The Ice Cream Files: Cone

WP_20150806_005

Although our time there was pretty limited, there was no way we could leave Chicago without trying out a new ice cream place.

We were hot, sweaty, and exhausted after our first day walking around the city and we were getting pretty hungry.  We didn’t want to go anywhere that was too far out of the way, but we also wanted to make sure we went somewhere good.  We scrolled through the Zomato app to see what was close and decided on Cone based on its reviews and menu options.

The blast of AC, smell of ice cream, and cheerful decor were welcome sights as we finally reached our destination after a long afternoon.  Here is my breakdown of our visit to Cone:

Irish Hangover and Lavendar Honey...SO good!

Irish Hangover and Lavendar Honey…SO good!

Taste/Quality:  5/5

This ice cream had the perfect texture: not too hard, not too soft.  It was creamy and delicious and all of the flavors that I tasted were wonderful!  I will be dreaming of the Lavender Honey for weeks to come.

Variety:  5/5

Cone had some really interesting flavors.  Keeping with the Irish theme of the shop, they had choices like Bailey’s Irish Creme, Guinness, and Irish Hangover (cinnamon swirl ice cream with bacon bits and cinnamon toast crunch pieces), in addition to some seasonal options like Sweet Summer Corn.

Atmosphere: 3.5/5

The decor was super cute and the staff was very friendly!  I loved the decor and the kitschy Irish theme.   The only complaint I have is regarding the lack of comfortable seating.  They had one large, hard, bench-type thing in the corner and that was it…and we had to wait several minutes for some space on it.  After walking nearly 10 miles, I was really looking for a place to sit and enjoy my ice cream and rest before walking the rest of the way back to the hostel.

Price: 3/5

This one is probably hard for me to judge accurately since I am used to Kansas prices.  However, I felt that $11 for a double scoop of ice cream in a cup and a milkshake was a little steep.  Don’t get me wrong; it was delicious…and it is Chicago…but I’m accustomed to more reasonable prices.

Wow Factor: 4/5

This place was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise rather dull and industrial neighborhood.  There was such a happy, dreamy vibe to the place that made it very charming and the friendly and helpful staff and delicious ice cream brought it all together.  It didn’t hurt that they let you sample all of their flavors for free and had complimentary water available.

Overall Score:  4.1

If you like ice cream, Irish liquor, or both, then I’d definitely recommend this place if you’re in the area!

Windy City Wandering

ChicagoRoof1

View from the roof deck

Deja vu swept over me as we settled into our seats and waited for the final boarding call.  I did my best to get comfortable, in hopes that I might be able to nap for at least part of the thirteen hour train ride.

Last week we finally got approval from the Turkish Ministry of Education to apply for our work visas, something we had been waiting on for several weeks.  With no more than a couple days’ notice, we had our tickets and accommodation booked and headed for Chicago to make our application.

Although it was more for business than pleasure, I couldn’t help but be excited for the trip.  Firstly, because getting our work visas means we’re one step closer to Turkey.  Secondly, because we have been living with family all summer – and as much as we love them – I was really ready for some alone time with Dakota.  Thirdly, and most importantly, Chicago will always be special to us because it was the first trip Dakota and I ever took together and I was curious to see it again.

190886_1723966057113_1177221857_31602080_4597542_o

From our first trip, circa 2010.

Once we got through our paperwork at the Consulate, we had about a day and half left to enjoy the city.  Though the time was short, we managed to fit in a good amount of fun before we had to head home.

There was a stark contrast between this Chicago and the one we had seen five years ago.  On our first trip, it had been a cold, wintry metropolis with intermittent snow flurries and relatively few crowds.  From the grey skies to the jungle of high rises, everything appeared to be covered in a layer of chrome, and the fact that it had been our first time alone in a large city made everything around us seem enormous.  Despite the terrible weather, we were on cloud nine and nothing could slow us down; we traipsed through that city like it was nobody’s business and returned with an even bigger thirst for travel than we’d had when we arrived.

DSCF3424

Riverwalk

Five years later, it felt like a totally different place.  Summer colors replaced the silvery hues of my memory and the stings on my skin came from the sun rather than the biting winds.  Although the streets were far more crowded than they had been before, the city somehow felt smaller and less bustling.  I wasn’t in such a huge rush to see all the sights and didn’t mind as much stopping to rest or relax.  I found myself wondering how that could be and how a place could feel so strange and so familiar all at once.

DSCF3389

Crowded Cloud Gate

That’s when it hit me.  It wasn’t the city that had changed; it was me.  Five years doesn’t seem like a very big chunk of time, yet I have had many travel experiences and general life experiences since then.  I was hit with a wave of nostalgia at the realization of all of the change that had so quickly taken place and a wave of indefinable emotion at the thought of how much everything is about change all over again in the coming months.  As we made our way from one point of interest to the next, it dawned on me just how close we are to closing this chapter of our lives.

DSCF3414

Lighthouse on the Navy Pier

This short, but sweet trip showed me a new, more laid back side of Chicago that was surprisingly refreshing.  The gardens of Grant Park were in full bloom and its many fountains served as fun and playful oases in the face of the summer swelter.  We took our time to soak our feet in wishing wells and run through streams of water to beat the heat in between the exhibits.  The Navy Pier, no longer icy and abandoned, was the perfect place to spend an afternoon taking in the breeze and turquoise waters before stopping at the beach for some sun and sand.  This time, we opted for a hostel in the west side of the city in lieu of a traditional hotel by River North and it was fun to explore a different part of town, full of nightlife, trendy hangouts, and tasty restaurants.  The highlight of the trip was spending our evenings on the hostel’s roof deck watching the sun set, sipping some beers, and chatting away as the skyline lit up.

11866332_696700577129524_187446752735965140_n

Beach selfie!

Also, we got to eat stuff like this:

WP_20150807_006

Delicious deep dish at Lou Malnati’s

And this:

AdobePhotoshopExpress955ae6e5088b6e46b5bb359708c9ec39fd

Chocolate chip pancakes and Starbuck’s coffee, courtesy of our hostel

And this:

Chicago dogs

Chicago dogs

It was an exhausting, whirlwind of a trip, but it was wonderful.  We will have to go back in a week or two to pick up our visas and then we will be ready for Turkey.

I really need to start packing.