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Archive for August 12th, 2004

Day 3 in Chicago

Thursday, August 12th, 2004

Wednesday morning promised rain. We dressed for that possibility and set out on the subway for the aquarium, a place Sara had pre-planned into the schedule before we had left home. I had only been in the lobby once, but never further inside (it is an incredible building architecturally, every element of the building is related to water life in some way… gratings with starfish and turtles and shells, ceiling tiles, doorways, every tiny bit attended to with ultimate care). I really enjoy the Tampa aquarium in Florida and expected I’d like this, as well.

We got off at the Roosevelt station for the Red Line. We had planned to walk to the aquarium but that is many, many blocks and my feet were still hurting from the day before. We walked to the top of a bridge, hoping to see how far it might be to walk, and could not see far enough to make a judgement. The view was impressive from the bridge so I took this photo while we were up there.

We considered a taxi and then noticed that there was an old-fashioned bus that said “Free Trolley to Museum Campus” right outside the transit station. We checked it out and, almost too good to be true, found it would take us almost directly to the aquarium… free, but we did tip the driver. When we got to the aquarium I found another nice skyline view so took another picture. Can you tell I am just in love with big cities and skylines, subways, museums, you name it? I was very, very happy to be there.

The aquarium was wonderful. I love turtles, and there were many of those, from small ones to an incredibly large sea turtle in a huge tank where we could walk all the way around it. We watched a diver go into that large circular tank and feed fish while answering questions from the crowd (she was hard to understand, but it was fun anyway). We then went in further, and saw the dolphins, (beluga?) whales and penguins. Here are photos of a trainer with a whale, and a whole lot of penguins of two different species. I thought the ones on their bellies looked a bit silly, if comfortable. I’ve seen penguins slide on their bellies before, but not just rest that way. Too fun!

Then came Sara’s favorite part of the trip: we went shopping! She wanted to go to H&M which was a place I’d not heard of before. Actually, the day before we had already shopped at Filene’s Basement and she got some funky polkadot rubber boots. This day we went to H&M and she got a pair of pants, and I got matching necklace and earrings that I can wear when I’m dancing (they are silver with turquoise, I’m sure I’ll wear them a lot). I also got some rhinestone earrings. Remember… this was Sara’s shopping trip and I got more than she did at this place!!!

We then went to Bloomingdales. I remember back in my big credit-card shopping days (I gave up the cards close to 15 years ago) I used to buy cotton hose at Bloomies’ hose/sock department. We went there. The ladies working there were very elegant and we were not at all dressed like them. I think they didn’t know if we were OK, but I said hello with a smile, and looked at all the lovely things.

There were wonderful variations on fishnet hose in pink and turquoise, but over $20 a piece and I couldn’t do that for a frivolous thing I would not wear much. We found a sale table in the very back corner and I found some beaded foot decorations (sort of sandals without soles) in turquoise that I can wear to dance in, for a few dollars. I was pleased. By the time we left, those ladies had warmed right up to us and were as friendly as can be. I tell you, a smile can melt a heart sometimes…

We shopped a few more places, including Lord and Taylor. I can’t remember if that was where Sara got this very cute green skirt and a hot pink top she loved to go with it. I didn’t take any photos of the shopping experience, we were so involved with the moment.

That night we tried to find a place to eat where I could find food I wasn’t allergic to, and where Sara would also be happy. We found one small Italian place on Rush but I wanted to feel as though we had more than one choice. We walked several more blocks (feet hurting a lot at that point) and lucked on a large flashy Italian place on a corner, Buca. It worked for both of us. Sara enjoyed the tour of the kitchen we got automatically when they found we had not been there before. She enjoyed all the pictures on the walls and the funny fake Italian talk show that was piped into the ladies bathroom speakers. We both enjoyed the food.

It is a family-style restaurant. With all the schtick and flair we found on the way in, I expected the prices to be high but the portions were big and the prices very reasonable. We got spaghetti with marinara (meatless tomato sauce) and we each chose a side dish. Sara got roasted vegetables which looked wonderful. I chose garlic escarole (a leafy green something like spinach). Ooohhh, that was very fine indeed! An added touch was the large thermos of truly hot water for my tea, which did not taste as though it had first been used for coffee. I’m a fanatical tea drinker and on this trip I only got a few really good cups of tea. I was pleased to have refills without having to flag the waitress down.

We got a LOT of food and had a wonderful relaxed time… and the price was quite excellent. I would definitely return, even though I’m not big on touristy places in general.

On the way back to the Red Line, we stopped at a McDonald’s, for a drink of soda pop and a bathroom break. I realized that I was missing one of my polymer clay star earrings I had been wearing all weekend. I love these earrings, I made them 10 years ago and though they are not technically fancy they are extremely wearable and seem to go with everything I own. I was really upset to lose them, more than I would have expected. I called the restaurant and they didn’t have the earring. I shook my clothing and nothing fell. We prepared to go back and look at the sidewalk (since the earrings are pretty big they might have been noticeable in the twilight). Then just as we prepared to leave, I noticed the star on the floor right by Sara’s feet. Whew! We were both relieved. My feet were also happy they didn’t have to go back and walk any more!!!

We were pretty tired and we knew we had to check out at 9:30am. We attempted to go to bed early. The other girls in our room came back right as we were getting ready to tuck in, and we talked with them for a while. Finally, we turned off the light just after midnight our time (11pm their time).

We both tossed and turned, because we are not good at going to bed that early. We did not get a great night’s sleep but we did get up in time and checked out properly. But that is a story for another day…