I was up LATE last night – I’ll tell you why soon – so I didn’t have time to write about my day. This post is day#2, and on Monday, I will type two entries (Sunday and Monday). Guaranteed!
My primary plan for the day was to finally attend a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. But that wasn’t until 6:15, and wanting to get there a bit early, I planned my day around heading to the game between 4:00 and 4:30. I didn’t get much sleep last night – the bed was comfy, I just stayed up late (typing blog entry #1) – but I awoke with about five hours of sleep. That makes nine in two days. I’ll admit that is pushing it just a bit, but it really is something my body can deal with when I am on vacation. Something in my brain chemistry says, “you can do without sleep, you need waking hours to be a productive traveler. Looking back, I am always the one who has little difficulty rising early when others are tired from the previous day and want to sleep in. My eye is on the prize, so to speak. I make use of my vacation time. So, anyway, I got up and before leaving made plans with my new across-the-hall friends to go to the comedy show they mentioned. Again, it’s not Second City, but it is the longest running comedy performance group in Chicago – that’s what they say, anyway. It’s called…..actually, I should go in chrono order, so – back to the morning.
I took the “L” over to Bucktown/Wicker Park. It is the “Portland, Oregon -ish” part of Chicago. Chicago residents were asked to describe these two adjacent neighborhoods in three words (per person), and the description includes observations like: trendy, young, hip, small businesses, hipster, shoes, tattoos, vintage, artists. My first planned stop was a coffee shop called Ipsento’s, which I have read in print is considered one of the two or three “best” coffee shops. It was defnitely a small, relaxing place with a comfortable vibe. I got their signature drink – it was described to me as “like drinking a mug of curry.” I don’t know about that, but it was awesome! I must reproduce it at home.
I then wandered down… whatever street it is (“Milwaukee” comes to mind) and stopped at a Walgreen’s located in an old bank building. As you can see, the vitamins section is actually located in the still-existing safe. Pretty cool.
Side note: One of my impressions I am going to leave Chicago with is – their drinks are freaking expensive! I actually go into multiple stores when I am looking for a bottle of water because a liter of Dasani (Coke’s bottled tap water) is $2.50 or more. I’ve seen Evian for $4 a bottle. Anyway, this store had liter bottles 2 for $2, so I bought extra with the idea of taking the excess into the Cubs game. Next, I continued walking down the street, stopped at a Buffalo Exchange, which had a disappointingly-poor selection, and then ate at a “Native Foods Cafe.” It’s a fully vegan restaurant and I enjoyed every bite, basking in the restaurant’s awesomeness and wishing I could be near a place like this. Then I glanced back at the menu and noticed their store locations are: Chicago (3), Boulder, Los Angeles (3), Orange County CA (5), Palm Springs (the original), and Portland! Then I casually made my way to the ball game.
My impression: A LOT of Chicago’s sites are not really near a metro/trip/whatever-it’s-called stop. The lines sort of extend out radially, which means if you are outside of the downtown area and want to take the “L” to a different outside-of-downtown area, you (generally) have to go back toward “The Loop” to transfer. By the way, I have renamed this style, “Hungary style,” because every train line in Hungary seems to go through Budapest. I’m sure you remember me posting that one, two…fifty times.
This difficulty can be alleviated if you walk to a bus stop. Then you can ideally use the bus to connect you with the extension taking you where you ultimately want to go. As a tourist, how do you know what bus to take, or where the bus stops are? I truly have no clue and can’t possible imagine, except that Google Maps can route for public tansportation. My new smart phone has literally saved me hours of unnecessary travel time in just three days, because it lets me find shorter bus routes.
So, on to Wrigley. I joined the northbound red line with hundreds of other people wearing Cubs and Cardinals gear. This was a pretty expensive ticket, because the Cardinals are the Cubs’ rivals and today was “Harry Caray Commemorative Statue Day.” There is something going on with scalping, though, because once I exited the Addison St. Platform and was standing just feet from a 97-year old baseball stadium, there were scalpers visible. They weren’t just selling a few tickets, one had a stack of tickets in his hand that was a good two inches thick. Plus, the statue was only for the first 10,000 people (the stadium holds 40,000+) so some scalpers were using tickets to go in, take the statues, then walk right back outside.
From the outside, Wrigley doesn’t look out of the ordinary to me, besides the famous sign at the home plate entrance and the flags flying beyond centerfield. But that whole intersection was like a party. Several pubs at full capacity surrounding the stadium. If you remember yesterday’s post, Cubs fans are huge drinkers! I’m surprised they don’t just shut off the area, but lots of police were out directing traffic.
So, the game was great – very exciting – though I didn’t recognize most of the names on the Cubs. The atmosphere was how I think it should be, but not having a video screen took some getting used to. No “kiss cam,” no “which hat is it under?” nor any footage of bloopers running in between innings. I stayed in my seat for 7 innings then wandered around for the final two. I have read in multiple sources that the Cubs ushers (they are all seniors/retired/etc.) are the worst, rudest, most unreasonable ushers in all of sport. It’s pretty well known. But I had extended conversations with two outside the ballpark and one inside and they were all super friendly and helpful. They seem particularly focused on making sure people who are there for the first (only?) time enjoy themselves. I am happy to have made it here. This was a bucket list sort of thing. I do advise that when you come to Wrigley you bring earplugs. Maybe I just have exceptional hearing (which, actually I think I do), but it seems that whenever they adjusted the stadium speakers, they must have used deaf people as the test group. It was LOUD and gave me a splitting headache for the final eight innings!
The game ended just in time for me to follow through on my plan to attend the comedy show. This comedy store is called the Neo-Futurists and they perform 30 skits in 60 minutes. They also have pricing where it costs $9 plus whatever you roll on a die, so it could be anywhere from $10-15. Anyone who posted on Facebook (as I did last night) got to roll a 5-sided die as a reward. The performance was really good!
Back to those transportation woes. For the second day in a row, my smartphone completely died before the evening was over, but we had one more phone to rely on. It turns out to get from “way out in the middle of north Chicago” back to our place in south Chicago involved two hours of: taking a bus to a transfer point, missing that stop, getting off at the next one and walking back to the correct spot, waiting for a good 15 minutes for another bus (because, hey, it was about 1am), trying to find any restaurant that might be open (unsuccessfully), getting on the correct bus and riding it for … 42 stops. Yes, 42 stops, then walking some more! We got back around 3am, but the bus ride was entertaining. I was teaching them some math tricks and Hungarian, and in return, I learned some sign language and learned about Tennessee.
An action-packed and very exciting day 2!