The Windy City… a few days in Chicago

Last week I was in Chicago for work (hence the quietness of my blog). I have been once before and I just feel so at home in Chicago. If I had the opportunity to live overseas Chicago would be one of my top choices. I love the mix of the city life, but with the relaxed beach lifestyle plus every time I have been the sun has been shining and it just makes downtown Chicago glisten, from the lake to the river to the skyscrapers, it really is beautiful.

Obviously I was there for work but I did have a day to myself and a couple of evenings to enjoy all that Chicago has to offer.

The day after I arrived I woke up stupidly early but was woken by an amazing sunrise so I can’t really complain, therefore I took the opportunity to hit the gym! I had promised the guys at my gym that I would visit at least once and I’m proud to report I actually went twice! I was staying at the Swissotel where the gym is on the 42nd floor, as the Swissotel is triangular you get various views of the city whilst using different parts of the gym. My favourite views were watching the boats on Lake Michigan whilst I was pounding the treadmill!

After the workout I had a fabulous room service breakfast of pancakes with a gorgeous Lemon, Kale, Ginger & Apple Juice drink (I need to replicate this at home! So refreshing!) before heading to the conference venue to get our exhibition stand set up. As a company we travel pretty light so after 30 minutes I was able to head off and sample the sights of Chicago.

As I had done a fair amount last year, this year I wanted to see ‘The Bean’ and take a stroll along Navy Pier along with a little shopping. It was a beautiful sunny but cold day in Chicago. Millennium Park wasn’t too far a walk from where I was staying so I slowly made my way down. As I was getting closer to Millennium Park there was lots of ladies around wearing pink and carrying roses. It was Mother’s Day in the US and there had been a race on for Cancer Research, there seemed to be a lot of love around and I felt it was very poignant that Mother’s Day was chosen as the day to hold this. On arrival at Millenium Park I was amazed at just how vast but perfectly beautiful this park is. It is so green and clean but is right in the middle of a city, a really beautiful area of tranquillity! With the clear blue skies The Bean looked glorious – my kids would have loved it! It’s amazing how an unusual piece of artwork can really capture your imagination!

After spending some time exploring the park I did a little bit of shopping and visited Protein Bar for some lunch. I had posted in MyFitnessPal for some suggestions of where to eat healthy in Chicago and this place came out tops! It didn’t disappoint, but I feel that the portions could have been a little smaller as I struggled to finish my Guac-a-roll! Portion size I think is a big issue, honestly guys we wouldn’t take offence if you served us something a little smaller!

So after this, I dropped my bags back at the hotel and then got a cab down to Navy Pier –  mid afternoon it was freezing! Especially by the Lake! Navy Pier didn’t really do much for me, but I was on my own. It would have perhaps been more enjoyable with my family and a bit of warmth. I did consider doing a river tour but I was just so cold by this point that I chickened out! After over 4 hours of walking around I decided to head back to the hotel for some downtime before colleagues arrived.

Monday was the start of the conference, but we managed to fit in some visits to a couple of cool places in the evening. Firstly House of Blues cutely nestled underneath two very strange high rises, this is an amazing venue and a must do if you ever visit Chicago! The room is dark, but cosy, with a real ‘blues’ feel. The walls feature some amazing artwork and the ceiling is made of face casts of I am assuming famous blues artists. We had not eaten all day so went in for starters and a main, for me Pulled Pork Sliders (3!) followed by Citrus Chicken. To be honest I was satisfied after the sliders! Towards the end our meal this amazing band came on with a female vocalist. I’m a fan of various types of music (probably a little more on the emo side) but this blew me away. The musicians were exceptionally skilled and it’s a shame that there aren’t more of these bands featured in today’s music lineup.

Tuesday was a long day, but I managed a salad at lunch (again enough for two people!) but it’s a good job I did as it was almost 10pm before we got dinner. After researching I found out about a place called Girl and the Goat the menu looks a little strange but don’t let that put you off. The dishes are relatively small so perfect for ordering a few to share amongst yourselves. We had a selection of Oysters, Halibut, Charred Pork Belly, Chicken and a few other dishes. The Oysters were amazing, in fact all the food was and if I was ever in Chicago again I would definitely stop by here (although I would make a reservation next time! You need a reservation if you want to eat at a decent hour!) They also know how to make a decent vodka, lime, lemonade too which everywhere else just seems to struggle with, adding far too much vodka! After this we were recommended a place called Kingston Mines to carry on our evening. If you like drink and good blues music this is another venue you need to add to your list!

En route, I really did wonder where the cab driver was taking us, it seemed like quite a drive from where we were and soon we appeared to be in the suburbs of Chicago. From the outside it doesn’t look like a club but upon entering I can see where ‘Mines’ came from. You really do feel as though you have stepped underground. A band called Vance Kelly was on, he is one amazing guitarist and his vocals were something else! Again, why is this music not in the charts. Again this place knows how to make a drink which is always a bonus. Not only that but it is open until 4am – every night of the week! A really fun and enjoyable place! So after heading back to the hotel, getting two hours sleep I was up and ready for the final day of the conference before heading home. Thankfully it was a night flight so I managed to get some sleep!

On arriving home and waiting a day I decided to see what the scales had to say….. 1lb lost!!! How I have no idea after the food consumption, but hopefully the two visits to the gym, a swim and plenty of walking helped counteract the bad foods I ate. So looking forward to getting back into a routine of healthy eating and exercising!

Apologies for the long post – back to shorter next time!

Chicago

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