Sunday, June 07, 2009

Windy City - Part 1

Yesterday morning, Todd, Rebecka, and I took the convenient Hiawatha Amtrak train from the Milwaukee Airport to Chicago's Union Station. After a quick bus ride (could've been quicker if I hadn't led us to get off at the wrong bus stop) and an even quicker stop at Dunkin' Donuts to quiet complaints about severe hunger pangs, we reached our hotel on Michigan Ave at the heart of downtown Chicago.

The main objective for the day was to go up to Evanston, home of Northwestern University. After a quick rest at the hotel, we headed out to find the Red Line. It was tricky, but we eventually found it. We headed north for around 30-40 minutes and then switched to the purple line to reach our final destination.

By the time we reached Evanston, it was lunchtime and we were all starving for some good Italian fare. We passed two promising restaurants, but they were not open for lunch. Doh! We finally stumbled across a cozy-looking place, which seemed to have a good menu, called Tattoria Demi. It was exquisite. The food was so good, in fact, that I couldn't not try their Tiramisu (I'm on a quest to find the best Tiramisu in the world). Oh yeah - it is now topping my list. It was a perfect blend of sweet, coffee, liquor, and mascarpone. So good!

After our leisurely lunch, we were fueled and ready to go explore the Northwestern campus. While we were at lunch, the temperature had dropped at least 10 degrees, but we zipped up our jackets and started the short walk to the university. The whole area is completely amazing. The buildings express a deep sense of history, dignity, and creativity. The streets are clean. People are walking and biking to reach their destinations. Vegetation is abundant.

One of my favorite spots on the Northwestern campus is the Shakespeare Garden. This time of year, it contains splashes of color from pink to purple to yellow to green. What a great spot for quiet contemplation or for reading a classic. In fact, we left Rebecka to read in this spot (she never leaves home without a book) while Todd and I walked around a bit more. There were nice little paths winding between the trees that made me appreciate landscape designers who take serenity into consideration.

We then headed out toward the lake. It was cold and windy and exhilarating. It's like being by the ocean, because you can't see the end of it. It's just water, water, and more water. Rebecka found a cozy spot on the rocky shore to continue her reading, while Todd and I took some pictures. At this point, we felt the first drops of rain and decided to check out the student union building to see if there was any hot chocolate and chai tea latte available. Todd came to the rescue by finding a Starbucks on the second floor. We sat there for a while sipping our hot drinks and feeling our bodies warm up slightly. I picked up the latest edition of the Northwestern Business Review and enjoyed reading it very much.

Once it stopped raining and we were done with our drinks, we headed back to the CTA station to catch the train back to downtown Chicago. I had planned to go to a concert at Millennium park later in the evening, but it was just too cold (I did not pack for the weather...). Instead, we had a light dinner at the Corner Bakery and then hung out in our warm hotel room for the rest of the evening.

It was a good day.

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