I spent 5 full days in Chicago last week for work and play, although the work part of my trip could be classified as play. My company sent me and about 20 other internet marketing consultants from around the midwest to Chicago for a couple of days for an event they called the Graduates Club. We were chosen because of our monthly revenue or our “books of business” and they wanted to thank us for our hard work. It was essentially my company’s way of thanking us for the panic, stress & anxiety that we deal with every single day with our clients and prospects. I’ll take it!
They had us staying at the Peninsula, one of the nicest hotels in Chicago and literally 10 steps away from Michigan Ave. The company kicked off the two-day wine & dine event with appetizers and drinks in the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock building. The views from this room were incredible and it was actually really nice to be in a social setting with other reps in my company and just talk about business, life and rub elbows with some of the higher-ups in my company. Please ignore the fact that I was literally stalking the nice people who were walking around with the trays of appetizers. The food was amazing. After appetizers and drinks in the Signature Room we headed to a restaurant called Joe’s Seafood, a well known restaurant in the city that serves the most amazing, you guessed it, seafood. I proceeded to eat my face off with the trays of crab, lobster & shrimp at our table and finished the night off with an enormous filet. I think about 10 bottles of wine graced our table alone. We headed to the bar for one more drink after dinner and swapped “war stories” of the day-to-day of our jobs and discussed funny experiences with the clients we deal with everyday. It was a blast. When the group decided at about 12:30pm to head to a bar called McFaddens, a bar I have frequently visited in my visits to Chicago over the years I knew that was my cue to head back to the hotel. Good call.
The pampering continued the following morning where we were able to choose a spa service at the Peninsula. I had a wonderful one hour massage followed by taking full advantage of the women’s locker room with an amazing steam room & shower. Our final stop on our graduate club trip was a late lunch at Gino’s East. We stuffed our faces with deep dish pizza and said our goodbyes. I however, had convinced my area director to make my flight home on Sunday so that I could spend the rest of the weekend seeing my bestie Ashley Curtis Lynn.
Ash and I met up on Thursday night after she was done with work for another amazing meal at a great little restaurant called Gilt Bar. Are you seeing a theme to my trip yet? There was a lot of eating! As usual, I over ordered but Ash and I shared a wonderful bottle of wine, dinned on delicious food and soaked up every single minute of being in the same city together! Friday, while Ash was at work I spent some time walking the streets of Chicago and thanks to Google maps walking directions, I had a beautiful brunch at a place called “Toast” and walked my way to the biggest Whole Foods I have ever been to in my life. I bought a bunch of groceries and that night we actually made dinner at their darling condo and then went to see the ultimate chick flick, The Vow, with Channing Tatum & Rachel McAdams. It was the perfect night. The rest of the weekend was spent just spending time together, laughing and of course, EATING!! Ashley made reservations for us to high tea at the Ritz Carlton on Saturday afternoon. One of the most fun things that I have ever done in the city in all my trips there. As if the weekend was perfect enough, I got a text message from my sister-in-law (I hate calling her that) Emily, that she and her boyfriend John were in Chicago for the weekend celebrating their 3 year anniversary of being in love. Awwww. Em, John, Ash & I met up at a darling little asian restaurant in Lincoln Park for dinner where we proceeded to strategize life after college for Em & John. What an exciting time in their lives, so much to look forward to and Ashley and I talked about how we can’t believe that Emily is 10 almost 11 years younger than us. She is literally an old soul, wise beyond her years, so warm and loving, so family oriented, funny and chill. I can’t say enough about her. I adore her beyond words and I love John just as much. Another old soul, as I call them, he is brilliant (reminds me of Teddy in that way) and they seem so in love. They are young, so who knows what the years will bring, but together they are incredible and made our Saturday evening so wonderful. As we left the restaurant, during my embrace and goodbyes with John, somehow we managed to break an enormous vase that was on the restaurant floor. A huge crash, some dirty looks from the hostess and we were off! I always like to make a grand exit.
The weekend was amazing. That city never ceases to amaze me. The energy in that city makes you want to get out and do more things and I told Teddy that we have to make sure and continue to get back every year. The highlight of the trip was obviously the time I got to spend with my Ash. I told her that I was so incredibly thankful to have people like her in my life and I am not sure what I did along the way to deserve a friend like her, but I feel blessed.
Although I did bring my nat geo camera, I had much more fun with Instagram on my iPhone while I was there. Check out some of my Instagram shots!
Cutest little sprite at the cutest little restaurant, Pierre Gourmet where I had the best chicken noodle soup that I have even had in my entire life.
High Tea at The Ritz Carlton. Such a fun thing to do!! Having so much fun with Instagram with these pics!
The most fabulous picture of the Hancock building, if I do say so myself! (Patting myself on my back right now). Again, having fun with Instagram. This was taken from window of the Ritz Carlton.
The beautiful view of the city from the Signature Room.
My Ash Bug & I one our way home from our dining experience at Gilt Bar.