26-27 September: From California to Illinois

Author: Mrs A

Location: Chicago

Wednesday: Alaskan Airlines whisked us across the county on an uneventful four hour flight that left and arrived on time.We then made our way into central Chicago via the train, dragging our luggage a few blocks across town to our hotel as the sun began to go down.As we have found on the whole trip, the Australian dollar is really against us, and we’re paying a lot of money for not that much. Our hotel (The Freehand) is centrally located, but the rooms are tiny, with a queen bed squished up against the wall so Mr A has to clamber over me to go to the bathroom!

Size asides, it is in a location from which we can walk everywhere, and was just a couple of blocks from a bistro where we met another of my subglottic stenosis group members for dinner, Anita. It was great to hear about Chicago life from a local’s perspective, enjoyed over a glass or two of Chardonnay.Thursday: It was a fairly early start – I’m suffering from insomnia due to some medicine I’m currently taking, so had been awake since 3.30am! We strolled Chicago’s streets, looking for a café that might serve us a cup of tea. Everything was closed!We wound our way along the Chicago River which passes right through the centre of the city, leading out to Lake Michigan. The city was positively sparkling in the morning sunlight, whispy clouds streaking through the blue sky.The Navy Pier sits on the shore of the lake, an entertainment and conference facility with a large Ferris wheel at its central point. Again, everything was quiet and closed. It felt quite eerie strolling along the immaculately clean pathways, past perfectly manicured landscaping and flowers with hardly another soul around. The lake looks like an endless sea from here, stretching out as far as the eye can see.The city is surrounded by parks and gardens, softening the hard angles of the buildings. Chicago is a good looking city architecturally, every building complimenting its surroundings and neighbours perfectly. Looking back from the serenity of the lake it was hard to imagine the hustle and bustle, the honking horns, the sirens and engine sounds echoing through the skyscrapers.We eventually found our cup of tea, and continued our exploration to the Millennium Park and the art installations there.We did a little shopping during the afternoon, mostly window shopping once we had done our exchange rate calculations and realised it would be cheaper to source products from Australia.

After clocking up just over 15km (9.5 miles) of walking we allowed ourselves an hour’s break before getting ready to head to Buddy Guy’s Legends Blues Club. This has been one of Mark’s dreams for many years as a long time Buddy Guy fan.

We caught the subway across town, and in the club met Jack, cousin and nephew of our surrogate family in Australia. He must have been about 8 or 9 years old when I last saw him in the flesh – thank goodness for the internet allowing us to recognise one another this time! We had a lovely meal with him, and then Mr A and I stayed on to enjoy the show – Laura Rain and the Cesars. Spotting a lady sat alone on the table behind us, Mark invited her to join us. She turned out to be the very lovely Angel, fiancée of the drummer. The star attraction, Laura Rain popped out to say hello as well.It was an entertaining show, fantastic blues guitar, incredible singing and of course great drumming! Before we knew it it was 1am and we were stumbling outside to find a taxi back to the hotel. What a fabulous night and finale to our visit to Chicago.

2 Replies to “26-27 September: From California to Illinois”

  1. You made it to my old neighborhood! I used to live in the building behind the fountain. So glad you had a day of great weather to enjoy the city. And that you finally found your morning tea!

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