Both of us fresh out of college, single and childless, and struggling to find our place in this big bad world, my best friend and I decided that we needed to do something for ourselves and to create something to look forward to. To celebrate. And so we booked a trip to New York City in April, when both of us have birthdays. We saw "The Producers" on Broadway and walked through Central Park. We ate New York pizza and went shopping on Fifth Avenue.
The next year, we went to Chicago, doing more shopping and walking and eating – vowing to make it a tradition.
Chicago 2009. An aside, this trip inspired Pattie to join Weight Watchers and her efforts inspired me to join.
Though kids and families and financial responsibilities have come in the way, we still have tried to go on vacation together when we can. Chicago, again, in 2009 and New Orleans in 2012.
This year, as we turned 35, I decided that a trip was in order and made plans to visit our favorite place ... again, Chicago. (It also helps that it's an affordable flight for her and within driving distance for me, and it's a quick, no-stress getaway.) I made it for the last weekend in April as it was closest to Pattie's birthday, and I was trying to make it a surprise for her.
While the weather was ridiculously crappy (rainy, chilly, rainy, windy, rainy), here are some of the highlights of our trip.
Whenever I travel, I make sure to scout out foods to find and restaurants to try. Pattie and I always make it a point to eat somewhere fancy-ish since the opportunities as it's not something we do on the regular.
• Our big meal was at Carnivale, and it was the perfect spot for a girls weekend meal. I had Arrachera – grilled skirt steak, rice and beans, bacon sofrito, sweet red onion, chimichurri sauce.
There was also guacamole and a chocolate dome because ... obviously.
• Breakfast on Saturday, after the race, was at Chicago Waffles on South Michigan Avenue (way, way, way south). The service was less than nice but the food was great. Red Velvet French toast (split among the table) and a Mexican chorizo omelet.
I booked our hotel on Hotwire, hoping we were getting a hotel that we stayed at in 2005. Alas, I made reservations at Hyatt Centric the Loop on West Monroe Street. I was a bit disappointed but that feeling was short-lived once we got there.
• The point of the trip was just to hang out with Pattie and her sister. There were no major attractions to see on our itinerary or tickets purchased. For me, the only thing I needed to see besides my friends was the city. Maybe it's the Midwest, small city girl in me but there's just something magical about walking around a place like Chicago. I didn't grab a picture but on Friday night as we walked back to the hotel, the sky looked as if it had been painted between the buildings and over the river. On Sunday, as I ran along the lakefront, fog hung over Navy Pier and wafted through the nooks and crannies of the city. Those pictures were all I needed to see.
Of course, I know there is more to see and the trip has me itching to go back – preferably on a better weekend.