And what great fun that was! We didn’t have a lot of time, but it was just enough to get us excited for her “next” trip! Sharon and Doug come to Chicago each year for a conference for their store, so she was able to sneak away for a few hours to give me a tour! How fun was that?? But first, let me tell you how the day started. We had made plans to get together at 11:00 a.m., so I was anticipating her call to me to ask me the best way to get here or let me know she was in an uber or on the subway … or something!! But nothing … no phone call, no text, nothing! Strange … everyone calls!! Well not this Chicago Gal! She just did what every other “real” Chicagoan does … she walked! From her hotel to our apartment was a little over mile and she was here in no time! It was a great surprise to get a call from our door person saying, “you have a guest” when I wasn’t quite sure what was happening! And that set the tone for the next few hours!! The only request Sharon had was … let’s walk around the city! So we did! With her in the lead.
But first Sharon says, “I want a picture of you in your little apartment so I can visualize you when we talk later!” Ok, so I go stand next to my big living room window, she aims the camera and then says, “OMG, is that Blackies?” Well, outside our apartment on the corner is an old pub/tavern/bar called “Blackie’s” … it’s one of the rare neighborhood places that we haven’t actually gone inside yet but I say, “Yep, that’s Blackies.” Well Sharon is beside herself. Turns out her Dad, who worked in the city, used to go to Blackies after work some nights to hang out with his buddies. Alrighty then, let’s go check it out!
Look at the corner of the street under the black awning and the tower that looks like a steeple. That’s Blackie’s.
Unfortunately the place was closed, but it does have a sign on the outside wall that says “Est. 1939” so Sharon’s pretty sure this is the place her Dad used to go. We’ll just say it was! How cool is that??
Next stop … the fountain! But before we get there, as we’re passing by the “Congress Hotel,” Sharon asks me if I’ve been in there yet … Nope, can’t say that I have. “Well, let me show you something! This hotel is known around the world for its beautiful copper bar.” Instead of a traditional, shiny wooden bar, you pull up your stool to a shiny, copper bar. I’ve never seen one before and now I’ll be on the look out for others. This was amazing!! I stole this picture from their website because each time I’ve gone in, there have been too many people at the bar to take a good picture for you.
They also offer tours of their hotel, so that’s going on my list of tours today!! Wouldn’t you like to join me on that tour?
Ok, let’s keep walking! During this time, Sharon is reveling in her Chicago days and telling me story after story of her wonderful family and how much they contributed to this amazing city! One of her grandfathers was part of the original engineering team of the Jardine Water Filtration Plant, the largest water plant in the world, that provides water to the city and many of the suburbs around Chicago in the amount of one BILLION gallons of water each day!!! His name is engraved on a wall somewhere at the plant. Next time she comes, we’re going on a tour there for sure to look for it! Then she tells me her other grandfather was a dentist and went to school with the Bears Coach, Mike Ditka. He was Coach Ditka’s dentist and also the dentist for many of the Bears during that time. Open wide!
Before we get to Sharon’s favorite Chicago landmark, we see a bunch of people in bicycling gear … like Tour de France looking gear and we’re wondering … hmmm … what’s going on now? Well, we stopped a couple of gals in their gear and we come to find out this is the weekend for the “ITU World Triathlon World Championship.” All these people are prepping for their day in the lake, in the park, and on the streets of Chicago. Holy Cow!! So, it’s a pretty big deal since it’s the “WORLD” championship, right?? Yeah!! These gals were here from London, England to compete in their brackets.
We wished them good luck and to the many, many athletes we passed on the streets from all over the world. It was a really cool feeling to be part of that, even if it was a couple of days early!
As you can see from the background, it was a beautiful, warm, sunny, bright day … and Sharon added her own beauty and warmth to our day as well. After a delicious lunch at the Bean and making plans for her next visit, we had to say “see you later …” and off she went, walking back to catch up with Doug at their hotel and me walking back to our apartment. It was so good to see my long-time friend in her hometown! She gave me some great Chicago tips and I can’t wait to see you again Sharon! Come back soon, we have a lot more walking to do!
The rest of you better start practicing your walking! Talk to you tomorrow!