That Toddlin’ Town

Chicago was kind of on my skip list; the city didn’t really call to me. But Lou, our summer roommate from Paris, France (believe me that’s a side story of happenstance), wanted to visit Chicago before she went back home. And here I was, having lived three hours from Chicago my entire life, and yet I’d never been there.

I had two conditions 1) I in no way whatsoever did I want to drive in Chicago. 2) I would be allowed to shamelessly sing Frank Sinatra’s song “Chicago” during our visit. (I resorted to humming it quietly.)

And so we went! One Parisian and two Indiana girls.

Chicago is Chicago. Millions of people have been there. But I want take note of a few things.

1. The Museum of Science and Industry has a mouse in their IMAX Theater.

2. Old St. Patrick’s Church – I don’t care if you’re a Catholic or an Atheist. Take a minute to step off the tourist attraction map trap and into Old St. Patrick’s. It’s the epitome of Celtic art.We only went to Sunday mass there because of my obsession with Ireland; but we really struck it lucky at St. Patrick’s.

The church is one of the oldest buildings in the city, having narrowly escaped the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The windows, the ceiling, the statues, and every inch of the church represent the finest Celtic art in America. And it was all done by a Chicago artist named Thomas O’Shaughnessy. (I can’t get over how Irish his name is; the only thing that would make it better is if his first name were Sean.)

The parishioners at St. Patrick’s were so welcoming. I mean to the extent they had us take up the offering gifts in the middle of mass and announced we were visiting from Indy and Paris. After mass a half a dozen people came up to us to see if they had guessed correctly which one of us was from France. Each of them shared a little something about the history and architecture of the church they call home. (They do give tours of the church, so if you’re not going for mass that may be worth looking into.)

3. Thanks to Lou, I learned that in France it is the norm to have sweets for breakfast. We didn’t stay at a French hotel, but they opted for a breakfast spread of sweets. Sweets for breakfast are against my code. I stifled my longing for biscuits and gravy on the trip but I’d like to advocate mandatory complementary biscuits and gravy at all hotels.

Aside from that, I don’t understand the bean in Millennial Park; it’s the epicenter of vanity as far I’m concerned. I discovered I love calling on the hotel phone for the valet to bring up our car. And elevators can go a lot faster than I thought they could.

~L.H.