"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Perfect Day in Chicago

What can you do with a weird mid-week holiday? Why not take a day-trip to The Windy City? It's only an hour flight from Nashville. You can ride The El in from the airport to downtown for $2.25. Then do a little shopping. Then do a little sightseeing. Then take a food/architecture/history walking tour through two of Chicago's best neighborhoods. Then do a little more shopping and sightseeing. Another $2.25 ride back to the airport. Another hour flight back home. Sound good? Well, it did to us and that's just what we did today for Veteran's Day along with our friend, Joy. And it couldn't have been more perfect.
First off, the weather was incredibly perfect for early November. Sunny skies and mid-60's. The weather added to some perfect photo ops for sightseeing downtown especially in and around beautiful Millennium Park which included the very cool Cloud Gate (photo above) or what the locals call "The Bean". Next, we had some perfect shopping with everyone finding a little something for themselves (Rob -shirt, Ashlee - boots, Joy - scarf) at Nordstrom Rack and Macy's. Saving the best for last, however, was an absolute perfect tour through the beautiful Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods north of downtown. The tour started at George's Hot Dogs in Bucktown. George's has been cranking out real Chicago-style yumminess since 1948. We met our wonderful tour guide, Kent, there along with 13 other folks ( a full group). Kent is the best kind of tour guide - the kind that loves the place he's showcasing and everything it entails. He got us started out right by serving up a loaded dog for each of us. It was delicious. The tour headed out on foot back down Damen Street to Hot Chocolate. Despite its name, this full-service restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, but yes, decadent sweetness is their specialty and we got to sample a cup of their namesake and a homemade marshmallow....not even close to what you buy in the supermarket in plastic bags...these things were amazing! We walked (slowly) from Hot Chocolate on down Damen Street and found Goddess & Grocer, an upscale deli and grocery store owned by a former Hollywood caterer where we tried a tasty sample of antipasto salad. It was here that we were shown what is said to be a new "sensation" around Chicago and beyond - bacon-flavored chocolate??? Don't know about that one yet, but might have to give it a try sometime. Moving on, we next turned onto North Avenue and technically entered into the Wicker Park neighborhood. Our fourth stop was Piece - a pizza kitchen and microbrewery (hooray! says Rob - see his beer blog for more info on that). The beer was great by the way, and the pizza was just as good. Instead of the deep-dish style that Chicago seems to be known for this was thin-crust "New Haven style" - that is, no tomato sauce, just cheese, toppings, garlic, oregano and olive oil. After this stop we were really getting stuffed, so it was time for a longer walk before our next stop. Kent weaved us in and around the neighborhood streets of historic Wicker Park showing us some incredibly beautiful private homes (photo below). A half-hour later or so our next stop was Sultan's Market, an authentic Mediterranean restaurant where we had our first felafels - a pita stuffed with chick peas, hummus, tomatoes and cucumbers. These sandwiches are very popular and now we see why. They are quite tasty and refreshing. We finished this great tour at one of the most unique places on Earth...in fact it's the only place like it on Earth...for now. The place is called I Cream and it's an amazing concept. It's great tasting ice cream with dozens of flavors to choose from and their isn't a freezer in the place?? How's that work? Well, a little milk in a bowl, drop in a few toppings of your choice (we had Nutella, cream soda and hazelnuts) and then BLAST IT with liquid nitrogen and a few seconds later....waalaaaa!!! ice cream!! Very cool concept (pun definitely intended). Store owner/creator, Cara Broward, (at work in photo above) has been up and running for nearly a year now. Sure wish we had some investment money laying around to buy a franchise because this stuff is gonna be the next big thing. Bet on it.
We got home around 10:30 PM just in time to go to bed and get up for work tomorrow. Yep, kind of perfect.

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