Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chicago - Aug 2009


Chicago Theater
 Finding a host in Chicago took a few tries, but I eventually stayed with a very nice girl named Sylvia who works in theatre. She lives in a large apartment with her roommate, Sean, near Wrigley Field. There was an L station just a few blocks from her place, so I was able to take the train straight there all the way from Midway Airport.

Sylvia was very accommodating to my travel schedule. Sean was home at the time of my arrival to let me in, then Sylvia gave me a spare set of keys so I could come and go as I wanted.

My sleeping arrangement was a very comfortable futon in the living room. There happened to be another couchsurfer there my first night who slept on a mattress on the floor at the opposite end of the living room, but the room was so big that I barely noticed he was even there.



Chicago has an elevated subway system appropriately called the ‘L’. Many stations are accessible, but not all. The closest station to Sylvia’s place is Belmont, but at the time of this trip they were actually in the process of installing an elevator. So I had to get on/off at the next station Addison, which was only a 10min walk to Sylvia’s.

I rode the bus a few times and they are all the low floor kind with a flip out ramp. No problems there. 


Sean, German couchsurfer, and Sylvia
at the outdoor movie festival
The reason I was in Chicago in the first place was because I was on my way from Ottawa to Minneapolis to see a friend from University. I figured since Chicago was on the way, I would stop over for a few days and check the city out.

On my first night, Sylvia took me to the outdoor movie festival in Grant Park where we watched Tootsie. This is the same park where Barrack Obama made his victory speech after winning the 2008 election.

Inside Cloud Gate
I spent the next day on my own exploring downtown. I saw Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), but I didn’t go up because it was cloudy that day. Being a banker and finance major, I geeked it up and checked out the Chicago Mercantile Exchange where derivatives and commodities are traded in the U.S. There’s a free little museum in the lobby, but there’s not a whole lot to see there. The Federal Reserve Bank also had a little museum and between the two places, it was an educational couple of hours out of the rain learning about American finance.

Chicago-style hot dogs from
Gold Coast Dogs
Later on I found Buckingham Fountain. Millennium Park was my favourite part of Chicago. I somehow managed to be alone underneath Cloud Gate and took some great photos. After much wondering, I found some food Chicago is famous for – hot dogs! I had traditional Chicago-style hot dogs from Gold Coast Dogs. I also got some world-famous deep-dish pizza from Giordano's.

Deep-dish pizza from Giordano's

dolphin show at the
Shedd Aquarium

On my last day I spent the afternoon at the Shedd Aquarium which is enormous and has a huge amphitheatre for dolphin shows overlooking Lake Michigan. I found it to be much nicer than the Aquarium here in Vancouver.

For my last night, Sylvia and I met up with some other couchsurfers and took in some campy, local theatre.

I didn’t expect much from Chicago, but I really enjoyed it there. It has some fantastic building architecture and great scenery, being right on the lake. There’s plenty to do and lots of famous food to eat. Who knew this city in the middle of the U.S. could be so fun?

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