The Windy City

Trip Start May 08, 2006
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Trip End May 06, 2007


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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Thursday, May 18, 2006

I love this place! After seeing Niagara Falls and Buffalo my faith in the States was beginning to wane but Chicago... this place is something else. I walked out of the station on Sunday and was immediately greeted by a plethora of beautiful skyscrapers. The architecture in Chicago is simply astounding, and the use of lots of nice shiny materials to reflect everything makes it feel much more open and spacious.
While the atmosphere in New York felt cramped, crowded and fast, Chicago is much more laid back, clean, pretty and airy. Very airy. They don't call it the windy city for nothing.

On Sunday there wasn't a lot to do - the downtown area is pretty devoid of life so I had a quick look around and then found a hostel to stay in, dumped my bags and went to an Irish pub in the evening to relax.
Monday was more hectic although I didn't get out of the hostel until 12 because I was so knackered. I've had a lot of early mornings, and sleeping on the train wasn't without its interruptions - I must have been asked about 20 times where I was going. I spent the whole day walking around 'The Loop' - the downtown district, so-called because of the elevated train network that circles it - looking at all the buildings and taking photos. I also went to Grant Park (a small area of sculptures and strangely laid-out gardens) to check out the Buckingham Fountain and other little tourist hotspots. In the evening I went to a club called 'The Metro' which is supposed to be, arguably, one of the best nightclubs in Chicago. Some very famous bands have played there but alas when I went there, there was a crowd of about 5 people and the two bands that I saw were dismal.

The first guys were dressed up in skintight white lycra trousers and matching jackets so I couldn't really take them seriously from that very first dreadful moment they walked on-stage. The guy in the middle (who I presumed must've been the front man) started headbanging erratically while using his flailing limbs to bash on an undeserving cymbal. Vocals started coming from somewhere and it took me ages to realise it was coming from the guy on the left, who seemed to enchant the guy in the middle further with his song. All of a sudden, when it seemed like everyone was into their tribal routines like a possessed band of 70s rejects, Monkey Man (that's what I'm calling the guy in the middle from now on) threw up his magical symbol and span round to play the keyboard that I did not even know was there - for I was so transfixed on Monkey Man's incredible performance - and started bashing that instead like Lurch from the Adams Family on Ecstasy.
I will say that for what the performance lacked in musical talent, it more than made up for in comical genius.

The second band was just a very poor Bon Jovi wannabe complete with leather jackets and highly decorated t-shirts. Not even amusing.

On Tuesday I walked along the pier and the Magnificent Mile. Just took it easy really. I will have to come back one day and spend a week and a lot of money here.
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