Thursday, January 04, 2007

Flashback to Chi-Town

Looking back a year ago, I was in Chicago on honeymoon. Im writing about it now, as it is fun to reminesce and to remember some of the fun things we got to do and see.

The city of Chicago, long ago a worlds fair was hosted in the great city, following the great fire and such. It introduced America to the Mid-West with farming equipment, technology and allowed women to emerge as professionals, whether architects, designers, seamstresses and decorators. It also opened the door for an amazing city, with design touches from some of the great architects and designers of the twentieth century. Mies Van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, are just a few to name. A city with riches and great interest.

We had a great time there last year as we ventured around the city to China town, Greek town, and Indo-Pak town, and of course, down town! A photo of me ordering Pakistani food at a local mom and pops Paki-town restaurant - I loved the decoration, it was authentic as the owner had brought many things into the restaurant. It was very colorful and seemed to be a place where many of the locals sought lunch - oh and free parking out back.

Parking in Chicago is like no other I had experienced before. You would think I never get out, as I have had a great time traveling from time to time with my job and such, but this was interesting. The Drake has connections with a parking service, in a garage just steps away in the downtown area. It was almost like the mob, or something you would see in the Sopranos. You pull your car into a low lit garage and the door closes behind you. A man in mechanic like dress comes out and gets your name, room number and gives you a ticket. You take your belongings if you have not done so already and exit the vehicle, leaving the car keys. You watch your car enter a large service elevator and wonder where its going, or if it is ever coming back... For about $24 a day, it was well worth it after all, a safe environment and such... when you want your car, you go there and they go get it from whatever level its on, and they bring it down to you... and you can enter and exit however you like. Definately one of the highlights... ha!

A special trip down to Oak Park was also in order. We didnt exactly plan our trip, we just went to see what we could find to fancy us that day, straying from a plan of action or itenerary, we just made it up as we went. We found ourselves though ending up at a particular coffee shop and bakery in Greek town, the Parthenon. They had a fabulous cafe mocha and a great atmosphere. I really got to see alot of interiors that are not common here in Oklahoma, as it is a bit more conservative here.

We stayed at the Drake Hotel while we were there, with a nice little view of Lake Michigan. It was cold, being the first week of January so there were no beach-goers, but it was still nice anyhow. The John Hancock building was just near the Drake, infact was built after the Drake hotel, and in the old photos and postcard, it is seen just towering over, as the rest of the city had not been developed just yet... The lower mezanine level of the John Hancock building hosted some nice shops, and the Cheesecake Factory, which we did not miss while we were there. There has since been a Cheesecake Factory addition to Oklahoma City in this last year as well, although I havent been just yet. The cloud cover was low during the first few days we were there, but after it cleared toward the end of the week, we did get to go to the viewing decks of both the Sears Tower and the John Hancock building. I would say it was worth the $10 bucks or so to go up there. The buildings offer tight security checks to get in and such, so I thought that was interesting.

Our trip down to Oak Hill was exciting, as the neighborhoods were filled with homes with plaques on them stating it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a twentieth century architect who was both sucessful and stubborn, but that is another story. Ive sat through many classrooms looking at photos of his work but had never seen it up close. Well we were surrounded by it here and it was fabulous. We were not able to enter any of the homes, but just looking at it them from the street was reward enough for the time.

I want to go back and visit Chicago again, perhaps to live there someday. Ive heard the winters get awfully blustery there, but I guess people seem to manage.

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