I hate when vacations are over. I always find myself thinking on and off throughout the following week something like this: "Last week at this time, I was here (fill in random place or excursion of my trip), doing this (fill in related action). Now I'm stuck back here (New Jersey, work, home), doing this (something not so fun) instead."
It doesn't help that today was a miserably yucky, humid* and rainy day in New Jersey while last Thursday was an almost spring-like day in Chicago.
*It did reach 65 degrees, which was nice, but the exchange for warm weather from cold included stickiness and a spike in allergens.
|Getting our car at the parking lot that protected it all night.**|
**Confused? Read my last post for understanding.
For the morning, we planned to do a little laid-back shopping. I'm slowly learning my shopping preferences for when I'm traveling in new cities. Though I love shopping in general (chances are I would be content shopping even in a dollar store), when I am on vacation I prefer shopping in two kinds of places: 1. Outlet Malls 2. Independent Boutiques
We managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the Fashion Outlets of Chicago on Saturday before our flight.* From the massive amount of options, we were able to find plenty of boutiques to browse around, and even had time to stop into some luxury shops with ridiculously overpriced items that we may never in our lives be able to afford, nor want to afford.**
*Note: This outlet mall had the best parking lot I have every experienced in my life. Digital signs of how many spaces are left in each area, plus a red or green light over spots to show if they were filled or not.
**Second note: I’m totally lying. If someone offered me the $500 Armani jacket I was drooling over, I’d wear that puppy in a heart-beat.
Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park was our first shopping stop. It was lined with all sorts of novelty stores and boutiques, my favorite were the Green Goddess Boutique and Laudi Vidni.
Laudi Vidni is a custom leather handbag store and I was resisting all desire to splurge on one of their 21 originally styled handbags, custom made with fabric and finish of my choice. I took one of their cards to taunt myself with and so that my inner fashionista can have something to crave for the next time we visit Chicago.
Green Goddess Boutique had everything from clothes to antiqued furniture to funky jewelry. With prices ranging from fair to crazy expensive, I managed to find myself two pieces of jewelry that will now and forever always remind me of our trip. The only thing that dragged us away was the need for coffee, and of course, pastries. (Read about it at The Orange Strainer). Here’s a sneak peak of some of our goodies:
Guess you’ll have to read the post to see what was inside…
We spent the early evening shopping along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which was basically made just for me. One whole mile of high end, low end, and every kind of designer in between--be still my heart!
I basically butchered this pretty simple name, each time choosing a different 'M' word to attach with ‘mile’. I wish I could say that they were all at least adjectives, but I'd be lying: Marvelous, Millennium, Maleficent...yeah I have memory commitment issues.
|Simplest way to spread love. Cold? Need a scarf? Take it.|
Though its crime rate is surprisingly higher than NYC (at least according to neighborhoodscout.com), the streets of Chicago had a more open and cleaner feel (which I suppose translates to me as safe). Though Hubby swears Chicago had a distinct smell to him upon exiting the airport, I felt overall that this city is doing a pretty good job at dressing to impress.
Naturally, one cannot go to Chicago without trying pizza, and as a Jersey girl it wasn’t just a ‘Should do’ it was a ‘Must do’. We ate dinner at Giordano’s, and though I’ll be blogging about it eventually let me just say this; Chicago puts up a good fight against New Jersey.*
*Don’t worry, Jersey. We still win. You already knew that, I’m sure.
Jazz Showcase was a solid ten-minute walk from Giordano’s. Any longer and this girl might’ve needed a cab because as soon as the sun went down the spring tease we had been getting all morning instantly transformed back into the brisk chill of winter.
Reviews of Jazz Showcase said to get there early for good seats, so naturally we got there early….45 minutes early. In the NYC world, 45 minutes early usually means you will get a good seat, but you might not be the first one there. In Chicago, it means you are the first one there.* The trio was still practicing, so we waited in the lobby with not only some of the staff of Jazz Showcase, but also the founder, Joe Segal, who can be found in the same spot for every show, greeting his guests as they arrive.
*It was Thursday, so perhaps weekends are different.
The ten minute wait before they opened the doors was worth it. There are two different pricings for Jazz Showcase: $25 general seating, $35 reserved. We went for the $25 seating since most of the reviews said that there isn’t really a bad seat in the house, but that you should arrive on time to actually get a seat. They were right. We were escorted in and told we could sit anywhere that didn’t have a ‘reserved’ sign. Half a dozen tables at the front of the room had reserved signs, but the cozy, over-sized couch seating four in the middle of the room was sign-less.
As we settled into our couch I was certain of two things: 1.) I was glad I had purchased the $25 tickets; 2.) I was glad we got there early.
Wouldn’t it have stunk to have to sit on a boring ordinary chair for $10 more when there was an open opportunity to sit on a comfy couch?
Going to a Jazz club always spells love for me because Hubby has a deep, deep hate for the genre in general. This always makes me sad because in another life I would have been a jazz pianist, I’m sure.
Our entertainment for the night was pianist Chuchito Valdes accompanied by bass and drums. I’m always amazed at how these three instruments can blend to make such a smooth, enjoyable sound. As a violinist, I’m fascinated by bass players. Most of the time they aren’t the spotlight, but when they are they shine by covering the neck of their instrument with stretches of their fingers I didn’t know were humanely possible. Towards the end of the performance Valdes played a solo with such a combination talent and emotion that the room was frozen for just that moment in time, awestruck with the place he had taken us and the saddened stillness he was able to convey.