(A He-Said-She-Said Story)

Have you ever wanted to escape? Just disappear for a while, leave it all behind, sneak off to somewhere exciting, even just for a day or two? Yeah, me too. Especially now with the end of the school year barreling down at me. Which is why Matt's week-long business trip to Chicago provided us with the perfect excuse. After enduring single parenthood (seriously, how do people do it?) for the week, I ditched work last Friday and hopped on a plane to meet up with my hubs in the Windy City for the weekend.

(Matt's version of events) Two quick things. One, I’ve been here before, but it’s been almost 10 years. Two, I almost moved here. Long, boring story involving corporate mergers and acquisitions. Actually that sounds fairly interesting, sort of like a John Grisham novel. Trust me, it’s not. Anyway, I turned down a move to Chicago and ended up in Dallas – I’ll let you decide how that worked out for me…

Anyway, I spent a week on an audit in Chicago with my company. By Thursday afternoon I was dying for the week to be over. Thankfully we ended early so I had no problems getting to the airport to meet Kristine. Note to any reading travelers...Midway airport is a terribly boring place to wait for someone. They’re painfully lacking in seats, and there are no vending machines. (seriously, not a single one!).

So Kristine and I have that romantic airport reunion, like the ones you only see in movies. I’m certain the other travelers were jealous, but sadly no one said anything. They probably didn’t want to interrupt our moment.
Except the airport janitor, who had NO trouble interrupting our moment with his giant broom. Like a pro, I lead us straight up to the CTA, load more value on our tickets, and, and whisk away on the Orange line to our hotel. 

It was my first visit to Chicago, and my first impressions were:
1. It is much colder than I anticipated (we had low 60's all weekend with only fleeting glimpses of the sun)
2. Yep, definitely windy
3. What a wonderful city!

We set our bags down and set out to the see the city. Our initial plan was to visit Navy pier, then check out the views from on top of the John Hancock building, then head to a relaxing dinner. As you can see from the pictures below, the fog had set in and it was no use to head to the Hancock building so the plans changed. New plans - visit some of Chicago’s famous city parks.

The foggy view of Millennium Park on my first afternoon. We didn't truly see the skyline for 48 hours.

First stop was Millenium Park. Let’s just say this is precisely when we realized it was a little colder than initially thought. OK, we can tough it out.. We visited a small park coming into bloom, an entirely too curvy bridge, then set straight for “the silver bean”. I’m sure it has a name but there’s no use looking it up - it’s a big, silver, shimmery bean, no other way to describe it!

Official name: Cloud Gate. Unofficial name: Giant Bean.
Chicago is not kind to curly-haired girls.

Reflection in the bean. Who are those adorable lovebirds?!
We kept hiking south to Grant Park and came across Buckingham Fountain (one of the largest fountains in the world per wikipedia). Matt kept singing "Love and Marriage" in my ear because this, as it turns out, is the fountain in the opening credits to Married with Children. I wasn't allowed to watch that show growing up, so the point was sadly lost on me.

So we walked...and walked...and finally got there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s refreshing to go sans-automobile for the weekend. I just didn’t realize how much walking we’d actually do. We again, stop for some pictures, note how beautiful fountain is, then I explain to Kristine what “Married With Children” was. I sometimes forget she was born “on a boat”.

Nerd alert! Segway tour!
I was far more interested in the Segway tours spinning past us. Originally the idea seemed lame, but the more I watched (and dodged) these riders, the more fun it looked. In fact, Chicago boasts a number of unique tours. We took a boat ride through the city, but also crossed paths with walking, biking, double-decker bus tours, and even a running tour (this one seemed just awful to me).

Love and Marriage

Buckingham Fountain

Aw. And finally, a glimpse of the sun!
After our exhausting hike around the city, we headed back to our hotel. Matt got us upgraded to the fancy floor that came with its own private lounge area, so we loaded up on free snacks and beverages. We also stopped by the corner deli and picked up a bottle of bubbly (we are celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary this month) and then spent an hour back at our hotel room, thawing out and resting up, drinking champagne and talking, just hanging out together like we used to do before the mortgage and child and general business of life. Then we hit the pavement again, stopping to buy a scarf for me (for reals, it is windy!) before grabbing a leisurely dinner at a loud, fun, authentically Spanish tapas restaurant, Cafe Iberico.

We walk to Cafe Iberico, eat entirely too much great tapas, drink entirely too much Sangia, and pay our bill and hoof it home like the big city pros we are. Half way to the hotel (about a 25 minute walk, mind you) we realize Kristine left her purse there. We truck it back to the restaurant and find they’ve been holding it for us - two thumbs up to Cafe Iberico!. Little did we know we would have our chance to pay it forward in the not-too-distant future...

We were just blocks from home when I realized I'd left my purse at the restaurant (oops) and once we went back to get it (whew!) Matt hailed a cab like a pro and zipped us back to the hotel in style. I gotta say, my man knows how to survive in a big city!

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