Squeezing in the fun with two days in Chicago

At least once a year I try to make it my business to visit my favorite US city, Chicago, for a whirl of fun, friends, family and of course food. My most recent trip afforded me 2 days to get all the fun I could squeeze out of Chicago with my two favorite travelers, my kids, in tow.  With a weekend base camp of the Hard Rock Hotel on the Magnificent Mile I took off right away to get reacquainted with a city I adore.

It’s hard to tell if it’s my loved ones that make the city fun for me or if my friends and family there embody the spirit of the city, explaining my love for both. Chicago is brazen and busy and metropolitan but it still has woven in it the love of life that appreciates art and food and friends that keep me coming back for more.  Automatically at the top of my agenda is to connect with people, but there is no reason that cannot be combined with some other city highlights.  Of course food is supreme in Chicago so be it brunch at Yolk or a deep dish Pizza at Giordano’s there are some things that are undeniably often imitated and rarely duplicated on the Chicago food scene.

My top highlights from the trip, however, were not my usual food fest. Instead something old and something new took the cake.  On the something old side a walking tour of the Magnificent Mile area always does my heart good.  Coming from Houston where walking is rare I love how easy the city is to maneuver by foot and all the possibilities at hand.  In an afternoon of walking you can explore Millennium Park and its art installations, meet new friends for you kids, wander in and out of shops, and get some great live street entertainment.  All these things make Chicago the constant top pick for US city.  On the new side I was able to do something that has escaped me before, Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula.  From first stepping into the hotel I knew it was something magical and afternoon tea was a great mix of prim and proper with smiles and giggles from the opportunity to spend great time with great friends.  The champagne that comes with tea doesn’t hurt either.  All in all Chicago gives you a chance to do almost anything under the sun, even in a pop in pop out weekend.

Exploring the tradition of Afternoon Tea

Enjoying frieds at the afternoon tea at the Hotel GranducaThis past weekend I took some time away from the normal busy flow of the day to get acquainted with the old tradition of afternoon tea.  To get the mood for such a feat I put on one of my favorite hats and headed to one of the locations in Houston that embody the indulgence found in the roots of afternoon tea, the Hotel GranducaPreparing for fancy at afternoon tea at the Hotel Granduca

Heading out with some of my favorite friends usually takes us to restaurants where we go through the routine of what to eat, to drink, to share or not share, and an appraisal of the location and its patrons.  When this is the usual there is something really nice about the structure of afternoon tea.

The Hotel Granduca provides a perfect opportunity for you to step into the old world sophistication and elegance of the time that first inspired afternoon tea.  In the courses of tea you get something that I also miss in meeting with my friends…serenity.  Assorted Ribbon Sandwiches at afternoon tea at the Hotel Granduca Himalayan Peak Parjeeling Tea at the Afternoon tea at Hotel Granduca Assorted pastries at the afternoon tea at Hotel GranducaOutside of the decision of what tea to have, everything else just slows down and rolls out automatically.  You get a chance to sip and enjoy the beautiful simplicity of tea and light bites.  When it comes to indulging less can be more. Upon serving the small snacks that make up the courses of afternoon tea, you get a chance to spoil yourself with your most wanted fresh backed scones and Devonshire clotted cream with jam or pastries and tea cookies.  Best of all you get a chance to take it slow with friends and get a great reminder of the support, laughs, and even silence that makes them good friends in the first place.

Without the noise and choices and people from a normal gathering we found that all we have is each other, sharing our lives.

On a slowed down Saturday afternoon over tea and talking about the good, bad, and ugly experiences that we call life we realized that the sharing in and of itself is enough to make for good times with great friends.Tea is served at the afternoon tea at Hotel Granduca Afternoon tea the Hotel Granduca