My experience in Chicago is very limited. Years ago I had been here briefly for my niece’s bat mitzvah. There was no traveling into town – I stuck to the ‘burbs. This trip will be very different.
Our bumpy flight let up for a while, and then we headed groundward. I had my headphones on, listening to air traffic control. As Chicago’s tower gave out landing instructions, the wind gusts hit 37 knots or 43 mph.
When the wind blows that fast, it is never steady and it’s hardly ever directly down the runway. I watched as our wings bobbed up and down. Flying slower, preparing to land, a plane becomes less aerodynamic. This was a difficult landing and the crew up front was earning their pay.
We had met up with our two counterparts from Springfield. No one had checked bags so it was directly to a cab. The three of them climbed in the back while I took the front passenger seat. The seat itself resembled my apartment as a bachelor (minus the mushrooms growing through the bathroom floor).
Our driver was a round faced man with lots of facial hair and a ready smile. After deciding which Hyatt we were at, we were on the road.
I snapped a few shots through the window. He could see I was a little obsessed, so when I saw a car alongside with a particularly apropos license plate, he rolled my window down so I could get a better shot.
As the expressway let out into a city street he pointed to a McDonald’s, taking up what looked like an entire city block. The world’s busiest McDonald’s he said. Who I am I to dispute that?
Check in at the hotel was easy. I am up, just above the 20th floor. My room with single king size bed is nicely sized. There is free high speed Internet access.
My window looks directly across a courtyard to a boxy glass clad office building. I spent a few minutes looking at the people working across the way, wondering what it was they were doing. I’m sure they spend a significant amount of time looking back at what the people are doing here in the hotel. Use your imagination.
We were hungry and set out for lunch. Walking is the best way to see a city. Hopefully someone will explain it to me, but Chicago’s downtown has a very distinct architectural style. There is very detailed masonry seen on many buildings. Often buildings top out with interesting touches, as opposed to a flat roof on a tall building. I’m going to add a photo gallery as there are too many shots to have here on the blog.
We crossed the Chicago River over the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The Chicago River is about as wide as a good sized city street. The natural banks no longer exist. The river is now an glorified canal. If there is traffic on the river, I didn’t see it, though the bridges are draw bridges.
Across the river I discovered a Chicago of double decker streets. Again, this is something I am discovering, but it is probably quite well known. By double decker, it is as if someone decided the city was too busy so they built another one on top of the first. There are streets under streets. Intersections exist under intersections with traffic lights and sidewalks and shops. I’ve never seen anything like it.
While walking in the subterranean world we went past a true cultural icon, The Billy Goat Caf