The Introduction to the Cities of the States!

Chicago Travel Blog

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No humans!
Like any average Indian working for a large IT firm, I was sent to the US for a project.

Unlike any average Indian, my motivation was to travel the country.

And so, as soon as I settled into my nice little apartment in Suburbia, I began to formulate my extensive travel plans. As extensive as my paycheck would allow me, of course.

Chicago is supposed to be one of the cleanest cities in the Unites States of America. It is also supposed to house some of the best architecture in the country. And of course, it also boasts of a fantastic view of the Lake Michigan.

But we (we being the 'travel averse' - hubby and the 'travel enthusiast' - I) didn’t know any of this!

We were living in the little suburb called Schaumburg, believing that that was America.
Beautiful.. and yet... so eerily devoid of activity!
Believing that the whole country was as our little village was… vast.. empty.. completely devoid of pedestrians and small time hawkers!

Until the weekend when we decided to visit this place everyone called “Downtown”.

I know now what it means to be enlightened!!! Downtown Chicago was beautiful! I doubt I’m ever going to see any other city in the country that awesome! It was such a stark change from the suburbs that I was ready to move in right away and travel an hour to work every single day! And best of all, there were people on the road!!! I was tired of the lonely pedestrian-free highway-like roads of Schaumburg. This looked real! I cant say anything has been as pleasant a surprise as Downtown Chicago was to me!

We decided to set off to see Downtown Chicago on Saturday morning.
And then we experienced Downtown!
We were supposed to have woken up at 7 and caught the first train to Chicago at 8. Unfortunately, we overslept and woke up only at 9!! Hurried through getting ready, got a bus and headed for the station. When we got off the bus, the Hubby was a little off-balance from the bus ride. And so while he steadied himself, I set off to find out where to get the tickets from and where to board the train. It was a little station. Just two tracks and a little platform. There was a small walkway joining the main road with the platform and we had to cross that to board the train. By the time I found this out, I was already on the other side of the walkway. The Hubby was still on the main road, slightly dazed and wobbly! I yelled out for him and asked him to come over to the platform.
The lovely skyline of Chicago
But by this time, the train had started approaching! It was slowly heading towards us, and the Hubby was just across the walkway.. about 4 feet away from me! But he saw the train approaching, got scared (or so he says!) and froze!!!!!

The train eased into the platform, picked up the people, and departed! And we were left standing on opposite sides of the track! I was furious initially (unreasonable so, I think!) because we had already lost time and now there wasn’t another train for two hours!!

Anyways, we decided to wait for the next train since we were so keen on visiting downtown. The platform had a few books for passengers to read. So we browsed through them and passed the time. And soon, the next train arrived. We made sure we got onto this one! We got a weekend ticket, which meant that for the two days, we could travel on the train unlimited number of times! And the train (Metra - http://metrarail.
Fascinating!
com/) was lovely!!! Double Decker! So we clambered onto the top level and looked out of the window for the hour long drive. We passed all the little villages and towns on the way to the big city…and then, just as we were approaching Downtown , there was a drastic change in landscape! The countryside with the small cottages suddenly gave way to HUGE skyscrapers!! The open land was suddenly engulfed by buildings. Not an inch of free space was to be seen! We had arrived in the city of Chicago!

We were ravenous as we stepped off the train, so we first hit the food court in the station. Piled up on food, and then we decided to head towards a place called Navy Pier. It’s at Lake Michigan , and we took a water taxi to there ($6 per person)! It took us through the Chicago river, all over the city, and then right to the banks of Lake Michigan ! And we were stunned!!! It looked like the ocean!! We couldn’t see the other end at all! And they call it a Lake ! We went on to Navy Pier, which is basically a street extending into the lake.
Chicago river flows by...
And there are tons of boats and ships and all docked there. And people walking, cycling and jogging all over! And there were road side bars where they handed out chilled beer and vodka in plastic glasses!! There was also a live jazz band playing.. and people dancing away right there on the streets! The view from the end of the pier was lovely.. the wide expanse of water… and the gulls in the sky..

It was already evening by the time we had finished seeing Navy Pier, and there was so much more to see that we decided to try and find a place to spend the night and then continue exploring the city the next day. But there were no rooms available, even in the International Hostel. So, dejected, we thought we’d take the night train back to Schaumburg .
A thirsty travelers dream come true :D
But we still had the free ride passes for Sunday! So, we decided to wake up early and head back to Chicago on Sunday too!!

Just as we were walking back to the train station at around 8 in the evening, we passed the Sears Towers. And at the entrance of the Sears Towers was a sign saying “Skydeck open for viewing tonight!”. Curious, we entered and inquired about it. And we were told that we could, for a fee (of course!), go right to the top of the building and view the city from there! So we decided to check this out before we headed home. And it was such a gorgeous sight!!! We were taken up to the 110th floor in elevators that claim to be the fastest elevators in the world! It went up so fast we felt like we were in an aircraft! And our ears kept popping every 10 floors!
And finally, when we stepped off the elevators, the city, with all its night lights shining, lay spread out below us! I believe the view encompasses a radius of some 50 miles! It was stunning! On three sides was spread out the vast countryside.
Car Parking?? Seriously??!
We could see it lit up as far as the eye could see! As if the lights merged with the horizon. And on one side, was the city.. downtown Chicago . Huge skyscrapers that had us gaping in awe when we were on the roads were dwarfed in comparison with the tower we were on! It was as if we were looking down on Earth from the skies! It was lovely! We’ve decided to go there once again during the day so that we can see the Lake too! At night, it was just a black patch amidst the city lights!

Thrilled with this experience, we set homewards on the train. Determined to come back the next day to see some more!

Thankfully, we woke up in time on Sunday morning and caught the first train to Chicago . This time, the agenda was to go to the famous Oceanarium (Shedd Aquarium - Oceanarium) in the city which was located along the Lake .
I wanna canoe too!


We had to pay a heavy entrance fee there, but it was all worth it! The place was huge! And filled with every kind of sea life form imaginable! Short of the large whales and dolphins, of course!
It housed almost every kind of fish from oceans, and the rivers from across the world.. and even lakes! And then they had a section completely dedicated to Corals! And one for the Caribbean ocean life. The most exotic thing I saw was the Sting Ray! Deadly, and yet so fascinating! And the corals and the sea anemones looked so lovely and colorful!

And the whole place was filled with excited little kids running all over thrilled at all the fishies they were seeing!!

Having spent a couple of hours there, we headed for the parks in the city.
Keep coming back to the cool cool drink :D
Millennium Park and Grant Park. Sat there for a while, and then after a heavy Chinese meal, we set off to explore the architecture of the city.
The buildings are just so delightful! Not only for their sheer heights, but also the way they are designed. Each unique and in its own league. We just walking on the roads and looking at all the sky scrapers! And then we bumped into a couple getting married! The bride was dressed in a lovely cream gown and they were walking hand in hand along the road! And a limousine was following them. And a man on the street was playing the music for them! We smiled and walked on.. and… we bumped into another couple in wedding attire! And another! And then we realized that we were witnessing what they call mass weddings! There was a whole bus full of couples and bridesmaids and all!! All decked up and smiling! It was so wonderful to see that!

Well, after all this, we were pretty exhausted, and so we headed back to the train station.
:D
Ever since we’d landed in the US, we hadn’t had coffee. So we decided to take a chance on it and buy some coffee from one of the coffee shops in the station (Dunkin Donuts). We asked for two small coffees, with milk. And then we regretted it!
For one, it was bitter!!! We had to add about 6-7 packets of sugar!
Then, it wasn’t really nice and milky.
Third, it was super expensive! (Yeah, we were still converting Dollars to Rupees!)
And lastly, what they call small, is what we Indians would call extra large!!!

We got two massive glasses of hot coffee! And we just couldn’t finish it!!!

Its true for everything here, you know. Everything is mega sized. Even the people who are thin, are big boned. Tall. And you can imagine what the fat ones would be like!

When we went shopping for woolen clothes, I was surprised to see the size ranges.
The Bean!
In India , I buy clothes sized Large. Or atleast Medium.
Here I have to buy clothes from the small and extra small shelves!! (That actually feels very nice!)

Anyways, that’s what our first weekend out was like! And thankfully the weather remained clear and sunny and absolutely lovely for exploring the city!

The city is such a drastically different place from where we live! Bustling with people and beaming with energy! But at the end of the day, it was nice to come back to our quiet little village and our home :)
RBatra says:
Lovely!
Posted on: Sep 16, 2014
world-traveller123 says:
I can agree chicago is a great city
Posted on: Nov 23, 2011
anupa_rk says:
Thank you :)
Posted on: May 08, 2010
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No humans!
No humans!
Beautiful.. and yet... so eerily d…
Beautiful.. and yet... so eerily …
And then we experienced Downtown!
And then we experienced Downtown!
The lovely skyline of Chicago
The lovely skyline of Chicago
Fascinating!
Fascinating!
Chicago river flows by...
Chicago river flows by...
A thirsty travelers dream come tru…
A thirsty travelers dream come tr…
Car Parking?? Seriously??!
Car Parking?? Seriously??!
I wanna canoe too!
I wanna canoe too!
Keep coming back to the cool cool …
Keep coming back to the cool cool…
:D
:D
The Bean!
The Bean!
Chicago from the top of Sears
Chicago from the top of Sears
Crazy mirrors!
Crazy mirrors!
Thats a neat vehicle!
Thats a neat vehicle!
Lovely buildings
Lovely buildings
Just love the skyline of Chicago
Just love the skyline of Chicago
Fun!
Fun!
Off to a wedding!
Off to a wedding!
Chicago
photo by: mahoney