On to Chicago, One of my favorite cities in the world. We spent 3 days here. One of wich was a ‘free day’ where we had nothing planned and could go our separate ways and explore the city.
Before I tell you all about my time in the windy City, I’m going to share with you some facts…
Chicago got its nickname The Windy City as it is a political haven. It has been home to many influential politicians including Mr Obama himself. It is thought that all the hot air from these politicians gave birth to its nickname. The actual name Chicago however, is derived from the Native American word Shikaakwa, which means Wild onion. This is because Chicago was a boggy swamp land. ships use to carry trade from East America to West America along lake Michigan. A ship apparently became stuck in the shallow waters of the swampy land and some bloke (I forgot the name sorry) bought the rights to it. He started dumping his rubbish there as it was no good for anything else. He then started a business in allowing others to dump their rubbish there too. This quickly grew into a land mass and people started building on it. The city became huge as its port had links to the trade in the East. A large part of Chicago burnt down in 1871 and was rebuilt rapidly, America’s first skyscraper was built during this time.
Right, tourist facts over. AS Chicago is pretty built up. (It has the 4th busiest airport in the world) OK sorry no more I promise. We had to stay in a hostel rather than out tents. This wasn’t too bad as the hostel had been newly refurbished and was brilliant. It felt good to have a mattress and duvet. I was in awe of Chicago’s overhead train network. I’d seen things like it before in films and Playstation games but was different seeing it in real life, I had a bit of a geeky moment staring at the trains and platforms in the sky. We were in Chicago at the same time the World Taste festival was kicking about. We decided to go and see what this food fair had to offer, I tasted a genuine chicago Hot dog – If you ever get the chance, you have to try one, it was amazingly good. The weather was so hot and humid, I don’t think I’d ever lost so much of my body liquids due to sweat in my life. I had to carry a packet of tissues around with me just to wipe my face with. The sweat was pouring down into my eyes and stinging them. I was also continuously drinking bottles of water. I must have filed it up a dozen times alone from water fountains. Kerry, Dave and I went to see the Chicago Bean – A huge Jelly Bean shapped metal object in the middle of one of Chicago’s Parks. From the right angle, you could see the whole of Chicago’s skyline and yourself, pretty good for picture-taking. That night we tried an authentic Chicago deep dish pizza, they definitely know how to cook a pizza pie in that city! My mouth was so happy and my stomach was more than welcoming to the 3 large slices I had before I couldn’t even look at another slice. Neil and I decided to go bar hunting while the others chose to stay in their comfy beds. We found a quaint little bar. just like the one’s you see it the movies when a guy has had an argument with his mrs and stormed off for a drink by himself to contemplate life. We got into a long conversation with a Canadian bloke while drinking Long Island Ice Teas. The barmaid clearly didn’t quite understand that they are classed as cocktails as she served us them in pint glasses, I wasn’t complaining – they were strong as hell!
The next day we did a lot of touristy things. We went up Willis tower – the largest building in the western hemisphere. Once you get past a certain height in a building, it all feels the same. The view was good though and the ‘elevators’ were so fast that it took a good 5 seconds for my stomach to catch up to me once we reached the top. We popped into Chicago Zoo, just because it was free, I still don’t understand how Chicago can afford to keep a zoo open and animals fed while the UK has trouble collecting rubbish once a week. It was a nice zoo too, saw a polar bear for the first time in real life and ate a snow cone too.
I was amazed by Chicago, It had tall buildings and photogenic skyline, It had a beach without salt water as it is on a ‘coast’ of the very large river Michigan, it had a pier with a fun fair on it! oh and it also has a rather cool overhead train network, have I mentioned that yet??
The next night we all went on a cycle tour of the City, this was really good fun. It had been a while since I had been on a bike and felt good to be cycling along with the wind in my face on the hot evening. this is also where I got most of my Chicago facts from, so you have the tour operator to thank for that. We cycled for about 6 miles, stopping every now and again while we were told about an interesting part of the city. It all added to the magic of the place. After the bike tour, we headed over to Navy pear to watch the fourth of July fireworks. We all sat around on the grass with our heads up to the sky. Jemma sat in between my legs with my arms wrapped around her and her head resting on my chest. I could have sat like that for hours, was so relaxing and comfortable.
Chicago is definitely a place I will have to go back to at some point. I could have spent two weeks there alone with all the things there is to do. But we were all packed up and moving out to Ohio, home of Cedar Point Amusement Park!!!