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View of the Chicago river from our room in Hotel 71

I just got back from a short 4-day trip to Chicago with my friend and fellow blogger Eve. I’ve been dreaming of going to Chicago for years and I finally got the opportunity this past weekend. Can I just start by telling you that I will be back there and often? It is an absolutely stunning city, with gorgeous vistas whether it’s of the city’s breathtaking skyline, its beautiful river or Lake Michigan, everywhere I turned, I was confronted with a gorgeous scene.

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The distinctive S-shaped River City

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The Carbide and Carbon Building from the top floor of our hotel

I was predisposed to fall head over heels with Chicago really. With my love of modern architecture, design and food, I was in absolute heaven! Everywhere we went, there was a Mies van der Rohe building to gaze at or a delicious meal to be had. I kept bumping into things because I was walking with my head in the clouds for four days! If you are an architecture buff, then you must check out the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours. You will have a hard time choosing among the dozens of interesting tours that they offer but the Chicago river cruise is an absolute must! The guides are a great source of invaluable knowledge and the tour allows you an overview of the city and its fascinating history as well as a different point of view of the beautiful buildings from the river.

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Marina City right on the Chicago River

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The Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower

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Passing under a bridge on the Chicago River

For an even more breathtaking view, book a river view room at Hotel 71, located on Wacker Drive right on the Magnificent Mile. The rooms at Hotel 71 are contemporary and the decor sober. No flashy gimmicks here until you look out the window onto the most beautiful view of the Chicago river and the downtown core (see photo above). The Trump Tower, the Wrigley Building, Marina City and one of the many Mies van der Rohe skyscrapers were all there to greet me every time I looked out. I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous view at any time of the day or night. If you have the budget for it, the view is well worth it!

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View from the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower

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Hanging on for dear life at the Skydeck of the Willis Tower, 103 floors up in the air!

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Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park

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Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate at Millenium Park

If you have the stomach for it, the view from the Skydeck at the top of the tallest building in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sears/Willis Tower, is breathtaking! Located on the 103rd floor, the Sky Deck is essentially a glass box that juts out of the building and hangs over the city. Whatever you do, don’t look down because it is a bit dizzying even for someone like me who is not afraid of heights. From the Skydeck, you get a 360º view of the city below and all its recognizable landmarks. Millenium Park is clearly visible with the recognizable Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain and Frank Gehry designed Jay Pritzker outdoor concert hall, all must sees when you visit Chicago. Unfortunately, the Art Institute of Chicago, located right at the southern edge of Millenium Park was closed because of the NATO summit taking place in Chicago that weekend. The Museum of Contemporary Art was also closed because of NATO and so were a lot of stores and restaurants, including the Intelligentsia Coffee that was around the corner from our hotel. We did manage to get a taste of their smooth, delicious latte on our first morning only to have it heartlessly yanked away from us for the rest of the trip! Note to self: must go back to Chicago for the coffee and the museums soon!

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Love the branding and the coffee at Intelligentsia Coffee!

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Walking around the Magnificent Mile

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More Mies up in the sky! No, I am not obsessed!

One thing that was open was the Chicago Architecture Foundation, right across the street from the Art Institute. In there you will find a great museum shop – don’t you love museum shops! – and a giant model of the whole city!  Walking around the city admiring the Chicago is a big city with big buildings but it somehow feels “airy”. It might be the fact that a river runs through it, or maybe it’s because it’s right on Lake Michigan, which looks more like the ocean dotted with beautiful beaches. The streets are wide and the city is filled with green spaces. Take a subway ride around the Loop and get a close look at some of the buildings there. And when I say close, I mean *really* close! The train feels like a roller coaster careening down the tracks! It actually leans to the side whenever it turns the steep corners of the “loop” and it passes within arm’s length (arm’s length!) of certain buildings! Not for the faint of heart but such a fun ride! If you’re an architecture buff, The Loop, the Magnificent Mile and The Gold Coast are all beautiful areas of the city to walk around and admire. There are also some beautiful Mies van der Rohe buildings at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is only a few subway stops away.

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Beautiful Mies van der Rohe building at the IIT campus

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Beautiful Mies van der Rohe building at the IIT campus

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View of downtown from the IIT subway platform (35th–Bronzeville–IIT)

I started this post with the intention of telling you all about my Chicago adventures in one post but going through the hundreds of photos I’ve taken, I realize that it would be an impossible task to combine the architectural wonders of Chitown and the delicious eats in just one post. Each of the restaurants I ate at deserves a post on its own. The Purple Pig, breakfast at The Publican and Longman & Eagle, North Pond, Girl and the Goat, Aviary and of course Alinea are all outstanding and I want to really take the time to tell you all about them in detail so I hereby declare that the next week will be “Chicago week” on this blog and I am committing to another 6 food-centric Chicago posts. I hope you’ll keep reading! See you tomorrow with a post on The Purple Pig!

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Another beautiful shot from our hotel room at dusk

Hotel 71
71 East Wacker Drive
+1 312 346 7100

233 S. Wacker Drive

Millenium Park
201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Ave.
+1 312 742 1168

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E Chicago Ave
+1 312 280 2660

Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 South Michigan Avenue
+1 312 922 3432

Intelligentsia Coffee
Several locations, check the website for the one nearest you

Don’t forget to check out my Chicago Google map for more tips on this beautiful city. Click here to see all my posts on Chicago.

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