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Chicago/South Bend Trip

When did we go….

  • Sep 10-15, 2019


Why did we go…

  • to hang out with our good friends Tad and Philly at Philly’s alma mater of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN


How did we get there…

  • flew three and a half hours to Chicago
  • drove two hours to South Bend
  • the return flight from Chicago to Calgary is four hours



Where did we stay…

  • two nights at the Park Hyatt in downtown Chicago (beautiful hotel, excellent concierge services, great location on the north end of downtown, nice rooftop bar/restaurant)
  • three nights at the Hilton Garden Inn in South Bend (great location near the University, comfortable hotel, had a ghost toilet that went off a few times during the night…ha ha)



Where did we eat…


  • Giordano’s (lunch, traditional Chicago Deep Dish pizza, heavy meal, 45 minutes to prep the pie)
  • Ralph Lauren (dinner, convenient location across from our hotel, our server Russell Shulman was one of the best we have ever had, excellent chow and fun setting)
  • Yolk (breakfast, huge selection, good quality food, nice outdoor patio, met a cool Cavapoo dog named Londo whose owner was from London…go figure)
  • Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse (vintage Chicago style steakhouse named after the legendary Cubs announcer, very good food, old school waiters, mob hangout in the basement)
  • Mon Ami Gabi (dinner, French cuisine, beautiful vintage building, high-quality food, enjoyed dinner with our Calgary friends Del and Shannon)

South Bend:

  • breakfasts at our hotel buffet (good healthy selection of food)
  • Rocco’s (dinner, old-style Italian dinner with good quality food, enjoyable other than the family with young kids who made more noise than a football stadium of people)
  • Chipolte (lunch, Mexican fast food, had never been to one before but it was excellent)
  • Mitch’s Corner Sports Bar (dinner, old-style pub with a fun atmosphere where we dined with our friend’s tailgate buddies Tom and Larry from West Virginia)
  • Barnaby’s (dinner, 50-year-old order at the counter style pizza joint)



What did we do…


  • walked to the Lake Michigan waterfront to watch people cycling, biking, swimming, and hanging out on the beach
  • strolled thru Milton Olive Lee Park (legendary Vietnam soldier who threw himself on a grenade to save the rest of his troop and he was the first African American to receive the medal of honor)
  • went up to the 95th floor of the John Hancock building to enjoy the panoramic 360-degree views of the city and Lake Michigan
  • checked out live music at Andy’s Jazz (average band) and Blue Chicago (great band with an amazing harmonica performance)
  • viewed the beautiful Buckingham Fountain (huge fountain with a great city skyline on one side and Lake Michigan on the other side)
  • checked out the two opposing Crown Fountains (pleasant surprise with a woman’s face lit up on the fountain walls, apparently there is a camera somewhere that you can put your face on the fountains)
  • scoped out the famous Bean (Cloud Gate) sculpture which is very funky (famous Instagram spot)
  • took the Architectural River Cruise on ‘The First Lady’ boat (amazing history from our guide and great views of the historic downtown buildings, this is a must-do activity)
  • stumbled upon a Chicago Blackhawks store (my team growing up during the Bobby Hull era) where I picked up a Hawks hat
  • dropped into a Whole Foods to pick up some dark chocolate sea salt caramels for my bro JAS (gotta keep the family happy)
  • went on the Chicago Crime Tour (was a bit underwhelming as our tour guide didn’t have a good flow in terms of explaining the whole genre and how things tied together, need to pick up a book that describes this era as it is quite a fascinating part of the cities history)
  • walked thru the neighborhoods near our hotel checking out the historical buildings which is one of my favorite things to do in a city

South Bend:

  • the first day we toured the Notre Dame campus which is a magnificent campus with beautiful buildings, and amazing history
  • hung out at some bars near the University (Brothers bar was dangerous with their super cheap drinks, we had a couple of rounds of drinks for the four of us, and the tab was $22)
  • on the second day, we toured more of the campus with a focus on all the amazing sports facilities and the athletic legacies
  • we stopped at Belmont Beverages to load up on tailgate adult beverages and stopped in at Martin’s for some chow to augment what our hosts Tom and Larry were providing
  • we also stopped in both days at Kilwin’s which is a chocolate store across from the campus that has an amazing selection of chocolates and fudge (how do you spell extra pounds that are worth it)
  • attended the Fighting Irish vs. New Mexico State football game (more like a slaughter as ND won 66-18) including the pre-game tailgating fun
  • the various pre-game, in-game, and post-game rituals made for a fascinating and unique experience (my favorite was when they lifted people up for overhead pushups every time that ND scored based on the number of points they had at the time which resulted in 353 pushups on the day…quite a workout for those that partook)



Interesting facts:


  • Chicago’s name is derived from an Indian Algonquian word (Chicagou) meaning ‘onion field’ as wild onion or garlic grew profusely in the area
  • the historic fire of 1871 burnt down a large portion of the City but they recovered with the help of many outside donors
  • the city architecture is relatively young and somewhat eclectic as they scrambled to rebuild the city that people thought might never recover
  • the city grew tremendously in the late 1800’s when it became a major industrial metropolis with it’s railway and water connections to markets

South Bend:

  • the story of the founding of the University is ‘In 1839 bishop of Vincennes, Right Rev. Célestine Guynemer de la Hailandière, had contacted Rev. Basil MoreauC.S.C., founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and expressed to him his concern over the lack of Catholic education in his diocese and pleaded for Moreau to send his a priest and four brothers to set up a school’ (this request thru a series of subsequent events resulted in them finding land in the village of South Bend in 1842)
  • the above noted is interesting as I always wondered how such a notorious University could end up in a somewhat remote part of the country
  • in the football stadium the end zones contain a combined 18 lines that are pointed at a 42 degree angle towards the Dome on campus in tribute to the 1842 founding of the University
  • South Bend, located on the St. Joseph River, has a population of just over 100,00 people and over 300,000 in the metropolitan area



What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:


  • take in a game of one of the famous professional sporting teams
  • check out some of the other non downtown neighbourhoods

South Bend:

  • Studebaker National Museum (displays classic cars made from the now-defunct local company)
  • History Museum (spotlights aspects of regional life)



Final thoughts:

  • our friend Craig has a travel site called Middle Age Miles (www.middleagemiles.com) that has garnered a huge following since he started it a year ago (check it out for some great ideas)
  • Chicago was a fun city to check out, but we probably won’t return for a while unless there is some special event going on
  • Notre Dame is an amazing iconic University with an incredible vibe to it that we highly recommend experiencing
  • South Bend is a very cheap town in terms of dining and drinking