The Girls go to Boystown

Trip Start Jun 24, 2012
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Trip End Sep 21, 2012


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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Thursday, September 6, 2012

We woke up in good time this morning to get out into the city early, as we'd planned to have a packed day. We grabbed a quick breakfast and left our hostel to head towards the Willis (Sears) Tower to visit the 'Skydeck' - the second our three skyscraper visits in the trip (CN/Willis/Rockefeller). The Willis Tower is currently the 7th highest tower in the world, the highest in the United States and was formerly the highest in the world. 

We got our tickets and headed up to the top; on a clear day, you can apparently see into four states - Illinois (obviously), Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Needless to say, we couldn't see into the four states... nevertheless the views were absolutely spectacular; particularly looking out over Lake Michigan - which even from this height you can't see the other side of!

The main reason people go up onto the Skydeck is for the all-glass boxes which jut out into the air, 1,353 feet ( or 412 m) below. We had to fight our way through crowds of old people to get into them, but eventually we did and it was AWESOME! Even Laura went out into the boxes, but I secretly think that the 'pretending to be scared face' was totally real....she's not a fan of heights (though why she keeps making me come up to the top of skyscrapers, I have no idea!)

Chicago from this vantage point looks completely different to Toronto from the CN Tower - I know that sounds stupid to say, as they're different cities, but I genuinely thought that from above, they would all look the same; boxy and grey and indistinguishable from one another. Not the case at all though, happily, and Chicago looks as lovely from above as it does from street level. We've only been here a couple of days, but I'm definitely a fan; it's pretty and cool and has a great vibe.

After drinking in the sights from all around, we decided to head down and back into the city for the rest of our day. At the bottom of the Willis Tower, there was a little museum-shop thing dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, which we had a little look around, in preparation for our time in Washington, which is shortly coming up

We popped out into the street and located the train station that would take us a little way out of the city into Boystown. We got on the Brown Line at Quincy Station, and the station itself was really cool - but kinda hard to explain - old school and metal and unlike anything we have back home. The train lines are up above street level, like something out of an old comic book (where the bad guy would blow up the line and the hero would have to save the citizens from plunging to the street below in the oncoming train.....weird, I know, but that was actually all I could think of whilst we were on it!) 

We got off the train at Armitage station, and then had about a mile walk to reach the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is a small, free zoo in the middle of a park. The weather was lovely and the walk through some residential neighbourhoods was nice; there were lots of families with strollers out walking and the buildings were lush. I know I keep waffling on about the Chicago architecture, and I know it's boring, but we kept talking about it between ourselves as it's honestly a beautiful city. Even just being in the city for two days, I've decided I would easily live here (although I might have thought twice about this had we arrived in the winter!)

We reached the zoo, passing a statue of William Shakespeare - which wasn't signposted and I haven't been able to adequately explain the presence of - and walked through it. It was quite nice actually (and I feel like we can judge as we've been to three in the past month!) and absolutely full of school groups, which were adorable. We saw some beavers (which are huge in real life!), some meerkats that had just dived into the sand and fallen asleep, and I also learned that the first ever bison born in captivity was born there...fact for free!

The walk through the zoo took us a couple of hours and then we headed outside and to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, which I think Laura found a bit boring, but I thought was lovely. We then carried on and walked back through Armitage to hope back on the CTA train North to Boystown. 

We'd read before coming that Boystown was Chicago's LGBT neighbourhood (of course it is, it's called Boystown!) and thought we'd pop up to have a wander round. We actually got off the CTA at Belmont and walked up to Wrigley Field, before heading east to Boystown. We couldn't actually go inside Wrigley Field itself as they were preparing for Bruce Springsteen (!) to play there in a couple nights' time, so we just walked around the outside of it instead. We spent about an hour in some of the shops around the baseball field so that Laura could buy a Cubs T-shirt, but actually she decreed that they were too expensive and bought a Black Hawks hockey shirt instead. 

After this excitement, we turned into Boystown proper. We walked up North Halstead street and wandered into a couple of vintage shops to have a look - including an amazing labyrinthine store that apparently drag queens use to buy their outfits, which is where Laura managed to find a vintage Cubs t-shirt for half the price of the ones we'd just been looking at...result!

Boystown was quite nice, but I don't think we got the full experience. We were there in the late afternoon so didn't get to experience the famed nightlife of the area, but from what we saw it was pretty male oriented anyway, so we didn't feel like we were missing out too much. We popped into a cafe for a drink and snack and then decided to head back into Chicago city centre for the evening. By the time we got back, we were pretty bushed from all the walking (that we keep on doing!) We couldn't really be bothered to go back out for dinner, so instead grabbed some soup and noodles from a CVS for our tea and retreated to our room for the evening. 

Deej x 


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