Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anniversary Weekend...Chicago Rocks

Last Thursday was our one year wedding anniversary, and to celebrate, Aaron and I decided to head down to Chicago, one of our favorite places, to relax and spend some quality time together this weekend. When we were dating, our very first weekend trip together was to Chicago, and we have many fond memories of that trip, so we figured Chicago would be a fabulous place to go to celebrate our anniversary.

After dropping Grace off with my parents on Saturday morning, Aaron and I boarded the Amtrak train at the airport in Milwaukee and enjoyed a leisurely trip down to Union Station in Chicago. (By the way, the train is the ONLY way to travel between Milwaukee and Chicago--with all of the construction on the way and gas prices still as high as they are, Amtrak offers a low cost and stress-free alternative.) Once in Chicago, we hailed a taxi to our hotel--Aaron had arranged our hotel accommodations in secret, so when we arrived at the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue, I was both surprised and delighted to learn we would be staying at the same hotel we stayed at during our first trip to Chicago together.

The room we stayed in at the hotel was certainly different this trip than it was during the first trip. During our first time, we stayed in a standard room, which was very nice, but this time, Aaron surprised me (again) by reserving a suite on the 11th floor with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park:

After getting settled in our room, we decided grab some lunch and then to walk over to the Art Institute of Chicago, where we spent a few hours enjoying at the wonderful art collection on display. I was particularly impressed by the sculpture gallery at the museum--I had been to the Art Institute before and missed this part, and I was very glad to have experienced it this time around. Then we browsed the gift shop at the museum for a while, and then decided to head back to the hotel to get dressed for dinner.

Our plan for dinner was to head to the Frontera Grill, which is one of Chef Rick Bayless' restaurants in Chicago. We watch Rick Bayless' cooking show pretty regularly on PBS, and ever since we discovered that he owns two restaurants in Chicago, we have told ourselves that we would check them out some time. I attempted to make reservations at the Frontera Grill before we headed to Chicago, but they were booked up. The hostess did tell me on the phone, though, that we could come to the restaurant and be placed on the waiting list, and that the wait was typically an hour to an hour and a half. Not so bad, we thought.

Well, we took a cab from the hotel to the Frontera Grill, and upon arriving we learned that the wait was going to be two and a half hours. It was already 6:15pm and this pregnant mama was hungry, so with heads hung in defeat, we walked out of the restaurant and decided to try and find something else. Problem was, we were in an area of the city that neither of us was very familiar with, so we walked aimlessly back towards the direction of our hotel in hopes of finding a decent place to eat (luckily it wasn't too cold out).

We did manage to stumble across a fabulous restaurant on Dearborn--the Trattoria Ten Restaurant. The place looks very unassuming from the outside, but once inside, we were pleased to find a fine restaurant with a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The service and the food did not disappoint, either. I savored a delicious meal of ravioli stuffed with asparagus and provolone cheese, and Aaron enjoyed pork tenderloin and marscapone potatoes. We lingered in the restaurant for a while, enjoying the quiet and intimate (and child-free) atmosphere, and then decided to walk back to the hotel for the night. On the way, we encountered an Old Navy store, and I was very pleased to find that this particular Old Navy had a maternity section. Score!!

This morning, Aaron treated me to an extra hour of sleep, which was an anniversary gift in and of itself, and then we ordered room service for breakfast. After we got ready, we took a stroll down Jackson Street to a Starbucks and then made our way to Barnes and Noble for some quick shopping before it was time to head back to Union Station to catch our train. Soon, we boarded our train heading back home and back to reality.

All in all, we had a fantastic weekend. A lot of the things we did this weekend were pretty similar to things we did that first trip to Chicago, but this time, I got to go home with Aaron instead of having to head back to Oshkosh alone, and that made this trip a million times better than the first.


Carrie said...

Aw, that's wonderful. You know, the first day that my friendship with Epu turned into a romance was on a day trip to Chicago. There's something about the city of broad shoulders, eh?

Anonymous said...

all that sounded sooo nice...I can't wait until Al and I can take romantic trips again. You should have called us for ideas for Restaurants in Chicago when frontera line was long. We could have recommended some restaurants. I go to Trattoria 10 at lunch once in awhile. It is GOOD!!! We love Chicago too :-)