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Chicago: More than Just a Windy City

People always question why I choose the places I go to on vacation.  The cities I pick don’t make sense to them. My most recent trip took me to Chicago. True, it may not be everyone’s first choice when visiting the States, but to me it made perfect sense.


The city has a dynamic arts and culture scene and offers foodies truly unique gastronomic experiences, and the weeks it took searching for the right place to stay was definitely worth it, as I came to find out when I stayed at the Dana Hotel and Spa in Chicago.

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Settled on a quiet street, just a five-minute walk from Michigan Avenue (Chicago’s version of New York’s fifth Avenue), the Dana Hotel is as stylish as it is quirky. Even the staff – young, vibrant, and friendly – personified the brand and made my stay as fun as it was comfortable.

An advantage of staying at the Dana Hotel is its location, which is only a 20-minute walk to the Art Institute of Chicago where art blends with history. Beautiful historical artifacts from around the world come together in a demonstration of how beautiful form adorns function.  In addition, there are other genres of art on display including a collection of spherical glass paperweights, miniature living rooms with intricate details, as well as early twentieth-century furniture.

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Other notable art museums in the city include the Museum of Contemporary Art, a place where the boundaries of art are tested. One room dedicates itself to the notion of privilege and boundaries, and how these concepts only exist in our minds.  Another section actually deals with sound and music – with some of the pieces spontaneously moving to produce various sounds and noises.

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At the museums, your eyes and ears get a feast, and in Chicago, so will your belly, and there are two places that really stand out.

The first, Spiaggia, is an Italian restaurant on the edge of Michigan Avenue. Waiters fuss over you in a non-intrusive way while they serve course after course of dishes with unique ingredients such as bison with blueberries or octopus with huckleberries.

The second restaurant that set the bar really high was TRU, a high-end restaurant with an even bolder menu: frozen beets with apple consommé, abalone in ginger bouillon, wheat berry with garlic root, and frozen blueberry popcorn served with liquid nitrogen for a more dramatic presentation.

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Lamb Loin Draped in Black Trumpet with Young Beets.


Art, culture, and mouthwatering food – all three boxes checked which proves that as windy as Chicago is, it’s more than just air in motion.


– Faris Al-Mussallam




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