After a year like 2012, one filled with exotic vacations near and unbelievable vacations far plus solo trips and all that jazz, I had to do something memorable to usher in 2013. So, using the New Years weekend as an excuse, my friend Meagan and I jetted off to Chicago to visit a longtime friend.
When Meagan and I first visited Chicago in October 2011, we instantly fell in love with the city. I was drawn to the huge skyscrapers and dense downtown, the charming people and the laid-back vibe. It’s culturally rich, too. Filled with museums and music of all kinds, the city is also known for excellent food, making it practically a playground for everything I love.
For our New Years weekend in Chicago we stayed in the Wrigleyville neighborhood, in the city’s North Side, near Wrigley Stadium. The neighborhood is known for its nightlife, specifically the row of bars surrounding the stadium and along Clark Street. During baseball season, several bars offer rooftop bleacher seats that peer into the stadium with all-you-can-eat and drink specials. (We’re already hoping to return in the spring to partake in this!) We experienced the crowds of Clark Street on our first night in town. Despite the bone-chilling, 10-degree cold, the streets were packed with people going from bar to bar, and stopping to eat at the pizza shops and late night eateries.
The next day I took advantage of Chicago’s music scene with a symphony performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The New Year’s Eve concert, called Salute to Vienna, featured ballet dancers and an opera duo. Similar Salute to Vienna concerts were simultaneously performed in cities all around the country as part of an annual tradition. The symphony was magnificent; unfortunately, the ballet dancers and opera duo were not. The soprano struggled to hit her high notes, practically yelling the notes at some points, while the tenor could barely be heard. (Although the Symphony Center is known to have acoustical issues.)
To ring in the new year, we joined together with friends of our friend at the Barrelhouse Flat, a bar in the Lincoln Park neighborhood that’s made a name with its creative cocktails. Our group had a private room complete with a pool table, velvet lounge chairs and all-you-can-drink cocktails (for $150/person) that made for a fun, yet comfortable, New Year’s Eve. That is, until we tried to find a cab at 2:30 a.m. in 6 degree weather. But that’s a whole other story by itself!