** this blog post was originally started about a month ago, so it's now been almost 2 months since we visited chicago - yikes!! **
Hard to believe it's been a month since we visited Chicago - this last month has been on steroids! I can usually use that excuse for the summer months, but this fall has shaped up to be BUSY!
Our Chicago trip wasn't planned far in advance, but thanks to a sister who works of the airlines and is generous with her buddy passes, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to visit my sister Naomi and her new husband, Florin in Chicago. Ok, well technically, they've been married 1 1/2 years, but since the first and only time we met him was at their wedding, I hardly know the man, and we had to remedy that! Plus, I love my sister and I love Chicago...in that order, of course! :)
Some of my favorite memories from the trip -
Meeting N&F's babies - otherwise known as their beautiful and exotic fish and shrimp. I've never met people as knowledgeable and passionate about fish and shrimp, or who have a tank the size of theirs. Talk about very low-maintenance pets!
Having vanilla lattes made each morning by our talented barista Naomi.
Visiting Hot Doug's, the self-proclaimed "Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium" - ever since Reid saw this place featured on an Anthony Bourdain episode, there was no doubt visiting it would be a crucial part of our trip. Never mind the hour + long wait in a line that stretched around the building and down the block, we impatiently waited our turn and then feasted on duck fat fries, Chicago-style dogs, and so much more! Is it weird that writing this at 8am is making me very hungry?!
Touring our old 'hood on Chicago's south side - my family lived in Chicago from the time I was 5-12 years old, and if there was one thing I wanted to make sure we did on our trip, it was to revisit our old stompin' grounds. Plus, it was definitely time to show my hubby of 7 years where I spent some very formative years! Not only did we drive the streets I remember motoring around on a bicycle as a child, swing on the monkey bars on the old playground and walk the perimeter of my old elementary school, I did something I never thought I would - rang the doorbell of our old house, and nervously waited, wondering how the current owners would react to a stranger claiming to have lived there 2 decades ago. Well, not only were they not creeped out, they invited us on a tour of the house - I felt like I was dreaming, walking through the house I used to think was enormous! The highlight was undoubtedly seeing my old bedroom, completely unchanged (except, I swear it shrunk in size.) Touring the house combined with getting to know the current owners (the couple who bought the house from my parents) made the experience more than I could have asked for and a wonderful memory I will always cherish.
Oktoberfest - big cities know how to do this right, and Chicago was no exception! When it came to the food, I was gaga for the pierogis!
Julius Meinl - an incredible Austrian coffee house and restaurant my sister introduced us to - not even sure we had the coffee, but the food and ambiance was incredible - both times we ate there!
Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs - our trip to Chicago wouldn't have been complete without visiting this historic ballpark, a longtime dream of R's. I love ballparks too - it's the 4 hour games that do me in...
India-town - visited this unofficially named strip of Indian stores, salons & restaurants where we watched Naomi get her eyebrows threaded (an alternative to waxing) - looked painful, but she claims it wasn't! Also where R&I tried Indian food for the first time. Delish!! How have we been missing out on it for so long?
Taste of Romania - yep, it just happened there was a Romanian food festival happening while we were there - how could we NOT go??? It's a rare occasion that I eat Romo food (I blame lack of time to cook it) so being able to eat all the sarmale (cabbage rolls), mamaliga (romo version of polenta) and mici (grilled minced meat - tastes better than it sounds!) was such a treat! Plus, seeing the rapt joy on Florin's face was priceless!
A few snapshots from our trip (all taken with a Canon Elph point&shoot - there was no way I was lugging my DSLR on this trip!) As you can see, many of the highlights revolve around food...yummm!
Some of the funnier things we saw...
ummm, i'm pretty sure that's a burger, not pizza
more nostalgic than funny - i remember seeing him on our drive to church each Sunday, except he wasn't wearing glasses then
had no idea this sort of thing existed!
Reid waiting to buy Cubs tix - still cracks me up!
the Indian version of 'flamin hot cheetos!' almost tempted to buy them, but resisted the urge
i guess there's really no bad place to sell pierogi's