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I fell in love with Chicago – a lil bit.  Surprised because O’Hare has never been kind to me.  The city, unlike the airport (maybe it has more to do with weather), is fabulous.  I finally found the red line – you cannot always trust google map directions (or the CTA’s directions or my phones).  Navigating the L was easy after that.  I love a city with trains (or subways).  The  purpose of this trip was to watch my beloved Celtics take on the Bulls.  My travel plans had me in the city for less than 48 hours but it was packed, although I also felt like I watched a lot of tv.  (Hotel stays for a person without cable – AWESOME.)

I flip flopped between taking a cab to the United Center or taking the train.  I felt it was probably safe on the way to the game but maybe late at night in that area was not so safe.  But, felt completely safe the entire trip.  And the homeless men on the streets – were gracious & kind.  Instead of begging for money, their opening line was usually “God bless you” or “have a great day.”  Unlike any other big city I have visited.

The hotel I found in Travel & Leisure magazine had gorgeous interior design.  I must confess I didn’t make it to the library or the Pump Room – mostly because I felt totally under dressed.  (I was there to run & watch basketball & wanted to travel light.)  I stayed at the Public Hotel which boasts one of the Studio 54 owners as its owner.  Silly, I know, but I am easily impressed.  If I had a complaint, it may have been how far removed it seemed to be from downtown (maybe a mile to the Magnificent Mile) but it was incredibly close to the Lakefront and the residential neighborhood was movie-worthy.  Less than a quarter mile from Chipotle and maybe a bit further to catch the Red Line – it’s not really a complaint.  And the hotel was beautiful.  Plus there was a 24 hour mini bar in the lobby, if your own mini bar was empty.

The run along the Lakefront was awesome!  I was nervous to run in an unfamiliar city but running along Lake Michigan with its icy debris on a sunny day made it worth it.  Although, running was interspersed with a lot of photo stops.  I wanted to run on the Lakefront on Friday but sleeping in and getting sucked in by the Millionaire Matchmaker derailed that plan.  Instead, I headed to Xoco, a Rick Bayless restaurant.  Usually Rick Bayless would mean nothing to me but when I first moved to Washington, my mom & I watched Master Chef religiously and fell in love with Rick Bayless – the utlimate winner of the Master Chef title.  (We also crushed on Michael Chiarello – Napa Valley – you’re next!)

The game – the raison d’être – made the whole trip worthwhile.  Sitting 10 rows up, my heart glowed with happiness.  I miss basketball and hope Seattle gets a team as it is requesting.  And I have a new basketball favorite – Luol Deng.  Why didn’t my team defend his deadly three point shot from the corner?  I think he had three of them in the last few minutes of the game.  I was worried I wouldn’t see the Big Three play as it played out last year in Boston.  But KG played (he didn’t the night before) as did Ray Allen & the Truth.  I crossed off another stadium from my bucket list too.  I am ready to plan next years basketball trip!

I head back to Chicago in April and already my dance card is filling up fast: there is Buddy Guy’s Legends (because you have to listen to the blues in Chicago & I’m hoping for an appearance from Buddy Guy himself), Frontera (another Rick Bayless restaurant), walking the bridges and maybe another decadent stop at Vosges for chocolate.