Fri. July 27, 2012- Wisconsin to Illinois:
Breakfast proved to be successful; we raked in a good haul, bringing in some mini lemon poppy seed muffins, chocolate raspberry danishes and coffee with flavoured creamers and green tea. Plus I walked in during the most hilarious part of a news segment about Twilight fans being mad on Twitter. We started walking towards what we thought was the Pabst Mansion only to realize that it was a fancy hotel, so we turned back to the hotel to get a proper address and see if we did not have to instead drive there. It turned out we were maybe three or four blocks away. We headed back out, this time with our trusty map in hand. We were also in search of the Pabst brewery and a statue of Beercules. The mansion was just a big fancy house that was now surrounded by an office building and a university residence, it was nothing spectacular and we were far too early for tours. The brewery appeared to be abandoned (unless this is a hipster thing, to disguise your brewery as abandoned), with the windows all boarded up. Beercules was trapped in a beer garden of the Pabst gift shop and pub. We had to peek through the gate to look at him in all his beer-filled glory. While out walking we witnessed a giant (I mean the size of a goose) seagull crossing the street… at a crosswalk. We were floored.
In the hotel lobby I conveniently found a brochure for some outlets that conveniently were en route back to Chicago and I was conveniently given free reign of part of the day plans due to my stellar attendance record at the baseball games. The giant clock that I wanted to see was also on the way out of town. It was indeed giant, as promised. The only problems were that it was in an industrial area and that once you got close to it, it ironically disappeared from view behind the building. The outlets proved less than successful, Ghiradelli’s outlet is not the same as Lindt’s, they do not sell chocolate by bulk but by bag.
There was no welcome sign to Illinois! It was so rude and it broke our every-state-welcomed-us streak. We drove alongside a truck and for the longest time I could not tell what it was hauling, I had to have stared at it for at least five minutes, unable to make it out. Then I realized, it was crushed up cars. We were staying at the Hotel Indigo which was actually on the same street we had stayed in earlier in Chicago, just further north. This hotel was so unbearably cute, our room had a mural behind the wall that was a photograph of blueberries and the furniture was all very colourful and bright and it felt like staying inside an IKEA showroom. We pretty much just threw our stuff down and ran out the door, we were voraciously hungry. We took a detour, which added on more time to the hour plus walk to our first food destination, but the detour was to go see Charlie Trotteris before it closes down. The restaurant does not even have a sign out front; it is too fancy for that. If you are eating there you know where it is, no one is going to walk in off the street and decide to eat there, at least not without getting laughed at. We had to stop at a 7-Eleven to get me some candy so that I could make it all the way to George’s for hotdogs. It was a good idea, because I arrived very hungry still. The hot dog was OK, it was on par with Gold Coast Dogs, but it was not outstanding. It was also needlessly buried in French fries. It was the same brand of hot dog: Vienna Beef. Our next stop was Hot Chocolate for dessert. What I did not do when looking up the address, was to look up the hours. We faced a locked door and decided to come back that evening (apparently an hour long walk is just fine for hot chocolate). We also walked right by it at first and had to back track, it does not stand out at all and is easy to miss. Thankfully Piece was nearby, I say thankfully because I was still hungry. We were heading for some New Haven-style pizza, in the article it was suggested to order bacon and clam strips, Brent tried to trick me and took liberties with our order by saying broccoli instead of bacon, not sure if this was by mistake or a plan to get me to eat vegetables. Either way, it did not work, I called him out on it and the waiter laughed. Piece also happens to be a microbrewery, but I am no beernoisseur and to me it just tasted like beer, as in gross.
Even after the pizza, we still had an hour before hot chocolate opened, back to the hotel we walked, exhausted, full of food and having to carry 3 slices of pizza we never managed to get through. The clam strips and bacon went together surprisingly well, I think it also helped that we ordered the pizza sans-tomato sauce (as suggested). We went back to the hotel and had about half an hour of time to kill before we had to head right back out in the same direction. We were going drinking, in a bank vault! We were too full for dinner, so when we arrived we asked to have our dinner reservation to be changed to just drinks. Best idea ever, the casual drinking area was inside the bank vault. We got to sit on comfy couches and drink while trying to pry open safety deposit boxes. The music was also great, an all around fun place to sit and drink. Brent eventually found a safety deposit box that was open and he pulled it out- there was just a crumpled piece of paper inside, what a let-down. One drink later we decided it was time to head out; it was time for hot chocolate. We got to a confusing five-street intersection and had a mini-disagreement. I insisted that N. Milwaukee Street continued towards the right, where Hot Chocolate was, Brent said to the left. So we went to the left while I kept saying it was the other street. After a while we realized we had gone past the number, we missed it again. Only we were on the wrong street. You see, during the disagreement we had both been right. Hot Chocolate was on the street over to the right and N. Milwaukee was the street we were on to the left. Hot Chocolate was not on N. Milwaukee. It was worth all the extra walking to sit down at a bar and order a hot chocolate and a snickerdoodle cookie. The hot chocolate was out of this world, and the home-made marshmallow on the side was the cherry on top. The cookie was also delicious and so much fun to dunk into my hot chocolate. Brent’s hot chocolate was creamy and vanilla-y with the slightest hint of orange; we had swapped halfway through. I had read that the pastries were amazing, but there were no pastries on the menu, so I will just have to assume based on the cookie and drink that the pastries are also amazing. The only downside was that drinking such a warm drink in the summer in a crowded place lead to me being uncomfortably hot, I nearly ran out the door when we were done.
We very slowly made our way back to the hotel. The protesters that had been at an intersection all day were finally gone. All the bikers in Chicago apparently come out at night; a parade of them rode by. We caught the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, but after I saw the Polish team I was too tired and full to keep watching, I was out cold.
Lesson for the day: Chicago drivers suck. Twice I almost got run over, cars just kept honking when they were going through intersections on red lights and they never stopped for pedestrians who had right of way.