Playing Hookey

There’s a time and a place to act like a functional adult, to weigh your options and make careful decisions, to plan for the future, to fulfill your responsibilities, to exercise and eat healthy and get a reasonable amount of sleep.

And then there are times when you skip your workouts, take the day off of work, and go exploring.

Today belongs firmly in that latter category.


 

After lunch, Jay and I drove down to the Loop for the first time. We started off in Millennium Park, the heart of the Loop and the center of Christmas activity in Chi-Town.

Even though I’ve seen plenty of pictures of the Bean at Cloud Gate, it was still cool to see it in person, on a bright sunny day, reflecting the skyline and clouds.

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From Millennium Park, we headed to Daley Plaza for Christkindlmarket, a German-inspired Christmas-themed open air market. Most of the little shops sold knickknacks and Christmas ornaments, with food stalls scattered between them. We didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to see all the beautiful decorations, including some epic hand-carved dragon bookends. The best part was the food: apple strudel, hot spiced cider, and Jay’s first currywurst. (Currywurst is one of those foods that sounds awful but somehow turns out to be deliciously satisfying.)

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After the German market, we ducked into Block 37, the shopping center next to Daley Plaza to warm up because it was literally freezing out. Like every other public place in downtown Chicago, this mall also had exhibition space, including a small gallery called the “Chicago Design Museum” and a quirky exhibit on the history of encased meats at the “Foodseum.”

Next, we walked over to the Chicago French Market, a year-round indoor market with a grocery store and a variety of food vendors. Most of the stores are owned by French people or are French-inspired but there’s a smattering of American and Asian flavors too. There were a handful of things I wanted to try but we kept it simple: “l’original” – a crepe with sugar and butter, and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

After I finished my coffee and Jay summarized the plot of all three original Star Wars movies for me, we headed back in the direction of Millennium Park. On our way, we stopped at Pierogie Heaven, a little Polish restaurant in the theater district, for kielbasa and (surprise!) pierogies with sour cream. We made it back to The Bean in time to for caroling. We sang along with the Chicago Choral Artists for all our favorites – White Christmas, Jingle Bells, and Silent Night, among others.

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We drove home just as it started to snow, a light flurry along the lake shore.

Silver bells, silver bells. It’s Christmas time in the city…

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