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Trip Report Trip Report: Chicago, October 13 - 17, 2011

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We decided to meet our daughter and her partner halfway. We flew in from San Francisco, they came from New York. We rented an apartment for 4 nights ($895 including tax) from Short-Term Chicago. It was a fully furnished two bedroom apartment at 1220 W. Belmont, just a few blocks from the Red line. The pictures on the web site are accurate. The one quirk: the water heater has a very noisy exhaust fan which worried us because none of us were used to an exhaust fan for the water heater. We called and it was apparently checked while we we out and there was nothing to worry about.

The trip was too short. We barely scratched the surface at the Art Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry. Both museums deserve at least a full day and we just had a few hours.

We arrived at 8 p.m. at O’Hare and took public transportation to the apartment. The connection was easy, we just followed the directions given on Google map. We purchased a three day pass for each of us, which, in terms of (minimal) cost, was the wrong thing to do. It would have been better to buy a single ticket and then the three day pass the next morning, which would have covered the rest of our stay including the trip back to the airport. As it was we had to buy tickets for our last evening and the trip back to the airport. We arrived at the apartment around 9:30 and our daughter, who had arrived much earlier that day found a recommended pizza place from which we had a deep dish Chicago-style pizza delivered. Too much dough for our taste, although the vegetarian topping was quite good. We’ll stick to thin pizzas from now on.

On the first day we went to the Art Institute, saw a special exhibit of W.W.II Russian posters and the miniatures. We also had lunch there. We then took the “L” to the north side to meet a friend who specializes in ethnic neighborhood tours, and she gave us a tour of the Devon Ave. area (mainly Indian and Pakistani establishments). For a different Chicago experience, consider http://www.ethnic-grocery-tours.com/ . That evening she fed us a very good Mexican meal with an exceptional dry-rubbed barbecue chicken from a Mexican take-out place.

The next day we went to Oak Park to see the Frank Lloyd Wright houses--easy connection via “L”. Since we did not get an early start, we just got a touch of the neighborhood in the 45 minutes we waited for the tour of his house and studio. The tour lasted longer than announced, which was surprising as it must have created back-ups for the subsequent tours. The “L” ride is quite long, and we just made it for our 3 p.m. appointment with Evelyn. She also leads tours out of the Chicago Cultural Center which used to be the public main library. The building is very impressive, containing two large Tiffany domes, and one is surprised to hear that the authorities ever considered tearing it down. We walked around the downtown all together and then took the Red line to the Lawrence station to eat in an Ethiopian restaurant half a block from the “L” station: http://demeraethiopianrestaurant.com/ We ordered the family platter which is a variety of foods on sponge bread presented on a large platter: $183.63 including drinks and tip. The food is excellent, but one has to be willing to eat using sponge bread to grab the food, no utensils are given.

We had all read The Devil in the White City, so we had to go see the Museum of Science and Industry; which is the only remaining building from the 1893 Colombian Fair. We took the “L” to Cottage Grove and walked over to the University of Chicago because Evelyn had told us to go see the new library. The dome is impressive and quite a contrast to the brutalist style of the 60s Regenstein Library. More impressive is what is hidden--the stacks and their retrieval system. From there we walked toward the lake, passing by the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House--tours are available but we did not have the time. We got to the Museum of Science & Industry in time for a late lunch, a tour of the Dr. Seuss exhibit and a view of the main transportation hall. From there we took the no. 10 bus back to the water tower, walked toward the lake and then down to Navy Pier. From there we took a taxi to Greek Town to meet friends who had made a reservation for dinner at the Greek Islands Restaurant (http://www.yelp.com/biz/greek-islands-restaurant-chicago ). It was good, but not great. The lamb and pork that my wife and I ordered were too dry, we should have stuck with saucier dishes or maybe fish. But the fried calamari was excellent and the salad--mainly tomatoes--was good. Total cost: $250 for the six of us, including two bottles of wine; service was excellent. The restaurant is noisy and the evening was split in two. Our daughter and her partner speaking to the husband while my wife and I spoke with the wife throughout the evening; a common conversation involving 6 was just impossible.

The next morning we stepped out of the apartment and walked to the corner just as the bus was arriving, transferred to the “L” and had a train within 3 minutes. And then there was a breakdown on the line and we lost 40 minutes, worrying that we might not make it to the airport on time. But we did.

Here are the pictures, including some taken on previous trips:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/sets/72157623200372490/

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