Ah Chicago

Chicago will always be my first love. Well, as far as cities go. 

Growing up in Illinois, Chicago was my first experience of a big city (and the site of many, many field trips). It wasn't until we were practically all grown that my sister and I realized how incredibly cheap it is to take the amtrak train from Bloomington to Chicago. (It's like $14 one way). Leah and I have spent several day trips in Chicago, mostly spending our time eating (because, seriously, Chicago is so tasty). 

Chicago is also my favorite city because it is the only major U.S. city where I've lived for any amount of time. Sure, my time there was really brief. (1 month in the neighborhood of uptown for orientation for Radical Journey and then 3 months in East Garfield Park when I was the cook for DOOR Chicago). It was really during my experience living in Uptown that my view of the city expanded. Part of our orientation was learning how to get around in a new place. Thus, our teams spent many hours riding the L and the bus, learning how the city is on a grid, and as long as you know which way the lake is, you really cannot get lost. That September in Uptown continues to be one of the best things I've ever experienced in my life. (Although, let me just say that learning to get around in Chicago was nothing like learning how to get around in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. I never did master riding the Kombis).  

Okay sure, the only times I've ever been in Chicago for more than just a day have been in the summer or fall months. That is when the city is at its best. It is beyond lovely. (I think I would really want to live there if it was not for that dang winter and lake effect thing). 

Regardless, I still love Chicago in all of her shapes and forms, jewels and harsh realities. Plus, Chicago is maybe the only city in the world that I feel like I have mastered the public transport system. Meaning, my travel anxiety in that city is extremely low. This means that I can actually relax and enjoy myself. If I get lost, I can figure it out. That is a big deal for me. I was a little nervous as my Dad took me to the amtrak station early Monday morning that I forgot what I learned all those years ago as. But as soon as I was on my way, all my doubts cleared. 2011 was the last time I was there. Things were different. But it did not take me long to brush up on the CTA. 
 So why was I in the city this past week?

Simple. To see my ultimate bestie and her husband, both of whom are my favorite people to travel with.  (They just moved back from Bolivia and are in the States until August when they will move to Qatar. So making the effort to go see them was a super high priority. It also was super convenient that Lucas' sister lives in the city).
After they met me at Union station, we walked over to Greek Town to have brunch at Meli. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon at Adler Planetarium, had supper at The Brazilian Bowl and topped the day off with cupcakes from Molly's cupcakes

This is a significant find. I have now found this exact graffiti in 4 different places in the city now.  
On Tuesday, our main goal was to spend as much time outside as possible. After all, the weather was divine there the entire time. (I went from 98 degree days in Kansas to suddenly being in a world of highs of 78. I was in heaven). So, we decided to have breakfast up in Lincoln Park/Lakeview (I am not exactly sure which neighborhood we were in) at Aje Cafe before heading downtown to do all the touristy things. 
I was expecting very little from this tiny coffee shop. But it was my favorite meal all day! 

My favorite part of Millennium Park is actually the lesser-know "stream" area. (I don't even know the name of it). I love putting my toes in the cold water. So refreshing! 
We ended our time at DMK Burger Bar for "lupper" before I had to start the journey back to Kansas. 
It was a lovely 48 hours with good friends, good food and good weather. Ah, Chicago, you will always be my favorite.