Going Up!

11 03 2010

By Kinero Tan

This blog post is dedicated to the Stratton Family (Steve, Sarah, John, Betsy, and Patrick). Thank you so much for contributing to an unforgettable weekend.

Breath of Cultures took an early detour to catch up with an old friend with an unscheduled stop in the Windy City. It would be discovered that sometimes you don’t have to venture too far to capture a new flavor. Sometimes, it’s in your own backyard.

So often our first impressions mimic last impressions. And this relationship with a city called Chicago has left a taste in my mouth that’s leaves me longing for more. With only four days to really take it all in, perhaps it was the improbable good weekend weather, the presence of amazing company, or the vertical allure that would leave me falling.

As I looked out from 103 stories up from the Willis Tower (Forever held in the hearts of locals as the Sears Tower) into the burning history that has helped shape the skyline, I realized that moments like that, are the reason why I started Breath of Cultures to begin with. Never again in my life will I be able to replicate my experience on Saturday, March 6th 2010, where clear skies permitted viewing of 50 miles in each direction, four different states, massive Lake Michigan, and the United Center where Michael Jordan led the Bulls to 6 NBA championships. Fortunately for me, on this day, I had all of these things.

After you’ve finished admiring the first ever steel skyscrapers and amazing architecture you can embrace the unique culture sweeping across the diverse city blocks. Any night of the week, you catch a show on the Corner of North and Wells @ Zanies or the Second City Comedy Club where so many of the most famous, past and present comedians established their roots. The word “Jazz” was first created in the Chicagoan vocabulary. Holding true to it’s home, this genre of music continues to flourish and is a proud feature in defining the cities character. Some of the best restaurants in the nation can be found in the heart of Chicago including Alinea and Charlie Trotter’s. Whether your having a slice of pizza, or dining on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock exchange at Everest, visitors and locals alike share a common, “Come hungry, Leave happy” mentality. And with events like the Polar Bear Plunge where locals dive into the freezing Lake Michigan in support of the Chicago Special Olympics, or the abundant Irish Pubs that countdown months in advance for Saint Paddy’s Day when the river running through the city is dyed green, there is no wonder in my mind why these people take so much pride in this place they call home.

My years in Portland in putting together events and celebrating the world of fashion has led to an enthusiasm in the way we express ourselves through what we wear. To all by Breath of Culture followers who share the same excitement for this industry, the realm of couture in this city will leave you with a sensory overload, and should hardly go unannounced. I would describe it as a designer’s dream, and a shopaholic’s paradise. Those of you with an addiction I recommend a hooded sweatshirt that cuts off your peripheral vision. Club Monaco, Bloomingdales, H & M, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Aldo and some of the newest additions including Victoria Secret and Michael Kor cover Michigan Ave in a stretch called the Magnificent Mile. Buyer beware, your plastic might get a little wear and tear, especially for those of you visiting don’t forget to account for a 10.25% sales tax, the highest in the nation!

I leave you with my one recommendation for the City of Chicago: Visit the John Hancock building first.

My reasoning behind this is three fold. This is a good starting point to give you a little background information on the history of the town, and how it came to be. You will also be able to map out the rest of your trip from this one single spot. Whether that may include ice-skating in Millennium Park, visiting the Chicago Historical Museum, or catching the Bulls or Blackhawks rip it up at the United Center. Yes, it’s true. It is only the second largest building next to Willis Tower, but any local will tell you, it’s actually the best view of the entire town considering its location right next to Lakeshore Drive.

I look forward to a likely return visit to this surprisingly memorable destination. But for now, cheers to the next adventure!