Tuesday, July 05, 2005
On this day:

Back from Chicago

I had a great trip to Chicago over the weekend. Good food, good beer, good weather, and good company. Even learned a few things while I was there:

It may be kinda tricky, very uncomfortable, and possibly illegal, but it is altogether possible to fit 8 passengers into a cab.

If you happen to venture into a late-night Mexican restaurant and don't remember much from Spanish 101, here's a word of advice: be sure you know what's in the lengua tacos before you order them.

The Goose Island brewery tour is a great bargain. For $3, you get a brief tour of the brewery, followed by an introduction to the beer-making process and a sampling of about 8 different beers...plus a free pint glass with the Goose Island logo. Can't beat that.

The nighttime view from the Signature Room Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building never gets old. It's a must-see. The drinks are expensive, but the experience is unbeatable.

A supermarket-sized store full of wine, beer, and liquor...we really need one of these in Alabama.

If you bank with Southtrust (soon to be Wachovia), be sure to call them anytime you go out of town. On my second night in Chicago, my debit card was declined at a local restaurant, and it turned out that I couldn't use it for the rest of the trip. Apparently, Southtrust had detected "suspicious activity" and had deactivated my card. I called the number on the back, only to be directed to a computerized woman who told me to call back during regular office hours - Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. Luckily, I had another credit card and a friend who loaned me a little cash until I got things straightened out today.

Taste of Chicago, the annual food/music festival by the lake in Grant Park, is definitely worth visiting, but only if you can handle big crowds. Two of the most interesting things I ate were the pierogies from Kasia's Deli and the Zam Zam restaurant's mutton biryan (goat with basmati rice, spices, and saffron). Not baaaaad. Topped off with a slice or two of Chicago-style deep dish pizza and some pork barbecue, it all made for a nice little snack.

Of all the big cities I've been to, I have to say that Chicago is one of the friendliest. This was my fourth time there, and every trip has been great. Plus, Southwest will get you there cheap. What more can you ask?