Zoos, archtecture, and deep dish pizza!

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Thursday, August 12, 2010

My first morning in Chicago, I was planning on doing an architecture tour, but due to timing decided to postpone that and head up to see Lincoln Park Zoo. Amazingly, this is a free attraction for the public to see! I took the Brown L-train up and walked the rest of the way, even though there was a bus that went right to the park gates. Before heading up to the zoo, I stopped by the famous Buckingham Fountain (I think made famous from "Married with Children"? Anyone?).

The zoo itself was interesting. The architecture was beautiful - especially the old buildings like the "cat house". However, since the building was old, so was the structure of the exhibit for the animals there. The cat house especially reminded me of the old school type zoos. The exhibits looked small and were very thin. They looks as if they were picture frames rather than an exhibit.

Some of the newer areas were pretty cool though like The African section (so I guess they've started to mix some zoo-geographic type organization with the classic species house organization). I also thought the "ape house" was pretty good. I got to see the chimps get let out into their exhibit (I saw the classic "scatter feeding" enrichment technique at work, and was pretty sure they'd be let out soon). The exhibit had a lot of climbing areas, but not much in terms of enrichment devices that I saw. They had an excellent education exhibit there.

Overall it was a nice morning and I got to see some new species and see how another zoo organizes and houses their animals.

For lunch I stopped off at a place that the Lonley Planet mentioned has good pizza - Giordanos. It was not just good, it was amazing. I had deep dish pizza before and wasn't impressed, but this Chicago style pizza was AMAZING! I'd totally have it again. I talked to a girl at the bar who was in town for a meeting about watershed management, and she told me that they barely have anyone that works on the watersheds in the area. She's one of only a handful of people. The bartender was once again a cold fish, but at least the pizza was good. I gave a slice to a homeless guy on the way out and saved the rest for dinner.

I then headed off for my architectural walking tour put on by the Chicago Architectural foundation. The architecture was definitely amazing, but I found the experience to be lacking. There were a bunch of reasons. I was already tired from all the walking in the morning. They had gave us ear pieces so that we could hear the tour guide (even though there were only 5 of us) and the mike/ear piece combo didn't work a lot of the time, and even when it did, it was odd to be listening to someone walking ten steps in front of you. The group itself wasn't that talkative (even the girl who was from Toronto also moving out west), and although the tour guide was nice, she wasn't necessarily captivating (in her defense they are volunteers). Randomly I saw my first Associate Teacher from teacher college, Sally, who happened to be in Chicago on vacation as well! Glad I did it I guess, but I left right when it was over.

I then went back to the host to catch the free Samba dancing down in the park hostel event. Out of the 20 people or so who signed up, only four of us showed. It was actually pretty cool. A couple of hundred people were in the park and we learned a couple of samba dances (which I have to say from what I saw tends to be more for female dancers... but I digress). One of the British girls who was there was nice, but I was tired and not especially feeling it so I just went back to the hostel and crashed. I think its a really cool idea that I could see myself doing if it were available in Toronto, but my feet were just too tired!
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Kim on

Matt, it's great to read about your travels, glad you started the blog! Keep 'em coming! xxk

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