Monday, November 15, 2010

Wait! Wait! It's Chicago!

I've long believed Chicago is a terrific city. But if you really want to see it in its glory, pick an unseasonably warm autumn weekend, when the hint of holidays is in the air, the sky is blue and your walking shoes are ready to roll!

I was fortunate to be asked to accompany our station's bus tour to Chicago this past week to see a taping of "Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me!"

I love this radio show and was eager to catch the taping and have some time for shopping. Even better, several of my friends had signed up for the trip, so I knew I was in good company!

We left early, met our fellow passengers at the bus, and took off very early on Thursday. We drove along Lake Shore Drive, past the Museum of Science and Industry, and close to the Aquarium and Planetariam.

Our driver dropped us off near Water Tower Place, where we had a few hours for lunch and shopping before checking into the Allerton Hotel, on Michigan Avenue, the "Miracle Mile."

It was unseasonably warm. We midwesterners know that Chicago in November can be an unpleasant place, weather-wise. But there were still signs of autumn -- the medians and planters around the trees were filled with mums and ornamental kale, and on the streets you could easily see a display like this one.

It's getting close to Christmas, and Chicago was getting ready, too! Up and down Michigan Avenue, stores were starting to get their seasonal windows in place.

I loved the Eddie Bauer "Paint by Number" look.

Snowflakes always get to me...

...and Fa La La and Ho Ho were words of the day!

Even the trees were getting decked with lights, soon to be bright, I'm sure!

Our hotel, The Allerton, was a boutique hotel on Michigan Avenue's Miracle Mile and it was simply lovely.

Contemporary in style, the rooms were simple and quite elegant (and they had good toiletries). A tad "cool" for my taste, but then as you know, I like being surrounded by stuff.

I'll tell you about one ofmy favorite stores in the next post when I talk about art and other Chicago things, but I have a great dinner recommendation -- The Purple Pig. This is my friend Kate, her husband Mike (you can see some of his Chicago photos here!) and me (photo courtesy of Mike and our waiter!).

This wonderful restaurant is on Michigan Avenue, tucked behind buildings and on the river. It's primarily tapas and every single thing we had was excellent. I would especially recommend the butternut squash with riccota salata and the artichokes with fingerling potatoes.

But really, everything was wonderful. Including the wine!

Then off to the show -- We arrived at the theatre, and were held in the lobby for a bit. (Here's Kate in another pic from Mike.)

They we were escorted to very good seats. (There really wasn't a bad one.) The set was simple -- a table for the panelists and podiums for host Peter Sagal and announcer Carl Kassell. (The top photo below is another by Mike.)

What can you say about host Peter Sagal (he's very funny; In the Q&A after, he told us much of what he has said is scripted, but he also gives the appearance of being very quick).

Carl Kassell -- a veteran newsman who has found a voice -- perhaps on the answering machine of someone you know, if they won the quiz.

The panelists we saw were Tom Bodett (who had attended Michigan State briefly and whose great sense of humor I had discovered in one of his books); Kyrie O'Connor, a blogger/editor with the Houston Chronicle; and Alonzo Bodden, one of the "Last Comic Standing" fellows.

It was a terrific show and the time flew. (Interesting to see what was edited out later -- probably for time.) After they invited the audience on the stage for autographs, photos and questions.

Here's Peter Sagal...

And Tom Bodett -- he'll leave a light on for you!

Kyrie O'Connor...

...and Alonzo Bodden.

Next post I'll take you shopping and to the Art Institute!


  1. I'm glad you had such a wonderful trip! Chicago looks so nice and I'm so glad you didn't have to deal with cold windy weather.

  2. I'm working backwards today and what a great post. Chicago looks fab I'll have to add it to my "go there" list. I'm glad you had a great time and I look forward to seeing the favourite stores.

  3. This really takes me back. I used to attend a conference in Chicago in early December every year. The conference was fine, and the shopping and browsing on the Miracle Mile were fabulous. When the trees are lit up, it's just magical.

  4. I have a friend who lives in Chicago - it may soon be time for a visit! Looks like you had a grand time!

  5. How fun! I just love little get-aways like this. See the windows, shopping, good food, and a show - the very best.

  6. I'm slightly green with envy at the wonderful time you had. Wait, Wait is one of my all time favorites and Chicago is one of my all time favorite cities. As always, you have a great eye for photos and your prose brings me along with you on your adventure.

  7. What a perfect trip!

    Oh, I love driving to Chicago, and when the city is warm, it is incredible. I even love it when it's not though. I actually really like that hotel room. :) And the Purple Pig looks and sounds wonderful, I will keep your recommendation in mind.

    Great fun to meet those famous radio celebs! I like seeing how they look, after listening to that show with relish.

    Way cool, Jeanie!

  8. Oh, I have been longing to get back to Chicago. Our one visit was not nearly enough. And you've shown me even more that I've missed.

  9. LOVE Chi-town (& this post), especially in November. I'm headed there soon. Plus, it's got dog friendly hotels. Can't wait!

  10. I love "Wait,Wait.." It's one of my Saturday morning staples. It was fun to see the photos of the personalities involved - believe this Saturday I'll pull your post back up so I really can "fix" the faces with the voices.

    And those store windows! Do you know, I haven't seen a decorated store window in YEARS. When I was a kid it was fantasyland on our town square - all the stores decorated within an inch of their lives. But down here we have malls, you know - "downtown Houston" used to decorate, but that was in the '70s. Downtown's gone, now, except as an entertainment venue.

    I've been to Chicago only a couple of times. The first visit was the first Thanksgiving I was married. His folks said "Of course you'll come to our house." My parents said, "Oh, you certainly will come to our house." We went to Chicago, stayed at the Downtown Y and ate Greek food with a Greek family in their nearly deserted restaurant.

    And I was introduced to Ouzo. ;-)

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  12. that show is always fun on NPR, when I am out and about on Saturdays is when I seem to catch it in the car ... lucky you getting to visit Chicago too...thanks for the tour Jeanie
    word verification: "lites"

  13. We used to live outside
    of Chicago and it holds
    a special place in my
    heart. Unfortunately,
    I hardly ever get downtown,
    as my two Chicago besties
    live west of the city.
    It is beautiful this time
    of year and your night
    on the town sounds amazing!
    xx Suzanne
    PS: Happy Crashiversary.
    PPS: Love your post on
    Life for Sale. I've often
    thought the same thing
    at estate sales...

  14. I was particularly interested in this post. My son and his family moved to Chicago (for business purposes) a few months ago and will be there till spring. Then they will move on to a permanent place in the Midwest.

    Loved the store windows. I remember downtown Richmond back in the day when I worked down there. The windows were so pretty during the holidays.

  15. Great photos! I haven't been to Chicago in several years. When HB and I were still traveling in our RV we spent a couple of summers in Crystal Lake and we'd go into Chicago on the weekends. It's a fun city!

  16. Fun times! I actually recognized some of those names, Jeanie.

  17. Looks like a wonderful all the Christmas displays..if that doesn't get you in the feastive mood nothing will!

    Thank you for visiting me the other day. xoxo

  18. oh my, what fun! I love that Eddie Bauer paint by number window... made me nostalgic for a kit of my own.

    We're hoping to get into Chicago sometime before spring, visiting schools mostly, but even so, a visit to The Purple Pig will definitely be on our agenda as well!

  19. Enjoyed seeing the photos of Chicago and the show. I've listened to that some. Used to listen to Saturday radio on NPR a good bit, but fell out of the habit somewhere along the way. Anyway, great shots of the city!


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