Chicago Girls Trip: Part Two

It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago
-she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. 
She is always a novelty; 
for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.
//Mark Twain
We woke up the next morning for day 2 of our adventure and my very first swallow at 7:30am felt like knives and was some of the worst sore throat pain I have ever had. My worst travel fears had come to life, I was sick on vacation. And not only was I sick, but I had what I hate more than any other cold symptom- a sore throat. Give me a runny nose, give me chills, give me a cough, even a fever, but do NOT give me a sore throat. There is nothing I hate more and I was SO upset. We still had so much exploring planned and I did not want this to get in the way of it. I decided to tough it out, so I took some Advil and got ready for the day. We took a nice walk thinking that maybe some fresh air and breakfast would ease my throat a bit. We stopped at a really cute coffee shop called Bourgeois Pig Cafe. It was so neat and had really delicious, strong coffee.
We strolled through some of the nice ritzy neighborhoods (close to where Oprah lives!), and I loved all of the beautiful and grandiose brownstones.The details were so innate and many had stained glass other other unique features. We looked up a few of them on Zillow and the prices were well over $2million at a minimum. 
There were lush gardens everywhere, and we swear the flowers in Chicago are on steroids! They were all so big and so perfect! Check out these giant peonies just bursting with color and scent!
Next we took a long stroll to the Lincoln Park Conservatory to walk through the green houses and flowers. They have tons of different species of plants and it is free to enjoy.

Nice and toasty warm in the Greenhouses! Must be really great to go there during Chicago's brutally cold winter months.

A little neat secret is that hundreds of little miniature dinosaur statues are hidden all throughout the conservatory and greenhouses! We spotted as many as we could but a lot of them are really well blended into the greenery. They were too cute!

Gorgeous tropicals blooms and orchids were around every corner.

They also had hundreds of koi in large man-made ponds. Some of the fish were huge! They also warn you not to throw in lucky pennies as it can really harm the fish and plant life. 

Me trying to act like I am not in serious pain and discomfort! I ended up having the longest and worst sore throat I have ever had, it lasted about 5 days strong. I am cringing now just thinking about it!

Next, we headed over to the Lincoln Park Zoo which is just adjacent to the conservatory. This is also free to the public and is a really neat thing that Chicago offers! Here we saw some Black Rhinos, an endangered species.

Then we saw some wild hogs.

And even wild dogs! They were really pretty and I loved their fur patterns.
Here I am in the bird sanctuary. The birds are allowed to fly around the whole place, so you have to watch your head and hair!

A funny type of monkey/primate with long hair. He wouldn't turn around to show us his face!
Fish fish and more fish!
The lonely little rhino! We felt bad for him and think he really needs a friend.

And the cutest…. the meerkats! They were ADORABLE, and were playing with Easter eggs! EASTER EGGS!!! Can it get any cuter? They even looked at me and posed for the camera a few times.

Just look at those sweet faces! I wanted to take one home.

One of my other favorites, giraffes!

A small exotic breed of antelope.
More exotic fish in a saltwater tank.
Big cats! This leopard was pacing back and forth, I think he was hungry.
And the best for last, the apes and gorillas! They had huge areas of both indoor and outdoor spaces where they could roam and play.
Here is part of the indoor space. I am glad they had both so they can get out of the bad or cold weather if they want to.
These babies are now two years old! When Kat came to visit the first time, they were infants! Now there are playful and energetic two year olds and they were having fun playing with hay and throwing it at each other. 

And, amazingly and luck for us, another one of the Moms had just had their first baby! It was only about a week or two old and was the size of a human infant! It was so precious, but was farther in the back resting with it's mom, so it was hard to see. The camera was able to get in a little closer, so you can kind of see it resting on it's back. So cute.

We moved back outside and saw some ostrich pens, who had also just recently laid eggs,

And camels!

The zoo was really neat and I was so amazed that it was a free attraction. Such a good family activity and a must-do if you are ever in Chicago. They are doing a lot of construction and I think they are bringing in other new species soon such as polar bears.
After to zoo we walked around through a nice park nearby, and I was able to actually meet up briefly with one of my best friends from Freshmen year of college at RWU! 
My friend was able to take some nice pictures of Kat, Jackeyln and I in front of the city skyline. 

This is my gal pal Erin! We swam together at RWU and hung out just about every day at practice and in the dorms. I am so glad we have kept in touch and she seems to be doing really well and loving life out in Chicago. She is from CT too, so whenever she comes home to visit we try to make time to see each other as well.

Beautiful Chicago skyline!

After saying goodbye to Erin, it was on to The Field Museum of Natural History! It is one of the largest Natural History museums in the world and has so many cool exhibits and things to offer. Not to mention it's a beautiful architectural structure in itself,

Across from the Field Museum is the Soldier Field Football Stadium where the Bears play! I always think of that SNL skit whenever I hear about the bears…. DA BEARS…DAAAA BEARS.
Once inside, we ended up scoring a big deal on getting in! A membership woman helped us and for $75, we got all three of us in with tickets to the special Vikings exhibit AND a membership for Jackeyln! It would have been about $36 per person for the admissions and the Vikings tickets separately, and would not have included a membership. So we each paid $25 and now Jackelyn is a member and can go whenever she wants! She gets all kinds of other benefits and discounts now too and she was so excited about it, it really made her day. 
The infamous "Sue"! Sue is the most-complete T-Rex skeleton ever found, and she is huge! Definitiely a sight to see, I can't imagine these things running around on Earth today.

This shot reminds me of the movie Night at the Museum with Ben Stiller. A great flick if you have never seen it! We ended up watching it late at night one of the nights we were there. 
Here is Sue's actual head. The head that is on her skeleton in the atrium is a replica, as her real head is too damaged and fragile to be used. Since right now is Shark Week on TV I found myself wondering if I would rather choose to be eaten by a shark or by a T-Rex. I actually think I'd go with T-Rex since while you are getting eaten by a shark you are also simultaneously drowning and that just sounds downright awful. So, T-Rex it is. Things are getting a little morbid around here on Nautical Nomad today! Onto brighter things...

Our admission came with free tickets to the Vikings exhibit, which is only running for a limited time. It had tons of artifacts and clothing, weapons, and boats from the Vikings era and was really neat to see. They were certainly a badass group of people who have a reputation in todays world of being brutal hunters and killers. But, the exhibit was done very well and brought out the more everyday side of Viking life. It showed them as a hardworking group of people and hunters/farmers/fisherman who made and built almost everything by hand. Intricate weaponry, fishing gear, jewelry, and tools were all on display in cases.
 I'll take one of these solid gold and silver necklaces, please!

This was a cool piece to show all of the handmade nails that went into making one of their infamous viking ship hulls.
A smaller boat/canoe.
After the Vikings, we went down to the Native Americans exhibits and checked that out for a bit.

They used to sleep 20-60 people in these wigwams! Talk about a giant sleepover every night, what if people snore? 

Then we explored ancient Egypt, one of my favorites! They had so many neat artifacts and mummies on display. I always loved learned about Egyptians in schools, their way of life and burial processes are fascinating. They spent more time focusing on being dead than being alive. 
Next, we headed downstairs and were "Shrunk" in order to explore under the Earth and in the soil. By this point I think my throat was practically bleeding, it felt like I was swallowing glass shards. Kat and I both discovered that we are weird and we actually like to eat things that are crunchy and hard when we have sore throats! I though I was the only one! Normally people want ice cream and yogurt and jello when they have sore throats. No way! I want chips and granola bars and tacos. The scratchier the better.
Jackie and I being devious on the mites.
We then toured the Evolution exhibit and Jurassic area, and went through the 6 different stages of Mass Extinction that the Earth has undergone so far. (We are actually currently moving towards the 6th- oh joy!)

Just sittin' on a bone… don't mind us.

LOVED this lit up photographic display. It was so colorful and pretty, and I loved the quote in the middle by Charles Darwin, "…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
Lastly, we toured several other exhibits including a Lichen exhibit, Gemstones exhibit, Asian exhibit and a Polynesian exhibit.
Kat walked over New Zealand on the floor map and had to point it out to her hubby Marcel. They want to go within the next couple of years. Can I please tag along!?
The outside of the Field Museum was just as beautiful as the inside, and the weather was absolutely perfect that day. You could see perfectly clear views of the lake and of the city.

Glad we got to see the Viking exhibit while it was there!

Next door was the science museum, but unfortunately we didn't have time in our schedule for it. Next time!
We could see a lighthouse off in the distance on the lake. If I didn't know better, I would have swore that we were in fact on the ocean! Can't get over how big the Lake is, and this is just a tiny piece of it.

Once we left the museum, we made a much needed trek to Walgreens so that I could load up on sore throat and cold medicines. Jackelyn then showed us the Second City Theater where she used to work and do shows. We decided to have dinner at a really good mexican spot right outside the theater called Adobo. The guacamole and margaritas were excellent! This is also the spot where I may have left and lost my sunglasses…. I am not positive, but it is one of the possibilities. Between waking up with a nasty cold and losing my sunglasses, I was striking out left and right. But, we still managed to do a lot that day and I am glad I stuck through it. Give me allll the crunchy throat-scrtaching chips!
After dinner we took a nice walk through Old Town. It was such a picturesque little area, full of farmers markets, little boutiques, shops and restaurants. We stopped in at a cigar shop so that Kat could get a little gift for her husband. I had already gotten Nick something from the museum earlier, a little jade elephant for our collection. 

Loved this 50's mural on one of the buildings. So much character and charm in Old Town. I can see Sinatra hanging out here in his heyday. 
I looked down a random set of stairs and there was a large elephant, trunk up, at the bottom of the stairs! So random! But definitely a wink from above letting me know that I would be okay. It is hard not feeling well when you are away from home and I was pretty upset and discouraged, but this made me feel better, even for a brief moment. Nick and I love elephants with their trunks up, too bad the darn picture didn't focus. I swear I'm not a photographer or anything..:-).
After a nice long walk at dusk, we headed back to Jackelyns apartment and just hung out and drank some wine and watched Night at the Museum. I really needed a little time to rest and try and get better, so I really appreciated the girls staying in for the night, it meant a lot. I felt bad that we couldn't go out on the town again but after a long day of exploring I was really not feeling well. I laid in bed while they chatted and soon enough we all fell asleep. 
Sunday morning was our final day in Chicago. Much to my disappointment, I wasn't feeling any better and my sore throat had not let up at all. But, it was the final day and I was determined to make it through! We went for breakfast at a place called Fork not too far from Jackelyn's neighborhood. The girls had great meals but unfortunately the waiter totally butchered my order and got everything wrong. What should have been two eggs over medium with toast, hash browns and sausage (kind of standard and easy right?) came out as two watery-to-the-point-of-being-clear eggs. Nothing else. Nothing. I asked where my other sides were, and he pretty much disappeared and never came back until everyone else was done eating and it was too late anyways. I said it was fine, but that I didn't want to pay for the items I didn't get. We get the bill, and my full meal is charged on it. Ohhhh no. No way jose. I marched right up and put him in his place. My entire meal ended up being free (if you can even call it a meal)! I did treat myself to a mimosa though, so the alcohol did somewhat take my mind off of my sore throat.
Jackelyn took us on a walking tour of her neighborhood after breakfast. There are tons of parks close by to her house, and this is her favorite gazebo. I can see why, it was really unique and pretty! Not your average gazebo at all.

Sunday around lunch time we took the bus to the INFAMOUS Green Mill bar. We had wanted to go the night before for live music, but since I was sick we ended up staying in. We were still determined to get there though so we decided to stop in for a drink on Sunday. This is the very famous place and former hangout of bad-boy and the ultimate gangster- Al Capone. After thirty seconds though the door, you can easily see why!
The place just exudes that old-time jazz club feel. The decor has never been changed, and it is relatively the exact same today as it was some 70 years ago when Capone ruled the prohibition-era streets as a crime boss. 
One of Capone's main guys, Jack McGurn, took over as part owner in the 1920's, giving Capone a "Safe" place to hang and discuss business. Capone's favorite booth is still there, just west of the short end of the bar. He liked that particular booth because you could see both the front and rear exits at all times. If anything happened, he had the most time to react. There were also secret trap doors located near his booth under the bar, with a tunnel that led out under the street to the next building. Nowadays, the Green Mill is still very popular, but as a local jazz bar and place for upcoming musicians to play gigs. It is such a cool place and has so much history and stories within it's walls.
Standing in the far corner is a statue of Ceres, the goddess of harvest. She has since been given the nickname "Stella by Starlight" by some of the old performers
We had almost the whole place to ourselves! We sat in one of the famous green booths and ordered a round of drinks. There was a group of older men at the bar and they ended up being hysterical and really nice! Turns out they were the tour bus and equipment drivers for Godsmack, who were in town for two nights for shows. Had we been staying another night, they definitely would have given us tickets to the show. I didn't even know Godsmack was still around!

All of the decor is very dark and art deco/art nouveau. 
We had a great time and I am so glad we got to see it!
One of the last things on our to-do list before we had to leave was to see Wrigley Field! We took the subway to the stop and walked a bit before getting to the stadium. Sure enough, a game had just started, so we were able to see and hear it in action. Such an iconic location, similar to the feeling I get when I go to Fenway!

The sign!

Note the bright orange freebie sunglasses that I borrowed from Jackelyn after losing mine. 

I am so glad that we got to check off just about everything on our list for this trip! There is certainly plenty more to explore in Chicago but I think we did and saw a TON for only being there two and a half days.

Our last few sights of Jackelyns neighborhood before heading home!

We had such a great time and did not want to leave! Jackelyn was an amazing host and tour guide, I couldn't have asked for anything better. It was a total bummer that I got sick but, hey, what are you gonna do. I eventually started to feel better a few days later and my cold lasted for about 2 weeks. Kat was a great travel buddy and we can't wait to plan another girls trip in the future. Until next time, Chicago! Thanks for following along .

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