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Published: November 7th 2015
Our final stop in the U.S. was Chicago… and what a way to say goodbye! It wasn’t love at first sight; as we stepped off the night bus from hell with some interesting individuals, we were a little apprehensive… This was made worse when we started chatting to Steven in Starbucks, who told us some terrifying figures about gun crime in Chicago. He also gave us some great tips and discussed the NHS and the demise of education with us before we headed off to find our hostel to dump the bags. As it was, Wicker Park was a really lovely area, complete with Aldi and Stan’s Donuts, both of which we visited almost every day! Anyway, it was now only 8am and we had time to kill until we could actually get into our room so after an enormous breakfast in the world’s friendliest diner, we headed downtown, deciding that riding the loop would use up very little of our limited energy. This was a great plan, as the train takes you above the streets in a loop around central downtown, affording brilliant views of the skyscrapers all around. Tom found a hot dog for lunch – a Chicago must-do
ticked off – and we headed back, exhausted, for a nap.
The following day was when we really realised how awesome Chicago was. The Windy City was having a freak heatwave and as we stepped outside, the sky was bright blue and it was lovely and warm. We headed to Millennium Park and started at The Bean, where the reflections of the skyscrapers from every direction were amazing! Chicago is apparently one of the tallest cities in the world in terms of its buildings, but it also has a lot of green spaces and feels a lot less crowded than New York. We headed over the bridge to Lake Michigan, where the water sparkled as far as the eye could see, and wandered alongside the water to Navy Pier. The Pier isn’t at its best at the moment as there are big renovations taking place and the famous ferris wheel has been taken down, but the views back to the city across the lake were stunning and we found some loungers on which to enjoy the sun. We later found out that it had reached 71 degrees – amazing considering it often snows here in early November! This day
was made even better when, on the way home, we had a look in Stan’s Donuts and found ‘gluten-less’ ones, in two different flavours! Stan really is the man.
Chicago is a great place to wander aimlessly, and we spent a good few days doing just that. We created our own architecture tour, seeing the sights as we explored downtown… We were impressed by the Chicago Cultural Centre, with the world’s largest Tiffany stained glass dome. One of our splurges in Chicago was on Wednesday night, when we decided to go up to the 96th floor of ‘360 Chicago’ for drinks. Although these were probably the most expensive drinks we’d ever bought, it was well worth it to look down on the city at night. It was also a lot cheaper than going to the observatory or up the Willis Tower, and we got to dress up and enjoy cocktails with our view = win.
We decided that we couldn’t leave the U.S. without going to see a basketball game, and the Chicago Bulls game against Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t disappoint. The view from the top corner of the stadium wasn’t the best in the house but it
was really as much about the entertainment as the sport, with cheerleaders and acts at half time and fireworks going off during the national anthem! One of my highlights was the performance by the Swinging Seniors during one of the many intervals! The game was actually really good, it was a bit of a nail-biter with The Bulls eventually winning 106 – 98. Our only complaint was that no one else really seemed to care that much about the game! They seemed more interested in the guy coming round selling beer, the woman selling raffle tickets, and getting up just as something exciting was happening, forcing the whole of the row to stand up. We thought our football fans were supposed to be the drunkards but it seems that basketball fans could give them a run for their money.
We headed to Lincoln Park another day, but weren’t big fans of the free zoo here as the animals seemed to have very little room and it made us sad… the llamas were cool though. We also walked along the Magnificent Mile in the exclusive Gold Coast area, where we peered in at the fancy shops and walked along the
river admiring Trump Tower and The Wrigley Building.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from Chicago… but it definitely exceeded my expectations! After spending three of the best months of our lives in the mighty U.S.A, visiting 17 states, 12 National Parks and 7 cities, it’s time to start the South American leg of our tour. Exciting!
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