Happy Birthday Bistro Chic!
As a travel and lifestyle blogger, birthdays are a great excuse to jet off to somewhere new and exciting to not only broaden my travel repertoire, but also to gather more inspirational photos and material.
Enter COVID – a travel blogger’s nemesis; a virus that simultaneously makes it super easy to travel with reduced airfares, reasonable hotel prices, shorter lines, and faster road trips, yet makes it nearly impossible to travel because of so many restrictions. Curse you COVID and all of your fellow viruses too!
Even with COVID looming, I was determined to find a way to do something cultural for my birthday, even if it didn’t require a plane trip or long drive in the car. Luckily for me, Chicago is right in my backyard and, in a normal year, offers a huge variety of sites, restaurants, and cultural activities to enjoy any day of the week.
Like many major metropolitan areas, Chicago has been extremely conservative when it comes to COVID restrictions and has only recently started to return to somewhat normal activity, allowing restaurants to open indoor dining with limited seating and museums and other cultural sites to open with limited capacity.
We were thrilled to hear that among those newly reopened Chicago landmarks was the Art Institute of Chicago, one of our favorite places to visit. As members of the Art Institute, we have toured the museum more times than we can count. But no matter how often I go, I’m continuously inspired by the immense collection of European Renaissance paintings, Greek and Italian sculptures, and impressionist art, not to mention the beautiful building architecture, as illustrated by the famous entryway steps guarded by two stone lions.
Even with just an hour to spare, touring the Art Institute can transport you to van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, France; to Spain to view the Old Guitarist from Picasso; and back to France to stare in awe at Monet’s Water Lillies. But let’s be honest, one hour is merely enough to see the most famous museum highlights, but it’s not nearly enough to take in all that the museum has to offer, especially if you are interested in touring the Modern Wing.
So after seeing a few of our favorites (while fully masked and 6 feet apart), we ventured out into the city proper for a walk around Maggie Daley Park and Millennium Park, stopping by a handful of art on display, including the slightly restricted but always reflective Cloud Gate, aka The Bean, by British artist Anish Kapoor. We see The Bean multiple times a year, but somehow the huge mirror-like legume still intrigues us, even this year while it remains inside a Stonehenge-like gate to prevent large crowds from gathering.
As magic hour began to fade, we headed off to RPM Italian for another amazing dinner of house-made pomodoro bucatini, a glass of Prosecco and mini raspberry sorbet cones for a birthday treat.
Honestly, I’d much prefer to eat my pasta in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome, but this was not a bad birthday for a travel-restricted blogger…indeed.