The whole reason for this trip was two-fold: to see my dear girls who are still in L.A. and one who moved to Kansas City, and to see Bon Iver perform in his home state. Oh, and have lots of fun. So I guess it was three-fold. :)
|Skating in downtown Chicago.|
|The buildings looked lovely.|
|Can't miss The Bean! :)|
We all met up at the Midway Airport in Chicago, then spent the afternoon/evening walk around downtown; having a drink at The Signature Lounge (with an amazing view of the Chicago skyline); dinner at Giordano's for delish Chicago-style deep-dish pizza; and another drink at Maria's Community Bar, which has this low-lit speakeasy vibe and amazing signature cocktails.
|The Bean from the other side.|
|Something that reminded me of the Philharmonic in L.A.|
One of my friends is a native Chicagoan, and we finally dragged ourselves to her parents' house for the night. The next morning we hopped in our big pimpin' SUV rental and headed to Madison, about 2.5 hours away. We spent the day wandering around the area where the concert was later that night (right by the college campus), and found a yummy place to eat called Graze. Everything there is sourced from local purveyors of meat, fruits and veggies, and it has a mix of modern and industrial/farm decor that was really neat. We split a cheese plate (of which there was some of the best aged cheddar I've eaten in a while), then I ordered the Eggs Benedict (had them swap the meat for some spinach), which came with a mixed-greens salad and a side of hash browns. I love Hollandaise sauce, and they did not disappoint!
|Love how the name was carved into the wall.|
|See that cheddar, second from the left? Aged 12 years & soooo good.|
|Veggie Eggs Benedict!|
After lunch we found a couple really cute stores that I'm still reminiscing about. The first was a store called Anthology, which was crammed with all kinds of local and other handmade items. Everything from T-shirts to art prints, magnets to buttons, books to journals, jewelry, decorations...I could go on and on, but I'll let the tons of photos I took speak for me. :)
It was such an inspiring store, and one you absolutely must go to if you're ever in Madison. I'd love for my brick-and-mortar store to have this vibe with the handmade stuff I'll sell there, and I got some great display ideas. There were several art prints I would have loved to scoop up, but I behaved myself and walked out with a Madison magnet (I get a magnet every time I visit someplace new) and a reproduction of an old TWA travel ad for Africa to put up in our dining room.
The other store (of which I neglected to take any photos...shame on me!) was called Little Luxuries, and had loads of quirky items — like ceramic penguins that magnetically hold notes between the head and the body — random books, tech gifts, jewelry, kids' toys...really a whole melting pot of stuff that's worth the trip to just look at.
After some shopping we went to the hotel to veg out before the show, then headed to Bluephies for dinner. Apparently they're known for two things: vodka and sweet potato quesadillas. Two of the girls had the former, and I had the latter, which was really delish: mashed sweet potatoes with black beans, corns and Gorgonzola, and topped with sour cream and spiced pecans. Something I never would have thought of, but it worked really well.
|Where we saw Bon Iver.|
From the time we got to the hotel room to the time we parked for the show, the question of the night was "Do you think there will be a coat check at the theater?" We did all kinds of Googling to find the answer, but to no avail. At first I was part of the crowd who said they were going to leave their coats in the car and hustle into the theater, but after walking outside at night, where it was in the lower 20s with a terrible wind chill, I chickened out. Allison and Emily had wills of steel, though. They walked almost three blocks in thin cardigans and neck scarves, and I will respect them forever for it...and how they laughed when they saw there was a coat check.
The show was amazing, as far as the performance, but it was an awful crowd. Everyone whooping and hollering during the slow, quiet parts of the songs, as if we really wanted to hear their drunken stupor over the music. But then I remembered it was a college town, and quickly made a mental note to not go to shows with that kind of demographic anymore. It's a mystery to me that kids with little income already would drop 40-plus dollars just to go someplace and not even pay attention to the music...but then again, maybe I'm just getting old and jaded. :)
In the end though, we went home happy. Wisconsin had treated us well.