I feel like “a short trip to _______” is my theme for 2019. I feel like I just got back from Los Angeles, and suddenly I was hopping on a train to Chicago for Angela’s birthday! In no time I’ll be heading up north to Traverse City and then south to Charleston! What a crazy exciting year.
As I mentioned in last week’s Sunday Scratches, I headed to Chicago last week with Randi (who lives in Chicago) and Angela, plus two of Angela’s friends Rafa and Carolina (who I now consider good friends!).
Angela wanted to see Hamilton for her birthday, and we discovered that, because of Chicago’s residency since 2016, it was actually easier and cheaper for Angela, Rafa, and Carolina to fly all the way from southern California to Chicago and see it there. And since Randi lives in Chicago and I’m less than 3 hours away, we made a big trip of it!
I took the train down on Tuesday after working for half the day and met Angela, Rafa, and Carolina at Shake Shack for a bite before meeting up with Randi and heading to our Airbnb. It was pouring all day, so we decided to stay at the apartment, get pizza delivered, and catch Carolina up on Game of Thrones. She lives in the mountains with crappy wifi, so she hadn’t seen any of season 8. And naturally I was happy to rewatch the first 3 episodes with her.
The next day was supposed to be super rainy, but when we woke up, the forecast changed to cloudy weather, with no rain until midnight! Yes please!
We grabbed breakfast at Tweet, which was delicious, and then went to Millennium Park so Rafa and Carolina could see the Bean and Lake Michigan. They had never been to Chicago before, so it was fun to see their reactions and get a fresh perspective on the city!
After that, we headed to the public library, where our entire goal was to ride as many escalators as possible. I’m not entirely sure why, but that’s what we did, and it was a blast.
Next Randi took us to a coffee shop straight out of Diagon Alley. Or Diagonally, depending on who you ask.
After coffee, we headed back to the Airbnb to get ready for Hamilton! We grabbed dinner at Wilde and then went to the show.
This was mine and Carolina’s second time seeing Hamilton (Sean and I saw it during our mini-moon), but everyone else hadn’t seen it yet. And Randi actually hadn’t even listened to the soundtrack yet, so she went in entirely blind! I actually liked this approach. Listening to the soundtrack before seeing a musical is kind of like reading the script before seeing a movie.
We all absolutely loved it (unsurprising). I’m actually trying to figure out the next time Sean and I can go back to see it. In the meantime, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack nonstop.
We had plans to go to Cheesie’s and a barcade after the show, but we were all pretty tired, so we headed back to the Airbnb and crashed.
The next morning, we went to Wheat’s End for breakfast. The above photo is me, Angela, and Randi with our matching friendship rings! It’s one of my favorite new traditions.
After breakfast, Angela, Rafa, Carolina and I headed to the museum campus for the Hamilton Exhibition, which was amazing. I had no expectations for it. Angela mentioned wanting to go, and as soon as I saw that it was narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I was sold. I literally knew nothing else about it.
Well, it was absolutely amazing. It tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, but in the context of the musical. There were quotes from the musical everywhere, as well as notes about inaccuracies in the musical. For example, it’s unconfirmed if Martha Washington actually named her feral tomcat after Hamilton, but it has been a rumor for a long time.
The entire thing was an audio tour, and when you walked into a new room, the tour automatically picked up from that location. There was a set audio clip for that room, but there were other spots you could get additional narration in each room.
For example, the Winter’s Ball room had life-size statues of a ton of prominent people from the late 1700s, and each one had their own audio clip associated with them. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), Phillipa Soo (Eliza Schuyler), and Christopher Jackson (George Washington) from the original Broadway cast told you more about each person. It was fascinating, and we spent a bunch of time in there.
The second-to-last room was really moving. It had life-sized statues of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr pointing pistols at each other in their duel. It was super dark, and it really felt like you were in Weehawken in the early 1800s.
At the end, there was a prompt for visitors to write down their dreams for America on a Post-It Note. It was a really fitting way to end the Exhibition, because it turned the entire thing back on the visitor.
Oh, and then there was a quote from Paul Ryan about Alexander Hamilton, to which Angela and I said “oh, fuck you” at the same time.
Honestly, I could have spent hours longer at the Exhibition, but we had to get back so I could catch my train. Which, of course, was delayed an hour. Womp.
It was a whirlwind trip, but it was an absolute blast! I’m so glad I went, and I made some awesome new friends along the way.
If you find yourself in Chicago this summer, I highly recommend both Hamilton: An American Musical and Hamilton: the Exhibition.