Friday, June 22, 2012

The City of Free Samples

Growing up in the Midwest, I spent a lot of time in Chicago.  It was in Chicago, particularly at the Museum of Science and Industry, where I first learned that one's feet can hurt in a way that is both alarming and hard to get rid of (I was 12).  My dad and brother loved Chicago, and managed to squeeze in a visit to the Windy City on seemingly every family vacation (we always did driving vacations) even if it was like five hours out of the way and all they wanted to do was visit the Hard Rock Cafe (why!?!?).  Being the snarky teen that I was, this made me hate Chicago, roll my eyes at the City by the Lake, and I haven't been there in probably eleven or so years.

But I realize that people like Chicago, often people who I respect the opinions of and therefore I shouldn't let some hurt feet keep me from the city with far too many nicknames.  Also, BF told me that his beloved Red Sox were playing the Chicago Cubs in historic Wrigley Field (I don't really care about that, but I do like drinking beer outside without fear of judgement) AND Stephen Merchant was doing standup as part of TBS's Just for Laughs Festival.  We weren't able to catch SM when he was in New York, and certainly didn't want to go to LA for it (no offense to people who live there, but I really hate LA--except the nice parts), so Chicago it was!

Some people, mostly him, say this man is not attractive-that's a lie

While I certainly do amend my previous opinion that Chicago is a jerk that I do not want to spend time with, the thing I was most surprised by (aside from the heat--my god!) was the fact that there were constantly people standing on street corners handing me free food!  I've mentioned extensively how I love a free meal, and I have come to Chicago with Larabars in tow to keep BF from insisting on breakfast every day, but people just kept giving me more and more free things!

First day, we went to get deep dish pizza, which was amazing and killed my interest in eating for nearly 12 hours, which must be some kind of record.  There were friendly people handing out Sabra hummus and pita chips!  Also coupons!  BF thought I was deranged, but I went and grabbed one, and then just shoved it in my purse for later.  It was sealed, didn't matter that I carried it around for the rest of the day, and then I had a lovely little snack later (two days later, our room had a fridge). Also, I later found a coupon on the ground that I also kept--$1 off!

Next day, two very friendly ladies were handing out Kind bars.  I've never bought these before, but now I know that I like them and BF's nut allergy meant that I got two without appearing to be greedy!
These varieties are more exotic than the one I got, but who cares.
 The day after that, we were leaving the Planetarium, and I had a hankering for some kind of frozen treat.  There were many options from little kiosks and such, but they were all ice cream which just sounded too heavy.  Lo and behold, a Whole Foods van pulled up, and some lady started handing out frozen fruit bars for free!  Exactly what I wanted, and something I would have willingly paid for (but I was happy to not have to)!

Lest you think that all I did in Chicago was eat free food, I do have to confess that we weren't super smart about being thrifty while we were there.  We did buy beer to consume back at the hotel, and we were so damned exhausted every day that we just went back to the room to watch tv rather than going out for drinks, but we spent gobs of money on the Shedd Aquarium and the Sears Tower, and we could have been a bit smarter about that. But, for those gobs of money, I got to hang out with some sea otters and whales and be terrified by those plexiglass boxes they have on the Sears Tower now.
These are strangers--reckless strangers
I kept seeing people with these Chicago City Passes, which let you into five attractions (that you would actually want to go to) for a deeply discounted price of $84/person.  Considering we paid $35 for two for the Sears Tower (I know it's the 'Willis" tower now, but I don't like that) and $69 for two for the aquarium, this city pass seems like a hella good deal.  If you plan to visit Chicago and hit up at least three of the five attractions--get one.  Next time I go to Chicago, however, I'm just going to focus on cramming as much pizza down my throat as I possibly can, or I'll just move there and spend my days walking around in search of free food.

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