My first time in Chicago was three years ago on a business trip. For about 4 1/2 days I worked a booth at a conference and had free time to explore this amazing city. I had a fabulous time...and of course it helped that I met a young, semi-nerdy cute doctor who showed me around and we spent the rest of the days hanging out or getting something to eat together. It was by far a much better experience sharing it with someone then doing it alone. The second time I was in Chicago was the following year for the same conference. Doctor was not there this year, as he began a new relationship very soon after we parted ways - so I was on my own. It was also much colder in Chicago last year (March) and my visit wasn't anywhere as noteworthy. This past March was my third time in the Windy city. I was not alone at the conference - my clients were there as well so my 'free time' was not on my own but spent with them = no fun (I had to sneak out of a meeting just to check out the green Chicago river on St. Patty's day because there was no other free time :( ).
Then another one of my clients invited me to speak at their conference in Chicago in June. All I kept thinking was - Chicago AGAIN??? But it was only for 1 1/2 days and my role there was much different than it has been in the past.
I was very nervous about giving a presentation for 90 minutes. That is by far the longest I have had to speak on one topic to a group of people. I started working on my presentation in February and continued to tweak it here and there. The time comes to present it, and I have to wear a clip on microphone! There were only about 30 people in the room, but still, it is intimidating when you don't know them...and they are ALL older than you and you follow a presenter who is well known in the field and an excellent speaker. I was the second (and last) speaker; and I have to say it went really well. Of course I was very nervous for the first 10 minutes, but once I got past the hard part of the presentation, and the information became more interesting to the group, I started to relax. The evaluations came back with 98% of all 4's (best response) for both presentations and some people came up afterwords or I saw in the elevator and they were very enthusiastic about what they learned. They received 3 Continuing Education credits for coming to the seminar.
Usually with my other clients, they want to spend every second with me. This client did not. After the meeting, we all went our separate ways. What to do in Chicago the 4th time around? Turns out the Taste of Chicago was going on. Part of Grant Park was closed off and all these restaurant vendors were there selling their food. You could either purchase normal size portions or do a 'taste' portion - all the groups offered two different tastes. Like any street fair, you purchase tickets in advance and then just hand over the tickets in exchange for what you want. I decided to do all tastes. A little of this, a little of that. But you have to be selective since you can't possibly taste everything in a short amount of time. My first pick was a mango with cranberry rice pudding. It was actually a lot better than it sounded. I tried an apple dumpling which was very good but dry (see picture), a spinach deep dish pizza, an eggroll, a chicken taco, a something like a gnocci but it wasn't - it had eggplant in it, and a few other things that I am forgetting.
The festival also had some live music and entertainment. I stopped to listen to this one act for a few songs and then made my way over to the Man Versus Food table and actually got a chance to see Adam and he spent about 15 minutes talking about the show, his background, etc and then he signed autographs. I didn't stay for the autographs since the line was really long.
After I decided to see a movie since it was only about 7:30. I saw Grown Ups since it was the next available movie. Some parts were funny, but I will not be putting it on my favorites list. On my way out, I was FINALLY picked up by a man. But he was Indian, I had a hard time understanding him, and he was like 60 years old. No thank you. So I went back to my room and went to bed.