Sunday, December 4, 2011

NAPERVILLE!!: The Dream (Finally!) Becomes Reality...

Sigh. Let this post be evidence that dreams really do come true. After all the buildup surrounding my very first trip to my dream suburb, I was banking on some degree of disappointment. I mean, a dream is a dream and all that but... well, you've seen one suburb, you've seen 'em all right?


Let me start at the beginning. Saturday actually started out not looking so hot. With Friday being our company's fancy schmancy holiday party (complete with all the finer glories we call open bar), Saturday morning started off with... well, one of the worst headaches I've had in quite some time. The gloomy overcast skies and the incessant drizzling did NOT help matters in the least.

I was actually a tad concerned about how this Naperville trip was going to go. Things started looking up when I finally ventured out of my apartment for a celebration brunch at Wicker Park's Hot Chocolate with Alma and Cheryl- two of my old coworkers who are simply two of the best things ever.

Please take careful note of Alma's left hand, strategically planted smack dab in the middle of the picture. Then you will fully understand the reason this brunch was of the celebratory manner. lkjdfaslkdjf! (Congratulations, Alma and Doug!!!)

Thankfully, I started feeling a little more alive after brunch. There's just something to be said about reuniting with old friends and chatting and laughing away... I think the food absorbing any of the remaining alcohol in my system also helped matters, but that's just a side note. Next up?

lkfasjdlfkjdslkfjds!!!! Just seeing the street sign sent my heart all pitter pattering. My friend, Joyce (another fine product of Naperville society, if you will), had agreed to drive me out to Naperville and help out with the tour of her hometown . The tour started off with a 45-minute session at this salt cave... the website described the services offered as a therapeutic, relaxing experience amidst the healing powers of salt crystals imported from the faraway Himalayan mountains. The inside of this salt cave was actually pretty intriguing (and quite pretty!):

However, upon the introductory "rules" to the 10ish participants of this salt cave session, I already knew we were going to be in trouble. The lady running this salt cave session explicitly pointed out that there was to be no talking for the next forty-five minutes, to ensure that all individuals who were part of the session fully enjoyed their experience. When the lady was finished running through the rules, of course, Joyce had a question (or rather, a point of clarification). As soon as Joyce said "Soo... when you say "no talking"... you mean literally no talking for the FULL session?"

Hahaha. Considering Joyce and I are two of the chattiest people alive, a full forty-five minutes of silence is... well, pretty much torture. I couldn't even fall asleep in the salt cave (even though I have been perpetually exhausted for the whole week), so I basically just started getting all stir-crazy instead. So much for a relaxing, therapeutic experience. It certainly didn't help that my phone went off in the middle of the session (oops!).

Sooo... overall, the salt cave? A big fat thumbs down. Oh well... at least Naperville offers diverse experiences... or something like that.

Moving on! Next stop on the Naperville tour? Joyce's house! Because she grew up in Naperville, Joyce goes home on a fairly regular basis to drop off/pick up stuff at her parents' house. This girl has this down to a SCIENCE.

I mean, what the heck?? Who lugs a cooler to and from their parents' homes?! Although, I must admit, the ORGANIZATION involved with this process was quite commendable. I couldn't believe how efficient she was in dropping off and picking up whatever stuff she had on the agenda.

Within 20 minutes, we were off again! Our first stop was...

Oh my lord. I knew I was going to love the Naperville school system to begin with (it is, after all, a VERY strong education system), but I couldn't believe how well-kept and HUGE their schools were! I mean, how many PEOPLE go to this school?? It was like a mini-college campus, if you will. Because I wanted to keep the creeper factor to a minimum, I refrained from just walking through the doors of the high school and making myself at home at whatever school event was going on that evening (the parking lot was PACKED on a Saturday night! Sigh. School pride)...

Once I'd fully enveloped the wonders and glories of just ONE of Naperville's schools, we hit up...

That's right, folks. The city of Naperville values its history so much that it actually has its own little historical complex. Of course, the buildings in this complex were only like the quaintest, most adorable things EVER, but it was closed by the time we got there, so I only got a glimpse of what I know is likely one of the best historical establishments. Ever. I can't wait till my next trip out here to visit and read all the finer details of the history of Naperville... in. its. entirety.

Alright, after that quick drive-by, we FINALLY ended up in...

Downtown NapervillelakdfjlksdjlkJ!LKJ!LKjlkjdsf As soon as I caught a glimpse of the downtown area, my heart's pitter pattering went slightly outta control. I mean, GOD DOES THIS CITY KNOW HOW TO DO CHRISTIEMAS OR WHAT?!?!?!?

They had a Santa House and EVERYTHING?!?!?!?

Trust me, these pictures do NOT do this adorable town JUSTICE. (My darn phone's camera was NOT behaving itself yesterday.)

Anyway! After I regained control of my excitement at the sea of Christiemas lights, we headed to the next stop on the agenda...

That's right! My dream come TRUE!!! The Naperville public library system has been the #1 public library system in the U.S. for the past decade. Key to my heart, if you will. Again, unfortunately, the library was closed by the time we ventured over to it, but still. All I needed to see was that #1 Public Library banner to fully grasp that my dream really HAD become my reality. Sigh. A moment, please.

Okay. Once I got the squealing outta my system, we finally parked in one of downtown Naperville's easily accessible parking garages and started wandering around. Our first stop?

A cupcake shop. Naturally. We actually just stumbled upon Sugar Monkey Cupcakes (it wasn't on my seemingly neverending itinerary), but we obviously HAD to go in! And of course, the local Naperville cupcakery did NOT disappoint.

Splurging on a holiday eggnog cupcake was totally the right move. It. Was. Divine. The cake was so MOIST and such a perfect consistency; the icing a perfect degree of sugary deliciousness (maybe a little too sweet, but hey, who am I to complain?). A DEFINITE RECOMMEND for future Naperville visits to come!!

Next up? Well, of course. Barnes and Noble. It had been a WHILE since I'd been to a Barnes and Noble and, well, I don't know. Bookstores and libraries just make me SO HAPPY. I guess that would explain that... after the library AND Barnes and Noble, we hit up Anderson's Bookshop... hmm. Maybe I could start like a Naperville Literature Tour or something... ah, for another time.

But what?! This bookshop was so adorable and had QUITE a selection for a local, neighborhood-esque type of store. And of course... of course, it was the recipient of all KINDS of awards.

Obvi. By this point, it was quite clear to me that Naperville has nothing but the best, so the local bookshop's multitude of awards did not faze me in the least. Rather, it just made me sit back and smile. With pride and joy. My dream suburb was doing nothing but impressing me with each and every stop.

By this point, Joyce and I were ready for a chance to sit down and eat some dinner. I mean, we obviously had so much to catch up on (it's been like a full week since we last saw each other!). Taking the recommendation of another friend, we headed to Bangkok Village.

Did you know that this was Naperville's very first Thai restaurant, opened way back in... 1989?

Ah, the history lessons of this trip, if you will. Although I found the food to be fairly standard for Thai food, the place was PACKED and our service was AWE-SOME! I was totally won over by the friendly (and super attentive!) staff, so, although I wasn't overly impressed with my food, I would obviously visit again JUST to interact with the super adorable staff that was on hand. Sigh. Good times.

To round out the trip in standard Joyce-and-Christie form, we ended up at... well, one of the local bars of Naperville. I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't expecting ALL that much from a suburban bar. I mean, when my frame of reference is Chicago bars, what else would you expect?

But MAN! Of COURSE, Naperville can do no WRONG! I forget the name of the bar we ended up going to, but it was so SPACIOUS and there was actually room to walk around (unlike QUITE a few of the bars on Hubbard Street in Chicago, mind you)... this was MY KINDA PLACE!!! (Please note that strategically placed... Christiemas tree!!Lkjfalkdsjf!)

Our drinks came out like right away and, of course, were so tasty and delicious. And HUGE...

Man oh man. Oh well! I'm not complaining- I pretty much just guzzled mine down because it tasted just like pomegranate juice, rather than a pomegranate martini. De-LISH!

After another couple of hours of chit-chatting (yes, welcome to a standard night with Joyce and I), I was pretty much tuckered out. I mean, it was such an emotional, jam-packed day... the wonders and glories of Naperville certainly takes a lot out of a girl!

Sigh. I'm so delighted. So satisfied. So pleased. I can now say that my love for my Dream Suburb is fully and completely justified. Big. Fat. SIGH.

**Special thanks to Joyce for driving me all over the place and giving me her own insight into the various offerings of this fine utopia some would call "home" but that I call... Napervillelskjafldkjlk!Ljlkjdslkfj!

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