After a lazy morning (my definition of vacation includes not having to set an alarm clock), we set out in search of good coffee to fuel us for our first full day in the city. Our quest landed us at Intelligentsia, where I happily sipped through my double latte while taking a peek at Chicago’s hipster population – they were no match for Seattle’s Vivace crowd, but I suppose that’s to be expected. From there, we were bound for Wrigley Field, with tickets for a noontime Cubs v. Reds game. As we popped off the L and walked toward the ballpark, I was immediately struck by the infectious excitement that surrounds a Saturday afternoon ballgame. Ticket scalpers, peanut vendors, and hyped-up fans spilling onto the sidewalks from crowded bars told us that we had landed in the center of the action. The buzz of being surrounded by so many tried-and-true baseball fans carried me through the first few innings, despite the chill in the air and the occasional drizzle. My enthusiasm started to wane as the rain fell harder and the Reds took a 2-1 lead over the Cubs. I asked Shane how committed he was to watching the whole game, and he encouraged me to stick it out. And thank goodness I did! The Cubs came back in the 9th to win the game, and despite the fact that I am still 100 percent loyal to my SF Giants, I couldn’t help jumping out of my seat, shouting and clapping my hands, giving high-fives to the joyous fans surrounding us. It’s fun to get so unexpectedly swept up in a moment, and we left the ballpark with huge grins on our faces, unable to help ourselves from singing along in the chorus, ‘Go Cubs Go, Go Cubs Go, Hey Chicago, what do you say, The Cubs are gonna win today!’…

After the game, we grabbed a cup of tea and headed back to our room to warm up and sneak in a little nap before dinner. Dried out and refreshed, we decided to hit up Xoco – a highly reputed Mexican restaurant started by famed chef Rick Bayless. And holy carnitas, Batman, this place was delicious! My red chile short rib soup was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, and Shane nearly fell out of his chair over his goat barbacoa torta. Even the chips and guacamole were perfection. I give Shane major, major props for scouting out some of this city’s best eats. I married one heck of a trip planner.

After a dessert of churros and chocolate, we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and decided to do a little walking, in hopes of settling our over-stuffed stomachs. We strolled along the river, walked through Milleneum Park, found the brightly lit Chicago sign that I’m sure every tourist (myself included, apparently) uses as a backdrop for a photo, and decided that this city is…amazing.

Shane will say that I tend to get all gushy whenever I visit a place for the first time, but seriously, this place is so rich with old and new architecture (more on that later), with neighborhood dive bars right next to uber-chic restaurants, with what feels like the perfect balance of ‘urban grit’ and modern polish. Our hour-long meander through the city was full of so many good surprises – like the famous ‘Bean’ in Millennium Park. Genius!

We ended our night with cocktails at Gilt – a dimly lit, loungy, super-classy bar a few blocks from our hotel. Ahhhhh, coffee, baseball, churros, architecture, and a bubbly nightcap…yes, life is good.