You missed me? Why? Did you guys get tired of visiting jazz clubs without any female company? Laughing

San Francisco, huh? Hmm. I am overdue for a trip to SF. My favorite relative lives in San Mateo and has been wanting me to come for a visit for some time. Will check your thread...
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 12:34 am
June 1, Friday:
Walter, Wandel and I met for breakfast at An Bon Pain on Michigan Avenue, across the street from the Art Institute. After breakfast, Walter and I took the free trolley to the Navy Pier, and enjoyed the 75 minute Seadog River Tour. We took the trolley to the METRA station on Canal Street after the cruise, and had lunch before catching the 2:35pm to Lake-Cook Road to meet up with JPB. Unfortunately, we took the Northwestern train rather than the Milwaukee - they both go to Lake-Cook Road at the same time, 2:35pm. Who knew? After playing hide-and-seek for over one hour, JPB finally found us. She was very gracious - and wore a smile. I was ready for a bar. Our first stop was the Chicago Botanical Gardens, and the Japanese Garden. The botanical garden is really "paradise on earth," and one can't possibly see everything in 1.5 hours. Most visitors to Chicago never come here because of the distance, but I highly recommend it to anyone planning a visit to Chicago. Just take the right train. JPB then drove us to Bahai Temple, the only one on the American continent. I was fortunate to have visited the one in Haifa last year in October. The building is very beautiful from the outside, and reminds me of the Taj Mahal. JPB told us that the inside is very simple unlike the exterior - to attract visitors and potential adherents. We stopped for some pictures, then headed south towards Northwestern University campus (one of the premier universities in the US). Joe joined us at a Chinese restaurant a few doors away from Bill's Blues where we were going to listen to Lurrie Bell after dinner. After looking at Lurrie Bell's biography on the net before coming to Chicago, I was (too) excited to listen to this self-taught genius guitar player at work. We got an extra treat, because Bobbie Dixon was there to sing. He's the son of the great blues master, Willie Dixon. JPB did something very special; she treated me to a Bobbie Dixon DVD, "Mercurial Son," and got Mr. Dixon's autograph on it. I also purchased a DVD before my trip to Chicago, "Second Nature," his latest, with Carey. It was waiting for me when I got home. JPB was kind enough to drive us home before we said our "goodnights."

Tree trunk sculpture:


So serene:

Walter and JPB on the Japanese bridge:

Typical Japanese architecture:

Lurrie Bell:
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Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 12:50 am
bedtime for johnboy. marking this, ci.
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Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 07:22 am
sozobe wrote:
JPB? You are now officially forbidden from saying that you're not photogenic, 'K?

That's about the best one I've seen of Joe too, and nice little smile from Wandel, good job C.I.!

That one's definitely a keeper. Great job on the pics and stories, CI. I'm glad you had a good time in your repeat final visit to Chicago. Maybe we can come up with some yet undiscovered adventures for you if you come back for a three-peat.

One comment on the picture of Lurrie Bell... the white guy playing with him must be the whitest white guy in the music business. Talk about rhythm! joe and I got a good chuckle out of watching him "move". Not that either of us would be any less white if we were up there.

Friday was an all around fun day.
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Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 08:24 am
As usual, C.I., great photos.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 09:36 am
June 2, Saturday:
The first thing I did this morning was go to SCREENZ to get on the internet, but they were closed. They were supposed to open at 9am, but after waiting .5 hour, I took off and walked to Clarkes on Belmont and Clark Streets where I met Swimpy and Geramel for the first time for our brunch meet at 10 with joe, Walter and JPB. We chatted until about 11:30am, and the four of us (joe, Swimpy, Walter and I) had to leave for our CUBS game. The ballpark was packed with CUBS fans (about 40,300 fans), and we were treated to some unique entertainment in addition to the ball game that ended a close 4 to 3, and we all know who lost before it really ended. The big deal of the game was when a runner tried to steal from 2d to 3d base, and the empire called him out. The coach, Piniella, kicked his hat and the dirt several times towards the ump. Piniella was suspended for four games; the penalty was too severe IMHO. Added to this hoopla, the bleacher fans threw hundreds of bottles on the right hand field, and after this ruckus lasted for over 15-minutes with booos, the cleanup crew came on the field and cleaned up the mess in just a few minutes. At least we saw Soriano hit a home run for the CUBS. The game ended with a man on base, and the best CUBS hitter was at bat. The excitement was in the air, but it was not to be. The Cubs Fan photographer took our picture with our homemade CUBS sign hanging on our chests, and posted it on the net.
HERE: http://www.printroom.com/ViewGalleryPhoto.asp?userid=cubsfanfoto&gallery_id=708354&image_id=24

We walked Swimpy back to her car, but joe suggested we go for some ice cream refreshments before her three hour drive back to Iowa, so we enjoyed another hour of a2k chatter. Joe suggested a Polish restaurant for dinner, so we took two busses to the Staropolska restaurant for their buffet. On the way to the restaurant, joe pointed to the building where Florsheim used to have their factory. I have seen pictures of it at the home office on Canal Street, but never visited when I worked for them - about five lifetimes ago. I enjoyed the many different flavors of the homemade-type Polish food. After dinner, joe said he had a surprise for us, and we ended up at the Chicago May Fest with beer flowing no less than any hofbrau found in Germany, with a very good oompah band, with some wearing native costumes, and thousands enjoying themselves. When the band played a Neil Diamond song, one of my wife's favorite, I called her on the cell phone so she could listen, but by the time I hooked up with her, they had already finished, and I had to walk out of the tent area to hear her. I was back at my room by 10pm.

Clarkes brunch:

Wrigley Field at night:


Ice cream break before Swimpy drives home:

May Fest (in June):
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Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 09:57 am
C.I., please burn the ice cream shop photos Embarrassed
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 10:09 am
June 3, Sunday:
Went to SCREENZ in the morning, then visited Borders for about an hour when I got a call from joe that he and Walter were on their way to Clark and North Streets, the corner where the Chicago History Museum is located. After lunch, the three of us went to the museum to see some very interesting artifacts (22 million Chicago and US history), pictures, and information on Chicago. The first room we visited had dioramas on the history of Chicago. They also have sections about the first inhabitants of the city, the Indians who called it "Chicago," and all the mix of cultures living in Chicago to the present time. It has displays of the 1833 World's Fair, the Great Chicago Fire, the famous and infamous, the architecture, the "first" businesses started here such as Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Wards, Armour, Weber, Motorola, the establishment of Fort Dearborn, the Illinois and Michigan canal, and a whole lot more. They also have a special display of Art Shay photographs (no photos allowed), with many VIPs such as Elizabeth Taylor, (the 1st) Mayor John Daly, Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra, and many photos that portrays the life in Chicago of years past. After the museum, Walter walked towards the Miracle Mile while and joe and I took the #22 bus north for home. I had dinner at the Kabuki restaurant, and enjoyed some sushi (finally some rice) with a glass of cab and hot tea.

Chicago History museum:

Diorama #1:

Diorama #2: (There are about six in this room)

Claimed to be Lincoln's death bed:

Norman Rockwell's Marshal Field clock:

Seen in June 2007:
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 10:20 am
Continuation from above:

Poster for the world's fair:

Tiffany stained glass:

Belden-Stratford hotel lobby:
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 12:18 pm
June 4, Monday:
Started the day by going to the Palmer House to get the 2-day Greyhound trolley pass with my Go card, but they don't run on Monday and Tuesdays. So much for pre-planning. I walked to Michigan Avenue to catch the #10 bus to the Museum Campus where the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum are located to visit the Shedd and Field museums today, and the Adler tomorrow. I then caught the #6 bus towards the Museum of Science and Industry, because joe told me about the special CSI Experience where you can try to figure out the crime and the criminal. I had a free pass to the museum, because Monday is a free day (I didn't have to use my GO card.), but had to pay $8 for the CSI exhibit. When you enter the exhibit, the attendant gives you a card that selects which crime you will be involved in. Mine was a scene where a car has crashed through the living room window, and there are circumstantial evidence where you try to identify what you see. You need to include as many details as you can. It's not as easy as it looks, because our eyes are not trained to look for what is available at the "crime" scene. To make a long story short, I got 5 out of 7 right, and identified the killer. I've seen most of the other displays in the museum, but visited most of them again. Even took an ice cream break in Yesterday's Main Street ice cream parlor. I always enjoy The Great Train Story exhibit, Ships through the Ages, Eye Spy, and the Energy Lab . On the way back to the LOOP, I took the #10 bus back to State Street, and got off at the Chicago Public Library. I saw the short film on "Bridges in the City of the Big Shoulders" (these bridges across the Chicago river are so well balanced, three men can lift them and bring them back down) then went up to the 9th floor to see pictures and memorabilia on Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago from 1983-1987. He also served in state government, and the US Congress in 1981-1983. The Chicago library is very impressive, and worth the visit - from both the outside and inside.

I had dinner at Ranalli's (2301 N Clark), the small pocket pizza and 2-glasses of red house wine. Was in snooze-land by 11pm.

The Shedd main tank:


Koi (gold fish):

Field Museum:

Main hall:

Dinosaur wing:

The human story:

Museum of Science and Industry:

The (new) CSI Experience:

Totem poll room:

Gill Grissom's office:

9th floor at the Chicago Public Library:
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Reply Fri 8 Jun, 2007 01:31 pm
Awesome photos (as usual), C.I.!

I am jaded from having lived in Chicago for fifty years.
(Chicago looks different to me through C.I.'s photographic art.)
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