Sunday, July 26, 2009

Shhh... the baby is sleeping!

Sugar is so funny when he's still tired in the morning. He's sort of like Tony. He'll find something to burrow his head under until he's ready to come out again. He laid on the couch sleeping like this for almost an hour this morning!

The View from the Marriott

After the Annapolis Institute conference ended, I moved down Michigan Ave to the Marriott on Magnificent Mile for the ACT Conference. All of these pictures are our view from the room. I was also thrilled to be on a floor that used the back bank of elevators! The last time that I was here and was on a floor serviced by the main elevator bank, it was normal to wait 20 minutes for an elevator!!! The hotel lobby and meeting room area had also been completely renovated since I was last here two years ago. I love the new look!

You can see the Sears Tower to the left!

And the Chicago Tribune building to the right!

Fun in Millenium Park

So, on the last night of the first conference, I decided to take a walk in the city and ended up in Millennium Park. I absolutely love that area of Chicago.

While there, I of course visited "The Bean." It's an outdoor art piece made from steel by a British artist. The artist actually named it Cloud Gate, but everyone in Chicago refers to it as "The Bean." Although odd, I actually think that it's quite beautiful especially with the way the Chicago skyline refects in it.

After that, I walked over to the face fountains. There are two fountains made of 50 ft glass block towers located on each end of a shallow wading pool. They photographed over 1,000 residents for these faces. Once every 5 minutes or so the faces begin spouting water from their mouths. It's really neat to see all of the kids and even adults playing in the wading pool! The night that I was there, they actually had a Chinese martial arts group in full costume on the edge of the pool doing a demonstration so I actually sat and watched them for a while.

I then began walking back to my hotel and decided to stop at Giordano's for some of Chicago's famous stuffed pizza. It was the same night as the All-Star Game, so it was great place to sit and watch the game. Plus the pizza was absolutely delicious!!!!! Too bad I could only eat two slices!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Boat Ride Through Downtown

Last night, the participants in this conference took a boat trip up the Michigan River that runs from Lake Michigan and up through downtown Chicago. It was absolutely gorgeous to float by all of these incredible buildings and learn their history. I did the boat tour that goes out on the lake when I was here a few years ago. I highly recommend both of them!
This is the new Trump hotel and condo building that is going in right in the heart of downtown Chicago on Michigan Ave where it crosses over the river. It's an enormous building and absolutely gorgeous. I remember admiring it when I was here a few years ago and they had just started on it. The penthouse sold for something like $48 million.

Views from the Swissotel

Sunday evening, our first evening here, we had a cocktail reception on the 43rd floor of this building. The room was absolutely gorgeous and surrounded by floor to ceiling windows. I could definitely get used to a view like this!
If you look closely, you can see Navy Pier and the ferris wheel off in the distance in both pictures.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

First Trip for SLU!

And it's to Chicago! I absolutely love Chicago. It's such a gorgeous city. I arrived at the airport of what I thought was plenty of time and normally it is. However, this was apparently not a normal day for Southwest! Thirty-five minutes before my flight was set to leave, I had to lie to a mom and her daughters whose flight was leaving almost two hours after mine that we had gotten a flat tire on the way to airport and I begged to cut in line so that I could check my bags in time. Then the security line was at a standstill! I made it to the gate with nine minutes to spare!

Once I arrived at the Swissotel here in Chicago right in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, I checked my baggage and set off for a walk up and down Michigan Ave and then off to lunch. I know that it's a little sad to eat a chain restaurant while in Chicago, but I can't help it! I love Corner Bakery. I will say that after having the pretzel bread at Nadoz in St. Louis, I think that it may be better than the pretzel bread at Corner Bakery.

My hotel - the Swissotel in Chicago.

View from the front of my hotel:

View from my room - I have a corner room where three sides are nothing but floor to ceiling windows. From one half, I have a view of Lake Michigan, the harbor with all of the sailboats, and the Planetarium. The other half has a view of the river front and Michigan Ave.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bill's House of Pancakes

So, this morning Tony and I were able to enjoy a late breakfast together at a place that he's been dying to bring me to - Bill's House of Pancakes.

This was the first thing that I saw when I walked in the door:
I considered walking back out!

They had every type of pancake that you can imagine - even ones topped with fudge! We've actually tried to go before, but the line was out the door! We went at 11:30 today and still had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. I don't get it. I found the food to be too buttery and greasy for my taste. I will say that Tony's pecan pancakes were pretty yummy!

Chase Park Plaza

The Chase Park Plaza is one of the nicest if not the nicest hotel in St. Louis. It's an absolutely incredible hotel with several restaurants, bars, and even a movie theatre inside. They even sell some of the suites as apartments! Jean and I decided to check out the movie theatre there Friday night and then enjoyed a drink in the pool area. After that, it was pizza time on the rooftop deck!

Just wanted to share some pictures of this gorgeous hotel! Oh, and George Clooney was staying in the penthouse for several months while filming a movie here in St. Louis.

Zig Zag

For whatever reason, Sugar's groomer decided to try a new part this time instead of the traditional straight part down the middle. I guess now we'll have to specify!

Chalkboards in bathrooms

I just don't get it, but this is the third time that we've seen a bathroom covered in chalkboard with chalk available! This time, it was in one of our favorite breakfast places - Soulard Coffee Garden. Tony and I had a little extra time one morning before work, so we stopped by and enjoyed breakfast together.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Hill

Last night, we dined on The Hill which is the Italian district here in St. Louis. One of the interesting things about St. Louis is that if you know the color schemes of the fire hydrants then you can always know which neighborhood of St. Louis City that you're in. Before this, I had never seen anything except for red fire hydrants! Here they vary by neighborhood. In The Hill, they are painted to look like the Italian flag. In Soulard where we live, they're black with silver caps; in mid-town where SLU is located they happen to be the SLU colors - blue with white caps. Just thought that I'd share that little tidbit with you if you ever decide to visit St. Louis!

Dinner last night was at Mama Campisi's which was divine! I had the pollo spedini which was incredible and Tony had the seafood pasta. He was excited to see real shrimp! You have to understand, most of the shrimp is absolutely tiny and you're lucky to get two pieces which your entree! His seafood pasta last night not only had large shrimp, but there were also six of them plus a crawfish! This is only the second of the Italian restaurants on The Hill that we've tried which is a little odd since Italian is a favorite for both of us. The food at Mama Campisi's was better, but Zia's (the other Italian restaurant that we've tried) was much prettier and had a nicer atmosphere. The service at Mama Campisi's was also fantastic. Our waiter was great! Next up will be Rigazzi's which is the oldest restaurant on The Hill and was also recently voted by the City Guide as the best on The Hill.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

I hope that everyone is getting their fill of BBQ today as we celebrate our nation's 233 birthday! I figured that I'd share some pictures of an iconic US landmark in honor of the 4th of July. We were hoping to enjoy the fireworks by the Arch tonight, but it doesn't look like the weather is going to cooperate. It's finally stopped raining, but there's still heavy clouds in the area.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Mighty Mississippi

Tony took these pictures of the downtown river front area, so I thought that I'd share. Beautiful, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's already July?

Yes, I was shocked this morning when I realized that indeed - it was already July. I have no idea where the last few months have gone. Anyway, Sugar has found a new way to entertain himself. If you leave the shower door open, he hops in and makes himself comfortable! One day I'm going to turn the shower on just to see what he does!