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.
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!
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.
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.
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, and I am honestly very glad I got to find out about the mobile apps for nonprofits in this church.
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!
And then the decor and the fences all just became very Greek.
Across the street, we spotted a gem and galloped over. It was a Panhellenic Pastry Shop!
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!”
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…
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.
And then the Chicago heat got to us and things got a little weird.
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!
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!
… But I’ll leave that for another time! Look forward to part 2 soon!
Linking up with Bonnie!