CRUISING THE GREAT LAKES #12: Captivating Chicago, Part 2

I shot a lot of photos in Chicago!  What you saw in my last post was just a fraction!  Chicago is such a photogenic city, and shooting digital (rather than film, like I did in the good ol’ days), allowed me to photograph freely and delete rejects later.  Yes, I deleted a lot of pictures in my editing; however, there were many more that I kept.  Culling them down for my blog was difficult, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process!

Editing my photos and writing my blog posts has allowed me to savor the memories of our vacation for longer than I would have otherwise.  Sure, I’m back in my home office in Georgia, but as I edited, wrote, and read my drafts to Bruce; my mind traveled through the cruise ports and Chicago all over again.  Here it is, nearly one-month post-travels, and I have spent the past four weeks “traveling.”

To conclude, I will leave you with views of the Chicago skyline from above, along, and on the Chicago River.  If you would like to see larger versions of these photos, click on them for a full-screen view.

Marina City, better known as the “Corn Cob” has parking on the lover levels and a marina on the river (see below).
Merchandise Mart has its own zip code!
That’s our architecture tour boat reflected in the building.
Yes, that is real gold!

Thank you for joining me on my journey through the Great Lakes and Chicago! I hope you enjoyed my posts.

CRUISING THE GREAT LAKES #11: CAPTIVATING CHICAGO, PART 1

“Be careful in Chicago; there is so much crime!”  “Don’t go out at night in Chicago, even in the tourist areas!”  These were the warnings I received from a couple of acquaintances who used to live in Chicago.  I had heard it all before.  Chicago’s crime was all over the news, and it had gotten much worse since I visited the city with my best friend, in 2012.  Those warnings, however, weren’t going to stop me and Bruce from seeing U.S.A.’s third largest city together, and this was the perfect opportunity—at the end of our cruise, before flying home. 

During our three days in downtown, we took the necessary common-sense precautions, walked all over downtown, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

For a good overview to begin our stay, we used our on-board credit and took a city tour that was offered through American Queen Voyages, the company we had cruised the Great Lakes with during the previous two weeks.  On our final day, we did an architecture river cruise to learn about the skyscrapers that lined the Chicago River.  Both tours were excellent!

What most impressed us about Chicago was how clean and beautiful the downtown city center was everywhere we walked.  The city is situated along Lake Michigan, and the city planners did a fabulous job lining the waterfront with attractive parks that offered great vantage points of the amazing skyline.

There is so much I could write about Chicago, but I will let my pictures tell the story instead. (To view them larger, click on the photos.)  Here, then is Part 1:

Navy Pier
View from the end of Navy Pier
Buckingham Fountain

Scenes from Millenium Park:

Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”
That’s us at the bottom, center, looking up at the sculpture

It was fun watching the faces change on Crown Fountain, and then “spit” water every ten minutes. The kids loved it! What a great way to cool off during the hot, humid summers.

Chicago hosts the Millenium Park Summer Music Series at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for free!

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

We stayed on the 14th floor at the Warwick Allerton Hotel, on North Michigan Avenue. This (right) was our (zoomed in) view of Michigan Avenue from our room, including this gorgeous bird! Yes, it was real! I was able to photograph it by sticking my camera out the window that opened up just enough to fit my hand and camera through. Our room was on a corner, so it required a bit of maneuvering and guess work to angle my camera, hold it steady, and snap these shots!

The largest Starbucks in the world was located a block away. People actually line up around the corner to get in! We don’t drink coffee, and we aren’t Starbucks fans, but we thought it was worth a look inside when we happened to walk by when there was no line.

The planters along Michigan Avenue and neighboring streets were fabulous! They added such a beautiful element to soften the appearance of all the steel and concrete of the city.

Some of the buildings featured interesting artwork on their exteriors:

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our vegetarian deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s during our pre-cruise Chicago visit, we decided to try Giordano’s stuffed vegetarian deep dish pizza for comparison (see below). Lou Malnati’s crust wins the contest; however, Giordano’s wins for everything else! We loved their sauce and stuffed pizza! Want to make your mouth water? Click on the pizza photo to see it larger!

Now, for dessert. Kind Snacks is on their “Frozen Summer Tour,” and we were lucky enough to see them– twice! First, we saw the truck at the park at the foot of Navy Pier, and they were handing out free samples of their DELICIOUS frozen bars. They were eager to give you as many as you wanted, so we went back for seconds. 😀 The next day, they were on Michigan Avenue near the Chicago River! They would have given us an entire box if we wanted! The sample lady was eager to empty their coolers and call it a day. We ended up tasting one each of three different flavors and made pigs of ourselves. Damn, those things are good!

A window display on Michigan Avenue, better known as the “Magnificent Mile.”

Next up: Cruising the Great Lakes #12: Captivating Chicago, Part 2

DOOR COUNTY: HOLIDAY MUSIC MOTEL, CAVE POINT, AND A TASTY FISH BOIL

My go-to source for researching travel accommodations is always Trip Advisor, and I have never been disappointed.  The key to success is choosing the accommodation in your price range and desired location with the highest ratings and the most positive reviews written by REAL people.  Has the reviewer written only one review EVER (or very few reviews that are all glowing and gushing with raves)?  Chances are they were offered some sort of incentive—or, they are friends or relatives of the owner of the establishment.  That’s a Trip Advisor no-no.  I look to see how many reviews a Trip Advisor member has written and how many helpful votes those reviews have received, and then concentrate on what the most experienced reviewers have to say.  (For comparison, I’ve written 102 reviews and have received 100 helpful votes; however, there are many reviewers who have written a lot more.)

Once again, my research paid off when I booked a room at the Holiday Music Motel in Sturgeon Bay for our three-night stay.  As soon as we entered the parking lot, we knew it was going to be a cool place—at least if their garden was any indication.

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Entering the lobby, it felt like a blast from the past.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story, but if you want to get the full details, check out my Trip Advisor review.

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The tree was loaded with music-themed ornaments, and there were a bunch of instruments in the corner.

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Cool postcard!

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Continental breakfast was included, so we went behind the counter to grab some cereal and juice to enjoy at the cute little dinette table.

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Love the phone booth!

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Our very comfortable upstairs room was much larger than what appears in the photo.

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Note the drawer contents containing a “bible” (see below) and complete lyrics to “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

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This is my kind of bible!

After checking in, we drove up the east coast of Door County’s peninsula to Cave Point County Park on Lake Michigan.  What a gorgeous place!  The hiking trails through the woods along the lime-stone cliffs were stunning.  Although it started to rain, we kept on hiking, because we wanted to see more and more.

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A nice surprise was this rocky beach and seeing the creations made by industrious (and patient!) visitors who passed through.  It reminded us of the beach in Stanley Park, Vancouver, where we had first seen rock sculptures of this kind.

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Our next stop was at Baileys Harbor for a walk around the marina before heading across the peninsula to Fish Creek where I had made dinner reservations for a Traditional Door County Fish Boil at the White Gull Inn.

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Baileys Harbor

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By now, we had really worked up an appetite after our very full day.  Between our tour of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, the drive to Sturgeon Bay to check into our motel, our hike around Cave Point, and walks around Baileys Harbor and Fish Creek; the all-you-can-eat fish boil (not fried!) sounded GREAT!

We were NOT disappointed.

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Fish oils rise to the surface of the boiling cauldron, and when the fish is perfectly done, the Master Boiler tosses a small amount of kerosene on the flames under the pot.

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The great burst of flames causes the boilover, spilling the fish oils over the side of the pot and leaving the fish perfectly done, steaming hot and ready to serve.

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Count me in as one of the 758 Trip Advisor reviewers who gave the White Gull Inn the top rating.

Just when I thought the day and evening couldn’t get any better, we were greeted by this gorgeous sunset as we left the White Gull Inn and took a stroll to nearby Sunset Beach Park:

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Coming up next:  EGG HARBOR, PENINSULA STATE PARK, AND SISTER BAY (“BRING IN DA GOATS!”)