Thursday, 6 October 2011

Route 66 - First night in the Windy City

We landed at O'Hare in surprisingly good shape, and hopped in one of the many cabs outside of the airport. It was about $40 each way from O'Hare to downtown Chicago (the Doubletree Magnificent Mile to be precise) and after an 8 hour flight, neither of us fancied the El or the shuttle (though both would probably have been straightforward enough).

The Doubletree was lovely - very art deco opulence. We got cookies when we checked in, and Tom, our bellman (too old to be a bellboy) was really nice and friendly. Mr S pointed out that this may have been assisted by the fact that we overtipped (we had no change), but I like to think the best... We crashed out both nights in Chicago, so our best laid plans of visiting speakeasies and staying out late were a little optimistic. We both had terrible colds too, which didn't exactly help...

After a fantastic night's sleep (where we woke at about 5am), we decided to hit the city. When we visited Chicago, the heatwave had just come to an end - typically, this coincided with the UK's heatwave commencing! As a result, it was a bit drizzly and wet. But we decided that this would not stop our exploring, and pressed on regardless.

In the morning, we ate at Panera Bread, which appeared to be a small cute bakery - turns out, rather than supporting the local economy (inspired by the Dave Gorman roadtrip) we had inadvertently eaten at what appeared to be a huge chain. Still, their egg and cheese ciabatta takes some beating! Fully fuelled, we walked down Magnificent Mile and wandered around Chicago.

We went up the Sears (now the Willis Tower), which was a cracking way of getting to know the city! We also walked up the official start of Route 66:

In the afternoon we took a boat trip with Chicago's First Lady, which was fantastic! The narrator really brought the city to life, from the stories of those who designed the buildings, to the unfortunate chap who crashed into a bridge next to one and caused billions of pounds of damage...

A few of my highlights were:

This beautiful building is the Trump Tower. Whilst I have never considered the man a style icon (and still don't - just for the record), the building is staggeringly beautiful in the flesh, and even more so from the water.

This is the Tribune Tower. At the base of the building are pieces of other famous buildings, from the pyramids in Egypt to Edinburgh Castle. There is such a contrast between the styles of buildings in Chicago, from the (quite literally) new and shiny Trump Tower, to the gothic majesty of the Tribune Tower. However, they all work brilliantly together.

This is just one example of the reflections from the water - I have many others, but figured I've probably bored you enough by now...

Sorry, couldn't resist just one more...

This is the planetarium. It's next to Soldiers' Fields baseball park, and is in an area with heaps of museums. As we were only there a day, it wasn't possible to check any of these out, but I would love to head back one day and spend more time in Chicago. As it was Mr S's favourite place, we might be doing so in the not too distant future...

We travelled to Springfield, Illinois next. We were lucky enough to hit their annual Route 66 Festival, which I'll tell you all about in the next post.

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