Monday, February 3, 2014

travel: hello Chicago, I've missed you

walking over the bridges in Chicago always freaks me the fuck out
especially in the winter and when I'm by myself

Who leaves one city that's suffering through sub zero temps to escape to another city suffering through sub zero temps?

This girl.

It wasn't that cold to me though. I'm sure folks think I'm nuts because I don't ever think it's that cold out, even when it's below zero. I'm like a human radiator.

At first I felt like the Universe was against me going on this trip. The Saturday prior to me leaving I hurt my back. I couldn't stand for very long and even sitting was uncomfortable. I was determined to get out of town so I spent most of my time laying in bed when there were other things I needed to do. Then Sunday morning I received and email from megabus that they cancelled my outbound trip due to the cold weather. I panicked just a bit, but thankfully found a seat on the Greyhound for only a few more dollars than I paid for my megabus ticket AND it left a little later in the morning. I felt like things were starting to turn around.

Sunday afternoon my boss texted me to let me know that I didn't have to work on Monday. While it cut my 8 hour work week down to 4 I was okay with this because even though my back was getting better, it was still not feeling as well as I would have liked, which meant I had an extra day to lay in bed all day. Which I did.

I kept a close eye on the forecast and my email to make sure my bus was still on schedule and to make sure the city buses were running. Everything was looking good to go and I was packed and ready to go. I made sure to dress properly just in case.

I hadn't ridden the Greyhound in over 10 years and the last time I'd ridden it, it wasn't a good experience. I'm happy to say that the service was good this go around. The seats were comfy and the ride was smooth. It was a full bus. We stopped in Lafayette on the way up to Chicago. I hadn't been back there since my college days. The city changed a lot since the last time I'd been up there. Expanded.

While in Chicago I stayed at the Acme Hotel Company right in downtown, two blocks from the Mile and right behind the Shops at North Bridge. I got a GREAT deal on the room. I was searching through Kayak and the name caught my eye. I checked it out online and the rate was only $79/night. The deal hunter I am, I used AND a coupon from Mr. Rebates and scored my stay for $69/night (and I'll get an extra $7 from Mr. Rebates). Most of the other hotels were AT LEAST $100/night and they didn't look nearly as awesome as Acme.

The room was exactly as it is pictured on the website. There were all sorts of little details throughout the hotel (a chalkboard on the room doors, record sleeves in the elevator, all sorts of art). I will definitely stay there again, assuming I can find a great rate again. There's a bakery/deli in the lobby and I wanted to grab food from there, but there were too many other places that I wanted to try out instead. The hotel also offers free coffee service in the morning. They knock and drop off a free thermos of coffee. This would've been great if I drank coffee.

When I say the hotel was in a great location...every place I wanted to eat at was only a couple of blocks away. And I was half a block away from the Nutella Bar inside Eataly. It was nice to have everything so close since it was cold out. Also I was more confident walking around late at night by myself with everything so close.

For the most part all I really did was eat and hang out in my room watching cable (HGTV) while resting my back. I also met up with fellow blogger Jaimielee of hippopotamuslee (she's a sweetheart and super awesome). We met up for pizza and then walked around and a bit and checked out make up. I also met up for dinner with an old coworker who has made Chicago home for the second time now (she's gonna be an extra on Mind Games that'll be premiering soon).

I can't tell you how excited I was to find out that there were so many good food places within blocks of the hotel. I didn't even visit every place I wanted to visit. I was most excited to hit up the Nutella Bar inside of Eataly. I had planned to get at least two or three different things from the Nutella bar, but only ended up getting one thing because I was distracted by the gelato and other lovely treats Eataly had to offer.

L to R, T to B: Frontera Fresco tacos, Firecakes Donuts (the coconut creme...heaven),
Eataly (pizza and gelato)

When I got into town on Tuesday afternoon I was starving and headed over to Frontera Fresco to grab some tacos (if you didn't already realize it, I've got a thing for tacos). They were delicious. I wanted to get a couple more, but I knew I'd be going out to dinner that night and that was only a few hours away. To drink I ordered a mango lime agua fresca. I wanted to like it, but it was way to sweet...syrupy sweet. I think if it hadn't been so sweet, it would've actually been good.

For dinner I met up with my old coworker and we went to Burke's Bacon Bar. mmmmm...bacon. They served small slider style burgers and other bacony delicious items. The sliders are $4/each or 3 for $11. I opted for 3 and ordered a CBLT, Angry Reuben and the Bacon Burger. All of them were delicious. So much so that I ended up going back the next night and I normally don't go back to the same place because I like to try other things. The second night I got a CBLT and the bacon mac n' cheese. Creamy, bacony goodness in my belly.

After dinner my old coworker and I hit up Eataly so I could check out the Nutella Bar. I walked in the door and the greeter hit on me not once but twice. If he hadn't been old, I probably wouldn't have felt uncomfortable. I picked up a Nutella crepe for dessert and OC ordered some gelato. I wanted both, but since Eataly was half a block from the hotel I knew I could pop back in later if I really had to have that gelato.

Wednesday morning I bundled up and headed out to Firecakes Donuts. As I was walking down the street I noticed glazed and infused and made a note to stop by there the next morning. From Firecakes I picked up the maple glazed pineapple and bacon donut and the coconut creme. OMG! The coconut creme made me want to order a dozen more. As I was walking back to the hotel with my donuts I decided to stop in glazed and infused and picked up a couple more donuts (pb & j and a maple bacon long john). I thought I was going to have a big breakfast, but instead saved half the donuts for the next morning so I could sleep in. Why doesn't Indianapolis have any fancy donut places?

I headed back to Eataly to grab lunch with Jaimielee. Eataly is an amazing market and restaurant. They had fresh baked crusty bread, all sort of cheeses, fresh produce, pasta, the Nutella Bar, gelato, a coffee bar and a bunch of other stuff. I could've eaten every meal there. We both ended up ordering pizza. I love fresh mozzarella.

Dinner was a difficult choice for me. I couldn't decide between checking out a new taco place, more bacon burgers from Burke's or Thai food. After much deliberation and checking on what was available close by I ended up getting Thai fried rice from a small Thai place called Silver Spoon. Nothing fancy, but good. I also picked up another CBLT and the bacon mac n cheese from Burke's. I saved the mac n cheese for home by keeping it cold in the ice bucket. All kinds of creamy goodness. I normally wouldn't repeat a place I've eaten (especially not in the same trip), but I really enjoyed the Burke's and it was a nice small snack. After dinner I popped over the Eataly for some gelato.

I didn't much feel like walking around Thursday after I checked out so I found the nearest Argo Tea and bought an iced tea and read for about two hours until I was hungry enough for lunch. I was going to have some Filipino food, but I started craving tacos since I didn't satisfy the craving the night before so I headed back to Frontera Fresco. After lunch I sat and read some more before heading to the train station. For the ride home I picked up a sandwich from Hannah's Bretzels. Crusty bread and pretzel bread are my favorites.

The ride home was different. Megabus had to contract out a different bus company. No explanation why, they just said look for a different bus. Our normal straight shot back to Indianapolis went a different route with a stop at a rest stop getting us back into town an hour later than normal. I was kind of annoyed. Not really thankful to be back in town only because I could've enjoyed another day in Chicago. Those trips aren't ever long enough.

I'm already trying to figure out where I can go next or when I can head back to Chicago. Indianapolis isn't a horrible place, but I'm ready for a change. I have some personal obligations here right now though. So it's back to the grind. Valentine's Day is upon and I've got some cards to make and sell. Hopefully I can sell enough to bank for my next vacation.

reading - Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
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Teresa said...

I am in love with that first picture of the ice! It sounds like you had a fun trip and your hotel looks and sounds awesome. I would love to stay there sometime. And I want to go to Nutella Bar!!!! (:

Jen said...

How fun!!!!! :)

Rima said...

i am crying to be in that Nutella bar. as;dfjals;kdfj;

Hippopotamuslee said...

Annnnnd now I'm hungry again! It was so fun meeting you, hopefully next time you're in town we can hang again!