Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chicago Part 2: Day 5: People, Places, Food, Home

Day five marked our return to sunny California. Our flight did not leave until the afternoon, so we still had time to explore Chicago. However like most non billionaires, we couldn’t do anything too expensive because we had spent all of our designated vacation money on things like ferris wheels and skyscrapers.

We started our day with another walk to breakfast. We went to the West Egg, which is located more east of Chicago than would warrant “West” in the name. Danny ordered a skillet with a side of pancakes. He enjoyed it, but believes the Bongo Room has better hash browns. I tried a bite of his pancakes, and thought they were heavenly. I ordered the “Blue Bayou” which is a skillet dish with bacon and blue cheese atop of eggs and tomatoes. It was pretty tasty. It’s very difficult for the words “yuck and bacon” to come out of my mouth at the same time.

A mural of breakfast related items was on the back wall. I enjoyed looking at it. The mural had a sort of cubist feel, echoing our earlier Matisse experience.

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel then walked around the city some more.

We had been walking quite a bit, and decided to get some coffee at Whispers Café. Whispers café is actually more of a cart than a café. All of the seating is outside in a park. The park had a wonderful water fountain and there were plenty of little birdies for me to watch. The buildings surrounding the park had a very French feel which made me even happier. Although the Blackhawk banners hanging over the balconies, kind of took away from my moment.

We then did more and more and more walking. We walked by an old church that had been foreclosed on. I suggested that we purchase it as a second home. There was a nice park across the street from the church. The park was filled with puppies, squirrels, and apparently pigeons. There were multiple signs warning us to not feed the pigeons. I kind of wish I fed them just to see what would have happened.

More and more walking occurred. We were basically wasting time until our last Chicago food opportunity.

We decided that we should probably try the original (or those who claim to be the original) makers of the deep dish Chicago style pizza. We headed to Pizzeria Uno and grabbed a prime seat outside. We split a small pizza that was filled with bell peppers, sausage, and onions. The pizza was delicious however; Danny and I both liked the crust at Giordano’s better. Please do not misunderstand me, the crust at Uno's was good, but it had a little more of a cornbread taste than I like for a crust. Also, I think Giordano’s used an extra stick of butter, which is always amazing.

Even though we had some more time, we wanted to hurry up and wait at the airport. We got a taxi and headed off to O’Hare. I usually hate taxi rides. I am a car safety aficionado. I hate the way taxi drivers cut in and out of lanes and in between cars. I hate the speeding. I hate how taxi cabs get so close to the cars in front of them that when they brake, I just know we are going to hit the car in front of us. I usually have my imaginary brake pedal out the whole time during taxi rides. This ride was different.

The taxi cab driver started up a conversation with Danny, as most people do, without knowing what they are getting into. I sat in the back prepared to take out my emergency brake pedal and listened. The taxi cab driver was from Transylvania. I quickly deducted that he was not a vampire, because he was still alive even though Danny and I were breathing our garlicky pizza breath in his taxi. He also was not sparkling in the sunlight nor was he melting. He drove pleasantly even though there was a lot of traffic.

He told us that with the downfall of the economy driving a taxi is horrible. Most people can’t afford to take a taxi. He works part time which in taxi world is 6 days a week with 14 hour shifts. Danny and I were very impressed with Chicago’s public transportation, but he said it was nothing compared to Europe. We passed by his neighborhood in Chicago. He pointed out where he lived and said it was a historic neighborhood. Many of the houses there were used during the slave trade. Some of them still have the hooks in the basement walls where slaves were chained to. He said people aren’t allowed to remove the hooks because they are considered historic. We discussed how compared to most places in Transylvania his Chicago neighborhood is not old at all. He told us his archaeologist friend helps him indentify ancient artifacts that he finds digging in his Transylvanian backyard. He told us how he missed his homeland. He also doesn’t like Chicago winters.

He came to America for the American dream but after ten years of living here, it is still that, just a dream. I wanted to offer some encouraging words, but couldn’t find the right thing to say. He definitely had a different perspective of Chicago than we saw. I guess there is always another side to a story. Mine might be filled with ferris wheels and baseball games, but for many this is not the case. The taxi cab driver shook Danny’s hand extra long and said that he enjoyed giving us a ride and having a conversation worth remembering. I hope that telling his story to someone who actually wanted to hear it helped him out. I hope that one day he finds his American or Transylvanian dream.

We were ridiculously early at the airport so I made sure to utilize the ladies room before we left. I was again excited about the automatic toilet seat covers. I must warn you that if you fly in through O’Hare and use the toilets with the automatic seat covers, it is only setting you up for disappointment. Out of all the restrooms I used in Chicago, O’Hare was the only place that even had seat covers. I found this odd. Maybe it’s a Chicagoan thing and O’Hare just has them because airports are more neutral territory anyways.

We enjoyed Chicago immensely. Although there were many things that we did not get to see or do, we tried to pack everything in that we could. Chicago is like any big city, full of life and excitement, it also has its share of problems. It is infamous for its corrupt politicians and gangsters, but also famous for people like Michael Jordan and Oprah. It has history. It has beauty. Chicago has amazing people, places, and food. I would recommend visiting it in a heartbeat.


  1. I never knew Transylvania actually existed. Blogging and reading blogs makes you smarter.

  2. It's looks like a place that I would enjoy visiting!