Friday, May 19, 2017

Start of the trip

The trip to Chicago was inspired by food.  It seemed like we were never constantly checking out the restaurant and bar scene.  No complaints.  It is something that I love to do especially with the WP.  He, too, likes to explore the food scene in cities.
We took the rail into the city.  Our rental was in Hyde Park but we wanted a quick bite before heading there.  After considering the best way to the city, we decided to take the train to a station near the Michigan Mile and then taking an uber to the final destination.  On our last visit, we stumbled into this great restaurant in route to the Pig.  I was tired, hungry and irritated.  For whatever reason we have challenging gps in Chicago.  We were following instructions on his phone and ended up going the opposite direction.  Since we had an early flight, I was extremely irritated when we confused with the direction.  It seemed unnecessary to be taking a detour as all I wanted was some food and to relax.  Feel settled.  We were about 8 or 9 blocks from where we wanted to be and so I insisted on stopping somewhere.  This restaurant appeared and we entered. Best choice we made.  Instantly I was calmed and had a beer in front of me.  We shared oysters and fries, I think, a year ago. 
At any rate, this is where we began our journey of the city.  A sour beer, some mussels and a beet and mango salad.  Perfect.  Just enough sustenance to entice our palettes and be sated til supper.  Our rental was about a ten or fifteen minute drive from the downtown area.  Surrounded by parks, a college and a gorgeous view of the lake.  I'll be honest, I was seduced by the photos posted on the website of the rental.  It illustrated beautiful views of Lake Shore Drive.  Our communication with the owner was great and we were led to the apartment by one of her neighbors.  Our rental was on the 26th floor and immediately upon entry, I stared at the view below.  Amazing.
Then, I took in the remainder of the apartment.  Spartan, sterile and barely decorated.  Basically, there was a sofa, a bed that resembled a futon (thankfully was more comfortable than appearance) and a handful of hangers.  Instructions on the desk indicated a few bars/restaurants in the area as well as a market and if we wanted to do laundry we could use the machine in the basement.  There was a towel for each of us with a wash cloth and that was pretty much it.  A few plastic cups, take out silverware and a hot water container.  No coffee maker, cream, or other essentials that make a house a home.
As you can see, I was enamored with the view and chose to overlook the minimalistic surroundings and make up of the apartment.  I did read the reviews.  None of them mentioned how Spartan the stay would be.
Regardless, we made do.  I stocked the place with fruits, juices, hot tea and wine.  I knew there would be some of that to be drank in the future. I also bought chips and salsa.  I am such a creature of habit, haha. I think I opened the chips and that is it.
That night, we met our friend at the Pig for dinner.  I told the WP that it would be busy as it tends to be.  We had about a 40 minute wait before being seated.  The meal was fine.  Good, not great.  Afterwards, we talked about how it was a little disappointing in comparison to the last two experiences.  Then, thought about how we had ordered wrong.  We were not true to what we truly enjoy.  We tried to accommodate his friend.  Of course, we knew there would be another meal there at some point where we could give it another go.  We did.  It was great! 
I love returning to a city and finding new spots.  Seems serendipitous.  On the second day of the foodie tour, we headed to Wicker Park for tacos.  There was a list of suggestions that was an incredible resource provided by Maghan's friend.  Thirty or 35 things to do in Chicago.  Meaning see, eat, experience, drink.  We wanted tacos as I was a touch hungover and I can survive on chips and salsa.  The place was cute with a great vibe.  We started with chips and guacamole and sampled some of their tacos.  The tacos were okay.  I have definitely had better and I was most excited about the pastor taco which was probably my least favorite.  The fish taco was quite good, surprisingly. 
We had a free day and so we wanted to make the most of it.  Maybe try some ramen or the amaro bar.  In the meantime, we wanted to walk or see a museum.  Navy Pier was out as well as the zoo and history museum.  There is an abandoned rail line that has been converted into a scenic/paved hike in the city.  An urban tour.  Thinking that would be different we headed out to follow gps.  Just to give some insight as to the zaniness of the gps, my phone thought I was still in Denver.  Useless.
Our navigation was off and we ended up, circling around the taco place and eventually extending it out further to a larger circle.  Frustrated we continued on in the direction we thought was correct.  When we finally found it, it started sprinkling.  Still we were determined to walk this path until the rain became too much.  We veered off, back into Wicker Park and tried to find a bar we had went to last year.  Beer inspired and a neighborhood joint.  Following the gps route, we ended up getting drenched and heading the wrong way.  At which point, we abandoned our original plan and stumbled into a wine bar.  Perfection.
We could open a wine, drink it there and they were waiving the corkage fees that particular day.  It was the best find.  They had a lovely selection of old world and new world wines.  It was warm and comfortable to drink some great juice on a rainy afternoon.  I charged my phone and we considered dinner options.  The ramen place was byob which also seemed serendipitous.  In a wine shop, with a  great selection of wines and access to choosing a bottle for the night.  Everything fell into place in spite of being lost in Wicker Park and the rain that overwhelmed us and limited our options of hiking.  Last time, we went to the art institute.  Sure, we could have returned.  Or done something different which felt more appropriate.
I will conclude this for now.  I have a full day to prepare for...the beginning of our trip was solid and great!

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