22.05.09 - Cleveland to Chicago

Trip Start May 20, 2009
Trip End Jun 08, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Friday, May 22, 2009

With minimal time in which to see the sights of Cleveland (which, admittedly, are few and far between) we went out for a run taking in the football, baseball and basketball stadiums plus the lakefront of Lake Eerie (massive).  This also had the advantage of shifting a few of the pounds gained by the previous night's steak.  Back into the car late morning and it was straight off to Chicago with a stop off on the way at the extremely quaint Milan to see the birthplace of Thomas Edison where we were treated to a VIP tour (i.e. looking through the windows of the locked house) by the gardener. As the rolling hills gave way to huge, flat tracts of farmland in Eastern Ohio and Illinois, we made our final approach to Chicago.  The skyline of any major American City as you approach is a fantastic sight, but none more so that the Windy City.  Over the brow of the hill, the high rise skyscrapers appeared almost out of nowhere - however this awe was quickly replaced by fear as I was forced to drive over the Chicago Skyway (check it on google), a monstrous bridge contraption that catapults you into the downtown traffic.  A quick wander along the streets near the hotel and Chicago certainly did not disappoint - architecturally diverse, classy, bustling and simply enormous.  There's only one way to take in the full magnitude of the place, and that's a sightseeing trip up the John Hancock centre to the 94th floor.  The view at the top is incredible - in one direction Lake Michigan stretches beyond the horizon, in the other the urban footprint of Chicago never seems to end.  Certainly not for those with a fear of heights.

Back on the ground we took a route up the Millenium Mile (Chicago's Oxford Street) and through downtown to the Millenium Park - currently hugely popular due to an attraction colloquially known as 'The Bean' which, certainly not in violation of the trades descriptions act, is a huge, metallic bean shaped sculpture affording endless photo opportunities.  By now, true to form, it was getting windy and bloody cold (one can only speculate as to what it might be like here in the winter).  At the same time, Greg was becoming obsessed with finding the Sears Tower which, after walking around in the cold for what seemed like forever, he subsequently admitted to not knowing what it actually looked like.  We therefore headed home Sears Tower-less and shivering.

The guide book pointed us towards Lincoln Park for evening festivities.  Despite the stereotype of America being totally dominated by piss poor beer (Bud and Miller light etc), most places have well renowned microbreweries kicking out all manner of lagers, pale ales and wheat beers.  Case in point was the Goose Island Brewhouse, which allowed us to sample a variety of the aforementioned tipples whilst ploughing through a hearty plate of pulled pork in front of the seemingly infinite collection of sports bearing plasma screen TVs.  Fed and watered, we asked a few of the locals (a couple of slightly older ladies - one of which was a great doppelganger for Eddie Honda of Street Fighter fame, the other slightly less recognisable but would pass for Mum Ra from the Thundercats) where would be a good place to head to play pool and have a few more drinks - in true American style we were offered a lift which we duly accepted.  Dropped off by our makeshift taxi, we proceeded to shoot pool in the busy bar and couldn't help but notice how poorly dressed our male, transatlantic cousins were on a Friday night on the town in a major city.  The standard uniform seemed to be shorts (or trousers big enough for 4 people to spend the weekend in), sports shirts and baseball caps.  Dressed for London (shoes, jeans and a shirt) we stood out a little, but not enough to earn us a shoeing so all was good.  A few more enquiries and we were chatting to a group of students who suggested that the 80s club they were going to (Steppe Up) was on the way back to our hotel and also not the worst place in the world.  On arrival, it seemed passable though the state of most of the clientele in terms of inebriation was on a par if not beyond your average northern UK town.  Furthermore, and this appears to be fairly standard over here, the toilets resembled the 7th layer of Dante's Inferno - it was really a case of close your eyes and hope for the best.  The rest of the evening passed without event, though one of the guys proceeded to apologise circa 64 times for the fact that we were in Chicago and this was the best he could show us.

Day Three Stats:
Mileage - 340 (795 total)
State registration plates seen - 8 (31 total)
States visited - Ohio, Indiana, Illinois
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