The best way to fall back in love with your home town is to see it again for the first time through the eyes of a tender new comer. Not only was this the Frenchman's first time to Chicago, but the first time outside of European soil.
He survived the flight without having to stop the pilot for a cigarette break. At the airport he's already astonished at the size of O'hare. I had to leave him briefly at customs as I was in the U.S Citizens line and he was in the VISITORS line. Once we find ourselves at baggage claim he mentions how friendly the customs agent was, wishing him a happy holiday in Chicago - a far cry from the smokey grunts you get off customs agents at Charles de Gaulle airport.
His next observation: the cars are huge. He reads out loud a sign that says "Over sized cars use right lane" he ponders this, then says, " But zey are all oversized". "Zey have school buses just like on les Simpsons!". Ahh, America as seen by the French, oversized and littered with pop culture references. I love it.
And so we arrive to my mom's place in Bucktown.
It has been way too long since I have had a Christmas in Chicago, dirty snow on the ground, biting wind and my mother's fabulous Christmas flourish.
We turn on our electric fireplace and I mention to Stephane that this is America - you can have everything at the flick of a switch.
Frenchie on the balcony taking in some winter Chicago sun.
We relaxed the first night and ordered Lou Malnatti's pizza - I made sure to get my favorite - Deep dish with anchoivie. Mmmm, Sweet Home....
The last three or so times that I have been back to Chicago I have tried to rope some poor soul into going to the Shedd Aquarium with me. Finally I had a captive audience in Stephane that basically had to do whatever I told him. So off we went with my sister in tow to the fabulous Shedd Aquarium. Whales, Sea Otters, Penguins and tons of Fish (and yes, my reverence for marine life and delight in all things aquatic does require capitals for these darling creatures)
Here we have the view of the Chicago skyline from outside the Aquarium. Blue steel.
And here we are outside of the Shedd.
My favorite: The Sea Otter.
Baby Beluga, oh Baby Beluga....
The next night friends came over for a Christmas cookie party. Stephane was a walking zombie due to jet lag. And the cookies came out, well....
Interesting, to say the least.
Well, I don't want to overwhelm you. Tomorrow: Christmas and all the fabulous presents I got! Oh how I spoil you.