So we took a Southwest flight to Chicago from Fort Lauderdale, FL. We were so tired from staying up overnight at the airport that we fell fast asleep even before the plane took off, without realizing that the plane was empty and there we were squeezing when we could have taken any seat on the plane.
We landed at Chicago’s Midway Airport, which was huge and quite nice considering it isn’t the famous O’Hare. We caught the train and I was really fatigued from the lack of proper sleep so I started throwing a famous fit. Well, not really, but I like how the expression sounds. But I was seriously tired and quite fed up of my blue Wilson bag. It was getting to me.
We finally found our way to Arlington International Hostel and checked in. Nice. We had a four-person room to ourselves with an attached bathroom. It was really hot in the room though. And the sink was kind of gross – it was lined with a coat of dirt that had dried up over many months. Or at least that’s what I thought it was. And we saw the Spanish couple from Key West. Such a coincidence to see them again.
I called Mezraq to ask him for must-see places in Chicago and he gave a list. Thanks Mezraq! We left for a walk through downtown Chicago. I remember being very out of it because we didn’t have sufficient sleep the night before. Sufficient sleep is eight hours per day. Well, Chicago is a very cosmopolitan city, the downtown area has tall skyscrapers every block, well… Now that I think about it, Chicago is a very livable city; lots of things to do – diverse people, cultural, the best way I can describe it is “the cleaner version of New York City”. Lots of art lining the streets, sculptures, gardens, quirky artifacts.. I think Chicago has a lot of pride in its public art.
We stumbled into a Hershey’s store that had an amazing collection of all things Reese’s. Rowie would have come close to bankruptcy here.
We were walking along the Magnificent Mile. As a side note here, when I was blogging about London and Paris, I would refer to my photos, my maps and Wikipedia so that I could blog with accuracy and add in information about the things I saw, but now I am too lazy to do that, and I have no time for that either, so forgive me. I would really like to describe the places I’ve been to in detail, but my memory does not serve me well, and if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to finish it all even when I’m back in Singapore.
So that was a long side note. Magnificent Mile – right now, I would tell you that I was following the crowd. It was a straight road after all. I told you I was sleep deprived, so I can’t really recall what we saw that day. I do remember churches, skyscrapers and the infamous Chicago wind blowing dust into our eyes.
There was a building in downtown Chicago that was really interesting. Many pieces of stone, or bricks maybe, were taken from famous places around the world, such as this – a White House piece of stone, and the one below, from the Royal Castle in Stockholm. This pieces of stone were used as part of the building. Very interesting..
Wrigley Building, the chewing gum company.
We walked further down Michigan Avenue, I think that is what it was, and we came across this huge screen that was spurting water. It’s just a very big water thing.
It was spurting water, but because of Chicago’s rep as a windy city, the water was going in all directions once the wind picked up. There were many kids, and adults too, playing. It was pretty neat, because one could never guess where the wind would blow the water next.
The structure also showed a person’s face because I think behind the water is an LCD screen of some sort. And it was interesting because the water spurted out from where the person’s mouth was, as you will be able to see from the next photo.
Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
From downtown Chicago, we left for Chinatown. We took the subway there. No major complaints about their transport system, if I remember. We wanted to go look for dim sum I think. We also went to look for an optician for Xinpei cos her eye had been red for a while, since Miami..
A nondescript Chinatown
We had a huge meal at this place serving Asian cuisine from many countries – Korean, Chinese, Thai… all at one place. And they also had giant drink servings, like smoothies and bubble teas. None of us could finish our food, the portions were really huge. Then we went back to downtown Chicago, to see the Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park. We came across a marathon or some kind of massive race with thousands of participants. Quite a funny sight, considering that it was a weekday evening. Well, we figured it was some kind of charity or fund-raising thing that involved the companies in the area, cos many of them were wearing T-shirts endorsing their companies.
The next day, we headed to Shedd Aquarium. I haven’t been to one since Sea World in Gold Coast back in 2000 I think! Haha.
Sears Tower from outside the Aquarium
Icky silver slimy fish. I am averse to fish.
Despite my bad encounter with jellyfish in Bintan, I think these are beautiful!
Some kind of worm fish that sticks out of the sand.
Stone fish. Rock stone.
Nemo and Dory.
Dolphin show at the aquarium
Mother and calf Beluga whales
Beluga whales seem cuter than regular dolphins somehow.
For some reason, the aquarium had a reptile section.
Poor shark. He can’t really help what goes into his mouth. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to eat you!”
Beautiful Chicago cityscape and Lake Michigan
Hall Se7en represented in the Windy City.
We wandered towards Little Italy and Greektown, (Yeh Yang’s idea) and somehow we got a little lost near a University, I can’t remember which one right now. Anyway, it got really windy and chilly, so we decided to have dinner early. Settled at a Greek restaurant, and this was what I ordered – shrimp and scallop. It came with rice topped with some kind of sauce. I had been craving seafood for a really long time!
The servers were really polite, and in a rush to make sure all our needs were met. I particularly remember one of them, a little man with a hearty laughter – he could pass off as Danny DeVito’s brother. Each time they lighted the hot plate (because some of the dishes came with flamin’ brandy) he shouted “Opa!” or something that sounded like that. So I just checked with an online dictionary, “Opa!” is shouted by Greeks to signify joy or celebration.
So after we finished dinner, we went in search of medication for me. I was having a slight headache, which I’m sure was caused by having less than 8 hours of sleep each night. There was a slight problem though. I had a little glass of wine with my dinner, so the pharmacist advised that I wait an hour before I took the pills.
Went to watch “Wicked” after dinner. It’s doing so well on Broadway that it was fully booked two months in advance when Yeh Yang tried to book it, so had to settle for the Chicago cast, but they didn’t disappoint. The plot is a little unbelievable at times, but many musicals are like that anyway. I still prefer musicals like RENT and The Color Purple that deal with more serious themes though. I like the music. It’s one of those soundtracks that you start to like after listening to it endlessly. Haha.
The next day, we went shopping! Took a one-hour train ride out of Chicago to a town called Aurora. There began my first experience with Premium Outlets in the US. I can’t believe that I had spent money on GAP and other brands like American Eagle, when you can get branded stuff like Guess? and Calvin Klein at discounted outlet price! Anyway. I think I spent wisely. Haha.. Seriously. I only spent on what I thought was a steal. A bargin that couldn’t be ignored. We literally went mad cos we had only about 3 hours before we had to catch the train back to Chicago – we wanted to go to Navy Pier in the evening. There also began my fascination with Cold Stone Creamery, so that made me late in meeting the rest, and we missed the bus to the train station. Haha. An excuse to shop more. But I stopped there, while the three of them shopped more.
By the time we got back to Chicago, it was dinner time. We were too lazy to go to Navy Pier so we settled for dinner at a pizzeria.
It was Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. It’s really really thick and full of cheese. We only managed to eat a slice each; it was just too filling.
We packed the other half of the pizza home, and headed back to the hostel. It was funny how we parked our shopping stuff at the door of the pizzeria because they were too many to be brought in, so the staff very kindly allowed us to leave them behind the counter.
Back at the hostel, we packed up and got ready to leave the next morning. Yeh Yang was flying off to Buffalo, NY, on a different flight as ours and from O’Hare while ours was from Chicago-Midway. He left to spend the night at the airport, rather than take the subway at 3AM in morning cos he was scared of Chicago’s drug triads. HAHA!