The Windy City (that wasn't that windy really!)
Trip Start Aug 21, 2009
21Trip End Aug 20, 2010
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Simon: The train journey from Boston was another hefty one, at just under 24 hours but we'd bought plenty of supplies and i still had some of the new Dan Brown novel left to read, so we were all set. The leaves in New England were just turning orange/red, so the scenery for the first few hours was really beautiful. We had a brief 2 hour layover in Albany, NY to connect more train carriages, which let us out into the train terminal for well needed coffee. The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful, and we arrived in Chicago the next morning at around 9am.
After such an long journey, and not the most comfortable night of sleep, we got a taxi to our hotel just south of 'The Loop' and crashed out for a few hours sleep. Once we'd woken up, showered, and generally got ourselves sorted, we ventured out on the bus into downtown Chicago
The first thing to say is that it's really REALLY tall! By far the tallest place we'd seen so far. It's got the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and former world's tallest, The Sears Tower (i know it's changed it's name, but it's the Sears Tower) and around 100 buildings over 500ft tall (The whole of the UK has about 10!). We booked our tickets to go up the Sears Tower straight away, but didn't go up, because visibility was so bad (something about a cloud at the top!), More on that later.
We then walked over to the visitors info centre and picked up some leaflets and maps, before crossing the road to the newly constructed Millennium Park. There is loads of cool art installations and sculptures there, like 2 huge block fountains with video of people on the front of each, and the coolest and most recognisable "The Cloud Gate", or the Bean as everyone calls it (see the cool pictures!)
The next day we walked back through the Loop to the Sears tower and got the Elevator straight to the top. It was so empty because it was a weekday, we had the place to ourselves virtually! The views were amazing! A blanket of cloud covered the whole city for the first 30 minutes or so, and it was so weird to be above the clouds in a building
After the Tower, we walked through the Loop, past the Flamingo sculpture, Daley Plaza and the theatre district and to the Chicago River, where we walked down the riverfront. Another gigantic building looms over the river, the Brand new, not-yet-open Trump Tower, the second tallest building in Chicago. we got to Wrigley Plaza and the Wrigley & Tribune buildings, the start of the 'Magnificent Mile', and decided to leave that for another day. We found an AMAZING sandwich shop for Dinner, called Jimmy Johns. Subway is rubbish compared to JJ's! It was so delish, i had a massive Sub with 4 kinds of meat and tons of Alfalfa sprouts. Amazing. If you're ever in Chicago, get one.
Flo: After simon's essay it's my go!
Flo: Anyway, hello :) Every day we started the day with a Dunkin Donut coffee and donut - they are amazing!!! The coffee is so much better than Starbucks and cheaper! :)
After our Dunkin, we walked to Navy Pier which is an amusement park on a pier on the lake. It was pretty tacky though and Simon wouldn't let me go on the Ferris Wheel!!! The pier just had restaurant, restaurant, bar, restaurant, bar, bar, shop, and two rides, all of which were soooooo over priced! But it had pretty good views of the city.
Later that day we walked to the John Hancock Centre which is probably Chicago's most famous building. The views were better that the Sears Tower and we had a free audio tour from David Schwimmer (Ross from Friends!) You could have cocktails and food on the top floor but it was a little too expensive for us! :) We just had JJ's again for dinner :)
The next day started in the usual way with a Dunkin before walking down the 'Magnificent Mile' which is 5th Avenue in New York; expensive designer shops, hotels and restaurants. We saw the Water Tower, which is Chicago's earliest skyscraper, and some really cool street performers - including a Robot man (see photo) who was spray painted silver and doing some very realistic robot moves when people tipped him. We spent some time in the book shop trying to find me a book for the train journey! (I finally found one about 5 book shops later!)
We ended our evening having pizza in the place where Deep Dish Pizza was invented - Pizzeria Uno
As we were in Chicago for 7 days we thought we deserved a break after 5 weeks of traveling! So the next day we did NOTHING, well apart from watch Wheel Of Fortune and Price Is Right! It was a good thing we stayed in because in the afternoon there was a tornado warning about 50 miles south of Chicago and massive thunderstorms right near our hotel!!
Day 6 was the Zoo! :) :) and we finally experienced the windy city that everyone was telling us about! - It was freezing and my hair was going everywhere!!! Even though this was the third Zoo we had been to, it was still really good apart from some very boring Seals!! There was hardly anyone at the Zoo as it was a weekday, and it was free, so it was worth the wind and cold! The Giraffes were the best animal there but Simon liked these weird Cat things! They looked just like normal house cats but simon thought they were amazing!
Simon: They WERE! They had big ears and cool eyes and stuff! much better than a tortoise-shell!
Flo: After the Zoo we walked through the wealthy part of Chicago around Lincoln Park to find a well known sandwich shop called Potbellys were they sell 'Normals' or 'Bigs'. Simon had a Big Wreck, which was something very meaty and I had a Normal Tuna :) They were not as good as JJ's but much better than Subway
Simon: The last day we spent looking around the rest of the waterfront parks in Chicago. The most famous is Grant Park, which was where Barack Obama held his Presidential acceptance speech in front of like 2 million people. It didn't really look big enough, but whatever. Buckingham Fountain was pretty rad, every hour the water builds and builds until all the jets are spraying. Just past the fountain was Museum Campus, where 3 of Chicago's museums are (the Natural History, Aquarium & Planetarium) we didn't go in any, but the views of Chicago were the best we had. I had a Chicago style hotdog for lunch, no ketchup in sight, they don't LET you have it! Was yummy. After lunch we walked a bit further to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears football team. It's an odd stadium, with really old columns around the edge which is the original part, then a big glass bowl in the middle. Looked pretty strange. Apparently the locals don't like it that much!
So that's Chicago! Really fun, food was great, DONT go to the Pier! lol!
After stocking up of a mass of food supplies, we packed our bags and began the longest journey EVER..........
Simon + Flo