Hi from Chicago - USA

Trip Start Jun 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Dan - Loyola

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Writer: Ivor and Kate

Eventually we made it to Chicago and we knew we had arrived in the US when before we collected our backpacks, we had passed two Starbucks, two McDonalds, two Dunkin Donuts and an array of other fast food restaurants! Gotta love this place!

We mastered the underground from the airport and headed to stay at the home of someone we had been put in touch with but had never met (thanks Meg). We were welcomed to Hotel Dan by Dan himself (the hostess with the mostess) and met his partner Jeremy. Within 30 minutes we might as well have known each other all our lives!

That night we went out for dinner with some of their friends Cici and Mark but instead of heading straight to the restaurant, Dan doubled as a tour guide and drove us through downtown Chicago so we could get our bearings and take in some sites. After a tasty Mexican dinner and delicious cocktails, we went to Kingston Mines – the best Blues Bar in Chicago. It was a great night and even the 80 year old owner was there celebrating his birthday.  Kingston Mines gets going around midnight and closes at 6am (thanks for the tip Fraser).

Sunday was July 4th ... Happy Independence Day America. Our day started with brunch in Wicker Park next to Bucktown, which included bottomless Bloody Mary's and Bucks Fizz ... the celebrations for the day had begun! For desert Dan and Jeremy took us to 'icream’ (http://www.icreamcafe.com/) an idea that Ivor wants to bring to London. We then met some of Dan’s friends (Anita and Aura) who had been at the Cubs game at Wrigley Field in Lincoln Park (the 2nd oldest baseball ground in the US). What was supposed to be a ‘quick one’ ended up including a visit to a reggae bar, the Cubs local bar (that randomly had salsa lessons – Pengster you would have loved it!) before heading to Navy Pier (tourist central) to watch the fireworks. After the fireworks we went for some food to a city restaurant where Ivor and Jeremy provided us with an entertaining double act of falling off their chairs – booze or faulty chairs????

The next day was a late start but it was Tourist Day. We went to the loop (the main financial district) and saw the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower and the tallest building in the Western hemisphere). We walked along the Chicago River and did the Architecture Foundation boat trip (which we would highly recommend). Chicago’s architecture is incredible with the skyscraper term originating there. As you can imagine, Ivor was in his element – buildings galore and a chance to take more ‘artistic’ photos! We made our way around Lake Michigan to see Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, Millennium Park where we watched a concert on the Great Lawn and saw ‘The Bean’.

Our second last day saw the temperature and humidity level rise in Chicago. So instead of heading to the city we opted for a relaxing morning at Hotel Dan coupled with a walk on the beach.  In the afternoon we went to the Hancock Tower and had some drinks on the 95th floor in the Signature Room.  Not only were we treated to amazing views of Chicago, we also witnessed a thunderstorm with lightening that engulfed the tower – breath taking!  After drinks, Jeremy took us down the magnificent mile (main shopping road) and then we met up with Dan and drove to ‘Boyz town’ to have dinner at a top Sushi Restaurant.

Wednesday came too quickly for us.  It was time to leave, not only a beautiful city but our new found friends.  Chicago had a tough act to follow after Toronto but we can safely say that it stepped up to the mark. 

Without a doubt we will be checking into Hotel Dan in the near future. 

Dan and Jeremy thank you for everything – hopefully we will see you again while we are in the States (hint hint – Vegas baby!!!) and one day look forward to putting you up in Hotel ‘Bear and Shake’.  Our train now awaits and we have said goodbye to Dan and Jeremy (without any one of us ‘pulling a Jeremy’).  It should take 54 hours from Chicago to San Francisco.  We will be together in a small cabin and will we still be married at the end of this 2.5 day train trek.

........ to be continued!

PS Just in case you were sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering what had happened to our Toronto Tour Guide’s (Erica) foot, what she thought was a splinter actually turned out to be a nail.  This has now safely been removed – hopefully she will be back on her feet soon.

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Lena Janse van Vuuren on

thanks for the update and all the photos. Your beard looks smashing!. Have a great time in USA.

VM on

THIS is how you start your blog about the US - fast food???? Well, you redeemed yourselves with the 'Dan dancing with VM' photo. I'll be checking into Hotel Dan in a few days. Great pics, miss you, love you guys!

Jeremy - jeremyhagee@yahoo.com on

Ivor & Kate --

Reading this was bittersweet, as it brought back great memories, but made me sad that the weekend is over and you two are gone. I had such a great time and miss you both. Audrey is still wearing your purpoined napkin fashion accessory; I couldn't bear to take it off since you're the one who put it on her. I think that's why she likes it as well.

I hope your adventures continue to be as fun and exciting as Chicago was for you. I also hope you continue to spread your goodness across the world as you encounter more people and create more memories. You're both truly beautiful people and anyone lucky enough to cross your paths during your honeymoon journey are truly blessed.

Safe travels!


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