Day 46 & 47: Chicago, IL

Day 46: Thursday 27th April 

It wasn’t my first time in Chicago; I’d actually been there twice before. The first time, it was freezing and I didn’t do much apart from eat sushi, and the second I went to a comedy night with my former brother-in-law and his partner, walked around a little, discovered Uber (and witnessed a pretty aggressive Uber driver/taxi driver altercation) and had a really massive cocktail.

This time, we were excited to be staying with a couple – Chris and Julie – who we had both been friends with in Prague (I’d actually been to their beautiful Prague wedding a couple of years ago), although they were only around the first night because they were heading to Nebraska for another friend’s wedding the second night. We would be in Nebraska just a couple of days later – well, you can’t time everything perfectly.

We spent the morning driving over from Dearborn, where I think we crossed a little bit of Indiana and maybe even peed at a gas station there. I’m happy to count that as me going to Indiana – but more so because I spent a few days there a couple of years ago (on a very tiny Mid-West road trip. That’s right! It’s not my first time in a car in the USA! I hope you don’t feel too cheated).

Chris and Julie had a beautiful flat (apartment), with a fantastic view of the city:

Breakfast on balcony_view_1

Korean Tacos_1
Korean tacos!

After catching up with Chris and Julie a bit, they took us for some amazing Korean fusion food at a place called Del Seoul. Their Korean tacos were amazing! So good, in fact, that we ended up there again the following day. I don’t know what it was – just the freshness, the layers of flavour, everything. Definitely recommended! We followed that up with some beer at the Galway Arms – an Irish pub where someone was setting up to play some music as we were leaving – and then on to Delilah’s, which was a pretty quirky bar where they were playing some cartoon porn on screens above us.

Chris assured us that Chicago was famous for high-quality hot dogs, so we finished the night at Clark Street Dog and grabbed one to go. It had a lot of fancy trimmings – different sauces, onions, salad, but I’m afraid to tell you that our minds weren’t as blown as we’d hoped…. It was nice, sure, but perhaps we’re just not hot dog people. Sorry, Chris!

Day 47: Friday 28th April 

Chicago was turning out to be a big foodie city – and perhaps that’s just because Chris and Julie are really enthusiastic about discovering all the exciting food/beer things going on in the city. Actually, I’ve rarely met anyone more in touch with what’s going on in their city – we later discovered that Chris could name almost every building and bird we walked by!

So, we started our day with Sushi Burrito. A sushi burrito is basically a massive roll of sushi – and it’s amazingly satisfying. If these make their way to Europe (they might have done already – too lazy to check) then make sure you try one!
Sushi burrito_1

We went for a walk through Lincoln Park, which is a beautiful park really near downtown Chicago. Chris was able to name a lot of birds for us, while Anna worked on her wildlife photography skills:

Lincoln Park_19.20.09
Lincoln Park (South Pond)
Lincoln Park_North Pond_3
Lincoln Park (North Pond)
Lincoln Park_Red-winged blackbird.jpg
A red-winged blackbird
Lincoln Park_squirrels_3
Look at the adorable squirrel!
Lincoln Park_Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool_1
The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

After you’ve strolled through Lincoln Park a little, you get to Lincoln Park zoo – a zoo that is actually FREE!! Yes, while I would normally turn down a zoo – despite the USA’s seeming obsession for zoos and aquariums – you don’t turn down a free stroll through a zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo_African Wild Dog_8
An African Hunting Dog
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Japanese macaques – hugging!
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I wonder how closely you’ll look at this. Yes, yes it is.

After that, we continued to walk towards downtown, where we walked along the shore of Lake Michigan a little. Chicago is situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, which is such a massive lake that it looks like the sea. So, for a while we felt as if we were walking along the shore, until someone pointed out the lack of saltwater smell. After that, it just felt a little weird to me, as if aliens had tried to create a replica of earth, hoping we wouldn’t notice – but had messed up this one small detail. Anyway…

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Walking along the lakeshore
Lake Michigan_North Avenue Beach_4
The beach by the creepy not-sea

We eventually got into the downtown area, where we had some refreshing drinks at Argo Tea (which is a chain, but still nice – and we got some free samples! I think one was Pina Colada tea) and saw some of Chicago’s famous bold architecture:

Trump tower
All hail your new lord and master. I feel a little sick.

Chicago is known for its iconic skyscrapers and boldly-designed buildings. Fortunately for us, we had Chris as a tour guide, who knew the name of practically every building and when it was built, and frankly had a pretty astonishing knowledge of the history of Chicago. (Anna: I wish I knew that much about anything!)

Downtown_Chicago Theatre_1
The Chicago Theatre
Downtown_Wrigley Building_4
The Wrigley Building
Downtown_Carbide and Carbon Building
The Carbide and Carbon Building
Downtown_Marina City
Marina City (otherwise known as the “corncob” buildings)
Downtown_Drake Hotel_John Hancock Center
Chicago city skyline including the Drake Hotel and John Hancock Center

We walked past a castle-like building, which was the Water Tower – apparently it was the only part of the city to survive the great fire of 1871, as everything else was made of wood:

Downtown_Chicago Water Tower_3
The Water Tower

There’s also the Tribune Tower, which has a pretty cool exterior. There are lumps of different famous buildings from all over the world. I’m not sure whether they were really supposed to nick lumps of ancient temples and shove them into their wall, but it’s a cool idea as long as it doesn’t catch on:

Downtown_Tribune Tower_rocks from Cambodia
The Tribune Tower rocks (geddit?)

We also passed this in Pioneer Square:

Downtown_Pioneer Court_"Return Visit" sculpture_3.jpg
Honest Abe was an Illinois boy, and they’re pretty proud (it’s called The Lincoln State)
Downtown_DuSable Bridge_view east.jpg
A pretty nice view from DuSable Bridge!

And finally, we strolled through Millennium Park, which is famous for the Bean – basically a metal bean that lets you take some cool warped perspective photos:

I just debated for five minutes whether to add the caption “bean there, done that”… I think I am officially becoming old. Fortunately for the world I don’t have any kids to embarrass with my awful sense of humour. Ooh, and we also saw this weird thing:

Millennium Park_21.47.21.jpg
The Crown Fountain

Anyway, by then we’d walked for miles, so we caught the L-train back to near Chris and Julie’s flat. But first, we stopped for some cupcakes at a place called Molly’s Cupcakes. Cupcakes seem to be quite a thing in the States at the moment (we also had some in Washington DC), and these did have some pretty exciting fillings and toppings, including things such as Peanut Butter Nutella, Blueberry Cheesecake and Salted Caramel Butterscotch, including some vegan and flourless options, in case you’re wondering!

Cupcakes Girl Scout Cookie.jpg
Alright, alright, there’s a photo 😉 I know you wanted to see.

After that, it was time for our lovely hosts to head off to their friend’s wedding in Nebraska. They kindly let us stay in their flat for the night. We bummed around a little before heading back to Del Seoul for more Korean tacos, because the cravings had just been that strong! That was about it from then on, as we were tired and wanted to do some more blogging before heading off the next day.

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