Published: September 22nd 2009September 22nd 2009
Chicago by the lake
taken from the Observatory
Off to a good start, got the only row of 4 empty on the plane, and BA tracked my baggage so that I knew it arrived in London, then when I was boarding the plane, they checked and found it was on the plane, yahooo, I like this system. As plane trips go, it was great until we landed in Chicago, we were then informed that we could not disembark as there had been an ‘incident’ (apparently someone had vandalized something!) and that we would be boarded by the police. It took about 20 minutes then we were allowed to leave.
The hotel I am in is near the airport, but in the middle of an industrial area, sort of similar to the outskirts of Tullamarine. I called a cab the next day to go to Wal-Mart (or an equivalent shopping centre). There were a lot of police cars, wagons and helicopters in the area and the cab driver said it was some sort of armed escape. He asked if I wanted to go ‘up market’ to Meijers shop or Wal-Mart as they are about 500 meters apart. I opted for Wal-Mart (familiarity and fun). I couldn’t find fresh fruit
OHH, looking down on the city
or Chai teabags at Wal-Mart, so meandered across to Meijers (which was empty!!!!),found fresh fruit, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, a fruit salad bowl and a beautiful salad and a whole roast chicken - this sumptuous meal (or two) all at a cost of $7.98.
On my return, I was listening to the news and heard that there had been a hostage situation at Meijers while I was in Wal-Mart (I wondered about the two police helicopters overhead), so I now understand why the shop was empty!! Apparently, the man escaped from police on the way to detention, robbed a bank, took a woman hostage and stole her car, held up somewhere else in the vicinity and is still at large! Welcome to Chicago!
Chicago is a huge city, and is a shock after being in European cities. The distances are enormous and of course are geared to car usage, no footpaths and sparse public transport apart from the inner city. I had forgotten the long distances between things, like at home.
Walked along the lake front (it seems like the sea it is so big) and around the centre of the city before I headed off to the
great place at the County Fair
first of the Museums. This was the Science museum and included an Omnimax theatre experience and the Harry Potter exhibition. Last night after dinner in a Diner, I went to see ‘Jersey Boys’ and enjoyed it. I walked back to the train station only to find it was closed for repairs (no notice in the morning that this was to occur). So after wandering from station to station and no one knew what was happening, a young American marine just back from Iraq (who was also looking to catch the same train) decided to find the train together. An interesting young man! Coming from the Black ghettos of Chicago, he wanted to make a good life for himself, so did a degree in Nursing and joined the Marines so that he could continue his education and get to medical school. His passion is to find a cure (or if possible a genetic marker) for esophageal cancer!
An early start to get to the County Fair - then on to take on a big challenge, the Sears Tower, one hundred and five stories high! I even got reeeeeally game and walked out on the glass ledge, had my photo taken,
at the Museum
but it was such a bad shot (it looked as if I was petrified - who me?) and at a cost of $22, I decided you will just have to take my word that I accomplished this awesome feat!
The next day was a full day of exploration, the Aquarium, the Observatory, the Museum of Natural History and on to Navy Pier (somewhat like Luna Park on a pier). It did have one unique feature, a leadlight museum, there were some beautiful pieces. It also had a giant Ferris wheel (yes, did that too). I thought Australians were over the top with their football, well I now know that the Fans here are way over the top. They bring their mobile homes, their BBQ grills, every type of tent, alcohol, food and of course the clothes have to be seen to be believed. It was like grand final day magnified about 200% (and this was just an early season game!)
Today was my last day in Chicago, went to see the folk at Loyola University about Enneagram possibilities and then mooched around the shops. Met a lovely couple on the shuttle to the city this morning from Central
America who have a son studying in the USA, and they are sad to be leaving him and his wife here and returning home in a few days. They wanted to see the sights, so I gave them my much marked map with bus numbers etc. We met up at the airport waiting for the shuttle to bring us back to the hotel, and it felt like family, I got a big hug from both of them. I have tried to practice my Spanish with them, and they tried in English - good people! Off to Seattle tomorrow and am looking forward to catching up with JD and Kimberley.
There are more photos below