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North America » United States » Illinois » Chicago
August 13th 2011
Published: September 22nd 2011
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DAYS 31-32-33

CHICAGO

I checked out from the motel and started driving to Chicago. I had book a hotel in downtown using hotwire.com which proved to be a great site. Basically you can decide how many starts you want your hotel to be and the location but you don’t see the name of the hotel until you actually book it. That way you can have a prime hotel 40 or 50% cheaper than the normal rate. The reason behind this is that hotels don’t want to publicise that they have many rooms available because it doesn’t look nice on them, so they hide the name until you’ve actually book it.
So I book a 4.5 stat hotel in downtown Chicago, just yards from Michigan Av in the North River neighbourhood. Because I’d spent 2 days less than what I had planned previously, one in Nashville and one in St Louis, I returned the car 2 days earlier which saved me $100 plus the ripping off charges of the hotel in Chicago that charge $55 per night. I didn’t really need a car in Chicago, it would have stayed park in the car park for 2 days, so all in all I saved nearly 200 bucks which was good. Also I was supposed to return the car at the airport but I went directly to their office in downtown and that was fine, which also saved me a taxi from the airport to downtown.

The hotel was The Sax and it was really cool. The room, a King size bed in the 15th floor was massive and with a retro deco that I really liked. By the way, I forgot to talk about the drive into Chicago, impressive. From the moment you see the city’s skyline as you get closer to downtown, you know that place is something big. The drive in the city was quite cool too because the return depot was in the loop so you have the subway above you and it’s quite interesting to drive when all you can see when you look up is the subway rails.

Anyway back to the hotel, it was really good, and I was pleased with the fact that I was spending 3 nights there. I unpacked all my clothes this time and went into town.
Chicago is just amazing. High scrapers everywhere, some modern, some older but all look really nice. I walked from the hotel to the Millenium park along N Michigan Av. At the Millenium park there was a summer concert so I just sat on the grass and listen to a band playing some Jazz while I checked the map and decided what to do next. After a while, I visited the Chicago Art Institute and then walked all the way up Michigan Av, to the Chicago Tribune, the water tower, the John Hancock tower and finally the Oak beach by the Lake Michigan.

Chicago’s temperature was also hot and humid which wasn’t ideal for walking. Got hungry so went to a 7eleven and got two tacos and a corn hotdog which was delicious. Then I made my way back to the hotel, checking different streets and looking at places to go later on at night. The hotel is literally by Hubbard st which is by the North River and full with restaurants, bars and clubs. I got to my room and decided to check the fitness room and go for a run. A good 35 minutes work out in which I run 6.3k and at a decent pace.

After my run, I had a shower and got changed ready to go for something to eat and maybe a few cheeky drinks. The hotel was literally behind Hubbard st which is packed with bars, restaurants and clubs, so I didn’t have to go to far away to find some entertainment. I walked for a while trying to find the best place to have something to eat. All the bars and clubs were quite packed with mainly young professionals having some fun after a day’s work and I finally settled for a bar with good music, quite crowded and with a decent menu. Didn’t fancy anything special so I had quesadillas and a couple of Millers and then I moved on to a different place.

Went to an Irish pub in Hubbard and then to a Karaoke place which was quite fun. Then I was a bit fed up and went for a walk around the area and ended up in yet another Irish pub where I had some proper English ale. After a couple of Boddingtons I called it a night and went back to my nice hotel room.

The day after I got up at a reasonable time, with a very light headache and made my way to the Loop. I really liked that area, the elevated railtracks, the noise, the hectic but yet very civilised atmosphere. Went for a mcdonalds breakie and then to the Willies Tower, the highest building in the Southern hemisphere. Its definitely worth visiting, the queues are not as big as at the Empire state building in NYC and the views are spectacular. A couple got engaged in front of me, in one of the windows overlooking the pier and it was quite nice. Nice and sad at the same time and I had to put my shades on as I couldn’t help but thinking about my own situation.

After the Willis tower, I took the subway and went to Chinatown. It was ok, quite small but well taken care of. Plenty of restaurants but not many shops and not as touristy as other Chinatowns I’ve visited. I was hungry by then so I had some chinese food in one of the restaurants. I went for a safe sweet and sour pork dish and it was well cooked and very tasty. Had also a coconut and lime sorbet which was delicious.

After Chinatown I took the subway again for one stop to the Chicago White Sox stadium. Yes, I went to watch another baseball game.! crazy I know... The White sox are not the most followed team in Chicago, the Cubs are, but the have a big latino fan based and hey, they won the finals not too long ago, whereas the Cubs can’t say the same. So go White Sox!!
The game was quite boring by the way, I got myself one of the cheapest tickets this time and the location and visibility were very good. I left earlier after the 7th inning and went back to the hotel, where I had a shower and got ready to go out on a Saturday night.

Later in the evening I decided to go the Pizzeria Uno, one of the most famous pizzerias in the world where they make the famous Chicago pizza. No need to say that it was packed, 1.30h waiting time for a table. However, if you by yourself you can always eat at the bar in all restaurants in America, so that’s what I did. I was lucky a couple just left and sat down and order myself and individual Pizza Uno. Waiting time, approximately one hour!! So got a Miller lite and had a chat with the guy next to me, who happened to be from Iran, living in California and very interested in spain and especially Barcelona. Of course, also a big Barca fan. The pizza was delicious. It looked small but it’s so thick that an individual one is more than enough, even for a pizza crazy person like me.
After my meal I went to check some of the bars as it was Saturday night. Everything was pretty busy but it started raining like mad. So after going to one bar I didn’t like I got fed up and decided to go back to the hotel. I think I reach a point in my travels, in which I had enough of going out, same routine, going into a bar by myself, sitting by the bar, having a few beers and chatting with some of the locals. I felt tired of having to go everywhere by myself and I was also quite tired for the more than 4 weeks travelling since I left Doha in early July.

The day after I decided to check some of Chicago neighbourhoods. I got in the subway and went to the Mexican neighborhooh Pilsen where I wandered around checking some of the graffiti murals and shops. I had wanted to have my hair cut for a while so I didnt hesitate when I found a barbers shop open. I went it and after waiting for 20 minutes, as one latino guy was having his hair done and took ages to agree with the final result, I got mine cut. Paid $15 and left pretty satisfied with the final result. Then I decided to check the Polish village, Wicker park and Lincoln Park, where I spent the rest of the afternoon. I then went back to the hotel and start packing my stuff ready so everything was ready for the day after, when I had to take an early flight to Washington.
After a workout I went back into town and had a look around some of the shops before grabbing something to eat and deciding to retire to my room for a good night rest.
Chicago is a great city and would love to visit it again, but hopefully next time it'll be at the beginning of my trip and not at the end, so I have more energy to explore all the things the city has to offer.


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