Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chicago - Day 1: Bayless, Boats, and Berghoff

Arriving too early for our room at the Silversmith Hotel to be ready, but not too early for lunch, we headed to Frontera Fresco, a Rick Bayless "fast food" eatery at Macy's (the old Marshall Fields). Here Rick serves what he calls Mexican street food, which we sampled and very much enjoyed overlooking the 10 floor open atrium of the lovely old Marshall Fields building. I had a grilled shrimp quesadilla and Frank has shrimp tacos. And to top it off, Rick was there, very seriously tasting all the sauces and other ingredients prepared for the day. Oh how I wanted to ask him to snag us a reservation at one of his other restaurants, as they fill up 90 days in advance, but he was busy.

We still had a couple of hours before our previously reserved architectural boat cruise, so we spent some time "window" shopping at Macy's... who knew Lacoste has some may products, and I LOVE Lacoste, (so European, you know). The we walked up Michigan Avenue along The Magnificent Mile. The temp was in the mid 80's and sunny; a lovely day in the city.

We booked our boat cruise through Chicago Line Cruises, which offers multiple architectural and historic cruises throughout the day. The 90 minute cruise took up up and down the Chicago River and it's North and South branches with a very knowledgeable guide discussing the various architectural styles, the history of architecture in Chicago, and some general highlights about the city. It was almost an overload of information, but well worth the time and the cost. Plus it was a very nice way to spend 90 minutes viewing the city from a different perspective.

We headed back to the hotel to check-in and for a short rest. We were pleasantly surprised that they had given us a complementary upgrade to a suite. (Paul T. please note, you are not the only one who gets free upgrades, although you are still two ahead of us our our current journeys.), Our short rest ended up being longer than expected. But we had been up since O'Dark:30 and had walked a few miles in the Chicago heat, so the rest was needed and deserved.

Dinner was at a local institution, The Berghoff, which originally opened in 1898. The restaurant is past it's glory days as the premier dining establishment in Chicago, but still serves good basic German food. I would not go here for the food, but just to see this historic place.

We had a fun-filled, very enjoyable day. Day 2 will be our Museum day.

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