We're a quiet garden oasis five minutes from the action of the city, our space is an excellent value. Run with the efficiency of IKEA, our guests save money, making relaxation in WP affordable. We look forward to facilitating your travel adventures!
Our patio at night. Turn on the lights by plugging them in to the extension cord that's hidden behind the lilies' foliage to the left.
(If you'd like to book our space, but there's no availability, check our other listings, one of which is a mile north in Bucktown, and the other, which is just upstairs from this listing. It is our home, and we rent it out every so often.)
Welcome to Wicker Park, the best neighborhood in Chicago! We live just 1 block from the action that happens at Damen & Division every night (but we're in the back of the building, so it's "secret-garden" quiet). Our proximity to the Division Blue Line stop on the "L" (subway) makes getting to the "touristy stuff" (museums & Michigan Avenue... and WINTER HOLIDAY SHOPPING) not only quick & easy (3 subway stops!), but so much fun! Our Zagat-rated restaurants (much better options in terms of proximity, quality, & price than downtown) and the oh-so-romantic Wicker Park make this a get-away mecca!
Our uber-efficient system makes our bnb one of the best values, and most flexible stays, in the area. I've answered nearly every question you could have in our Guidelines and Directions to which I'll send you the link (and most are already answered here in our profile).
We are now allowing Instabook! Yay! Just make sure you've read through our listing thoroughly b/4 booking, please... : ) I'll send our must-read Guidelines & Directions once you've booked. Please remember: no "man's best friend" (dogs/pets) or smoking allowed on the property. A butt-free property is good for everyone!
Our space is its own PRIVATE APARTMENT in a four-apartment building with its own entrance, key, living space, etc. My husband and I live in a separate apartment upstairs, so you will have the space completely to yourselves, unencumbered by having to "converse with the hosts." (Unless you want to!) : )
LEAVE THE PLANNING TO ME!
For an extra $25, if you give me a brief description (I've got a system, of course!) of what you want to do while you're here, I will create a customized itinerary for you and yours... Having traveled to just over 30 countries and having lived here for 11+ years, I can easily plan a vacay for you that has you well-rested, eating great food, staying within your personal budget, and maximizing your time in our fair city.
Now let's be clear. I listed that we can accommodate 8 people, but the reality is that we currently have one full size bed in its own bedroom with a Sealy Posturpedic mattress, a queen-sized bed with a Sealy Posturepedic Wareham Plush mattress in its own bedroom, two luxury twin air mattresses, a camping cot, a large (6' x 4') custom butcher block eating/cooking/work area with 2 bar stools, and a kitchen table with two chairs all sitting on glistening, hardwood floors. (We also provide extra chairs upon request (beneficial to large groups). That's our space. We welcome a large party, and the floor space is vast, for those looking for uber-budget savings in exchange for slumber-party-esque sleeping arrangements.
Fan or AC? It's your choice: Save $5/night and skip the AC. Or splurge $5 more dollars per night and bask in the cold. This is my way of keeping your costs down. We have two oscillating, height-adjustable fans, two ceiling fans in the living room, and an AC. But the space is usually cool enough that you won't need the AC.
And I marked "Breakfast is Provided," but, again, for clarity's sake, I've got some b-fast items (and other items) "for sale" in the unit (personalized-sized cereal, NutriGrain bars, potato chips, candy bars, cookies, water, soda, beer, wine, etc.). A price list is on the fridge. If you see something that isn't on the list, it's because it's new or temporary (we happened to have it on hand, so we put it in the bnb). For those items, just give what you believe is fair.
Also, I've marked us as handicap accessible, because we're on the first level and have some bars on the bathtub wall. But there is one 2' portion of the walkway that is checkerboard stone ending in an 9" riser up to the patio. Please keep this in mind when booking.
(Oh, and that "review" we have listed under our name at the very beginning was an auto-review by Airbnb. We cancelled that reservation back then b/c we decided not to do Airbnb, so we hosted that couple for free instead.)
As we do love traveling, we might be home during your stay or we might have gone off on an "adventure" somewhere in or out of the country last-minute. Our life is spontaneous like that. Just yesterday my husband decided to cancel his local bike trip and booked a 3a flight to Guatemala for five days. So you're expected to be pretty independent. Read the Guidelines and Directions before arrival, as they'll answer all of your questions...
OUR EXTERIOR (aka: THE GARDEN)
Enter our home by pushing open a black gate, walking over the cobblestones covering the front patio from which you can sit at the wrought iron table or lounge on comfortable furniture, watching friendly neighbors walk past our lush 6-year-old English flower garden. Bring your computer out and enjoy free wi-fi while you bask in the warmth of Chicago.
Continue on through another, taller black iron gate, down a pathway (sometimes it's candlelit!) to our rear garden, filled with hyacinths, lilies, a trumpet vine, and a hummingbird-attracting honeysuckle vine. Sit on this large shaded patio, eating your breakfast (they say it's blasphemous to eat indoors during the Chicago summer months!) just next to our modern Japanese-inspired river rock garden... or rest in one of our hammocks. A tall birch fence on the north side and the garage blocking the view from the alley ensures privacy, while a shorter fence on the alternate side allows sociability with the neighbors. In the evening hours, plug in the fairy lights (the plug connection is right by the stairs) for a romantic ambiance. (I was pretty excited, b/c it turned out prettier than I had even planned!) We have worked hard over the past 6 years to create an inviting, peaceful garden with plenty of variety and interest... future plans include a water feature, an outdoor shower, a vertical garden, and a pond...
Enter your living space through the rear door on the first level. This space will be yours while you are our house guests. The house is over 100 years old, so it has beautiful ARCHITECTURE, but all of the modern features so that you can actually enjoy its character.
As you walk in, you will see an open floor plan, with a BRAND NEW IKEA KITCHEN, cooking supplies (if you find that you need something culturally specific, like a griddle, a tortilla roller, or an idli pot, or even a specific spice, we probably have it upstairs... just ask!), and a large repositionable (it's on wheels!) multipurpose butcher block surface. Two bar stools accompany a bar-level eating/work space. Plug in your computer and other electronics in one of three power strips. Two are located under the work space. One is hidden under the kitchen counter next to the stove. Eat a proper meal at the kitchen table. We have a bagel/toast toaster, 12-cup coffee maker, electric tea kettle (added due to many requests for tea!), coffee bean grinder, & 1-cup french press in the apartment. (The free gourmet coffee is in the freezer.) A dishwasher, gas stove, oven, microwave, refrigerator, & washer/dryer complete the amenities. Plus, for the grilling types, we have a new outdoor grill on the 2nd level just waiting to be tried out! If you need something else, you can always text me and ask if we have it... who knows?... we probably do and we're more than willing to lend...
OUR "SNACK SHOP"
For those late arrivals and those rushed mornings... or for when you've walked all day & are starving, but can't bear the thought of running out for a snack... I've stocked the space with goodies. At the moment, until they run out, we have chips, snack-packs of cookies, pudding snacks, wine, regular and diet Pepsi or Coke, local beers, & Nutri Grain bars and Snickers bars. The snacks change based on what we happened to pick up when we were shopping. You can pay for your cravings by putting money in a vase on the counter.
OUR FREE "COOKING ESSENTIALS"
I've also stocked the kitchen with free-for-you-to-use cooking essentials, should you want to save a bit of money there. (Though I'd take advantage of Wicker Park's amazing culinary rainbow!) The fridge has pre-chopped garlic, ketchup, mustard, & relish. There's also oil, a sea salt grinder, and a black pepper grinder. Feel free to text or call and ask if we have specific spices (we have loads for you to borrow) upstairs. You're more than welcome to them and we have loads. Sometimes there are other goodies that have been left behind by other guests (butter, red wine vinegar, etc.). I leave them in the space... no need to be wasteful...
Off to the right are the bedroom, a bathroom, a 2nd small "city" bedroom, and a "laundry room" (this is just a closet in the 2nd bedroom).
The bathroom was a recipient of the renovations, with brand-new wall-length 8-inch deep medicine cabinets, perfect for hiding away your travel kit and extra toilet paper. But, really, why even bring your shampoo/conditioner/blow dryer/etc. when we have it all on hand? Oh, and, hundred-year-old homes come with charming quirks. Our bathroom sink has one: cold is hot and hot is cold. But the fixture is pretty and new and European, so... ! ; ) Outside the bathroom is a large (7'? x 2'?) IKEA mirror (turn it on its side if you have a large party and everyone wants to pretty themselves up at once!).
We have a lot here (cotton swabs, shampoo/conditioner, quality soap, lotion, nail polish, razors, etc.). A hotel-style curved shower curtain rod allows ample space for washing up in the tub. The whole room is bright white, with a window facing the gorgeous Chicago brick, letting light and air in.
THE QUEEN-BED BEDROOM
The bedroom includes a brand-new (as of April 2014) Sealy Posturepedic Wareham Plush Mattress Set for maximum comfort with white 1500 thread count sheets and duvet cover... along with a medium-sized closet with plenty of hangers for storage. There are fold-away hooks on the wall for hanging your... whatever. Umbrella? Pants? Coat? Scarf?
THE FULL-BED BEDROOM
This room has a full bed with white 1500 thread count sheets and duvet cover, along with fold-away hooks on the wall for clothing, etc.
THE "LAUNDRY ROOM"
Our "laundry room" is essentially a closet off of the 2nd bedroom, where our washer/dryer resides. Our full sized ironing board is in the "laundry room". On top of the mini-washer/dryer (it's a condo-sized washer/dryer, so the cycle runs longer), you'll find the iron, detergent pods, & dryer sheets. One wash is $1 (including 1 detergent pod & dryer sheet).
Need a book to read or a magazine to peruse? We've got a decent library in the interior stairwell and plenty of mag's (Time, Photography, etc.). And Lonely Planets from about 40 countries. Just ask.
Speaking of storage, you probably won't need it, but this is our home, so our renovations created huge amounts of overhead, out-of-the-way, but easily accessible, storage. No need to worry about where to put your "stuff". If you have a large party, you can ask us for an additional storage shelf that we can roll in to store everyone's luggage for easy access to maximize the floor (website hidden)
Because this is a garden-level apartment, you probably won't need the air conditioning (few have needed it)... Even so, it is available for an additional $5/day. As for heat, we have central heating.
Free wi-fi is part of the gig, both inside and out. For this reason, we do not have a television. Watch TV inside or out by logging on to one of the many websites offering quality television for free.
IF YOU NEED IT... don't be afraid to ASK...
Also, because we live in the building, if you need it, just ask (when we're in town). We probably have it. Once you confirm your stay, I will send you "Guidelines & Directions" that will have more specific information.
We have very easy access to O'hare & Midway via the Blue line or 90/94. (My hubby and I always take the subway to the airport whenever we travel. It's more predictable than a taxi, depending on the traffic!)
We are equidistant (half a mile) between two "L" stops. (The "L" is our subway system.) Damen stop & the Division stop... and we are 3 stops from the Magnificent Mile! (5 stops from the Art Institute)
We are less than 5 minutes driving distance from 90/94. This is a big deal, b/c it eliminates having to drive through traffic to get to the highway. That can mean taking more than a half an hour to 45 minutes (not to mention stress) off of your driving trip.
We also have great bus stops near our home: Division, Damen, Chicago, and Ashland buses are all super-efficient... and will take you to museums, shopping, etc.
You can easily park on the street for "free" in front of our house. (You'll need a city sticker, which we'll provide for $1 per entire stay... a bargain, given Chicago's limited parking...) Keep in mind that if you arrive on a Friday night or Saturday night, or if you have a large vehicle (full-size van, large truck, etc.) parking becomes exponentially more difficult and you may have to look harder.
Chicago's an extremely bicycle-friendly city (over 200 miles of protected street biking! and the Lake Shore Drive bicycle path along the lake is gorgeous and has some of the best views of Chicago!), with bike lanes on most major streets.
We have two bicycles available (one women's & one men's) for $5 rental each per day. But keep in mind that if you get them stolen, we'll ask for a $100 payment to cover them. You'll have to read the gig about how NOT to get them stolen, as bike thieves are professionals around here!
We've also added a bike bar in our backyard, where you can lock up any bikes that you bring.
If there are more than two of you who'd like to bike around Chicago, take advantage of Divvy Bicycle Rental. It's new as of 2013 and very popular in Chicago! It's an automatic rental system, so it's "open" 24/7, and we happen to have a bike station a block from us.
Keep in mind that we're "kid friendly," but are not a child-proofed apt. That's your job as the parent when you arrive. (You might want to remove the knives from their ultra-convenient location under the counter. And if you're not into building your kid's immune system, you might want to wash the toys prior to usage.) But we do have a fun backyard area for the kids, hidden from street view (so very safe), with loads of kiddie stimulation. (The kids' favorite is also romping on the hammock!) We even have a swing for kiddies up to 44 pounds. And we have electric socket covers for you to use. You'll find a bin of toys under the bed. And we have a couple of baby items that you might be able to borrow. In other words, you might not have to pack as much as you think... And your stay might just be a little more comfy. Ask us if we have a kiddie item available and we'll let you know.
We can also give you some trusted babysitting contacts, so that you can try to have a night out on your own! The going rate in Chicago is $11/hour.
We've been voted the best neighborhood in Chicago... for good reason!
Our home is very peaceful both inside and out. We're in the back, but even sitting in the front courtyard, you won't be assaulted by noise pollution.
Walk 5-10 minutes and you have the option of all of the Zagat-rated restaurants you could possibly want. On a budget? We have that. Ready to splurge? That's here, too. But no matter what, it all tastes delicious. We're a knowledgeable neighborhood when it comes to food and those spaces that offer mediocre food or overprice do not last long here in Wicker Park. Don't waste your time in the Loop. This is some of the best food (with authentic offerings from all over the world: Argentinian, Thai, Italian, Latin, tapas, southern comfort, sushi, etc.) at some of the best prices in the city. (A 7-minute stroll will have you eating at one of the best rib joints in the city.)
Not into nightlife or just need a break? Sit in one of the many parks within 10 min's walking distance. Wicker Park (the actual park) is one of the best. Most have beautiful fountains... Or sit in one of the many restaurants or cafe courtyards... Or just take a walk... I love walking in our neighborhood... The residents here care about their homes and their gardens and it shows... The building stock is fabulous and we've been established as a historic district, so the facades of these gorgeous, old buildings are not allowed to be changed...
It's got NIGHTLIFE...
More into the party than the peace? 5am bars within a 7-10 minute walk let you experience Chi-town's love of a good time. Restaurants are open until 10p-12p, with some bars offering food until 1am or later. Bars are open until 2a, some until 3a, and others 4a on weekdays (5a on wknd). And these are some of the best in Chicago. You can live here for years on end and not exhaust the bar scene.
It's got COFFEE...
Seriously. How our neighborhood supports the amount of coffee shops it does is beyond me. But our cafes are high-quality, laid-back, historic, and don't mind if you people-watch for hours.
It's got BRUNCH...
We Chi-towners love brunch. And WP does brunch well. We live literally 2 minutes' walk from Milk n Honey, one of the absolutely to-die-for best brunch places in the country.
It's got GELATO...
We have at least three amazing gelato spots within 5-15 minutes' walk. Mexican chocolate gelato at Black Dog Gelato (Chicago & Damen)? Yes, please!
It's got MUSIC and ART...
Music and art are the fabric that make up our soul in WP. More than three legendary music venues (including the Double Door) are within walking distance. The flat-iron building teems with art studios. Walk around and you'll find some beautiful graffiti walls that change every few months. Bands love to stay here due to the price and proximity.
It's FASHIONABLE and QUIRKY...
Love shopping? People come from all over to shop in our boutiques. Jewelry designers, clothing designers, baby stores... For instance, walk down our street to the corner and you instantly see an upscale flower shop that I frequent (Cattails... say hi to Lisa!), walk a few feet to the right and you'll see a boutique offering high-quality goods from all over the world. (Great if you just got back from Zimbabwe and forget to get your sister a gift!) Walk to your left and you can buy your baby nephew a high-priced t-shirt from Sprout. Cross the street and buy some hand-made earrings or go into the door next to Cattails and make your own at one of the best bead shops I've ever been to.
It's got SUSHI...
So many sushi restaurants in our neighborhood, many open late... Crazy-high-end (many say that Marai has the best sushi in town) or 1/2 price sushi on the cheap.
It has PROXIMITY to HOLIDAY SHOPPING, parades, etc....
We're only 4 subway stops from State Street: the mecca of holiday shopping, the Thanksgiving Day parade, the famous Macy window displays, the lighting of the Daly Plaza Christmas tree & the Kristkindle Market, etc.
It's got WHATEVER I FORGOT TO NAME...
Seriously, our neighborhood has it all for everyone...
Because it's just been renovated, it's clean-clean-clean. Brand new paint job, brand new everything, means super-clean for the serious germ-phobic in you. I will expect you to clean up after yourselves (call us the IKEA of BnBs), so I've included a list of "extra cleaning items" on our Directions and Guidelines. Should you decide, for instance, not to do your dishes or clean the coffee maker thoroughly after using it, or track dirt/mud in all over the floor, your deposit will be kept in full. This reduces the overall nightly cost for you.
The INTANGIBLES... (Well, some are tangibles.)
I like making our guests happy. Perhaps you'll arrive and there will be tea straight from Nanjing waiting for you. Or Girardelli chocolates on your pillow. Or truffles. Our goal is to make this better than a hotel would be. You are our friends-without-strings. And let's face it. We're nice.
If you really want, and if we're not out seeing the world during your stay, I can even make you breakfast for $10/person, but you'll have to let me know in advance (otherwise, we probably won't have the food to make breakfast) and we might not be home, so I might not be able to offer this (definitely not on weekdays). I'm no chef, but I can make your basics if you're in the need of relaxation: Omelette, Toast, & Coffee.
We're also HANDS-OFF...
You may see a lot of us; you might not see us the entire time you're at our home. We don't really have a routine schedule. We both have full-time jobs and lives that are pretty unpredictable. I'm super-detailed, so as long as you read our info, I'll make your arrival very easy, your stay super-smooth, and your departure just as simple.
When you book, you'll receive an electronic version of our DIRECTIONS & GUIDELINES. This will give you more information about your stay than you'll even care to know. It will list our comprehensive recommendations for restaurants, bars, boutiques, music, etc. It'll include lists: "What to do in Chicago when you're too tired to do anything." "Where to get the best hot dog." "Where to get a cup of coffee."
You'll have the option of buying a 3-day CTA card (subway/bus) from us rather than having to seek out a vendor. (They're $20.) It doesn't really make us money or save you money, but it saves you the hassle of having to go buy one.
We basically have our own little tourist/visitor center (brochures, maps, etc.) that has been weeded out to include only the items you'll need. (Want to take trapeze lessons? We have a brochure for that!) And if you need help with your trip, we can assist.
All of this will save you time... an important commodity when you're on vacay.
Oh, yeah, and we have hammocks. I love hammocks. Everyone should have hammocks.
At the end of the day, we know you'll have a lovely stay with us. Hope to see you soon!
You will have access to a whole apartment set in a garden, three outdoor spaces where you can dine, read, or nap... Two bedrooms and ample floor space for larger groups, if you'd prefer savings over personal space!... Free wi-fi... a convenience "store" in the apt... plenty of kitchen items and counter space for cooking... reading materials in lieu of a television (Sorry! We don't have a TV!)... A "travel center" with plenty of info... and more...
Interaction with Guests
We communicate with our guests primarily through the Airbnb website. This provides a secure platform for our guests. We may or may not be home during your stay and upon check-in and we have full-time jobs, so we expect you to read through our listing and Guidelines and Directions thoroughly before arrival, as we've answered nearly every question you have before you've asked...
Wow! We love Wicker Park! The history! The eclectic vibe! The Zagat-rated restaurants with cuisine from all over the world! The gorgeous parks! The access to practicalities! Easy transportation to anywhere in the city and the world! All within 5-10 min's walking distance! And a quiet backyard from which to relish in our fortune to be able to live here... and to share our neighborhood with you...
The L is a half-mile away (10 min's walk).
The buses are a block away (2 min's walk).
The airport is 45 min's away via the subway.
Taxis pass constantly and usually take 0-5 minutes to hail.
Other Things to Note
We expect you to read the listing... as well as the Guidelines and Directions... This is a required part of agreeing to stay in our building. No. We don't have a TV. Etc.
Please don't do anything illegal, including underage drinking. Please don't smoke anywhere on the property. (I can smell it from the third floor, even if someone's smoking on the front courtyard. And I hate germy, ugly butts on our property. Ew.)
Try to calm down after midnight. We're not a library-type neighborhood, but we do respect each other. On the front patio, you'll have to be very quiet after 10p, b/c we have a tenant who goes to sleep. And just, you know, be respectful of our home. We love writing nice reviews of our guests.
You will arrive at a clean home and we will clean up after you once you've gone, but please try to not leave a gigantic mess. That's the reason for the deposit. I will personally sanitize the space when you leave. But if the place is seriously messy (garbage all over, or dirt/mud tracked in on our pretty wood floor, or dishes not done, etc.) and requires a cleaning service, I'll let you foot that bill.
You can "check in" or "check out" whenever you like... as late or early as you like. We have a system in place.
Lyney was great. The room easily slept the 8 of us.
She was flexible and concise.
We loved the space, and adore the neighborhood! We would certainly stay again.
Everything was well described, and labeled. Every question I had was addressed. There are a number of bars / restaurants / coffee options nearby that also made for a great experience.
Both the apartment and Lyney were fabulous! It's clear that Lyney is a well-seasoned traveler and Airbnb hostess - the information provided before the trip was clear, communication before and during our stay was swift and the apartment was equipped with anything we might need. She anticipated any question we might have had! The apartment was clean, comfortable, and incredibly organized. Lyney provided great tips for exploring the neighborhood and was incredibly responsive to our questions. I was also able to check in early (around 10am) and was grateful to have the opportunity to put down my things and relax a bit after my flight. It also gave me the chance to meet Lyney, who was putting the finishing touches on the place when I arrived. Overall, it was a great stay - perfect size and amenities for what my friend and I needed for our weekend in Chicago. I'm hoping to stay again in warmer weather to enjoy the back deck and gardens! Thanks so much for making my first Airbnb experience a lovely one!
This was a fantastic experience! Our hosts were kind and informative. The space had everything one could need. My colleague and I had a blast eating and shopping our way through the neighborhood. I didn't know what to expect going into this adventure as this was my first airbnb experience. And now the bar is set very high thanks to Lyney's hospitality!
Thank you again,
Andrea & Beth
We booked at the last minute after getting stranded at O'Hare and Lyney was extraordinarily responsive on such short notice. The apartment was nice and clean with two separate bedrooms and a great living area to hang out in -- exactly what we were looking for! Lyney also did a great job of providing recommendations for things to do in the area which is really fun and is close to a ton of fantastic restaurants and bars.
Really enjoyed the hang. The cottage was very clean and felt homey. Lyney's directions around the house were super helpful and playful. I'm into it.
Lyney's space was just perfect. It was very clean and had everything we needed. The furnishings are all very clean and well cared for. The location was great we were just steps away from restaurants, cafes and shopping. I highly recommend The Boundary and Worm Hole cafe. Lyney wasn't in town when we checked in but her husband stopped by as we came in (very late) and made sure we had everything we needed. The space also felt very private and secure.
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We're a professional couple with a crazy schedule and plenty of personal visitors and non-personal visitors (who we often stay in touch with after their stay). We have 5+ years of busy hosting under our belt (not with Air B&B) and we pretty much have it down to an efficient science.
We have been together since '04. We've both traveled to 6 six continents, sometimes together, sometimes alone. Lyney lived in China for 2 yrs. T grew up elsewhere and has been in the States for 25+ years. Antarctica is definitely on our list of "to-do's". We travel internationally 2-3 times/yr and domestically/regionally in-between.
Southeast Asia and Asia in general is our specialty, but we've also done Honduras, Peru, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico, Canada, The UK (Scotland, England, and Wales), Paris, Australia, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Amsterdam, Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain, etc. And we've traveled extensively within the U.S.
We usually take 12 - 18 days to comprehensively explore a country, sometimes learning the language, history, and culture prior to the trip... and nearly always planning out a detailed itinerary before we go, using the Lonely Planet, blogs, and hostel booking websites as our primary sources.
WHAT ARE WE PASSIONATE ABOUT?
MUSIC: We LOVE music; we see live shows at least once a month and attend around 3 domestic music fests each year. We especially love discovering new indie bands. We dig Indie Music and we're sooo into the '70s/80s music (the good stuff, not the cheesy stuff); our cheap record player is begging for a bigger cheap vinyl selection (we have about 20 right now)...
GARDENING: Lyney loves to garden, so we've got a few work-in-progress gardens on the premises.
CUISINE: We hate to say we're "foodies" b/c it sounds a bit high-brow, but we really love finding fabulous flavors around town and even in our own kitchen.
We especially get excited when we discover something new. I will usually try just about anything. I've eaten blood, pig brains, bullfrog, guinea pig, frog legs, caviar, pate, fois gras, chicken hearts, etc.
One of my favorite foods is escargot (so much so that I buy it at Costco) and T and I usually do sushi at least once a month, though he's a big fan of Mexican food. We go grocery shopping once a month in the Indian section of town... and usually hit up the Korean grocery store once a year to stock up on sauces/seaweed/canned ingredients.
And for us, the spicier, the better!!! Bring it on! Hot sauces? Yum. The hotter, the better, and we're always looking for a new one to try.
Exotic coffee? Yum.
Sweets, not so much.
Foreign cheese? Dig cheeses that are mild, semi-firm to firm and complex.
We spend anywhere from $0.50 per person (street food in third world countries) to $250 per person (extremely special occasions).
OUR CITY: I thoroughly believe in being a tourist in my own city. Every time we travel to a city, I think, "If only we had more time here..." Well, in Chicago, we do! So we take full advantage!
We're intimately familiar with Chicago and love to share the info that we've gathered living here in Chicago, so we can recommend the best places in Chi-town, whether you're looking for dive bars, dancing, you-but-not-you, or even if you're looking for something more unique, like learning to make jewelry, or where you can take trapeze lessons (that's not a joke!), or where you can buy a sitar. If we don't know the answer, we'll at least be able to tell you how to find it.
And we have very organized binders filled with maps/brochures/information, carefully categorized & user-friendly, so that you can plan your trip and/or take maps & brochures with you during the day, no matter what your interest is. We also have some Chicago guidebooks for you to borrow.
IMBIBING: We both love a good wine and tend to stay around the $15 and under range. Lyney loves trying new cocktail recipes (she often just asks bartenders who don't mind playing along to just "make me something I've never had before")... and T likes to try cheap sake... We enjoy tequila tasting... and our primary hard liquor of choice is Ketel One.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Lyney loves to play around with basic-basic-basic photography. New angles, shapes, color...
THE STAGE: We really don't see enough plays. I see maybe 3 plays per year and T sees maybe 1 per year b/c I make him... but he enjoys it. Usually. I see a ballet every time I go to NYC (it's oddly cheaper there)... and would go all of the time in Chicago if I could afford it! There's nothing quite like a good ballet. (The Nutcracker and Swan Lake are awful ballets and should be banned.) And I enjoy opera, though I haven't seen enough of it.
ART/ARCHITECTURE: I love modern & contemporary art; T's not a big fan, but he's into more classical eras.
I happen to be on a Tara Donovan kick at the moment... Chagall is an older favorite, since childhood... Degas' ballerinas are my cliche go-to (I just love them.).
I realize that he's controversial, but I so enjoy Frank Gehry's work. If you haven't seen the documentary, "Sketches of Frank Gehry" (2005), you really should.
NEWNESS: We're ADDICTED to "new"... give us something we've never tried before and we're in!
HOW WE SPEND OUR MONEY: We're into spending money on our trips, so we don't have much in the way of "toys" (big tv, fancy cars, etc.). We lean towards minimalism.
WHAT DO WE READ?
Lyney loves historical and cultural non-fiction... and BritLit... as well as other classics... A modern favorite is Jhumpa Lahiri. An old favorite is War and Peace, though The Winter Of Our Discontent is fabulous. Emily Dickinson may be an easy pick, but she makes my heart soar.
T's into what Lyney calls "junk novels", but he's a news junkie and is addicted to constant learning...
Our magazine subscriptions include: Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, National Geographic, SPIN, Digital Photography, Forbes, New York Magazine, etc. and are all available for you to read while here (and to take with you, if you so desire). Lyney wants The New Yorker, but it's such a $$$ subscription!
TV/FILM: T loves sci-fi, but not in an extreme geeky way (er, not that there's anything wrong with that...?) and Lyney loves drama. We both like a good indie or foreign film.
WHO DO WE GET ALONG WITH BEST?
Laid-back, low-maintenance, self-sufficient, not fearful, adventurous people who make smart/safe/educated travel decisions (such as not walking alone at 3 in the morning on Chicago's south-west side) and who take full advantage of their time in Chicago.
Non-judgmental; open-minded; We're not into racism/xenophobia
Interested in exchanging cultural info/learning from each other's cultures
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." ~Ambrose Redmoon
“Identity is such a crucial affair that one shouldn't rush into it.” David Quammen
"This too shall pass."
"Dear Lord, make me a bird, so I can fly far... far, far away." Jenny, in Forest Gump
"The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering,
And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die."