Chicago - at last!

Trip Start Sep 07, 2009
Trip End Nov 17, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Saturday, October 10, 2009

10/10/2009 - Our first full day in Chicago and, as usual, whenever we reach a new city the first thing we have to do is the laundry. We scoured the neighbourhood (in the freezing cold!), but couldn't find a public laundromat for love nor money (apparently the condominiums have them available for residents only). We eventually found a dry-cleaners where they do a 'wash and fold' service for $20, a bit steep on our budget, but we were desperate! The best thing to come out of the search though, was getting to see the local neighbourhood by foot and taking in some of Chicago's famous architecture. Our neighbourhood, the Near North Side, is just across the river from 'The Loop', and out hotel is about two blocks from the 'The Magnificent Mile'. We were both beginning to get a feel for what a great city Chicago was...

We had heard that one of the best ways to see the city was by boat, so we headed down to the river to book a tour, but, unfortunately, when we got there we were told that all trips were sold out until 2pm the next day. Luckily, we had a Plan B. Fred (from the pier in Islamorada!) had kindly sent us an email the night before recommending a number of places we should visit (his daughter had worked as a lawyer in Chicago for a number of years), one of which was the Field Museum of Natural History. So we jumped on the 'L' train down to museum campus by the edge of Lake Michigan. The L trains in Chicago run overground, so we got a great view of the city on the way down to the museum. Fred had stressed that we should check out the 'Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo', who killed around 150 men during the construction of a railway in Kenya in 1898. The whole museum was fascinating (we've turned into a couple of nerds!). There was a great exhibition on Ancient Egypt and another called The Evolving Planet- definitely a must see for visitors to Chicago. As we left the museum to walk back to the train station, the sun was just peaking out from behind the clouds and the view looking back towards the city centre was breathtaking.

We finished the day by visiting Pizzeria Uno, which is famous for being the founder of the Chicago deep-pan pizza in the 1940s. When we arrived the queue extended down the block. We were told there was a 1hr and 45 minute wait for a table, so we put our names down and went for a drink at a local bar. We returned 90 minutes later and, fortunately, waited only a couple of minutes before our name was called out over the tannoy system in the street - only in America! The pizza was good, very deep, but the crust wasn't doughy at all, more like a short-crust pastry. We both agreed, that we preferred the pizza in NY.

We had had such a fantastic day. It was so refreshing to be somewhere with a bit more culture and out of the heat of Florida. We could tell we were going to have a great time here.
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