Posts Tagged With: Chicago

Chicago – The Final Day

Our last day in Chicago was another interesting mix.

We started by packing up to leave our accommodation but since our train did not depart until 9.30pm we needed somewhere to leave our luggage for the day.  I had done some research on this before we left home and discovered that there are lockers available at Union Station in Chicago.  I was pleasantly surprised as many transit hubs no longer offer this service since the 9/11 attacks.  It would be $16 for a locker large enough to store our 2 cases for the day.

However, it does not pay to be too independent.  I enquired at the Amtrak information booth in the main hall for directions to the lockers and the attendant asked if we had a private sleeper booking.  Once this was confirmed, he assured me that we did not need a locker as we were entitled to entry to the Metropolitan Lounge which includes a baggage holding service.  With our bags, safely stored at Union Station it was time to see some more of Chicago.

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The Bloomingdale Trail or 606 is a 2.7 mile elevated walkway northwest of downtown Chicago.  It can be accessed easily from Damen Station on the blue line.  The trail has been established on a portion of disused railway line and is modelled on the same principles as New York’s High Line Park which we visited in 2012.  However, it is different and almost double the length so is more of a trail than a park.  On a warm Chicago day there were plenty of cyclists and joggers making the most of it.  We simply strolled and took in the sights, including this piece made from recycled tyres.

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By this time we had worked up an appetite for lunch so headed to ‘Antique Taco’ which was a short distance away.  I did not take any photos as I was far too busy enjoying my meal but I can report that it was excellent and is deserving of accolades from Fodor’s.

Here is the menu so take a look.  We shared a salad which I am planning to replicate at home.  Sweet and spicy chicken tacos and mushroom tacos completed a memorable meal.

Just north of downtown Chicago is Lincoln Park, home to the free Chicago Zoo.  The walkway as you approach the zoo provides an excellent photo opportunity.

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Almost the first exhibit we saw was red kangaroos but the real highlight for us was the gorillas.  There was a group of about 8 of them, some quite young up to a huge mature male.  They seemed to be having a great deal of fun.

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The look on the face of the snow leopard reminded me of Mr K – they really are just big cats!!

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And back to Union Station to await our departure to Boston.

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Checking Out Chicago

We came to Chicago with very little in the way of plans or pre-conceived ideas.  In fact, the only ‘must do’ that we had was to eat a meal at ‘Antique Taco’ in Wicker Park.  This made Fodor’s list of top 10 taco meals in the US.  A big call, but one that we were keen to test out.  That had to wait until our final day and more about that in the next post.

Now, to catch up on yesterday.  I did not write this last night as the jet lag meant I had barely slept the night before.

During our first day in Chicago we noticed some posters for an exhibition titled, “America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s” at the Art Institute.  This sounded interesting so we added it to the itinerary for yesterday.

But first, we headed through Millenium Park to  the pathway which runs right beside Lake Michigan and walked south for a couple of kilometres.

This interesting artwork is a feature of the park.

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As we headed towards the lake this building caught our eye.  It looks like Federation Square (Melbourne).

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We returned via South Michigan Avenue and saw this impressive ‘advertisement’ for  the Terracotta Warriors which are currently at the Field Museum.

A bit further on was this interesting installation.

After lunch we visited the Art Institute.  The historic exterior of the building gives no indication of the modern, light-filled galleries in which are displayed an impressive array of all types of artworks.  As well as the exhibition “America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s”, we also saw a large collection of Impressionist works and some contemporary pieces.

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Here is a sample of a few of the Impressionist works.

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And something completely different.

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After leaving the gallery, we crossed South Michigan Avenue and noticed this sign.  Perhaps one day we will come back and take this drive all the way to Los Angeles.

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Finally, we headed a little further north along the lake to North Avenue Beach.  The weather was around 30C so there were plenty of people there but not too many in the water.  It was not hard to figure out why when we went in for a paddle – the water was cold!

I took this last photo as we were walking back along the waterfront with our ice-creams.  I think it captures Chicago perfectly.  A mid-west city by the water.

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PS  There has been a delay in posting this as the free Wi-fi on Amtrak was a bit dodgy last evening when I wrote the post.


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The First 24 Hours

After a somewhat inauspicious start we arrived in Chicago a little over 24 hours ago.

We were an hour late departing from Brisbane and I thought that was OK, since it would mean an hour less to hang around in Los Angeles airport to catch our connecting flight.  That was not to be as our Chicago-bound flight ended up being delayed by 5 hours.  Firstly, the pilot had called in sick and they could not get a replacement immediately.  This delay resulted in not only a change to the departure gate but a different terminal.  We boarded the flight only to discover that there was a mechanical anomaly which needed to be resolved.  After some time we all disembarked due to the heat and no airconditioning.  Instead of a 9.40am departure from Los Angeles we finally left at 2.30pm.

The flight was uneventful and we caught the train from O’Hare Airport to the station closest to our accommodation.  We arrived safely after a walk of about 10 minutes.  The delay meant that we arrived at our accommodation after dark rather than mid-afternoon as planned.  Nevertheless, we showered and headed out for a bite to eat.  Roots Pizza was about a 2 minute walk and well and truly still open at 10pm.  A pizza and salad to share was perfect.

All that travelling takes a toll and we slept until almost 11am today.  Mariano’s supermarket is about 5 minutes walk so our first task was to stock up on some groceries.  We had lunch (bypassed breakfast today) and then caught the train into the city.

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We walked along the Riverwalk and stumbled upon the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum.  This tiny museum is worth taking the time to visit.  We had an added bonus as it was free admission today.  Here is a view from one of the upper level windows.

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A bit further along the Riverwalk we found the departure point for the Chicago Architecture cruises.  This was something we were keen to experience during our visit so we booked and hopped on board the 3pm cruise.  For 90 minutes we treated to a comprehensive commentary on the history and significant architecture of Chicago.  These are a few examples of what we saw.



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Booking Begins

It is now 6 months until we leave on our trip to the USA and Canada so the planning and booking has begun in earnest.

We leave Australia on 16th July and arrive back at the end of August.  This means that we will be travelling in the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.  This also means high season rates and limited availability, particularly in summer destinations such as Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island.

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We now have our accommodation booked for Chicago, Boston and Halifax as well as Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island.  We have booked at 3 different locations on Cape Breton as we tour the Cabot Trail but have opted for a 5 night stay in one place on Prince Edward Island.  It is in a secluded rural location with beach frontage but within a 30 minute drive of both Cavendish (lots of Anne attractions) and Charlottetown (capital).

The other thing I have booked is tickets to ‘Anne of Green Gables – A Musical’.  It sounds like fun.

As always, the planning is a lot of fun and I have plenty more to do yet.


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Singapore Sorted…………Next?

It is now 4 months until our Singapore trip and that is all sorted so I have moved on to our next project – Canada in 2016.  In my last post I referred to it as USA and Canada, so although we may spend a few nights in the USA it is predominately about visiting the Maritime Provinces of Canada – Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

We have had a few thoughts about how to do it but this is our latest idea.

Fly Brisbane/Los Angeles/Chicago

3 nights in Chicago

Fly Chicago/Boston

3 nights in Boston

Train to Portland, ME then ferry to Yarmouth, NS and pick up car.

2015-05-03 023 weeks touring South Shore, Halifax, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, Bay of Fundy and north to Quebec City and drop off car.

5 nights in Quebec City

2015-05-03 017 – 10 days travelling by train and possible stays in Montreal,Ottawa and Toronto.  Visit Niagara Falls and return to Chicago to fly home.

This is still very much in the planning stages but I need to come up with a rough itinerary so that we can decide on the best destination as we want to make sure that we can book return flights (in this case, Chicago) as it is much more cost-effective than one-way international flights.

At the moment we are thinking of leaving in the second week of August and returning towards the end of September.  We have spent a couple of nights in Boston on our previous trip to the USA in 2012 and are keen to see more of it.  On the same trip we stopped briefly in Portland, ME but other than that we will be covering entirely new territory.

I would love to hear your suggestions and experiences if you have been anywhere that I have mentioned.  Is there anything I have not covered that is on your ‘must see’ list?

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