Saturday, April 28, 2007

food...and Chicago

So I promised I'd blog about my adventure in Chicagoland and so here I am - feeling slightly tired, but Jamie is still watching the hockey game with Rod (we're in Saskatoon right now - not quite finished our road trip) and I know I'll be awakened if I try to go to sleep before then.
So first stop on the el-grande road trip was Chicago, IL. That's Illinois to those who aren't familiar with American geography or short forms. I'm learning quite a bit about American geography (of the Northern flavour) and finding it quite fascinating. Well, perhaps not fascinating, but it's always fun to learn new things. Even if it's about the US of A.
So we get to Chicago after a drive of about 8ish hours on the road. We find our Inn - The Inn at Lincoln Park and check-in. Now the Inn at Lincoln Park is an old Inn. From the 1920's I believe. And I'm delighted to find that we are located across the street from my most favourite place in the whole wide world; Panera Bread. My friends, if you have not been introduced to Panera Bread you are missing out indeed. The next time you are in the States please look it up to see if there is one in your area. The most delicious bagels (my recommendations would be Asiago Cheese with Sundried Tomato cream cheese for the savoury lovers and Cinnamon Crunch with Hazelnut Cream Cheese for those who have a sweet tooth) they also have free wireless internet, wonderfully comfortable booths and usually classical or jazz playing softly in the background.
Actually, the Inn at Lincoln Park was in a great location. Beside Panera was Chipotle (a great fast food Mexican place where you make your own burrito or taco and you get HUGE servings) and on the same side of the street as us was Cold Stone Creamery - an incredible ice cream store.
I love food.
Our room was small but totally fine for what we wanted and within walking distance of Wrigley Field where we went to see a Cubs game!
So after a quick bite at Panera for some dinner we made the 15 minute walk to the old and infamous home of the "Cubbies".
The walk itself was great and we passed many great stores with music, vintage clothing and specialty dog treats and outfits. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk.
Wrigley Field was also a lot more exciting than I anticipated. The atmosphere around it was very "fair" like - as in a country fair where they sell peanuts and cotton candy and people have set up street stands selling many a Cub paraphernalia to passersby.
We found out "seats" in the bleachers with - as I was about to discover - the rowdies, or as a random peanut seller called them, the bleacher bums.
Everyone had a beer in his hand (I say "his" because I would guess about 85% of the people in the bleachers were guys with their buddies) and was yelling things to each other, to the players and then yelling more things to each other. I saw 2 "almost" fights break out, 1 guy pass out from being so drunk, 2 guys get escorted out and pretty much everyone shivering from being so cold. Oh I longed for the warmth of the Sky Dome and it's closed roof.
This was very different than any Jays game I had ever been to.
The Cubs players in the outfield often threw the practice balls into the crowd and interacted quite regularily with the fans in the bleachers. Even players on the opposing team (this time it was the Brewers) would give dirty looks or bend over and give us a fake moon. It was hilarious. We left after the 8th inning when the Cubs were down 3-0 and the rain was no longer a light drizzle, but steadily coming down.
The adventure didn't end there, though.
That night in our tiny Inn room something happened to the boiler and our heater (one of those old-school radiators covered in a metal frame box painted white) would NOT turn off or down. It was pumping out heat like we were living in Alaska. I was so hot but we were on the first floor and our window had no screen and needed to be propped open to stay open or else it would slam shut.
I did not sleep well that night.
But it was all part of the adventure and for the most part I don't think my mood was soured. I think it was probably because I knew that in the morning I would get to go to Panera and enjoy a delicious Cinnamon Crunch bagel.
We did go to Panera the next morning, surfed the 'net and savoured every last bite of our bagels.
So that's my long winded Chicago tale.
Currently we are enjoying beautiful Saskatoon with the Alm's and I, for one, am glad we didn't go through and stay in Moose Jaw.
More on our road trip when I am less tired.
And pictures to come too.

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