When my dear friend Monica invited me on an adventure to Chicago I knew that saying, “No” would be a mistake; in college I had the best adventures with Monica. I took a 5 hour Amtrak train from Royal Oak to Chi-town and was able to relax, watch the beautiful scenery, and organize my laptop.
- Train Travel Tip #1: Bring your own food even if there is a dining car. The man running the dining car on my train had dry wit like I had never seen before; I’m pretty sure he was in the top three of the funniest men I have ever met. As hilarious as he was, he didn’t have an ounce of real food on him. After waiting for 45 minutes watching people walk out with microwaved hotdogs, mini pizzas, and chicken nuggets, I settled on a bag of peanut M&M’s and a very expensive water. On my way home I brought apples, bananas, my own water, and some left overs.
- Train Travel Tip #2: Know your final destination. Monica intended to meet me at Union Station but she was held up, for two hours. If I had known whose apartment we were staying at I could have taken the Blue line or a cab on my own but instead I was stuck. Did I mention it was two hours? I actually started to lose my mind a little. I took solace in unanswered text messages to Sammit (see the transcript images below, click to enlarge).
My new favorite place in Chicago is Vive Le Femme, a size 12-24 boutique in North Bucktown. I have never had a shopping experience like I did at this amazing store. The owner, Stephanie, shuttled us in from the rainy grey Chicago streets into a whirlwind of fabulous personality and clothing options. She shooed us into dressing rooms and tucked sweaters, dresses, and pants, through the curtain. While I was trying on a vintage peach sweater (that I ended up buying) the store filled with four more women. Stephanie was running around everywhere but she was able to keep up with me and I never felt like I was waiting on her. I was blown away that she could size me without asking what I wore. “What can I say? It’s my gift to the world,” she said, “I can size large women.” I ended up buying the peach vintage sweater, a versatile and comfortable black dress, and a pair of Ted Mosby red cowboy boots at her shoe store down the street.
We were pampered (for free) at LUSH, smelled 73 different teas (and even bought some) at the grand opening of a new David’s Tea, and if you ever find yourself at Piece Pizza I highly recommend a thin-crust white pizza with mushrooms, ricotta, and italian sausage. We saw a few shows (La Luna Negra, Sweet Bird of Youth) and ate at a few more restaurants (Tavernita, The Cheesecake Factory, Yolk).