ms. fresh fish

Lori does Chicago
April 27, 2006, 2:44 am
Filed under: general

… not like that sickos. Seriously though, I did Chicago today. I must have walked at least 10 miles (see that, I've already converted) over the last 12 hours, sitting only for a combined total of an hour max. I spent over $50 (u.s.) on museums and similar attractions. I did this for you (and for me), my loyal readers who crave an escape in the morning or at lunchtime and I want to provide that for you today! So, here goes nothin'…

I started out by attempting to walk to Soldier Field which seemed a lot closer when we were running on Tuesday. I saw that the trek there was going to consume too much of my precious time, so stopped at the Shedd Aquarium on the museum campus first. To give you an indication of how impressive this place is, they charge $23 to get in, yet the place was rammed. Given it was all noisy, irritating kids (ok, at first they were cute, but that got old fast), but still, it's something to see. I don't generally go for the lived, caged animal genre of tourism (skipped Beijing Zoo and Vancouver aquarium), but running by it on Tuesday evening piqued my interest for the building alone because it's gorgeous and so dramatically located jutting out onto Lake Michigan (which, for all intents and purposes looks like an ocean).

It was totally worth it… the building and the fishies. It's so long ago and so many attractions ago now that I can't really remember what I was so excited about, but I do have vague memories of super cool fish in re-created "natural" habitats from around the world, dolphins, penguins and belugas and at some point in the blur, the dolphins danced for me… or something. It's the largest indoor aquarium in the world, built in 1931. The dolphin and belugas "habitat" is 63 times the minimum required size with all sorts of intricate secret (I guess only to us visitors) tunnels and secluded bay areas for them. Mr. Shedd was formerly the president of Marshall Field's and the aquarium was his legacy to the city that gave him his wealth… ahhhh… Ottawa's getting nothin' from me.

Next stop on "Museum Campus", the Field Museum of Natural History. This building is unbelievable. It looks like Buckingham Palace on the outside, so I just had to check it out. I don't generally like museums (I'm more of an art gallery grrl), and this one didn't change my mind to be quite frank. Lots of insects and dinosaur bones (biggest t-rex in the World is housed here… well, "her" remnants anyway), but the inside of the building was worth it because its grandeur and design was just so immensely impressive, if you know what I mean. To add to the class of the museum, there's a McDonalds in the basement.

From there, I headed to my most anticipated attraction – the Chicago Institute of Art. This has an incredible collection of art, especially renaissance and impressionists (I never realized that Monet had a little touch of OCD – what's with the reproduction of hundreds of paintings of the same things…). The contemporary collection left a bit to be desired and in fact, I would have to say the collection at the National Gallery is better. I know, I'm just as surprised as you are. It didn't help tremendously that American Gothic (the haunting/creepy farmer and his wife) was on loan to D.C.

So it's now 4:30 p.m. and I've got time to burn before I hit the observatory if I'm going to get it for sunset. Low and behold, I found the best shopping street in Chicago. Say it with me people: bargooooooons!!! Finally! I had some good times shopping in the cheapie stores with my fellow cheapskates and spent far too much money there, but the bags I have strewn across my bed right now are so fulfilling!

My final "attraction" stop of the night was the observatory in the John Hancock building (aka "Big John" – I swear to goddess). This observatory is on the 94th floor and I had to ride up the elevator solo. I almost started crying. I hung out there for well over an hour, watched the sunset, tried to see Indiana and Wisconsin and took some excellent nighttime skyline shots with my $2 tripod. It was so romantic, with Norah Jones playing in the background, that my heart started to ache for my Marco, and I almost cried again.

To console myself, I hit the Cheesecake Factory on the ground floor of the Hancock building where I ate my "dinner" by myself. When the hostess asked me which part I'd like to sit in, I actually said "whichever makes me less conspicuous eating alone". So pathetic. But Siobhan's recommendation was well worth it and the raspberry white chocolate truffle cheesecake was something else. I was practically making out with my fork it was so good.

And so kids, that's what $55 (not including shopping and giftstore purchases, which were plentiful today) can get you in Chicago. Well worth it. Still more to do the next time I return…

Back to Ottawa tomorrow night, which reminds me, only one more night with my new love, Mr. Hottub.

p.s. My call was answered and a Ms. Anonymous (that's my third one – I'm like a big-time foundation now!) contributed enough to the MS Walk to get me over the $450 mark!! I'm so overwhelmed by everyone's generosity that I don't think I can even ask anymore. Thank you so much everyone!!! Uh-oh… crying AGAIN!


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