Sweet Home Chicago!
Welcome to our first Chicago post! We’ve taken a long break from learning about wine and taking many blog notes to relax and enjoy being back in Chicago, catching up with friends, drinking the wine we bought in CA, etc. We can’t believe our time is coming to a close here – Dave has already left St Louis for his drive out west – today he is overnighting in Oklahoma City and tomorrow he will be in Albuquerque. Then he starts work in Phoenix on Tuesday! Hard to keep it all straight. I leave on Sun Aug 2 to go to Dallas for a few days for work and then I’ll join Dave in Santa Fe on Wed, Aug 5.
This entry will focus on our apartment – which many of you have heard of us complain about! The other entries will feature some of our activities and outings in Chicago!
We have named our place the Dearborn Dustbin! The name says it all and the place has been the most challenging part of our stay. We rented through At Home Chicago after finding the listing (with no reviews) on airbnb. There is a monster construction project immediately next door that has provided months of early morning noise, HUGE amounts of construction dust (that makes its way inside even with windows closed), and basically miserable living conditions on the hot days (when you can’t open a window or turn on the AC unit.) Lucky for us, they did lay off the exterior grinding for a few weeks and most of the weather has been cooler than normal thankfully! They also put up more tarps after w complained about the monster dust clouds floating right by our windows. According to the building engineer (who of course is in regular touch with the owners), the woman who owns the building has been renovating it for years and years – a fact that should have been disclosed to us PRIOR to renting. The owners did offer to let us get out of our lease and to refund us for any unused nights, but we were unable to secure another rental (after making about 10 offers.) Rental lesson learned – from now on a friend will visit any Chicago rental before we sign on the dotted line. We’ll also ask about any construction activity prior to renting a place!
Remodeling next door:
The apartment interior
The unit itself is very small but totally as pictured, ‘remodeled’ kitchen, and has everything we need including a decent amount of storage space (no dresser of course though.), nice TV with free HBO, and they stocked it nicely with linens, kitchen items, toiletries, etc. We also have a nice view of the ballet school across the street with multiple trees in between. The kitchen is ‘toy-like’ in that it has a ¾ sized frig, ½ sized oven/range. The bedroom is a hot box as the AC doesn’t quite reach around the corner. We are in a great neighborhood called the Gold Coast which is known for its high end shops, dining, beautiful historic buildings, and proximity to Michigan Ave and the lake. Challenge is that our bedroom faces a main street that has action all the time, makes sleeping very difficult. The ‘bewitching hour’ tends to be around 4:45 on Fri and Sat when the last of the bars close up and the revelers are taking the party out onto the street! I’ve taken to wearing ear plugs and they do help, but I can’t wait to stop wearing them! I also have a hard time sleeping past 7 since the blinds in the bedroom aren’t the best and the light streams in bright and early!
The building and surroundings
The building itself is in desperate need of TLC and the word ‘murdery’ was the first I used to describe it, just like Captain Obvious did in a hotels.com ad a few years ago! We seriously wouldn’t be surprised one day to walk in the door and see a chalk outline! The building engineer rarely cleans the common area and the stairwell often stinks. The people in the building are a mixed bag – some say hi, some don’t, one of our neighbors regularly smokes ‘skunkweed’ that’s really nasty. We’re not living amongst pillars of society for sure.
There are a few cute dogs in the building (again, a fact that could have been disclosed in the rental listing.) We like to see the downstairs labradoodle out on the patio – we would always call out to him to get him to look up and instead he would run inside. He’s also barked at us when we’ve tried to chat with him outside – he’s skittish – a phrase that Dave used extensively to describe the animals we saw on safari! Next door there’s another smaller Labradoodle who likes to bark to come inside. Lots of Labradoodles and other dogs in the hood. Right down the street is a nice little park oasis where I’ve gone after work to relax, take him in some sun, and listen to the soothing sounds of the fountain. I liked capturing the wispy ‘painted’ clouds framing the steeple at the Harvest Bible Chapel one morning – beautiful!
Well, we’re moving on up, moving on up to the east side – in our deluxe apartment in the sky – NOT!! Though I must say we’ve had more regular visitors and repeat visitors (Jamie!) to this place than at the condo and that’s been very special!
In general the vacation rental market in Chicago is very challenging. You either have to be in a less than desirable neighborhood or you have to pay top dollar to get anything decent. Lots of tourists being fleeced for sure. That’s probably the case in any major city with a lot of demand – though I must say I think we scored solid deals in Palm Spring and Santa Fe – will keep you posted!