Champagne Way Chicago
Champagne Way Chicago
At The Champagne Way, we believe that every day is a celebration. That means we raise a glass and cheers to the little things. But sometimes we like to celebrate big by going on adventures. And when I opened my final gift from Will (my fiance) on Christmas Day, I knew that this was going to be one of those times.
Hamilton tickets. In Chicago. On St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Just a few days before Will’s birthday. Did I mention the last time I visited Chicago, I hadn’t been able to legally drink? Oh yes. This was going to be an epic celebration.
You’ve listened to episode 33 and heard the Chicago trip from Lindsey’s and Trina’s perspective (I was only featured via drunk voicemails). Now here’s the trip from my perspective.
I’m no great fan of heights. However, it’s a good way to get reacquainted with a city you haven’t visited in a while. Saturday March 16th was the day the city celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Which meant the line for the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) wasn’t long. From 103 floors above, we could just nab a peek of the acid-green river and catch a glance of the start of the downtown parade. Will gave me a high-rise overview of the city, and then we somehow convinced ourselves that we should stand in the ledge; a seamless glass balcony that juts out four feet from the 103 floor. We lasted 30 seconds before our spines crawled out of our bodies.
Before Saturday was over, we were high above the ground again. This time it was better though; I was sipping on a glass of champagne. We visited the Signature Room at the 95th Floor in the Hancock Tower for drinks at sunset. I highly recommend that if you’re going to visit this building, forget paying for the observatory area. Rather, visit for “free” and just spend your money in alcohol.
A Colossal, Miniatures, and Everything in-between
Will and I are perfectly content to wander through a museum for a couple of hours, and we did that multiple times in Chicago. We visited the Field Museum and saw lots of science-y things, including Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex specimen.
At the Art Institute of Chicago, I was completely delighted with a room of miniature, historically accurate rooms that are all to scale. They were created by Chicago socialite Narcissa Thorne in the 1930s and 1940s. She traveled all over Europe finding teeny furniture to populate her rooms. Filmmaker Wes Anderson is inspired by them too, which of course made me love them more.
On Monday before we left, we visited the Shedd Aquarium. I saw beautiful coral reefs, dolphins racing, an otter feeding, a rockhopper penguin building a nest, and beluga whales!
You didn’t really think I was going to talk about Chicago without mentioning the whole reason for going. This was the second time I got to see Hamilton. The first time in NYC I was taking in the staging of all the music I’d come to love. This time it was great getting to compare the two performances. And of course I enjoyed a few glasses of prosecco while watching!
One of our favorite things about going on an adventure is wandering around and discovering delicious places to eat and drink. We found plenty of those in Chicago. For a true deli experience, try Eleven City Diner, where I had the ultimate hangover breakfast of bacon, egg, jalapeno and cheese on a challah roll, and a chocolate whiskey malt to slurp on. We had some unique seafood pasta at Volare, and ate at The Purple Pig, a Michelin-recognized restaurant with community tables and small plates.
But I think my favorite was The Gage, an Irish-inspired place we actually ate at on St. Patrick’s Day. The buffalo tartare and duck scotch egg were so good, but you know on the podcast that when it comes to Drinkin’ Thinkin’ Cap, I’m all about dessert. And this place created a cookie ice cream sandwich using homemade dark chocolate butterscotch cookies, and bailey’s liquor ice cream. I was in heaven.
Murder and Spooky Mayhem
I love murder and the supernatural. I don’t watch much T.V., but if I do, it’s usually a marathon of “Snapped” or “My Haunted House.” Will and I booked a Weird Chicago tour that would take us all around the sites of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition--and that would tell us about H.H. Holmes, who capitalized on the Exposition and built a murder castle. I was already excited about this. Then a few days before our trip, we found out that our hotel was supposedly the most haunted in the city. It was built for the Chicago Columbian Exposition too, so it was almost 130 years old. I didn’t read too much into the hauntings, but I did learn that Stephen King used it as inspiration to write the short story “1408.” Having read “The Shining,” that was quite enough for me to understand that something was going on at this place.
As mentioned on episode 33, the murder tour is when we met up with Trina and Lindsey. And to our surprise, the Congress Plaza Hotel was the first stop on the tour. It was mostly to talk about how Holmes used it as a cruising ground to seek out young women for his murder castle. We also heard spine-tingling ghost stories that definitely came up later that night.
So, did Will and I have any ghostly experiences? Yes! Go listen to my drunk voicemails to hear all about them.