I’m not sure how it happened, but Chicago has snagged a special place in my heart as my new favorite major U.S. city. I was pretty certain that Denver was going to hold that spot forever, but I was mistaken. It’s been over a month since I left The Windy City, and even though I love my gypsy lifestyle, I still find myself missing the comfortable little life I had in Chicago.
When I decided to move to Illinois to work as a live-in nanny, I was very naive in thinking that I wouldn’t end up having much of a social life during the six months I’d be spending there. The family resided in a suburb just west of the city, and while I knew I’d go out on weekends to explore, my main goal was to work as much as possible and save every penny I made so that I would have plenty to spend on my big travel plans. I hadn’t considered the fact that temporarily living and working in Chicagoland was, in itself, a travel experience.
I arrived in January 2015, and I have to say, the only downside to living here is having to deal with the endless, blistering cold winters. But, when summer eventually comes around, this city comes to life. Chicago has it all: delicious food, great music, and some of the best people I’ve ever met. It’s such a great place that I even had three visitors from home come out to stay with me.
There are a ton of free things to do around the city. While enjoying the delectable food is not one of those things, it is still easy to find reasonable prices at many reputable restaurants. There are some very tasty chains that I hadn’t heard of before such as Umami Burger and Native foods. Of course deep dish pizza is always a must in Chicago. In my opinion, the best pizza joints are Lou Malnati’s (add butter crust) and Pequod’s (add caramelized cheese).
Then there was the mind blowing, taste bud exploding, entertaining dining experience at Girl and the Goat. I can’t even begin to describe what the food there did to me. With every bite, I felt as if I was floating higher and higher into foodie heaven! Ah! I have to stop talking about the food because it’s making me miss Chi Town even more than I already do!
Ok so…music! Chicago always has big names coming to the city to perform. My first concert there was an EDM type of event decided to attend last minute. I ended up seeing RJD2 and Moby play which was way cooler than I anticipated. During my stay, I also saw Big Gigantic, The Offspring, Cage the Elephant, and my favorite reggae band, Tribal Seeds (although I had to venture up to Madison, Wisconsin to see them).
Lovers of live music can wander the main streets of pretty much any of the cities popular neighborhoods and be able find something to dance to or lounge and listen to. I’m not big on the nightclub scene, but there are tons of those as well if you’re willing to wait in a line and pay a cover fee. The only place I was happy to do that for was Kingston Mines, a famous blues club introduced to me by Rubin, the Chicagoan friend of mine that I met in Dublin. I was only able to go twice, but it’s obvious that some really great talent rolls through that place. It’s definitely an experience one should have when visiting Chicago.
Before my departure from Chicagoland, I was sure to see every friend that I had made during my time there. I knew I was lucky to have met so many great people, but I realized it even more so when I was receiving constant messages and phone calls from all of them, each trying to visit with me before I left. Despite the time crunch, I managed to get a perfect dose of quality time with everyone. Writing about this now fills me with joy as I remember all of the love, laughter and fun times I shared with those beautiful people. I am so grateful for all of the memories I have because of each and every one of them. I know that those bonds I made won’t soon be broken. (You all know who you are ❤ )
I made the conscious decision to have Friday, July 3rd be my final day of work in Chicago. I didn’t know how I would spend Independence Day this year because I had no clue what sort of social life I was going to conjure up for myself. My gut told me I should be in Chicago for it, and I listened. Turns out, I got to spend it with some pretty awesome people and had a blast all day and all night! I am happy that I can reflect on America’s birthday this year and say that it was my favorite 4th of July celebration to date!
This great American city will forever be considered one of my spirit homes. Sweet home, Chicago!
Oh, and even though I’m not a sports fanatic, when it comes to hockey season, I will now be cheering on Chicago…go Blackhawks! 😉