Magic Bridges

Cloud Gate
Anish Kapoor’s, Cloud Gate (the “Bean”) – September 24, 2012.

On the weekend, bored and not that willing to do much about it, I decided to fill out a customer experience survey e-mailed to me by the Chicago Architecture Foundation earlier in the week. I went to Chicago back in September and it was pretty great. CAF was emailing me because I took their tour out to Oak Park to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio followed by a walking tour of the neighbourhood (Oak Park has the largest concentration of Wright buildings in the world). To sum up my survey, I’d really recommend CAF if you’re in the market for a tour in Chicago. They are a cut above because their docents are volunteers which means they actually give a crap about what they’re talking about.

Anyway, my hotel was in Greek Town and not ideally situated to anything I wanted to do in Chicago. Let’s just say, this was the first and last time I use Hotwire, the website where you get a great deal on a hotel because you don’t know what hotel you’re paying for, or where the hell it is.* Something amazing happened as result of booking into this hotel, though. I had to cross this bridge to get any place I wanted to go and that bridge mysteriously smelled like chocolate. I could only smell the chocolate on the bridge. Once I’d crossed, it was gone.

If only I’d started listening to This American Life when Bryony told me to (ie. years ago), I would have obsessively started digging through the show’s archives long before my trip. I would have heard the 2006 segment in which writer, Jorge Just describes the scent as “magic”. I would have learned that the source of this bewitching aroma is Blommer’s chocolate factory on Chicago’s west side, a mere 15 minute walk from my hotel. Running a more enthusiastic Google search while I was in Chicago might also have done the trick, but you guys, I had a pretty packed schedule as it was. It’s probably best that I didn’t have to adjust it. In fact, you can’t tour Blommer’s, but I didn’t know that then. Magic: the word doesn’t even begin to describe how wonderful it is.

Working, as I do, in environmental law, I should always be on the side of air scrubbers and lowering air emissions, but I gotta say when it comes to chocolate emissions**, I want more, more, MORE air emissions! And who am I kidding, anyhow, with my complaining about Hotwire? If I ever go back to Chicago, I might stay at that slightly out of the way hotel again anyway, just so I can cross that magical chocolate bridge.

* Also, it’s probably total BS that I will never use this website again. Hotels are expensive, dudes, and it turns out I am pretty cheap.

** And cookie emissions. Something I really miss about my old neighbourhood in Toronto’s East end, is living within wafting distance of the Peak Frean’s cookie factory on O’Connor.

5 thoughts on “Magic Bridges

  1. Peek Freans still wafts, although it’s no longer PK. Kraft bought it, so the signage above the electronic time/temp sign on the corner changed, as did the sign above the employee’s entrance on Bermondsey. Then Kraft sold it and the sign now reads Mondelez. But no one has removed the large Peek Frean logo on the building itself, thankfully. I don’t think the building is worthy of being called a heritage building, but the sign should be so classified. Those of us living in the neighbourhood can tell what cookies are being made. I swear my blood sugar levels rise when the “raspberry” jam filling is being cooked up. Yes, those smells are a treat in themselves.

  2. Christie’s and Nestle in the west end also smell pretty great! It seems that Toronto actually boasts some good smells along with the toxic industrial waste kind…

    Also, tip about cheaper lodging: airbnb! I’ve used it in Montreal and Washington DC and can attest to its greatness.

  3. I used to loved driving past Peek Freans. A few of my aunts and uncles live in the area (about 5-10 minsutes away) and every time we go visit them you could smell this lovely waft of cookie emissions :0) Chocolate bridges would be very nice addition to the unattractive condo boom in T.O.

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