A Second Helping of the Windy City

Last week, I took a mini vacation to the wonderful city of Chicago. The first time I visited the Windy City was back during the summer of 2011. My sentiments towards this wonderful city has not changed at all.

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The Magnificent Mile is one of the main streets that run through downtown Chicago. On my first day there, I walked along Mag Mile, as the locals call it, on my way to the Art Institute of Chicago. I was rewarded with scenes of tourists taking pictures, a wonderful breeze, and this gorgeous view of the Chicago Riverwalk. The Art Institute was amazing. One of the largest art museums in the US, second only to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, it houses many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pieces. The permanent collection includes one of my favorite paintings of all time, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of  La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. I first came to know this piece in 7th grade art class, but there’s just something about it that fascinates me deeply. This was the first time I had ever seen it in person and it is simply breathtaking. It’s massive size cannot be fully comprehended unless you see it in person. Up close, the multicolored dabs of paint, characteristic of Pointillism, is evident. One can only imagine how much painstaking work Seurat put into the painting.

Chicago2That night, I met up with the friend I was staying with, A, after he got off work. He took me through Museum Campus and out towards the Adler Planetarium so that I could be able to see this amazing view. We sat there, near the lake, for a good while. It was a weird feeling, being so close to a metropolis, but at the same time, in a place of extreme calmness.

941393_10151654372403536_302185477_nOn Friday, I attended a Cubs game with A. He lives only a few blocks away from Wrigley field but had never been to a game before. The baseball gods were benevolent and gave us three homeruns and a grand slam by the fourth inning. I was so happy that I treated myself to five dollars worth of cotton candy. All I got out of that was an extreme sugar rush and an artificially blue tongue.

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Chicago4I made it a point to see all of my friends in Chicago during this visit. I met A in middle school when we were both on the cusp of teenage-hood. The one thing I forgot to do when I visited was to take a picture with him. I guess I was too busy taking pictures of all the food he took me to eat and he was too busy making fun of me for doing so. S and I were two parts of three partners-in-crime in high school. During our senior year, the three of us comprised of the entire yearbook staff and we shared many giggles together in the yearbook room. N and I were close buddies in undergrad. Five of us were grouped together for a yearlong linguistics class and it sort of just stayed that way. The five of us were never all in the same class after our sophomore year, but we always made it a point to have dinner every month or so. These dinners often turned into 5 or 6 hour gossip fests or deep conversations about life.

Chicago6After brunch on Sunday, we went to the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Zoo. Courtesy of the city of Chicago, these two wonderful public places are completely free of charge. I could have easily spent the entire afternoon here. And if the weather was nice, simply being among nature would be enough. Pictured here is the adorable fennec fox who was one of the few animals that roamed out of its den on that cold Sunday afternoon.

Chicago7My last activity in Chicago was seeing The Book of Mormon at the Bank of America Theatre. There was only one word to describe it: AWESOME! Written by the creators of South Park, this musical both satirizes and explores Mormonism or religion in general. The music is catchy, the lyrics and lines were hilarious (and certainly not child-friendly), and the singing is phenomenal. I’ve since listened to the New York cast recording and the Chicago cast is much better. One of the highlights is that one of the major characters is played by Ben Platt who was also in “Pitch Perfect”, one of my current favorite movies. This was the best possible ending to my visit.

Photos: all owned by me (taken with Nikon D90 and HTC One X)

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