I had a great sleep, curled up among a variety of pillows on the comfortable Sheraton bed and woke at  my usual 6 am time, full of energy.  I decided to have a leisurely breakfast and then go down to the Link cafe and take care of my on-line check-in for tomorrow before heading over to the conference centre.. This is a terrific feature that the Sheraton has - they don't charge for Internet access using the computers in their Link Cafe. Unusually for me, I did not bring my laptop on this trip, so I forgot to check wether wireless Internet access using one's own laptop is also  free.

Normally I wouldn't really bother to write up a burger cafe but I was so pleasantly surprised by my riverside lunch that I thought it warranted some comments. This was  Day 3 of my Chicago 2009 visit. I had checked into the Sheraton Hotel and  was wandering around the area. The Chicago Burger Company Cafe is located on the river side of the hotel, with tables on a patio, and more tables down on the river walk itself. 

For my last two nights of  this trip to Chicago I was booked into the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers on E. North Water Street. The hotel is located on the north side of the branch of the Chicago River that once drained into Lake Michigan.  This was the headquarter hotel for the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists and next day's Canada Party would be hosted in one of the Sheraton ballrooms. 

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of  yogurt, homemade granola and berries, with coffee brewed in a very impressive looking Miele Coffee maker, and set off early on our explorations. First stop was McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America. This was the main site of the conference, although meetings and events were also scheduled in several of the downtown hotels. I had pre-registered but wanted to pick up my registration materials and programs to check out times and places of the events I planned to attend. 

Chicago is one of my favorite US cities to visit - a feast for the eyes, the heart and the mind.  Stunning architecture and man-made green spaces complement  the natural beauty that comes from its location on the south-west shore of Lake Michigan.  As I wrote on my last visit to the city in 2006, Chicago has a  theatre scene that rivals New York or London - (Why Chicago dominates American Theatre, Part I  and Part II) - and it is also a paradise for foodies. Reluctant as I was to leave Vancouver at this glorious time of year, I was anticipating my five day trip to Chicago with excitement. 

With the conference, my reason for visiting Chicago, successfully concluded, I have the weekend to explore the city and get a further taste of the variety of theatre experiences Chicago has to offer. After reading the Billington article, my curiosity is at an all time high. Is the Chicago theatre scene really that great? His piece was written two years ago -- have things changed since then?

CHICAGO, IL. Steppenwolf is arguably one of the best known independent theatre companies in Chicago so I was very excited to obtain tickets to their current production. "The Unmentionables" is a new play by Bruce Norris, who has had four previous plays commissioned and produced by this company.

CHICAGO, IL. Although The Second City has clubs in other major cities including Toronto (the second oldest venue, running since 1973), Chicago was where it all started in the early 1950s. The list of notable alumni of the Chicago Second City troupe is a who's who of comedy, theatre and film so how could I leave Chicago without catching the newest show at the Second City Mainstage Theatre?

It took the passengers less than a minute to catch on to the answer to the rapid fire questions posed by the shuttle bus driver taking us to the McCormick Place Convention Centre.