If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that I rarely, if ever, have the chance to travel for business. Virtually all of my airline miles have come from my own trips and mileage runs. Given that, it’s a pleasure to say I just returned from a rare business trip, four days in Chicago to attend a conference.

Making the travel arrangements was easy; the corporate travel agent agreed to let me fly American Airlines to Chicago (ORD) due to their good fare. but, for some reason, limited me to non-stop travel, AUS-ORD. When I asked about flying through DFW, the answer was a very blunt “no.” So, I didn’t even bother to ask for the routing that a Twitter friend suggested, Austin to Chicago via Tokyo. Oh well.

My flight departed Austin at 1:10 p.m., quite a pleasant change from all the 6 a.m. departures I’ve had on my mileage runs. My first-class upgrade came through; while I ended up with the bulkhead seat it still beat sitting in coach. Since I was in first I even got a hot lunch. We landed in Chicago at 3, and by 4:30 I was at my hotel.

The conference management recommended the Club Quarters at Michigan and East Wacker and got us a good rate, so I booked that. I had looked at staying at a Starwood property, but the closest Sheraton was a bit too far a walk for me to the conference location, so the Club Quarters won. The location just off of Michigan Avenue helped a lot too. It’s an unusual hotel: from the outside it looks like it was originally constructed as an office building that was later converted to a hotel. The rooms were not very large, but featured a microwave, refrigerator, and free Wi-Fi, so I was pretty pleased with it. The best part of the room was the spectacular view.

I had a fabulous view of the Chicago River from my room

I took all of these photos with my new Palm Pre cell phone. I am very impressed by its excellent camera; I even left my digital camera at home.

Once I unpacked, I headed for my favorite Chicago restaurant — Giordano’s Pizza, home of the famous stuffed pizza. There are two schools of thought on Chicago pizza: some prefer the deep dish served at Pizzeria Uno and Due, and I have to admit it is very tasty. But when all is said, and done Giordano’s stuffed pizza is my favorite.

Not surprisingly the Chicago weather was mild, much cooler than the triple digit temperatures we had been experiencing in Texas, so grabbed my jacket as I set out for dinner. I knew there was a Giordano’s on Rush Street, just across the river from where I was staying, but that was not even a consideration that evening. Michigan Avenue was closed for several blocks for Oprah Winfrey’s 24th anniversary show, an event that brought more than 20,000 people to the giant stage built in the middle of Michigan Avenue. I did not want to battle that crowd, so I went in the other direction to Giordano’s location at the Prudential Center. Thankfully, I didn’t even have to wait for a table!

The mushrooms were great. I was so hungry I ate all of them, leaving little room for the pizza.

I should have eaten only half of the mushrooms, but they were sooooo goooood! And then they brought my pizza. I had ordered the Tropic Delight featuring cheese, Candian Bacon, and Pineapple.

I know it wasn't that heavy, but it felt like this slice alone weight 1-2 pounds. You can see the cheese oozing out the side and the heavy layer of bacon and pineapple on top.

I had not eaten at Giordano’s for a few years, and had forgotten what a daunting task it can be. I can easily eat a 10-inch pizza here in Texas. But the 10-inch at Giordano’s had so much food that it was much more than I could handle.

The pie had 6 large slices, I was only able to eat three of them.

I didn’t eat it all, but I certainly enjoyed what I ate. While there are many pizza places in Texas, I have not yet found one to compare to authentic Chicago-style pizza. I walked out of Giordano’s completely stuffed with a big smile on my face, and returned to my hotel.

I had a great view of the Wrigley Building at night as I walked back to the hotel.

The Conference
The two-day Social Media conference, organized by Ragan Communications, began the next morning.There were several valuable presentations, and I am now following several new friends on Twitter.

More to follow…