I can see why people want to live here, Chicago

Lots of glass, making sonic canyons for the honking of taxis. Perfect weather, enough snow flurries to keep it interesting but nothing sticking to seep in slushy slop through my silly shoes (I’m Californian, I don’t have the wardrobe for precipitation). The urban rumble of the L train making periodic passes through the air and the ear. All of it was beautiful, all of it was Chicago, but my main memory of the city doesn’t live in the eyes or the ears or the skin.

Chicago intersection w train

Just a typical intersection, but I dig the train.

You’d think it would be felt in the feet. My new phone has one of those pedometer things. Is 24,163 good for a day? Downtown Chicago is a walkable city, as long as you don’t mind cars slicing through the crosswalk closer and faster than we West Coasters prefer.

Chicago flying schoolbus v

Cars and magic flying schoolbusses both

Walking all day was fine by me, but I had suggestions from some of y’all marvelous folk, so went looking for those. The Art Institute of Chicago was a lovely warren of rooms, where my lady and I found an attendant/guard who agreed with us, John Singer Sargent sure did know his business.


Chicago skyline from the Art Institute

The view from the Art Institute, buildings swallowed in mist

And I liked the Chicago Cultural Center just fine, with its interior walkways and Eschertastic stairwells, even before one of my lady’s coworkers told me its story. Apparently after the great fire of 1871 burned down the entire city, the French felt so bad about the loss of the great Chicago library that they sent money to rebuild it. The people of Chicago were so grateful that they neglected to tell ze French that they hadn’t had a library in the first place. Sssssh!

Chicago Cultural Center staircase

Walking incurred a rather windy hunger, which fed my main memory. I hear tales of American food deserts and feel compassionate despair for them and gratitude for living in the Bay Area, but lordy lordy, Chicago ain’t got nothing to complain about. Those folks know how to eat.

Chicago French market crepeSo many to choose from, Greek to pizza, barbeque to Bayless’s Mexican, but it was the crepes that snagged my top spot. Because what else would you expect to find under a train station than a French market complete with opulent truffles, Belgian fries, and bona fide French people making crepes at 9:00 in the morning? Merci!

So Chicago was tall buildings, varied art, aesthetic snow, and groaning metal. It was also ham, bacon, eggs, cheddar, cream cheese, and fresh blueberry jam for breakfast, followed hours later by slow-cooked apples, salted caramel, vanilla cream, and toffee chunks for dessert.


Yup, Chicago was pretty sweet.