There is probably nothing I can write about the windy city that hasn’t been mentioned before. Yet, the thought of the classy Midwestern metropolitan on Lake Michigan, with more than one claim to fame, propels my inner lust for exploring and partaking in all things noteworthy about the country’s third largest town.
I wanted a change of pace, as I have been blogging mainly about Museums focused on Wisconsin’s heritage and lore. Chicago’s history is quite unique and I discovered a history museum featuring the city’s past. However, thanks to a late start and a GPS with a glitch, I never made it to the museum. The bad luck, although frustrating, turned out to be very fortuitous, as it was a misshapen adventure that provided the quintessential visit to Chicago.
I park at the Museum campus where Shedd’s Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium, Soldier Field and the Field museum reside. The price for parking here is two dollars an hour and it is very accessible, being a short walk through Grant Park to the City’s downtown. I pay eight dollars and am off to explore.
The first thing that strikes me about the town is not pleasant, as the wind from Lake Michigan is brutally raw. I zip up my jacket and tuck my head, as I trudge through the gales that redden mine and my companions face. After a short walk, we find our way into Grant Park, safe from the wind but chilled to the bone.
Since we’re bypassing the museum, our first mission is to find a hotdog, as neither of us have had a bite to eat today. I know of a good chain that serves this Chicago specialty. We ask for direction to the nearest place, yet, on our way, find a smaller eatery with Chicago style dogs first up on their menu.
Devil Dawgs, which is the name of the place, has constant business but is not overcrowded. Within seconds of ordering our food, a man behind the counter is calling our number, handing over two hotdogs served in a brown paper bag. The place is lowkey ,yet, there is some pop culture flavor to this narrow rectangular eatery. With murals of Jimi Hendrix, the Blues Brothers and more adorning the ceiling, neon glowing in the window and Christmas tunes playing overhead, I can relax and be entertained while savoring an awesome hotdog.
We leave Devil Dawgs behind, with warmth back in both our bodies and hearts, and seek out the Willis (Sears) Tower, as it’s not hard to find. All we have to do, to find the country’s second tallest building, is look for the monster looming in the skyline, as it spreads a little Christmas cheer with illuminated spires of red and green stretching into the sky. On our way, we stumble upon many imaginative decorations, adding a classy Christmas vibe to the downtown atmosphere.
After a few pictures of Willis Tower, we set off for millennium Park, in search of the down town Christmas Tree. When we reach it, we are overwhelmed with a sense of warmth and cheer, as smiling people everywhere pose for pictures and take in the perfect and inspirational December setting. An ice skating rink lies before the tree as childish hearts, both young and old, skate laps in delight.
This is a relatively new addition to the downtown, as millennium park, itself, is only twenty years old. The first tree lighting in millennium park was in 2015 and it is very much like a miniature Rockefeller center. The city of Chicago got it absolutely right, as there is even a place to rent skates.
In many ways, I’m like my father. When dad experiences something he absolutely loves he repeats the experience often, till it has run it’s course. I write this because, as while we were enjoying the Christmas vibe of Chicago, the desire for another hotdog inside the warm and cozy confines of Devil Dawgs was continuously in the back of my mind. So, yeah, with in two hours, we are back for seconds.
My constant craving for a hotdog is a great bit of luck. On our way, we come across a blues club named Buddy Guy’s Legends. I ask my companion if we can check it out on our way back from the eatery and she agrees. The Place is simply classic.
We arrive around the end of dinner time but well before the headliner was slated to appear on stage. In the mean time, for dinner, an acoustic show performed by Fruteland Jackson is offered at no charge. We sit down, have a few drinks, and enjoy the show.
The performer’s attire is symbolic of the music he plays. It is down to earth, sometimes grainy, delivered with smooth guitar playing and a voice to match. The whole club, despite guitars that are autographed by legends perched on the walls, is very low key and unassuming. The beer, of which I enjoy two, is very reasonably priced, no more than a bar in Green Bay.
We Trek back towards our car taking in the beautiful skyline along the shore of lake Michigan. The many skyscrapers that are endowed with a little Christmas spirit, as many sport green and red lights, add to the magic of the moment. We gaze off at the buildings from grant park and make the return trip to our car.
It was not what I intended, yet, the only thing I would have changed about the night would have been a longer stay at Buddy Guy’s legends. I will return for another hotdog, possibly a skate in millennium park, and definitely to see a big named headliner at the blues club, as Buddy himself is said to play there from time to time. I grade my trip a nine out of ten, only because I could have done with a little less wind in the windy city.