Wednesday was great. After another stop at Shawn’s new favorite coffee bar, we headed over to the famous Navy Pier. Of course, it’s the off season now, so there wasn’t a whole lot going on but it made for a very peaceful walk, made even more enjoyable with the views of the Chicago skyline on one side of us and the waters of Lake Michigan on the other. We wandered through the Crystal Gardens which were quite beautiful and then realized: holy sh*t they have a 400+ seat IMAX theatre here! So, the weather looks rainy and iffy for today, so it might be a perfect day to go back and take in a viewing of Tron.
After Navy Pier, we wandered around downtown, found some lunch and then found another parking spot downtown and walked a few blocks west to experience the Willis Tower (sorry, but I still call it the Sears Tower) and its amazing Skydeck. The view was spectacular – a little bit cloudy, but still amazing. And yes, we did step out onto the glass ledge. I can’t even describe the queasiness I felt being that far up and being able to look down underneath my feet at the streets below. As Shawn put it, “It’s just so WRONG!” It was exhilarating and my heart was quite literally pounding and I broke out in a sweat but it was completely worth it and I’d do it again in a second!
With all the thrill seeking out of the way, we walked back to the car as twilight was hitting the city (the most beautiful time of day in the city, in my opinion) and headed west back to Georgi’s. Our plan was to go home, have some dinner, relax a bit and head over to the Heartland Cafe for their Wednesday night open mic. Then, Georgi and his friend Daniel arrived and from the quietness of our room we could hear all the sounds of a large dinner being prepared – excitable voices, chopping, cooking, frying. After a while we came out of our room to find a huge feast spread out on the living room table, Bulgarian music playing on TV, candles lit, conversation in full steam. We sat down on the couch and hung out for a bit with these guys and then suddenly it hit me that we were leaving town very soon and I’d not had very much time at all to spend with Georgi since we’d been here. He’s been so busy since we arrived and how often am I going to get back here to Chicago to see him? I leaned into ask Shawn, “Maybe we should just stay in tonight and spend some time chilling with these guys…?” and as soon as we decided to do this I felt so happy and relaxed.
Georgi suggested, “You can bring your instruments in here and play for us!” So, after some dinner and lots of laughs (including a whole tutorial on how to properly swear and insult people in Bulgarian) we set up our gear for an impromptu house concert which at one point went global when Georgi started calling friends on Skype and sharing the festivities online. Another couple of friends joined us in the apartment, including Branco, who played some guitar with us and we jammed on some Herbie Hancock and some blues.
It was well after midnight by the time we got to bed, and now, here it is, the last morning of our stay and we are thinking about the long drive home that we’ll begin tonight – but first, there’s a bit more exploring to do in the city and tonight we are for sure heading over to the Gallery Cabaret, which hosts the longest running and one of the most popular open mics in the city. And with my singing voice just about back to where it was, I think it will be the perfect end to a perfect trip to the Windy City. We really really wish we could stay longer. We’ll just have to plan another trip out here. Chicago is so awesome!!