Until April, I have never been to Chicago, not even once. In my mind… Chicago was neon lights, theatres, and the University of Chicago (Economics). I don’t know why I had this picture in mind. Probably because of the movie Chicago, who knows :p On the last night of Montreal, we suddenly wasn’t too sure if we had reserved a place to stay in Chicago. It was quite scary, but it turned out alright in the end. The location was in the suburb – something different. Browsed through all the online comments and compared the prices, we picked a place in Schaumburg. It’s about 40 minutes away from Chicago (by train). We arrived at the O’Hare International Airport in the afternoon. Took the Airport Express shuttle to Schaumburg (2 two-way tickets was about $76, which was about the same as how much we paid for in other cities – Door-to-door, about 15-20 minutes drive. Not bad at all.) The front desk staff, a Filipino lady, was very friendly. In the lobby, there was also a computer with Internet and Wifi, which really came in handy later on. After checking in, we were desperately searching for food (or just me?!).
So we went to this Big Bowl “Fresh” Chinese and Thai Cuisine. By end of April, I was already quite sick of eating out and wanted something fresh. So here we were… It was around 5-6pm but the place was already quite busy. I was surprised – does people there tend to eat a bit earlier? One of the selling items was the Big Bowl of noodle+veggie that you can pick and choose for stir-fry. Well, I thought that was kinda a gimmick and I went for the Pad Thai. How was that? just so-so. But I loved their fresh-made ginger ale. VERY gingery. Gotta boost up my immune system.
After our early dinner, we walked to the Woodfield Mall nearby. Apparently, it’s a tourist attraction, and I ended up spending my remaining American dollars there.
The next day, we took the Metra (train) from Medinah (the closest station) to downtown Union Station. It seems that there’s one “Union Station” for every city. We have one in Toronto, there was one in SF, and here’s another one in Chicago. It was a quiet afternoon. Walking around the station, trying to make sure we were on the right track, literally. There was no train staff/manager at the station. After checking out the timetable and asking the only one other passenger, we were quite sure we’d be OK.
We arrived at the downtown Union Station. Not sure if it was because we came on the weekend, it was pretty quiet everywhere. Chicago is one of the most convenient U.S. cities to visit by train (according to wikitravel). I think so too. Looking at its Metra and CTA maps, I think it really has a pretty extensive train system, but at the same time, I also heard that Chicago’s transportation system is also one of its major problems over there – lots of traffic jam.
We got there around mid-day. Feeling thirty and got a cup of smoothie, plus vitamin boost. Holding a big cup of chilly smoothie, we started walking towards downtown. Thank to wikitravel’s itineraries, we had a good idea of where the buildings were, and what were worth seeing without having to buy a travel guide. I’d like to walk around the city w/o a plan, but it’s better to have some ideas and expectations in mind given the short stay.
The first stop was at the Art Institute of Chicago. Around 200m from the Institute, I saw a large poster of Edward Hopper’s Night Hawks. He’s one of the few artists that I like. But I never expected that I’d bump into his exhibition. Excited. Since it was our last stop, I could afford buying something larger – a large poster of his “Chop Suey”. His work is always calm, silent and stoic. I just like it. Don’t ask me why.
Walked out of the Art Institute… this is what you’d see on your right. Lots and lots of buildings. Walking in Chicago downtown – it’s like you’re on a architectural tour. Thought of a friend’s description of some buildings that he saw on his field trip (for architectural students) – I guess if we had a tour guide, we could have appreciated the designs even better.
We walked along Michigan Avenue towards the Millennium Park (following the Loop Art Tour wiki-guide). Saw these interesting faces (called “Crown Fountain”). What a cute idea! These are faces of real Chicagoans! One face you’re seeing here, and another face on the back of the block at the front.
Then… walked a bit more into the park, there’s a big “bean” that you just can’t miss. It’s called the “Cloud Gate”. We loved it and had a lot of fun looking at funny faces of ours and others on the bean. People were like big kids.
And then, we walked pass a large “ribbon” pavillion (Pritzker Pavilion)… and came to this artsy, long, winding BP Bridge. I never thought a walkbridge could be like this. Not very attractive from an economical standpoint, but it adds something different to the city. Really spiced things up a bit.
So many buildings and scruptures along the Loop… this is one that caught my eyes. It looks like this is the building that appeared in the movie “Wanted“. Do you think so? It’s called the Chicago Temple building.
Of course… I’ve been looking forward to my Chicago deep dish pizza. It was raining quite badly the last 2 days. So, instead of going to the restaurant, we ordered delivery from Lou Malnati. It wasn’t as THICK as I thought it would be. It was delicious though! Good to have pizza and pop while watching NBA.
Other thoughts/memories of Chicago…
– Very windy – but that’s not how it got its name the “Windy City”. Wanna know more? click here.
– There were many museums in Chicago and I think some of them should be worth-seeing. Maybe next time.
– Would like to go to the 94th floor of the Hancock Center – heard about the great view from there.
– Also missed the Buckingham Fountain – it’s not on every evening though.
Overall, our trip to Chicago was really worth it. Too short though. Next time, I’d definitely check out its concerts… All That Jazz. 😉
Good times… was a bit tired after a whole month, but still restless. (Thatz why I got sick for like 3 weeks in late-May to early-June) -_-