Cultured in Chicago

Trip Start Dec 16, 2012
Trip End Sep 01, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Saturday, August 10, 2013

Spending 17hours on a Greyhound bus overnight is not my recommended mode of transport. We left NY 1 hour before midnight. We were lucky to get that bus as they like to overbook and hold a "first come, first serve" policy. With unsuccessful sleeping attempts upright, I gave Harry the two seats and tried to doze off, tucked tightly into my smallest possible version of the fetal position on the floor. Seemingly un-weatherproof, the rain began to leak through the roof and soak me. As dawn approached we changed buses and continued the red-eyed mission through the cornfields of the mid-west - watching the light planes dumping a mysterious spray over the crops - and arriving just after 3pm. True American travel.

After checking into the best hostel I've ever seen we took a stroll around Lincoln Park and picked up some drinks for the free BBQ at the hostel that night. My plan to have a night in and save my rapidly depleting bank account was soon transformed. Harry and I found ourselves with a group of British girls at the very sophisticated Green Mill jazz club, where Al Capone and company used to celebrate. A no talking while listening policy soon led us to B.L.U.E.S., another cultural hotspot of Chicago known for it's blues groove it delivered an entertaining atmosphere, leading me to start a dance party for the last jam of the night.

Baseball is something I missed in NY so Harry and I had planned a White Sox game. A late start to the day brought us to midday, pre-game drinks out on the patio with the girls from last night, who decided to join us in the participation of America’s Favourite Past-time. The experience was awesome, a fun game that requires minimal attention and allows for plenty of banter, eating and drinking. A fruitful day of nacho’s, helmets, big fingers, getting on the big screen (twice) and fireworks… Sox win!!

After a delicious Chinese dinner at Dee’s with the girls we continue the post-game celebrations in Wrigleyville. The atmosphere was intense in the streets, every bar was packed except ours. At 2am when everything closed, the sirens were now in the streets along with a couple thousand fans and partygoers. After a solid 16 hours of drinking (Harry’s last 5 was of Jaeger-bombs) I put Harry and myself to bed.

I woke up "disorientated" at the girls hostel and gathered up the pieces to quickly rally Harry together and head back to the hostel before check-out time. We would now be staying with Mary, my friend from the Yoga Farm however Harry was looking well below par for a good first impression.

While Harry slept that afternoon while I enjoyed a delectable lunch at the Little Goat with Mary and her new friend Colin, who shared a fun fact that Wrigleyville recently held the highest murder rate in the U.S. Good to know after you party there right?

That night Harry managed to pull his socks up so we dived right into the Chicago cultural classic, the deep dish pizza. This thing was deeeep, and delicious. It was perfect and much appreciated to have a local show us the best areas of the city. After dinner Colin drove us along Lake Michigan, giving us a beautiful view looking up at the bright lights of the Chicago skyline.

Waking up refreshed and ready for some more culture we walked along the lakeside towards downtown and visited Millenium Park and The Bean. The highly polished, one-piece metal marvel is one of the coolest street art pieces I’ve ever seen. Mary had to split to go to work while Harry and I spent 3 hours in the Art Institute of Chicago admiring beautiful and inspiring exhibits from all over the world. The Asian Art section was my number one pick with gorgeous statues and trophies of Buddha, Krishna, Shiva and other peaceful or wrathful and deities. After getting the cultural fix we walked a couple blocks to the Willis Tower to fly right by the 2-hour line with our CityPass VIP cards and up 103 floors to the SkyDeck, where we challenged our fear of heights and braved vertigo head-on, for a full circle view of Chicago and it’s impressive skyscrapers.

We returned back to the apartment with sore legs, which I stretched out in a yoga session on Mary’s balcony 27 stories up. Her apartment is charming, clean and comfortable. We felt very lucky to be staying in it for the couple nights.

Dinner that night was a BBQ grill session by the buildings gym and pool. We sampled some beef, prawn & veggie kebobs with corn on the cob before heading out to Zanie’s comedy lounge. An open-mic night brought up some hilarious acts. With Jerry Seinfield, Tim Allen and other notable’s memorabilia on the wall it was obvious this place regularly delivered good talent.

Huge plans for the following day had us over-ambitious for three museums and an aquarium. Chicago must be well famous for it’s museums because these things were incredibly impressive. We only managed to fit in the Museum of Science & Industry and the Shedd Aquarium. Both were seriously awesome with 3D, 4D, Omnimax and every other kind of over-the-top, reality-simulating theatre delivering educational programs on coral reefs, outer space, the animal kingdom, and many more. The aquarium gives home to over 30,000 animals including beluga whales and dolphins, which featured in the live show and even an anaconda. The Science Museum gives home to a life-sized replica of a commercial airline jet, a passenger train and the German U-505 submarine. I could have nerded out all day there. Unfortunately we missed out on the History Museum and Museum of Surgical Sciences but it was a long and awe-inspiring day. It’s really quite exhausting to be constantly in amazement for that long.

Harry and I freshened up and headed back into downtown for the hugely anticipated Broadway show we had booked in NYC, accidently in a Chicago venue. We managed to change the dates to the following week and now found ourselves piling into the Bank of America Theatre to see the funniest musical on Earth, The Book of Mormon. Created by the writers of South Park, it was the best show I’d ever seen and had Harry and I in stitches the entire time. The masters of satirical social commentary delivered a spectacular performance that I would definitely go see again.

Wednesday morning saw us waking up at 5 for an early flight back over to the East Coast. A huge thankyou to Muzz for hosting us and to Colin for being our tour guide. You made our stay in Chicago a flawless one and re-inspired my adventure in the U.S. You’re the best hosts we could ever ask for and so very welcome to come stay Down Under anytime.

We continue the adventure to Boston. Where world-renowned seafood, Harvard College, Joe Rogan and the UFC await us. I’m stupid excited!

Gettin’ Cultured!
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