I had to get an emergency wax done. On my legs. It was 115 degrees according to the pilot when we landed, but it was probably around 100 + Chicago humidity. I'd brought a ton of stuff with me from LA, but didn't expect not to wear even my lightest clothing. Everything I had was getting kinda sticky from the humidity. It wasn't so much the heat, it was the feeling in the air. So, right off train #2, I saw a place that offered nailcare and wax related services. I dropped in and they took me as a walk in. My plan was to just pick up some skirts or shorts from Express or somthing after getting it done, so I was stoked it was right there inside the train station - literally the first store I saw when I walked inside.
Okay, my first complaint is that they missed several spots and strips on my legs. SEVERAL. It was embarrasing because I didn't notice until later when I was having lunch somewhere on Madison Avenue. Besides it being really embarrasing, I was really upset that they could be so careless about waxing someone's legs that they would miss something like that. Wouldn't recommend at all. Ever.
I live in Los Angeles. Anyone who's visited here or been here for any length of time either without a car or visiting as a tourist can definitely attest to the fact that the public transportation here is seriously lacking. The buses are never on time, you wouldn't want to ride them anyway and the trains / subway system are not widely used because the stations are spread out so far apart. For the first time, I had the opportunity to experience the EL train in Chicago. It was very cool! An attendant gets off the train to sell you tickets at your stop or you can pay when they roam the cars (It's $2 extra). The cost is very nice compared to what you'd pay if you wanted to drive to Wacker Blvd and wander about the Taste for a day. Or roam up to the Art Institute of Chicago and tour downtown all morning. I think I paid $6 for a round trip ticket and took one of the free trolleys to the Taste as well as the Art Museum (among other things). Later that week, I had to meet someone there and missed a train so I drove up and parked under Wacker Drive. By the time I'd left (comprable to the amount of time I'd spent the other days I spent in downtown Chicago) I incured around $17 or so in parking fees. Also figure in the cost of gas, as well. That's around $15 I could have spent on little replicas of FLW stained glass windows.... :P
PROS: inexpensive, efficient, effortless
I was invited to the 2nd to last show of a local band who's pending breakup was to be announced during this particular show at the Cubby Bear, which is exactly caddy -corner to Wrigley Field right on the edge of Boy's Town. I had a pretty good time and it's a shame the band isn't going to be playing anymore because they sounded pretty good. I think the location of the stage, lighting and systems work really well for anyone who might have the opportunity to play there in the future. During their sound checks, someone put on a movie which could pretty much be seen from any location in the bar - there are large flat screen televisions lining the walls so you could look to your left or right while still being faithful to your fav band. The drinks there were strong, which is how I like them. Besides a Cider or Ale, I had one Long Island or something similarly alcoholic and I was done for the night. The bar keep was attentive and I didn't have to wait a long time or jump around to be noticed as he seemed to be able to keep tabs on whoever was 'next' to order. All in all, it was an awesome night and Cubby Bear sets the stage for good times.
PROS: stage sound & lighting perfect, drink cost good, tvs all around
I joined a group of friends and my hosts to the Body Works exibit at the Museum of Science & Industry sometime a few weeks ago and want to note a few things that made the trip and experience very positive and highly recommended. The layout of the museum lends well to those who get lost easily. The parking was automated and you could pay without every talking to an attendant using your credit card or cash. The cafeteria was chock full of options to choose from and had every kind of food well represented, like the United Nations of food courts. I had a cup of soup, crackers, water and a salad. It was actually quite good and I was very pleased with the quality of service. There were people in clearly designated clothes walking around asking those who looked as if they wanted for help what they were looking for. They were helpful in assisting us as we'd purchased the tickets for the exibit online and were not sure if the cost of entrance to the museum was included. Also, the exibit was open much later than the museum which allowed for lots of walking around time. Usually exibits aren't open later at night and you have to be out by 4 or 5ish, which seems rediculous if it's something of interest mainly for adults. I appreciated their foresight. The cost of the exibit did in fact include entrance to the museum and saved us around $7 each and this was without a 'group' rate. I would recommend the museum to anyone who just wants a positive museum experience in Chicago.
Okay, so a part of my rating was that it was so hot on the boat during my tour that I was one of the only folks not under the awning during the tour. Which sort of defeats the purpose of going on an architectural tour on a river. It didn't help that they were out of water and only had soda and alcohol to drink, either. The tour guide reminded me of one of the leads in the Rocky Horror Picture show, but without all the makeup and net stockings. She did have the scary out of place attitude, however. Some of the tour highlights included the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, NBC Tower, Centennial Fountain and Lake Point Tower. We circled the river twice and she kept forgetting some of the buildings. We could tell. It was embarrasing, but the tour wasn't too expensive @ $19 for the 60 minute run (The Chicago River Architecture Tour). There is also a 90-min Combined Lake and River Tour for the same price. It's $19 for adults, $17 for seniors and $10 for children. They also have a tour called Chicago at Sunset, which probably would have been more appropriate given the weather the first days of my trip. It's $21, $19 and $11 for kids.
The best time to go to this museum is during a weekday. Take your kids out of school so they know it's a special day and show them the fun sights at this museum. They have "Sue" the dinosaur exhibit as well as other exhibits on different cultures including Pacific Islander, African and Japanese. I thoroughly enjoyed the PI exhibit and spent at least an hour there just looking at the plant life, clothes and elaborately set up exhibits that gives you a great view into how it all comes together. That's why it's great for kids - they can visually see how thing are or were and can then look for themselves (if the exhibits pique their interests) at the placards or descriptions that give them more information.
PROS: fun for kids and adults alike
CONS: expensive parking
I don't think it's easy for the folks who rent cars at chain rental places. I'm sure it's difficult to get the cars in and out, meet the needs of each person that walks into the door and get all the information they need. I think that Enterprise should set up and easier way of communicated with each of it's "Independently owned and operated stores". I've also had this experience in California and Nevada. You call their 800 reservation line (which is located in Mexico or Hoboken or India or something) and get what you want allocated at the location you plan on walking into. It's supposed to make everything easier, but it only complicates things. For example - I am under 25 so some stores charge up to18.99 a day for each day I rent the car. Other stores do not charge at all and others around 5 or 10 dollars per day. The particular location I went into told me that the 800 number didn't give me the correct information and that I was going to be charged $5 per day more for being 24 for the 11 days I was renting the car. After asking for a manager, calling the 800 line, where they gave HIM the wrong info, they offered to give me the rate the reservation centre quoted me. In the end, they resolved the issue with complete ease despite the situation for me. But the problem still needs to be solved, so I am giving enterprise a 3-star rating.
PROS: great rates, great service @ locations
CONS: reservation line has wrong info about locations
I had the opportunity to go on a few tours while in Chicago that were in the higher price range and threatened to tote us around on a bus while peering from dingy windows in 115-degree weather. I passed, but didn't give up the search for a decent tour and while I was in one of the Chicago Architecture Foundation Store I found these little cards with their lists of tours including the sites that would be visited, cost and hours. It was perfectly concise and professional compared to the other tours I had to choose from. I would recommend the Downtown Deco or Architecture of Culture and Commerce tour if you really want to be impressed. I definitely was. There were others, but I didn't have the time to go and see them because of previously made plans, but if I did I would have absolutely gone on the others as well. The also have the Historic Skyscrapers (1885-1935), the Modern Skyscrapers (1950's-present), Millennium Park and Happy Chicago tour. They are all moderately priced as well at around $12 each.
PROS: thorough, professional, official
Trekking around Chicago with touristy purchases like Frank Lloyd Wright's mini stained glass windows, Chicago coasters and Culver Freezes' teddy bears isn't a lot of fun if you don't have that extra piece of luggage you KNOW you're going to need once you've finally finished your vacation shopping. I spent at least three days looking in Macy's and other department stores for some sort of sturdy tote carry-on sized situation, but couldnt find anything that was exactly what I was looking for. I was walking across the street to get to the parking below Michigan Avenue from the Taste and directly ahead of me was a luggage store that said, "We've got the bag you're looking for". Dude.
So, I went in and started looking around and an older woman who was surprisingly helpful, sprightly and chipper asked me what I was looking for (see above). She took me to the oversized totes for walkers and travelers, the section for duffle bags in pink and powder blue and showed me a few back packs that were not my style but fit what I was looking for in size and color. She was so helpful and non-pushy that I actually felt perfectly okay with opening the bags, putting my hand in to feel the fabrics and check to see how many inner pockets they had. It was very chill / no pressure compared to other luggage stores where they kind of hover over you and the luggage seems more like a piece of art on display - not to be touched, please - than something you might actually be interested in lugging on a plane.
So if you're somewhere around Michigan Avenue in the Chicago area and need an extra carry on, purse, backpack and/or rolling luggage set I would drop in and see what they might have for you, as well.
PROS: friendly, no pressure environment
Of every attraction in Los Angeles and Orange County, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is by far my very favorite place to visit, read and take folks from out of town to visit. Without giving away the magic of the Gardens, I can tell you that even if you only have a few hours and visit only two or three of their gardens you will not be disappointed. Having just added a new place to house more art, The Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art donated a number of pieces to the already refined collection. You can find a photo and description of each peice here: http://emuseum.huntington.org/code/emuseum.asp. They house the famous Gainsborough's Blue Boy and Lawrence's Pinkie. Honestly, I should simply purchase a membership as I tend to visit many, many times a year when friends are in out of town as well as impromtu visits when I'm looking for a place to clear my head.
Spring and Summer are a wonderful time to go, at the peak of the Garden's beauty. This is not to take away from the majestic sight of the gardens in and of themselves - they are certainly a sight to behold. The best time to go is Sunday morning, if you have one to spare. There are less people and this works well if you'd like to get a table in the Tea Room or take your time perusing the Galleries. They recently added a children's area, although I think the Gardens were already well suited for little ones before. It is appropriately named: Children's Garden. There are classes and arts and crafts, as well.
Walking around the grounds is a source of endless delight for me and I often wander around taking in the sights, smelling the scented air and taking black and white photos of the giant trees or trying to get a still of a bird or lizard or giant gold fish.
Wear comfortable shoes and light fabrics. I wear tennis shoes and a pair of my more comfortable and light slacks (as opposed to jeans or shorts) and a polo or something short sleeved. Also, stash a small water
PROS: Great excersise! With the back drop of the beautiful gardens, you could walk for hours and feel that not a lot of time has passed.
CONS: No Cons!