Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicago Daytrip!

The Monday after Christmas we took the train into the city. Really the only plan we had was to go to the aquarium, so it was a relaxed go-with-the-flow kind of day.

Have you ever seen a train station where you can just walk across the tracks!? Johnny thought it was normal, but my parents and I were shocked. In New York all the stations have an underground tunnel, or huge steps that go up and over the track. I guess they're not worried about lawsuits here?

After arriving in the city I had a quick eggroll at Union Station because I turn quite bitchy when I'm hungry and we hadn't decided on lunch plans yet. I'm glad too, because lunch turned into a little bit of a wild goose chase! On a whim we decided to take a cab to Frontera, only to realize duh- it's Monday and they're closed, plus they're closed over the Christmas break. This is Rick Bayless' restaurant and he also has Topolobampo, a high end, and Xoco, a casual walk-in eatery. Of these three (all right by each other) the only one open was Xoco - thus they received all the traffic. The line was out the door and my mom went in to ask and it was a minimum of 45 minutes! Sorry, Rick, but another time!

We looked through the guide book and I recognized Gene & Georgetti's! I totally forgot I'd asked Johnny to take me there after seeing it in a lot of airline literature while flying in and out of Chicago and also on a Travel Channel steak special. It's a Chicago Steakhouse - famous since 1941! We talked to a few locals and the mail lady to track it down. It's tucked beneath the "el" and walking in the door is like stepping back in time!

The waiters were all male and wore black pants with crisp, white shirts and bow ties. In the corner by the kitchen (no lie!) was an Italian man working with two phones and had all his food and wine brought to him without even asking what he wanted. Every waiter and staff member stopped to talk to him in Italian. The walls were filled with pictures of famous visitors that have eaten there over the years.

It took us awhile to order because we arrived for lunch, but could order from either the lunch or dinner menu so we had a lot to contemplate. Basically you order the steak you want (which comes with cottage fries), then the rest of the food is ordered "family style."

I ordered a medium-rare petite sirloin strip and it was delicious! I love when restaurants cook steak correctly and they really knew what they were doing. The outside was charred and tasted exactly like a smoky grill.

My 2nd try of cottage fries! These were SO much better than the ones in D.C. from the Irish pub!

As a table we decided on spinach, which was garlicy and tender.

Also, the fungus eaters had mushrooms! I tried one and it was not as mildewy as usual, but I still didn't help myself to anymore!

We spent a few hours at the aquarium seeing the main area. It's so big you could easily spend a full day there, (even more than one day if you're like me)! My favorite are the seahorses! Luckily they have a whole section devoted to them!

The last thing we did was venture to the top of the Sears Tower!! (Notice at the top, those clear little boxes protruding from the building!?)

103 stories above the city! What a view! I've been both during the day and night, and I have to say I really like night time with all of the city lights!

Ok, remember the little clear boxes!? Well - those are new! "The Ledge" just opened this summer with 4 plexi glass boxes extending 4 1/2 feet from the building. They're 1,353 feet above the streets below!! This my parents' first time atop the Sears Tower, as well as both Johnny's and my first time seeing this new addition!

The first step out was a little terrifying - really disorienting to step out onto a clear floor and see the ground so far beneath you! I was gripping Johnny's hand (who was standing on "solid ground") in case it fell, he promised he'd catch me!

Then I got a little braver and went for it! It really looks and feels as if you're floating above the city!

A view straight down, the side of the building is along the bottom of the picture, for reference.

Then Johnny had the idea to lay flat and look down!

I wanted to see it from that view, but I wasn't that brave to lay all the way in the box - so I layed with my body on "solid ground" with just my torso looking down! Freaky!!!

Have any of my fellow Chicagolanders been to "The Ledge" yet!? If so - what did you think of it!? I thought it was such a unique experience, I could have stayed up there for hours more!


Laura said...

wow fantastic day. The ledge looks a tad bit mmmm freaking scary!! I get scared2 stories up putting in insulation let alone however high up you were. And to lie down...I don't know about that. Brave woman!!

A@ Please Don't Eat Me! said...

ahhhhhh!!!! im getting dizzy just looking at that. not sure i would be brave enough to go there *shudders*

the green line in boston is above ground, its pretty cool.. it drives on the streets and you have to get out of its way sometimes.. lol funny!!

i remember over the summer expediting an order for our company that was going to the chicago subway system. i saved the day then! hahaha!

Casey @ SpicyandSweet said...

Mmm...cottage fries! :) That ledge looks scary...ahh!

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

I have NOT been on the ledge yet, but would totally do it!

Its too bad Xoco was super busy, I want to hear a review of that. I know its always crowded at lunch time.

What a great day you guys had!

Christina said...

Jenn we'll def. go back! Michelle at Lucky Taste Buds has visited both Frontera and Xoco - the reviews are here: along w/ other Chicago places!

Unknown said...

Those are awesome pics! Next time you go to Union Station, there is an Irish place there called Elephant and Castle on Adams. Really good calamari.

Try the Hancock Observatory next! I haven't been to the Sears Tower in years, so I'll have to see that ledge.

The Diva on a Diet said...

What an awesome day! Great pics too! Thanks so much for taking us along Christina. :)

I just love Chicago and I love aquariums too. Will have to put that on the to-do list next time I'm there. Sea horses are so amazing.

I've been to the top of the Sears Tower - but that was before "The Ledge" ... I'm not sure I could bring myself to stand all the way inside it ... but that picture of you is so cool.

Happy New Year!

Maggie said...

Trains are like that in CA too! So weird.Growing up in NJ I always had the very safe trains - can't trust people not to jump in the tracks I guess. In CA there are tons of suicides, so it's probably not a good idea to have them open...

Left you an award on my blog :)

sophia said...

Christina! I never knew Chicago is SO wonderful! I wanna visit it again SO bad! I wanna go to The Ledge...It looks incredible! I love your outfit, too. Very cute. But I would freeze. If you ever see an Asian eskimo waddling about like a penguin, that's how I look like in the winter. ;-)

I also haven't been to an aquarium in so long, and I love those. Damn, I really need to make this Chicago trip happen!

Anonymous said...

I would not be able to step out onto that thing! A major freakout would ensue!