A very ethnic Memorial Day Weekend, Part I

A friend from UM came into town for Memorial Day weekend and I was overjoyed, seeing as how the most social I’ve been lately is with my cat after my night shift at work. After spending a night touring the good eats of my hometown, we rose early the next morning to catch the Metra into Chicago’s Union Station.

We just didn’t foresee that the entire town would have exactly the same idea that we did.

Naperville Metra Stop IL IMG_8685

Spotted: a group of typical girls from my hometown who demonstrate that high-waisted shorts COULD get even worse after only one season. Those extended v-cuts at the side… let’s not be coy here. Why cover your butt at all these days? Be even more progressive and let it all hang out!

Naperville Metra Stop IL

Authentic Instagram: a photo taken from inside the tinted windows of the Metra. Shoeless man not included. It seems like the only reason he was at the train stop was to charge his phone.

Metra BSNF Chicago

As much as I like train travel, I wanted nothing more than to get off this train. Only a 45-minute journey, staying in an area so crowded with high schoolers in their skimpiest beach-ready outfit was not very desired. The only godsend about being on that train was that we found 4 seats immediately—4 seats that seemed like the last free seats on the train! The train quickly became overheated because of the bodies crowding the aisles and the stairs and the windows started fogging up.

We got off the train and sped off to our first neighborhood—the only other neighborhood we’d explore that day since time management is not one of our strong suits—: Greektown. We only had 2 hours after all; although we’d been best friends for 4 years, our parents met for the first time this weekend in Chinatown for dim sum brunch.

Greektown was chosen because of its proximity to Chicago’s Union Station, only about a 7 minute walk by foot. But first, photos of Union Station head house. A head house, as Google tells me, is not the part of the station where the trains pass through, but where the ticket counters, waiting rooms, and large passenger terminal is usually at. For me, the one in the Union Station reminds me of so many 80’s and 90’s romantic comedies where they wait for each other during the dramatic climax. An example of this would be My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Chicago Union Station

Chicago Union Station ceiling Chicago Union Station stairs

As you take the stairs up to Canal Street, you can see the grooves that countless passengers have worn into the stairs. Given that it opened in 1925, which means its 100th anniversary is right around the corner, these grooves show the union station’s age!

While we skipped and hopped our way to Greektown, we bumped into this gorgeous church, St. Patrick’s Church. If you noticed the name having something in common with a certain notorious Irish holiday, you’re right! This building is sometimes known as the cornerstone of Irish culture in Chicago—and Chicago has quite a large Irish population. It turns out that Europe isn’t the only place where churches are the most historic or beautifully designed buildings (in an old style kind of way). This church has been through a lot, existing as one of few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire.

oldest church chicago

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Now, Greektown is located across the highway down Adams Street along Halsted Street. The Chicago neighborhoods are a little elusive sometimes in that you don’t really know where the boundaries of specific ethnic neighborhoods are… you just know that you’re in it! How can you tell you’re in the ethnic neighborhood if you don’t exactly know where the boundaries are? Well, bilingual signs start cropping up everywhere. It’s also easy to stumble out of a neighborhood, so make sure you don’t accidentally walk out!

chicago highway

Greek bilingual Walgreens sign

And then the decor and the fences all just became very Greek.

Chicago Greektown fence pattern Chicago Greektown street

Across the street, we spotted a gem and galloped over. It was a Panhellenic Pastry Shop!

Panhellenic Pastry Shop Greektown Chicago Panhellenic Pastry Shop Greektown Chicago We stepped inside and was greeted by the cutest little pasty shop ever! Most of the decor was wood and behind the windows were lines and lines of small Greek treats! Unfortunately, we were saving our stomachs for dim sum so we walked out, looking back all the way.

As we exited, we spotted yet another store we had to check out. At the top, in chalk, were the words “food market.”

“Do you think it’s really a food market or do you think it’s one of those dinky little stores?” I asked my friend. She shrugged.
“No idea. Let’s go inside and check it out!”

Greek Food Market Greektown Chicago

It turned out to be one of those dinky little stores. But I got a water bottle and a free olive out of our visit! After stumbling on a mini column, we paused for a bit of a photoshoot. Things quickly got silly… IMG_8729 IMG_8734

We wanted to explore a little more but it was time for us to meet the parents in Chinatown. How were we going to get there? By water taxi, of course! Chicago has this one company called the Chicago Water Taxi that offers an extremely affordable option to tour Chicago along the river at a fixed price. On the weekends, it’s $10 for a day’s worth of taxi rides. On the weekday, it’s only $8. I would recommend using it on the weekdays not only because of the price, but because there are simply more stops to be made. We didn’t know this at the time, but the Goose Island stop was only offered during weekdays… to my disappointment.

Chicago Water Taxi Schedule Chicago Water Taxi Ticket

Chicago Water Taxi with city skyline IMG_8765

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And then the Chicago heat got to us and things got a little weird.

IMG_8759 It was a perfect day to sail down the Chicago river! And apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought so. We saw a variety of people on their yachts, boats, kayaks, whatever mode of water transportation you could afford. I mean, for a view of this skyline, I don’t blame them!

Chicago Skyline

yachts along the chicago river kayaking down the chicago river I’m not sure where my boating obsession started, but given that I’m scared of open water, it’s a bit of a strange obsession! Although I’ve never been on a cruise, I love the idea of sailing across any body of water… or being on a boat in general! I’d love to participate in Yacht Week one day, although I’m unsure of when I’ll have the time or money to splurge like that. Sad face.

All too soon, we arrived at the Chinatown dock. It literally looked like a gateway into Chinatown!

Chinatown Tom Ping Park Chicago … But I’ll leave that for another time! Look forward to part 2 soon!

Linking up with Bonnie!

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  • http://snowintromso.com/ Van @ Snow in Tromso

    I’ve always wanted to visit Chicago (okay since I’ve seen MTV’s Underemployed but still). It seems to be a fascinating city with all the skyscrapers on the one and the river (and I believe there are beaches too?!) on the other hand….

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      HAHAHA I don’t think I’VE ever seen that show! Yeah, to me, I think it’s one of the state’s best larger cities… it has a perfect mix of business skyscrapers with the beach just a quick walk away! I guess all that’s missing is New York’s central park…

  • http://theladyerrant.com/ Elle

    Loved your shorts commentary. Have you seen the teenagers in the high-waisted shorts and cropped half shirts yet? Facepalm. Oh, trends. And I totally love being on boats too, but I definitely have a swimming/water phobia. It’s weird, but I’ll still never turn down a boat ride.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      YES! Clothing stores now pass it off as “festival wear” but that is in no way what I want to see on a normal day. I have a water phobia too! I remember realizing it while snorkeling in Cancun one day… it was terrifying…

  • http://www.tothedayslikethis.com/ Sammy @ Days Like This

    What a fun day! I LOL’d at your pic of shoeless man charging his phone, sometimes you just gotta use your phone. Also, how bad are trains when they are full of people and body heat is soaring!? That is my ride to work on the tube everyday. I love boats as well! I come from a big boaty family though, so I know where my love comes from! :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Oh man, I was lucky not to experience the tube when it was that crowded… that must be terrible! Haha does your family own a boat or a yacht?! Ultimate dream right there…

  • http://foodloveandlifeblog.blogspot.com Jennifer Smith

    So awesome! I visited an ex-boyfriend in Chicago twice, but we definitely didn’t venture far out of the Lakeside / Lincoln Park area. Too bad. I’d love to try some Chicago Chinatown dim sum!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Haha, as a native, I haven’t really ventured far from that area either! I’ve been exploring downtown for over 7 years but seem to always find myself on Michigan Avenue or Jackson headed to Millennium Park…. embarrassing!

  • Foreign Geek

    It’s like reading a photo diary. I love it! Water taxi’s color is iconic eh?!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Hahaha, thanks :) you could say that :p

  • Arman @ thebigmansworld

    Wow, all this is in your home town? Man I need to visit Chicago! Can’t wait for recap 2! I laugh whenever I save up your posts to read- they are all over the place- which is awesome! I see the next one is about the Sahara….

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Mishfish13

      Yeah you definitely should! … To explore the city too :p