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La Malnati’s Pizza, Chicago, IL

Louise Speaks:  Well we couldn’t leave Chicago without having some pizza.  We asked several places and people what they thought the best pizza could be found.  We of course were told about Pizza Uno and Pizza Due but the place that got the greatest reviews was La Malnati’s Pizza.  Turns out there are 47 different locations just in the Chicago area.  There are some that are dine in restaurants and then others that are just carry out or delivery.

100_6743We choose to eat at a dine in restaurant.  From the parking lot it is just the cutest place you can imagine.  It’s a Pizza place but instead of being Italian it’s a barn complete with tractor and farm equipment.  You get such a welcoming feeling right from the parking lot.  Now I had Gracie with us and before entering the restaurant I asked if Gracie could come in.  I did say she was a service dog, but the hostess did not hesitate a second.  She said of course you can bring in your dog…we love dogs.  The service was better than anyplace I have ever eaten.  On top of that, each dish, pizza, pasta etc is made individually.  So you can add this or take away that or get extra of this or none of that.  While we were waiting for our Pizza we had the opportunity to look at the inside decor.  What a charming place.  It was a combination of sitting in a barn with farm equipment and grandmas kitchen.

IMG_0347Now lets talk about the food.  OH MY GOD….I have never in my life tasted anything so wonderful.  The food just about melted in your mouth.  The deep dish individual pizza looked huge, but I ate every bite, and I left stuffed.  Upon leaving I stopped to thank the hostess for letting Gracie in and to compliment our waiter and his service.  At that time they asked where we were from and we said Arizona.  Then we got the best surprise of our life.  We were told that they are opening a La Malnati’s in Scottsdale and Flagstaff.  I cannot wait.  I have been talking about this place and telling everyone to be on the look out for this new Pizza place.  I know they will be getting my business very very often.

Patricia did mention La Malnati’s in her book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” and this certainly deserves to be in her book.  Of all the places that she has ever suggested, she hit this one right on.  Best Pizza ever.  La Malnati’s gets an A+ rating, and I’d rate it higher if I could.

AM…page 488

Thelma Speaks:

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Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, IL

100_6691Louise Speaks:  Day 27 Con’t:  After another hectic morning in Chicago it was fun to get out of town a bit and head to Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago.  We always try and see any of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings when we travel and this one particularly because it was his home for 20 years and where he raised his 6 children.  As we went in to purchase tickets for the tour I asked about Gracie going on the tour.  I said she was a service dog but I didn’t bring her papers because in AZ we don’t have to show papers.  They said of course she can go on the tour, that was not a problem.  They were very pet friendly and welcomed Gracie at every junction of the tour.  We had to wait about a half hour but that gave us time to shop.

Frank Lloyd Wrights Home and Studio

Frank Lloyd Wrights Home and Studio

Once the tour began there are always interesting facts about Frank Lloyd Wright and his buildings.  Since this was his home it was interesting to see how he could live in such a beautiful home at such a young age.  Apparently Frank Lloyd Wright purchased the property and built the home in 1889 with a $5,000 loan from his employer Louis Sullivan.  Frank was 22 at the time, and newly wed to Catherine Tobin. The Wrights raised six children in the home.  The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and declared a National Historic Landmark four years later in 1976.

plauThe tours are always very informative because they tell us how the buildings were and how they became what they are today.  The homes original 1889 structure was quite small.  It was extensively remodeled in 1895, when among other changes the kitchen was enlarged and converted to a dining room, the upstairs nursery was expanded and converted for use as Catherine’s dayroom, and the Children’s Playroom and a new kitchen were added to the back of the house.  The children’s playroom has an incredible design and was not only designed for children and play but also education.  For example Frank Lloyd Wright put a Grand Piano in the play room but built it into the wall.  As you go out the stairs, the entire back of the piano is supported and just hanging over the stairs.  All the windows in the room were only 3 feet off the ground and there was a loft area if the children wanted to put on a play.

Can you see the chains holding the ceiling?

Can you see the chains holding the ceiling?

A second major addition was made in 1898, when the Studio and Connecting Corridor were built.  The studio was added on in such a way that you had to go outside to access it.  Mr. Wright didn’t like this especially in winter so he made a hallway so that he would have access to the house.  He didn’t want to loose any of the trees so he built the hall around the tree and had it growing right through the roof.  After 1909, the Studio was converted into a residence for his wife and the younger children.  Later on, the Home and Studio became an apartment building.  In the 1960s it fell into disrepair as the owners began to neglect the property due to financial problems.  The longtime roofing company entrusted by Frank Lloyd Wright, took control of the property.  In 1974, the structure was handed over to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the 13-year restoration began.   Staying true to Frank Lloyd Wrights fashion, the second floor of his studio is actually held together with bolts and chains suspending from a pointed ceiling.  Even though this studio became private residences and has had different owners, no one every thought of cutting the chains.  This is a good thing as it is the chains and only the chains that are keeping the roof from falling.

See the height of the windows and how he displayed his drawings for clients.

See the height of the windows and how he displayed his drawings for clients.

Mr. Wright also was a smart business man.  He knew that in the lobby it was to show his status and that he was worth every penny he charged.  So the lobby had leather and gold wall paper and the highest quality of wood.  But the studio was very plain with no windows at eye level.  He wanted his clients to focus only on the drawings and what he was suggesting and not be distracted in any way.

As part of our tour we were able to take an audio walking tour of the neighborhood where several of Frank Lloyd Wright homes are located.  These homes are all occupied with families but it’s hard to be on the same street as Frank Lloyd Wrights own home and live in a home he designed and built and not be shared with the public.  We were given audio speakers where you pressed a button and it told you all about the home.  What a great neighborhood to live in.  It was like a walking museum of gorgeous homes.  Now this neighborhood is pretty upscale so even the homes that are NOT Mr. Wrights are still pretty impressive.

100_6697One of the houses is known as the Arthur B. Heurtley House was built in 1902.  It was in poor condition until the current owners,  who purchased the house in 1997, completed a five year long museum-grade restoration of the home.  The main living area is on the second floor with a children’s playroom and laundry area on the first. The wide, low entrance arch is actually the entrance.

100_6701Another one of my favorites was the Laura Gale House.  The house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1909.  The home  has been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historid Places  since March 5, 1970.  The house was occupied by its original owner until 1962 when architect Howard Rosenwinkel purchased the home and undertook a meticulous restoration..   

This was one of the best tours I have ever been of of Frank Lloyd Wrights creations.  It was very informative, interesting and the guide was actually funny but full of knowledge.  We could keep the audio players all day if we choose and have the descriptions repeat.  The walking tour is one long block with 10 Frank Lloyd Wright homes.  The homes in between were just as beautiful and it was a great day for a walk.  Both these tours were only $21.00, much less than other Frank Lloyd Wright tours.

100_6723Oak Park holds other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings but we spent so much time here we were unable to see any of the others.  For example the Unity Temple was covered in a tent and is undergoing a major renovation and the Robbie House back in Chicago had just taken the last tour of the day when we arrived.  The Robbie House is actually on the campus of the University of Chicago.  It was designed and built between 1908 and 1910.  We were able to see the outside and the grounds of the Robbie House but not take the tour.  I guess that is yet another reason to come back to Chicago.

20150726_205522_resizedAfter this full day it was time to get back to Chicago to see the Sky Line at night.  I’ve seen it in pictures many times but I wanted to have a birds eye view and see it in person.  The day planned out right as it was coming to an end and it was just about dusk.  It is time to say good bye to Chicago and spending the day with Frank Lloyd Wright buildings makes for a great farewell.

As always I love Frank Lloyd Wright and his buildings and tours will always rate an A+ with me.  I can’t wait to come back to Chicago and Illinois and visit the buildings I’ve missed.


Thelma Speaks:


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Chicago, IL—Day Two

100_6574Louise Speaks:  Day 27.  Well after all the back and forth driving yesterday, we once again went into the city of Chicago.  We were hoping that today would not bring us into town, and that being Sunday there would be less people.  Wrong on both accounts.  There were less people, and no ball game, but still tons and tons of people and crazy drivers everywhere…and we did have to hit the center of town but only for a few things.

100_6678We started off by seeing a few more hotels.  These hotels were older than the ones we saw yesterday.  The first one was Hotel Burnham.  This is in an older part of town, but the hotel’s architecture brought you back in time and it looked very old.  Next it was off to the Palmer House Hilton.  This hotel reminded me of Vegas.  With all the light bulbs I thought I was on the Strip.  As with the other hotels from yesterday we did not bother to go inside and ask for a tour or to see rooms, these visits 100_6686were literally drive by photo shots.  The Chicago Hilton Towers, however was quite an impressive looking hotel.  Signs were posted stating what president stayed here, and apparently there have been many.  It is out of the center of town, but with impressive views of the city.  The burgundy awnings with the international flags outside just made it look more impressive.  The Chicago Hilton looked cleaner than the other hotels as well.

We drove around town several times trying to find certain things in Patricia’s book as well as using the GPS to try to find them, but it was just not possible.  We probably drove right by them…probably more than once, but we couldn’t find a sign or any site of these attractions.  The ones I’m talking about were the Petrillo Music Shell and Millennium Park.  There were two large parks in the center of town, holding a street fair, so I’m certain that one of those parks had to be Millennium Park.  We saw signs for the Millennium Park garage, but not a park enterance.  There was a building at the address for the Petrillo Music Shell, but from the research I had 100_6681done, this was an outdoor theater so I don’t think it would be housed inside the building.  We had talked to someone at Winnebago from Chicago and he said the music was just in the park, but I was looking for a stage or something.  So after a good 30 minutes of driving in circles, we decided to cross them off the list as not being seen.  We did however find the Art Institute of Chicago which is very centrally located. In our course of travels today we did find the “not so good side” of Chicago.  I know every city has one, and Chicago is no exception.  We have seen worse, but we were glad that there was nothing here to stop and take 100_6670photos of.  One of the coolest buildings I saw was a round apartment complex with parking spaces going around the building about halfway up.  It looked like a stack of cookies, and those openings you see from the middle to the bottom are all full of cars.  They looked like hot wheels, or match box cars they were so small in comparison to the building.  But what a concept.  There is little parking in Chicago, so build a building, park on the bottom  20 floors or so and build the apartments on top of that, in a circular fashion.   This way everyone gets a view.

The rest of our day was going to be in Oak Park as we were going to go tour a few of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes. By now it was time for lunch and being in Chicago we tasty-dog-380x270had to have hot dogs or Chicago dogs and pizza.  We opted for a hot dog and found Tasty Dog, a hot dog stand right in the middle of the block and decided to give it a try.   Excellent choice and just filling enough for the afternoon ahead.  From the Frank Lloyd Wright tours, and since we had a rental car, we were going to do the first part of the Route 66 adventure this afternoon.  We plan to drive from the starting point in Chicago to Joilet and then back to Chicago for some evening activities.  I am blogging about the Frank Lloyd Wright Tours and the Route 66 adventure separately, so make sure you read them as well.

20150726_204907_resizedAfter our Frank Lloyd Wright tours we headed back into Chicago, to start the Route 66 adventure.  We had to hurry as it was pretty over cast today so not staying light as late as normal.  The plan was to get to Joilet and back so that I could to see the skyline after dark.  That is how I want to say good night and good bye to Chicago.  We arrived back in town just at dusk.  Over the last two days, I found that by the Adler Planetarium was the best view of the skyline, so that is where we headed.  After a very busy day we found our spot and parked so that we could take in the night life of Chicago…the skyline lit up was just breath taking.

So I can say this…two days in Chicago just isn’t enough time, but the city is over whelming.  Maybe if we had parked and not tried to see as many things as possible from Patricia’s book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” this may have been more enjoyable.  The driving, the traffic, the rude cab drivers, just did not make for a very positive impression of Chicago.  On a good note, as I see it, now that we’ve completed the book, the next time here I can truly just enjoy it.  I would like to take 100_6634one of the hop on hop off buses and just enjoy a tour with someone else driving and telling me about the sites while I sit back and take pictures and just enjoy.   The Architecture of Chicago is different on every corner, so it would have been nice to just sit back and enjoy the views.  Thelma did all the driving so I’m sure she didn’t enjoy it as much as she could have had she not been driving and trying to find a place to park.  So all that being said I am only going to rate Chicago a C.  It does have much to offer, and maybe with more time and under less stressful conditions, Chicago could be a great place to visit…but no way in hell would I live here.  So thanks for a great adventure Chicago…and I will see you again.

AM…483, 485,

Thelma Speaks:  I love Chicago and all it has to offer!  That being said I do not like to drive here for several reasons the least of which is you can not take your eyes off the street or the cars around you so you don’t see anything but traffic.  I would like to come back and enjoy the city and all the different places to eat so I will be back and hopefully the next time is a charm and a Cub’s game will happen with a stop at the Cubby lounge.

The skyline at night is breath taking and one could take a blanket and sit on the bank and watch as the city changes from light to the darkness of night.  I would love to do that.

Like Louise, I was intrigued by the circular parking with apartments on top!  Guess it was because I went around this corner at least 20 times!  I feel as if I know some of these streets like the back of my hand but I do not care to drive them again.  The city has lots to offer but I would say fly in stay at one of the many hotels and then take public transportation and enjoy the city.  The hop on hop off bus would be great and there were at least three companies that I saw sliding through town.  So pay the price forget a car and enjoy the city! I for one would have enjoyed Chicago more if we had picked a couple great things to do and forgot the rest but next time it is all about what we want to do and not Patricia’s book!  We have seen what she has talked about and now we can enjoy Chicago.  Since I have been here several times before and seen some of the sights I would rate Chicago a B.  If the Cubs win it is a B+ for sure and if I am there it is an A+ for sure!


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