First on the social agenda is Carin's Office party. After meeting many, if not all of Carin's co-workers, we settle by the pool table where I get to play a game or two - well, its only polite.
I get to meet Carin's brothers Vic & Duke, and their girlfriends in Greek Town for a meal. A great time was had by all, helped undoubtedly by the house wine. After dinner we head to a nearby bar for a few beers, watch the basketball game, have a boogie, and generally prop-up the bar.
Carin and I travel down to stay with her parents, Rip & Marj, in West LaFayette, Indiana. While there, we get the grand tour of nearby Purdue University, otherwise known as the Boilermakers for their history of steam train manufacturing. The university has its own aeronautics department, made famous by Neil Armstrong. Duke, Vic & the boys later join us for a traditional and festive family Christmas.
We spend New Years eve again in Greek Town. After an early dinner with friends, we settle at the bar for a nightcap, before heading home to see in the new year.
It's baseballs off season, but we get our chance to go and see a live college basketball game. We take the El up to Northwestern to see the Northwestern Wildcats vs. Purdue Boilermakers - coincidence or what? The arena looks just like you'd expect, big - complete with cheerleaders and brass band.
We somehow manage to crame in a lot of sight seeing. Some of the highlights include: Tribune Tower, NBC Tower (where Carin works), Wrigley Building, War Memorial, Chicago Theatre, Marshall Field department store, various art works including the famous Picassos, Thompson Building, Lobby of 190 South LaSalle, Bergoffs, Millennium Park (the bean, ice rink, crown fountain) and the Chicago Cultural Center.
Carin and I make an afternoon visit to the John G Shedd Aquarium, where we go to find Nemo. Our timing is great as we get there for feeding time for the dolphins and beluga whales.
Amongst Chicago's attractions is nearby Lincoln Park Zoo. Free to enter and boosts a big cat house, monkey house, polar bears (with underwater window), seals (again with underwater window), birds and various other enclosures.
As well as the city art, we get all cultural and visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. Later we visit the Art Institute of Chicago which houses an impressive collection including the original Picasso which the city statues are based. Also Van Gogh, Monet, Constable, Turner, Bacon...
It's difficult to go hungry in Chicago, the town famous for pizza: Giordano's Famous Stuffed Pizza, Pizzeria Uno, Maggiano's Little Italy. We also try the world famous Taco Bell, and go to a Mexican restaurant.
Watering holes are plentiful in Chicago, including a quick visit to the Hotel 71 bar, Delilah's, Red Lion, and of course Celtic Crossings where we meet a couple of retired cops who used to patrol the local beat.