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Chicago, I’m Sorry I’m the Worst Tourist Ever.

by Carilyn on April 7, 2014

Chicago Lakefront

Chicago.

I didn’t see your Bean. Or your Museum of Contemporary Art, unless running by it every morning and afternoon counts. I never got on the “L” or made it inside the Museum of Natural History. I took photos of Soldier Field, but only because I thought other people might be interested in them. I did stand in line for about 5 minutes at the Shedd Aquarium before deciding the line was too long.

But, Chicago, I still loved you even without partaking in your famous charms, because I was surprised at every turn.

I marveled at your miles of Lakefront Trail that I ran on at least twice a day, in both freezing weather, and Caribbean-worthy sunshine. I pretended I was looking out towards a vast, uncharted world while I ran, because my brain couldn’t quite wrap itself around the idea that I was running next to a lake when it seemed bigger, and bluer, than the Pacific near where I live.

I accidentally ran in a couple of 10K races, getting caught up in complete strangers cheering for me on my morning runs. I can’t resist an audience.

I traipsed through your busy streets like a woman possessed, hunting down the perfect brisket sandwich at 11 City Diner, and when asked what kind of cheese I wanted, ended up with unexpectedly delicious, gooey cheese fries. Who knew?

I scarfed down roast chicken with buttery potatoes, followed by a piece of spinach and feta pie, at Miller’s Pub. I was dubious of a crowd that seemed to believe Cubs hats went well with dinner, but the food made me ignore my mother’s voice that told me no good could come from a meal served simultaneously with a baseball game. For once, Mom didn’t know best (but please don’t tell her).

I ate a fantastic filet of beef, served with a spinach and broccoli rabe dish that I plan to plagiarize as soon as I get home. I hope your famous Chop House doesn’t mind. It was too good not to copy and share.

I drank more coffee than is healthy for a woman my age, but couldn’t resist another each time I went for a stroll through one of your many beautiful parks right by our hotel. It seemed like the thing to do since I was missing the crucial Chicago walking accessories – a dog and an artfully twisted scarf. I needed something to make me look like a local.

I also had my fair share of wine because the lounge bar of the Palmer House Hotel practically begged me to sit back in one it’s comfy chairs and sip on something that diminished the jitters I got from all the coffee. Even here, indoors, scarves and dogs were abundant.

I know I should care more about the “important” parts of your city: the planetarium, the symphony, the phenomenal shopping. I know people will say that I should have gone to Navy Pier (other than on a run), and that I was a nitwit to miss a visit to Wrigley Field.  But running through your city, seeing everything on foot, was plenty stimulating. And when I’d gotten my fill of miles, there was always more coffee, banana cream pie and your famous pizza that needed to be tried. Someone had to do it.

Chicago, I’m going to miss you.

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