Throughout my month in the Coronary Care Unit, what kept me going through all those every third night 30 hour work-shifts was the knowledge that at the end of it I would be going to Chicago. Yay, Chi-Town, here we come!
I have been to Chicago thrice now and each time I wonder a bit more, why don’t I just move here? The first time, I drove down from another Midwestern state to enjoy GhanaFest 2003, an annual event held in Washington Park that show-cases the arts, culture, and cuisine of Ghana. The second time, the following year, was to visit my sister as she studied the architecture and gentrification of Chicago. I stayed about a week and visited other friends, while falling in love with the city’s skyline. I even seriously considered applying for residency there, but really wanted to get back to the Northeast so I didn’t. The third time was just last year, when I went to interview for a fellowship position at Northwestern Hospital. Now talk about a fancy hospital in the heart of downtown Chicago, swoon! Even lucky for me was I got a great flight & hotel combo deal for about $200 and ended up staying next door at the Wyndham Chicago. It was super! – elegant, clean, plush – except there wasn’t much of a view – just tall buildings. As I was in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the time of that interview I was in need of pampering. That night, I treated myself to a room-service scoop of Haagen Daz vanilla ice-cream for $10 plus tip. Yes, I said one scoop. No it wasn’t from a massive spoon! Hey you only live once, right? Besides the package was a steal.
So here I am again, on my way back to Chicago, this time purely for pleasure. Going with two shopaholic girlfriends. The trip wasn’t too bad. We flew Southwest, which I have never flown before. There were only about 20 people flying to Chicago that night, so we had the plane (more than 100 seats) to ourselves. So why then was T, one of my girlfriends, making a big deal over the fact that we could sit in the exit row where there is a lot of leg space? The flight attendant who overheard her excitement actually came over to laugh at us. T is all of what 5’2” maybe, so even in a regular seat, she would have “lots of leg room”. Yep, the flight attendant had a good time with that one. When the plane was ready to leave, the flight attendant proceeded to say “Now we have a very special guest on board, and although he’s tired and would like to get home quietly, if you politely approach him he might sign an autograph for you, Mr Jordan would you mind raising your hand” and of course everybody perks right up and looks to the back for a chance to see Michael Jordan (who of course is not sitting in a Southwest plane, like duh!) as the flight attendant proceeds with “now that I have your attention let us go over some safety tips”.
Throughout the trip she had lots of other “witty” remarks for us, to which we chuckled, and I thought that maybe it was because it was the last flight of the day, and there were only 20 of us at best on board that she was so informal. So wrong, on the very packed flight back the crew (a different one) was just as informal but not as witty to the point that several passengers begun to grumble about the not so funny jokes.
We stayed at the very trendy W Lakeshore which we got through Hotwire. The hotel was so trendy that when we got dropped of at 10pm we thought we were at a lounge. The decorum, the dance music playing, the throngs of extremely well dressed young patrons having a good time…I felt so out-of-place. Our room – a “spectacular” one was quite nice – very feng shui. We had a lake-view (Lake Michigan) and could see the Navy Pier. We played “dress-up complete with make-up” and headed down to the lobby to have drinks at the bar. But we didn’t last long – what with a full work day (it was Friday night), late flight, little food and one cocktail – sleep was soon overcoming us. I know, lame! But at least the eye candy was good. I have never seen a better group of well dressed men before – all very stylish. Very different from the stylish woman with man in plain slacks couple I’m used to seeing in New York for instance.
The next day, Saturday, we woke up late, and promptly made our way to the Magnificient Mile, where my companions showed me what shopping means. Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue, Watertower Place, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Apple Store, you name it and we were there. We took a lunch break and ate at Vong’s Thai Kitchen where the food was very good, the best Thai so far according to one of my companions. We had Thai Chopped Chicken Salad, Panang Chicken Curry with Crispy Wide Rice Noodles, Vegetable Pad Thai, and Shrimp & Scallops in Citrus Curry with Jasmine Rice as well as a mini-dessert from their Combo Menu and paid about $15 each. Very delicious! I still maintain that Thai Cuisine in Newport, RI is better. Then back to more shopping. The plan was to go to a real lounge for the night, but our lazy behinds were tired from all that shopping plus it had begun to drizzle so we retired to our room and called it a night.
Sunday we went to the Field Museum of Natural History, all that we had time for really, before catching our flight back home. The highlight for me of course was SUE, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil skeleton ever discovered.