Sunday, November 29, 2009

An Evening on the Magnificent Mile..And Upcoming Shows!...Sunday Journal #2

In my first Journal entry today, I took pride in having avoided the shopping hordes in the suburbs on Black Friday.. Last night, however, we joined the crowds in the City...and had a mervelous experience.

We started out in what is becoming our favorite Caribou Coffee in the city (outside of our local Mt. Prospect hangout), to look in on our friend Charles.  He was still away for Holiday Break, but we were treated well by Chad and her crew, and so we stayed a while, attempting to look for theater tickets on line.

Since we had nothing pressing at home, we decided finally to get our tickets in person.  We drove south to the Loop, the heart of Downtown and the Business and Theater Districts, and  parked the car in a garage.  Then we walked to the theaters, where the box offices would surely be open.

We entered the Oriental Theater and got tremendous service from a ticket agent there.  She worked with us on dates in whch we could find the best seats available.  She was even willing to sell us tickets not yet available individually.   I am thrilled to say that we secured great seats to "August: Osage County" in February, and "Billy Elliott" in April.  You will definitely hear more about these shows at those times.

For late November, the evening was fairly warm and mild, and it seemed that everyone was out walking, to take advantage of another last gasp of Indian Summer.  Mark got us set for a long, scenic walk up State Street and near the Chicago River toward what used to be a fashionable Greek Taverna.  What we found instead, connected to the  Embassy Suites, was a charming Italian pub and pizza house called Osteria Via Stato (which translates from Italian to Tavern on State Street).   We enjoyed authentic pizza on paper-thin and crispy crust, a variety of olives and salads, and the attention of our gracious host, Daniel.

Instead of remaining for dessert, Mark whisked me off on a wonderful, crowded, festive and light-filled walk up and down Michigan Avenue, known as the Magnificent Mile, for its upscale and international shops, restaurants, hotels, and landmarks (Like the Water Tower, John Hancock Center, The Michigan Avenue Bridge, and The Wrigley Building.).  While we were disciplined enough not to enter any shops, we did stop for dessert at Ghiradelli Chocolates, for their world-famous hot chocolate.
Having been to New York recently for the first time (see posts the weeks of October 5 and 12), and feeling the overwhelming energy of that city, I proudly looked around Chicago and felt a renewed sense of pride, of the beauty and vitality of this city of ours...The crowd was every bit as dense as those walking down Park Avenue, or 8th Street, but here, people were more laid back, enjoying each other as much as the sights and buildings around them. 

We met with a group of gay men who were visiting from Huston Texas and parts of Oklahoma.  There was a complete sense of both reaching out and belonging, as we took each others' photographs.  We met with the Concierge of the new Wit Hotel (open six months as of yesterday) and got a good description of the place---the exterior looks fractured, as though it has survived an earthquake) and, possibly, an excellent rate for one of our theatrical evenings coming up.

I continued on my plan to get to know Chicago as well as a tourist planning on returning often, experiencing, viewing, tasting, and loving  and learning as much as possible, and taking nothing for granted.

Photos here are all by Mark Johnson. 
(Here's the Wit hotel, with the "crack" down the front...)


  1. I've never had the fortune to hang out in Chicago long enough to explore it's night life, but from your description (and Mark's great photos) it looks very dynamic. Your post paints a fascinating picture of restaurants, theaters, shops and sights that all blend together to make Chicago one hell of a town. Thanks for the vicarious site-seeing excursion, Tom. I enjoyed it very much!

  2. Tom, it would be our pleasure to show you around our city whenever you can make it.