Last week for three days I was separated from my iPhone and all of my electronic devices. I didn’t check Facebook, Twitter, or even email from Monday night to Friday morning. I queued up blog posts and made sure that my buffer app was full of posts for the week
I spent three uninterrupted days with my wife to celebrate our anniversary. And for the first time in years, I unplugged from all devices and services completely. I wasn’t even available by phone to work.
I’ve been burned out a bit lately. School and work have been very full, and so I scheduled a three-day getaway with Theresa for our anniversary, partly to recharge and relax. At one point we’d planned to do a week-long getaway, but it just didn’t look like it would work out, plus we wanted to hold off on spending that kind of money. The origin of this trip was a surprise trip for Theresa. I booked train tickets, two hotel rooms (one in Chicago, and one in Champaign) and a chocolate tour and made some restaurant reservations. I think I could have pulled off the surprise, but life was stressful enough that the additional, even minor, stress of keeping a secret was too much for me so I let TC in on the plans.
“Wait! Did you say ‘chocolate tour?'”
Why yes, I did!
A few years ago Theresa and I did a multi-day date in Chicago and she found a Groupon for Chicago Chocolate Tours. We had a ball, and loved it (despite TC being pregnant during the trip) and so I booked it again. It’s a walking tour of several downtown shops starting in a mall on Michigan Avenue. Complete with samples at each stop. We did essentially the same tour this time again, and it did not disappoint. Since the last time was during winter, between Spring and Theresa not being pregnant, this one was even more enjoyable.
But let me back up.
We started out with a nice breakfast at One World Cafe, one of our favorite local spots. We were three right at opening, and it was nice to support one of the Main Street businesses during the construction that’s going on there right now at University and Main. Hopefully the closed road and closed intersection won’t keep these local places from thriving. We wanted to do our part by starting out our three days with a One World breakfast. I splurged on having biscuits and gravy, which were amazing, and we both enjoyed a nice latte before heading out.
We then traveled to Champaign where we caught the 10:15am (which left closer to 10:30, but who’s counting) train to Chicago. This was TC’s first time on a train. It was really nice. Plenty of leg room, and we could sit and chat without the distractions of traffic and driving or even bathroom stops. Oh, and no parking issues in Chicago. We’ll take the train next time we go to Chicago, too, I think.
We arrived just a little bit later than 1 despite starting late and caught a cab to the Magnificent Mile Hilton where we checked in early and relaxed for a few minutes walking the two blocks to Michigan Avenue for the start of the Chocolate Tour at 2:45. We grabbed a quick lunch at Forty Carrots (in Bloomingdale’s Department store) which was fantastic. I had a southwest chicken salad, and Theresa had a really lovely chicken salad sandwich. A nice, light lunch before the tour.
The chocolate tour was everything we remembered. We started at Teuscher Chocolates (pronounced TOY-sure) in the 900 N. Michigan mall (right up the elevator from where the tour begins). All of the chocolate is imported from Switzerland, and we got a sample of one of the most amazing truffles you’ll ever have made with champagne. From there we visited two cupcake shops (More and Sprinkles), both with samples of small chocolate cupcakes. The tour also included a chocolate coffee cake from a little coffee shop, locally produced toffee, and a stop (with SEVERAL samples) at a fantastic little Belgian bakery owned by the Hendrickx family before finishing off at Argo Tea for some amazing chocolate chai. My favorite stop was the bakery (I remembered it from last time) and Theresa loved the tour and we’ll certainly do it again in the future.
After the tour we went back to the Hilton (did I mention I got the night free with HHonors points?) and relaxed for a while (Theresa got a nap) before walking about a mile to Fogo de Chao for a decadent dinner of meat and more meat. If you’ve never eaten at a Brazilian churrasqueira, you should try it at least once. The gauchos bring meat out on skewers and slice it off, to order, and put on your plates until you ask them to stop. I loved especially the garlic steak and the lamb chops. Medium rare of course. We left very full and satisfied and caught a cab back to the hotel.
A full and enjoyable day, with more to come. And since the post is already long I’ll leave day two for another edition.