Chicago Highlights July 2013

If you’ve ever asked me about Chicago, I’ve probably told you that it is one of my all time favourite US cities. Awesome weather (especially in the summer), kickass food (seriously, it is a struggle not to put on 5lbs every time I visit) and the nicest people imaginable (living in London, it was a culture shock when strangers struck up friendly conversation with me in places ranging from elevators to clothing stores) and are all reasons why this city is worth a visit.

But like all my travels, it wouldn’t be complete without some priceless moments to keep you warm at night. Here are a few of my favourite.

She’s got drugs

Working hard at my 4th floor Hot Desk at our Chicago office
Working hard at my 4th floor Hot Desk at our Chicago office

If you have ever arrived into O’Hare International airport, you will know that the customs line is one long snaking queue that takes, on average, an hour to get through. This means that there is lots of time for an embarrassing line story to take shape.

On my recent arrival, I still had an apple in my bag following my healthy plane packed lunch, of which you saw pictures here. As I had brought two and ate one on the journey, I had forgot about this rouge apple in my bag. That is, until an immigration officer and her apple-sniffing dog came walking through the line.

The dog pounced on my bag as if it was full of cats and as the woman came barging through the line to get to me, the sea of people moved away from me as if I was publicly declared a leper.  And before she could even get to me, people already had their phones out to take pictures while saying “She’s got drugs! She’s got drugs!”

Not exactly how I want to start a business trip.

Everyone was decidedly disappointed when the balloon of cocaine that they hoped I had up my butt turned out to be a Braeburn Apple however I’m sure when they retell the story I will have been dragged away kicking and screaming after the dog discovered a layer of crack strapped to me.

Luckily I wasn’t fined and the woman was really nice however for the next hour in that line I was the main topic for everyone who witnessed it as the highlight of their day. At least I had the chance to make people happy and the dog got a treat so my humility in exchange is a fair deal I think.

The view of Chicago's amazing architecture from Chicago Cut Steak House
The view of Chicago’s amazing architecture from Chicago Cut Steak House

Oh hey, it’s Ashton Kutcher

After escaping my apple-capades at the airport I went directly to the Groupon office as I was running late due to our flight being delayed by an hour. Luckily when I arrived, the HR conference I was attending was on a mini break so I had the chance to settle in without any major distrubances.

That is of course until I walked into Ashton Kutcher.

Now, saying that I “walked into him” implies that I accidently bumped my physical self to his physical self (whoa, what am I saying!?) but in reality he was in a glass meeting room as I walked by…about 7 times. I figured my peepers deserved the treat given that they just had jail flashed before them hours earlier at customs over an apple.

I have to say, it did make the day just a little bit better. No pictures though because that would have been too obvious and uber creepy and I personally prefer to keep my weirdness slightly more cryptic than that.

Fit, Fun & Free (literally)

I decided to put my weekend in the Windy City to good use by checking out a few different fitness classes to spice things up. And boy oh boy, am I glad that I did!

The Hottie Body weight room at FlirtyGirl Fitness
The Hottie Body weight room at FlirtyGirl Fitness

On Saturday I took in two classes- an 8am bootcamp with Fit Body Bootcamp followed by Sexy Sculpt with FlirtyGirl Fitness, both located in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood of Chicago. Lincoln Park is lovely and very chilled out. This weekend there was a sidewalk sale and it took all of my might not to stop and buy everything (we all have issues) but it was nice to see this community come together and create a really wonderful atmosphere for Saturday morning shoppers. The icing on the cake was when the CTA man gave me a free train ride because I didn’t have the right change. Cha-ching!

On Sunday, I took a free yoga class at Lululemon which was a surprisingly good. The instructor was hilarious and after a few heavy lifting days in the gym, I really needed a good stretch. Thanks for delivering Lulu. And yes, reviews for all three will follow.

Food, Food, Food

The food in Chicago is to die for. Literally. I would run into incoming traffic for the culinary delights of this city.

The salad bar in Groupon's cafeteria. Awesome!
The salad bar in Groupon’s cafeteria. Awesome!

However, when I wasn’t dodging traffic for the sushi of Niu or the steak of Chicago Cut Steakhouse, I could be found in the Groupon Lunch room being majorly impressed by all of the healthy options that they have made available to staff.

Mass salad bar at lunch and porridge in the morning, this place was a hub of good clean eating. It included an excellent mix of protein, complex carbs and greens, meaning that good clean food was accessible to everyone. What’s more exciting though was the number of staff who actually opted for the healthy options.

It’s nice to know that this kind of thing exists!

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