Coming Home

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End May 31, 2012

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Thursday, August 2, 2012

Well my luck ran true with my arrival in Chicago. Directions followed and no hotel in sight.  A spot of surfing later and it turns out the directions were wrong and the Motel 6 is actually 25 miles outside of Downtown Chicago!  Compounded with an Expedia F-Up (to be blunt) and a double booking at an alternate hotel I ended up 7 miles out of town for the weekend.  Still it was a chance to rest and watch movies.  Lucky for me I was booked into a hostel on the edge of downtown for the rest of the week!!

Trauma out of the way Chicago was like coming home.  OK, OK its larger than Bristol but it has a nice homely feel, not all cold and distant like a lot of cities.  The downtown skyline is as usual dominated by high-rise but it is also interspersed with red brick building from an early time.  The metro runs below in tunnels and over ground on iron wrought structures, with wooden platforms, built over the roads.  The metro system was my main form of transport during my stay and very easy to use and certainly added to the flavour of the city.

As you head out of town, not far, the buildings drop to no more than 4 stories and you're into the suburbs.  North West and you’re travelling along Milwaukie.  The place was alive with people and businesses.  On Sunday evening I headed up to Wicker Park Street Festival (at Catherine’s suggestion).  It was really cool, the bands were great and didn’t disappoint. There also some street performance.  Actors played out a sketch that depicted the end of the world and love.  Of course love.  BUT bizarrely the stage was split across two fork lift trucks and the two stages rose and fell to different heights during the performance...  see the pics if you don’t believe me!

There was plenty to keep me busy and after a few posts on Facebook a friend Sarah dropped me note to say she was living in Chicago.  She had decamped from Yate and our Salsa classes there for America, but I hadn’t realised, so fortuitously we pencilled a date in the diary for a beer.

It was great I was going to be meeting with two friends during my stay.  The following morning saw me getting up all bleary eyed to head across town for breakfast with Catherine, who I had met when we were in Puerto Rico.  From flip-flops to high heels Catherine had gone from beach-bum (like me) to high flying power suited business woman before my eyes.  It was great to catch up. And I am very thankful for all the hot-tips for places to go and things to do whilst I was in Chicago.  Thanks Catherine!

What else was on that list, oh yes, a night at the baseball – Chicago Cubs.  I splashed and with Cubs T-Shirt and Cap on I headed to my seat behind the 4th base about 6 rows back, which land next to Brian, a dedicated fan of the Cubs and who kindly became my teacher in all things baseball.  But we weren’t alone long, quickly we were surrounded by a bunch of gentlemen with clip boards.  Turns out they were all scouts for other clubs, in to check out the Cubs and the Pirates who were playing.  To add to the intrigue it was the last day of trading (players to other clubs).  So as the game went on at least two of the Cubs players disappeared off the pitch, no longer ableto play as they had been traded!  Naturally this cause quite a buzz.  Unfortunately the Cubs had not been having a good season having not won a game, but I guess I was a lucky charm as they started racking up the points and putting the Pirates under pressure.  Before I knew it we were heading into the seventh innings and Brian sprung the 7th innings song on me.  Everyone turned to face the cometary box and there was Gloria Estefan waving to the crowds and she lead the baseball song (soz don’t know the name of it).  Apparently there was a long standing commentator who always lead the singing but at his demise a celebrity was asked to lead the song and so the tradition continued!  You’ll be pleased to know the Cubs won and I had a great time.  No one said thank you but I know I was the lucky mascot at that game!

After an afternoon on the beach and a swim in the salt free Lake Michigan, which was a bit of a surprise, I met up with Sarah at Navy Pier.  Sarah introduced me to summer shandies and we shot the breeze while enjoying the fireworks.  It was fantastic to catch-up but it being a school night I was soon back off to the hostel.

If anyone's looking for a cool city break, I can thoroughly recommend Chicago!
- JJx 
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