A city of sky scrapers along the lake shore

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Chicago International Hostel

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 1

Arrived in the US and caught the metro to the city. Nice and cheep. After checking into the hostel decided to wander down to Grant Park. Some festival was on with food and rides being available all over the place. Interestingly no money was being held by retailers. instead you had booths where you bought tickets and then you had to use a certain number of tickets in order to purchase things. Guess its one way of cutting down on crime.

Lots of interesting people around. You see american culture in other societies but in a very distilled form. Here it was in its purest most extreme forms. Had a bit of a walk around and people watched before heading back to the hostel.

Had earlier met an Aussie guy who was travelling for a few months around the states and went out with him, acouple of irish guys and an american uni student. Mid week so everything was quite but ended up in a pub having some beers. Found that a bucket of beer was literally a bucket of beer. Had expected something like a jug but instead got a bucket of ice with 5 beers in it. The guys ended up moving onto another pub while I decided to go to bed since I had just flown in and there was a fair few number of hours of time difference between where I was and Chicago.

Day 2

Popped into the library which had free internet for up to 2hrs but no USB port so could sort my photos out. Next decided to find the bus station to make sure I knew where to go when it was time to leave and popped into the post office along the way to find out costs of sending stuff. Lots of sky scrapers around the place. All tall and all tightly pacted.

Decided to walk back to the river and make my way around back to the coast.Saw lots of police in the interesections. Guess they need to be there in order to stop traffic jams since a lot of the traffic doesnt seem to pay attention to the lights and queues over the interesection which Im sure would result in traffic flow problems and traffic jams.

Also saw lots of boats cruising the river on tours and had some nice views of some interesting buildings. Stopped of in a cafe and bought lunch which was a decent sized serve of pasta for about $9. Didnt pay a tip since I paid the man at the till before getting my food.

Had bought some books and maps along the way and must say I really hate how they show prices. Any price you see needs to have tax added to it. In addition if buying a meal in a restuarant or beer in a bar you need to add another 10-15% for tip. By the end the price you pay is 20-30% more than the price you see. Definately prefer Oz where the price you see is the price you pay but I gues you cant do that when each state has its own tax level.

Another thing I'm happy the goverment got rid of is 1 cent pieces and the fact that we have $1 and $2 coins instead of notes. Have Found that the wallet soon fills up with both them and $1 notes. Guess by having a lot of $1 notes that look like any other note even a poor man can feel rich with a great big wad of $1 bills.

Ended up at the Hancock building and went up to the 94th floor for the view. Nice views of the surrounding sky scrapers, coast line and city. Decided to do this building instead of the higher Willis building since it was closer to the lake and I thought I would get some nicer waterfront views from the building. At $20 a pop decided it was too expensive to do both.Had considered doing a museum but the entrance few into almost all places seems to be $20 A POP.

Headed back to the hostel and crashed out for a bit (jet lagged). Had organise to met the guys from the previous night to go out and listen to some blues. Ended up at the Kingston Mine and spent a few hours drinking and listening to some blues. Place basically had two stages one of which was running all the time. One stage was more of a cover band since I heard a number of songs I recognised from the blues brothers. while the other band seemed more original and better. All in all a fun night listening to some interesting music in a local pub.

Day 3

Did nothing much. Managed to find a relatively cheap internet place out in the suburbs (1hr by metro) which was $4/hr or $8/3Hr. Needed to backup and sort my photos out and wanted to back them up onto DVD to send home.

Found it interesting to walk through the suburbs were the houses had at least a small yard. On the way back decided to go to subway for dinner and asked for capsicum and toe-may-toe as veggies. Got a blank look for that. In america its green peppers and toe-mar-toe. Interesting how such a small change in pronunciation can throw some people.

Day 4

The guy I met from Oz had suggested it might be worth buying a laptop which at the time I had not considered. At the time thought of it as an expensive option and decided against it but given that internet has been hard to find and is expensive and that lots of places have free WiFi and you dont need a connection to back up and sort photos, maybe not so bad an idea. At this point in time though I had decided against it.

Decided to wander through millenium park down to the shoreline. Found the bean sculpture in the park to be interesting. Also had people in the park listening to some band who were out playing on the outdoor stage. Ended up working my way down to the old navy peer and the park across the water from it. Even saw a number of people sunbaking and swimming in the water from the little beach by the lake.

Headed back to the hostel to pick up my bag and go to the bus station. Got to the bus station and got the impression they were trying to be an airport. You basically had to first check your luggage in so that they could weigh it and charge you extra if it was more than 50 pounds. Mine was 46 pounds. Unlike Morroco though they didnt take your bag but made you take it onto the bus yourself. Also didnt like the fact that the bus has a first come first served seat policy. Foreces you to line up early for the bus and wait around in order to get a decent seat. Cant just walk on to an assigned seat that you got when getting your ticket.

Also found that with greyhound very few connections are direct. At some point you need to get off once or even more times in order to get onto another bus (ie transfer) in order to get you to your destination. Guess its good in that you would hope they minise wait times between buses to less than a couple of hours but on the down side it means its harder to crash out on an overnight bus.

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