After more than enough days sitting in a beige conference room somewhere in the city, I decided that a weekend of a great void would be more than alluring. All I knew was that we’d stay over in Chicago; we didn’t quite know where; we’d get to that then. The lake was a draw, but I’d wandered over to the Navy Pier one afternoon after work. The chain restaurants, the hawkers for boat tours, the long line for post cards at the souvenir store signaled that I wouldn’t need to visit again any time soon. We’d already been to the Art Institute.
Through the miracle of Priceline, the Brawny Sherpa and I ended up at the Fairmont Chicago. In our room, I looked out at the view. We had a view. The Priceline deals don’t always earn us those. “There are tents in that park,” I said. “There must be a festival. Let’s go there.”
We took a little detour for lunch on the sidewalk at Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush Steakhouse. I learned that restaurants like to serve salad in jars. I learned that farro seems to be the grain of choice in Chicago, because it was the third time that I’d seen it on a menu in as many days, and the second time that I ordered it. I probably don’t need to eat it again.
I learned that the Purple Pig is always quite busy. I learned that brides and prom dates like to be photographed in the park. I learned that if you just act sufficiently confident and have a brawny enough sherpa at your side that you can land in front-row seats on a weekend night at the Chicago Blues Festival.
I learned that just by looking, and without so much as making a preparatory mark on my calendar or ordering a ticket or reading a guide, I could have the best time in Chicago of all.