This past Saturday I ventured to Chicago with Doug, Jon, Scott, Myssi, and Suzi (that's boys-before-girls order this time, because this isn't a door or a dinner table or otherwise chivalrous occasion. :-]). It was a pretty fun trip and included a few “firsts” for me.
I thought I was going to be late to our morning rendezvous, and actually was a couple minutes late. Suzi was running late though, too, and since she was one of the drivers, no big deal. I did not get much sleep the night before due to my wacky sleep schedule the week prior, so I was rather tired until we stopped at Dunkin Donuts in Merrillville and got some coffee.
We drove to East Chicago and took the train from there into Chicago. That was a first for me; in all the many times I've gone to Chicago, I've always driven into the city. Traffic can be annoying, but for the most part I like city driving, actually. The train experience was good, though, I will definitely keep it in mind for future trips. The conductor even had a sweet hat that said “conductor” on it. I want one.
We get off at our stop and meander a bit while looking for the appropriate L to get to Ed Debevik's for lunch. Allegedly there exist these $5 one-day passes for the L. The first station tells us that they never have them at that location and suggest we check with local vendors, like 7-Eleven. Hmm, that seems odd, but OK. At 7-Eleven across the street they tell us no - while looking at us funny - and suggest that the currency exchange a couple blocks down might have them. It takes us a bit to find the currency exchange, but when we do... they tell us that they don't have any either. They suggest the Arts Museum should have some. We start heading that direction, with a bit of skepticism rising.
You'll never guess... the Arts Museum didn't have any either. At this point I determine that this must be some sort of prank they pull on tourists, and we're probably being followed by video cameras. The information desk suggests we check at the Hilton, so we head that direction like the suckers we are. No luck (surprise!), but they direct us to the Cultural Center where we finally get some real answers. There's a Marriott hotel that has them (they call and confirm this for us), and there's also another location that apparently has a vending machine that always has them. By this time, however, Jon's friend Evan had already come to our rescue. He was riding in from Wheaton to join us and when he got off his train there was a kiosk selling them, so he picked some up for us. We met up with Evan at Ed Debevik's, where we got to finally see and touch these mythological one-day passes. Surprisingly, they weren't gold or grail-shaped.
So Ed Debevik's is the place famous for being rude to their customers. After a minute the hostess tells us to go back to where the sign says “Eat and Get Out”. I'm walking towards the back and see the sign; right under it is a table ready for 6 so I just presumed it was for us and we seated ourselves (maybe it's part of their shtick, right?). A few minutes later a waitress informs us that we were supposed to wait in the line and that we were idiots. I swear, the hostess said nothing about a line and I didn't even notice a line when we walked back there. *shrug* We got moved and the rest of the experience was pretty normal. The food was ok, nothing wonderful. The dance break where all the wait staff danced was pretty funny.
We took the L (riding the L, or any public transportation, was another “first” for me) back to Michigan Street, walked around Millennium Park a bit, got some fun pictures of our reflection in the mirrored bean there, then window-shopped a bit. Window shopping in Chicago around Christmas is not recommended for the claustrophobic. We saw a cop on a Segway in the middle of an intersection there, which was pretty interesting. Jon was quite stoked about that part.
After some walking around, Jamba Juice (another first, quite tasty), and a jaunt around the Christkindlemarket, we found our way to the Navy Pier. The plan was to go to Bubba Gumps for dinner, but they had a 2 hour wait and most of us weren't very hungry at the time. Myssi definitely wanted her cookie dessert from there, though, so she got that to go. Half of our group left shortly after that because they were catching an earlier train back (they didn't want to get back in Indy at 3AM like we were). Evan, Jon, Suzi, and myself made plans to eat at this Thai place we had seen, Star of Siam. It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere and a good way to unwind after an eventful day. Great food, too (though they don't have the right type of spring rolls like Thai Cafe in Broad Ripple does).
We finished off the night with some drinks. Jon got his Appletini, but not “light on the tini” despite his repeated reference to that. Seriously, I think the guy wishes he was JD, sometimes. :-] One train ride and one fun car trip (“are we there yet?” “I have bench butt!”) later we found ourselves home about 3:30AM. I slept until 2pm and it felt great. Fin.