A trip to Chicago with Beth

By on November 28, 2010 in AmStuff, Did

First long conversation in Chicago was on the El from O’Hare to Monroe in the Loop, as the passenger behind us turned out to be an education lecturer from Leeds, UK!

First meal was an excellent shared spinach pie in the Marquette Inn. (Not until the last day did I explore the exhibition in the Marquette Building itself, learning about the MacArthur Foundation and the restoration of the building).

Had fun in our excellent hotel room (Central Loop, 111a West Adams St.) figuring out how to convert the sofa into a bed.


Did not get lost on venturing out to buy provisions, given that we had a kitchenette.

Leaving the Art Institute to an anticipated grey or rainy day, Day One was to the Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. On turning the corner to lay eyes on this iconic masterpiece, I was sorely stunned and disappointed at what seemed the moderate size of the edifice. In my mind picture, from images at a lecture I attended in the Spring, it was going to be much larger. Anyway, on a second visit to return a too-small gift sweatshirt, the house had come into its own as the fine piece of design that it is rather than anything scaled up and imagined.










The shirt is my birthday present from Beth and depicts Falling Water, a FLW design that I consider surpasses the others.

The Bean (or Cloud Gate) sculpture was a delight to both of us; like everyone else’s, our cameras clicked away in the brilliant Saturday morning sun.










Andersonville had been featured in the NYT as worth a visit some weeks before our trip and the article sent to me from our cousin Liz in State College, Pennsylvania; we were not disappointed to explore this neighbourhood as the main stretch reminded us a bit of Brighton back home.


The next neighbourhood we picked out from its description in The Little Black Book of Chicago was Bucktown / Wicker Park. I was pleased to happen upon Nelson Algren’s house and to have Beth snap me under the street sign for Division Street. Joined those waiting on the pavement (sidewalk) outside The Bongo Room and after an hour we were called in. Eggs Benedict and salad (Beth) and omelette with chives, tomato and bacon (me) was worth the wait. My omelette ingredients were all together in a pocket fashioned by the egg part of the omelette, which I thought was interesting but it probably isn’t. This visit was not dominated too much by bookshop browsing but we found our first here at Myopic Books where I found an analysis of Faulkner’s Sanctuary original galley proofs and the revisions he made; Beth also found a book worth toting all the way back home. As my style guru she advised me on a shirt purchase, which I like very much.

The Art Institute was obviously memorable. Beth liked the Armour and Arms section especially and I at last got to see Nighthawks and American Gothic and some Whistler.



We went on to another equally impressive-to-me building and institution , the Harold Washington Library, to sit for a while after an overdose of “Art” and write postcards.










At least, I did, while Beth updated her Facebook page and used it to arrange to meet up that evening with a complete stranger later at a gig – which I understand involved some music and food. After all, she is a social media consultant in real life.

Later that afternoon we walked through torrential rain to see the film 127 hours, which was worth the soaking. Taxi back to the hotel through the persistent downpour was driven by a recent immigrant from Nigeria who regaled us with his consternation at the Americans’ abuse of the English language, with their calling the car boot the “trunk” and so on.

Some impressions of our activities, with an undue emphasis on eating it seems to me, is given on my Flickr set and Beth’s. A favourite shot, taken in a split second before we boarded our train on Quincy Station is this one:

Arrived early enough at O’Hare for our return trip to be offered an earlier flight to Newark, where we then had time for some good Japanese food before the six and a half hour flight to Heathrow. Arriving back home in Alsager after a day in Beth’s flat in Brighton, the cold that hit my face on Alsager station platform was harsher than anything we had experienced in Chicago.

 One Response to “A trip to Chicago with Beth”

  1. Beth says:

    So glad you blogged this in so much detail. Really brings back memories of it all! I had a great time. Chicago isn’t my favourite city but I’m glad I went and I think we did a lot in one week! x

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