Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicago with the Donnelly's

Julie and I flew up to Chicago for a long weekend to meet her cousin Kathleen Donnelly and Kathleen's husband Bill. These are the couple from Michigan that we join to see Wolverine football games every year.
We got in a day before the Donnelly's and started with a visit from our Chicago-based friends Stuart and Laurie Jones. They were kind enough to drive in through Chicago traffic to meet us for dinner.  They've been doing a substantial house remodel so next time out, we need to go visit.

Our stay was at the Palmer House Hilton, which is a gorgeous and perfectly located hotel in downtown.  This is the same place we stayed for Seth Benson's wedding a few years ago.  They were running some great rate specials this summer. Nice lobby!
The hotel is only a couple of blocks from Lake Michigan. It was a busy weekend along the docks, with parties going everywhere. I miss having a waterfront in Utah.
We went on a boat ride that did an architectural tour up the river and then popped out into the lake. To get out to the lake, you have to go out through a lock that raises and lowers the traffic by about a foot and a half.  I found it amusing that while you are out in the busy, windy, wavy Lake Michigan, you don't have to wear your life jacket.  However, while in the calm, smooth, protected lock, every person in a small boat had to have one on.
Chicago's architecture is very interesting, especially with a guide to explain the history and relationships between buildings.  I liked this one with the ivy growing way up the side and a reflection of the building back across the river.
Chicago is a big, impressive city. I've been around a lot of tall buildings through my travels, but walking the streets of Chicago almost always has me gawking up.  Huge buildings, one after another.  They form a deep concrete canyon, but the buildings are often pieces of architectural art.
To make everything more interesting, there was a big airshow going on.  They anticipated 2 million people watching over the two day show.  The highlight, as is often the case with these shows, was the Blue Angels.  How would you like to be watching from the top of one of these buildings?
You really need to appreciate it when a hotel goes so out of their way to make your stay an excellent one.  After dinner one evening, we returned to our room to find a bottle of champagne and a note that said "Mr. and Mrs. Baker,  Happy Anniversary!"  We felt bad for them so we called the hotel, told them it was delivered to the wrong room and had them come pick it up.

The next afternoon we had a new bottle of champagne. Same card. This time, we decided to thank the Baker's and the Palmer House Hilton for their thoughts.  The bottle went home with Bill and Kathleen.
There's so much to do in Chicago.  We caught a show at Second City.  We found a new restaurant called Trattoria #10, an excellent source of fresh pasta.  Julie and Kathleen found some shoes on a bodacious sale.  We even got a brief visit from Michael, Bill and Kathleen's son, as he was trekking from Madison to St Louis for business.

A great weekend, certain to be repeated!
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