Chicago was the first stage of a trip to the United States when I also visited San Francisco, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. The main theme was the west but as I had a few days with my travel companions, I took the opportunity to get to see the windy city.
I spent three days walking between buildings and running from here to there to see everything possible in a short time. Although I love to make more relaxed trips, I also enjoy those architectural marathons that I do every now and then. The big cities fascinate me and I have a great time going through them. I'm not afraid of getting bored, as the city accompanies me. So yes, I spent three days walking between buildings, taking all the photos I wanted combining subways, trains and buses only to go to see a building, getting up early, walking all day and lying exhausted.
12 Hours in Chicago
The flight left at 11 o'clock in the morning on time for Chicago. I arrived at O'Hare Airport at about 10 in the morning after a very long trip of more than 24 hours with stops in Santiago in Chile and Miami. We take a taxi that was not worth the amount of time it took to get to the center. There was enough traffic but the trip was very short. The very modern taxis with a screen tells us where the taxi is going.
We arrived at the hotel that was behind the Trump Tower, on Hubbard Street. We got a huge room with two large beds and free internet, pool, and gym. As soon as we arrived, to adapt to the schedule we decided not to rest and go for a walk to see where we were. We went to the river where we started to see the impressive buildings of Chicago. Then we saw, as I said behind the hotel, the Marina Towers, and the Trump Tower and we entered the Loop.
The Oriental theater was very close, at the beginning of State Street. Here we saw one of Chicago's coolest things. It is the elevated subway that runs between the buildings. Sure it sounds like a lot of movies. Turning left, we passed through the Chicago Cultural Center and arrived at Millenium Park.
The Millenium Park is within Grant Park and represents one of the most modernized areas of Chicago that in recent years has undergone a great transformation. The park's most famous work is the Jay Pritzker Concert Pavilion, designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry.
Then there is Cloud Gate, by Anish Kapoor and the garden. We cross near the Art Institute of Chicago, which is one of the most important museums in Chicago that preserves the old facade but the building is new.
Then we saw the Crown Fountain. It was very hot and there were a lot of children bathing in it. After a while, we went to the famous Bean, a sculpture in the shape of a polished stainless steel bean in which everyone takes pictures because it reflects the buildings. There were so many people that it was quite difficult to take good pictures.
At this time we were tired. My back hurt a lot and we were hungry. An acquaintance had given us the name of the restaurant that was right in front of the park at Michigan Street. It was a kind of Irish tavern-restaurant where we ate fried chicken and not very expensive for the place where it was. It was very busy when we went around 6 in the afternoon and the portions were huge.
As soon as we finished dinner I could not take it anymore and my back each time hurt more. On the way to the hotel, we bought a cream at the pharmacy and we went to sleep.
24 Hours in Chicago
The jet lag makes a dent in us and we woke up at 5 in the morning without being able to go back to sleep. At about 9 we start. We go to the Grand metro which is 3 minutes from the hotel and we bought a card. We did not find the option in the machine to buy it but a security girl helped us. I have to say that it has been a while since I found a city with people as friendly as in Chicago. They helped us without asking!
We went down the red line to Chinatown. It was very early and the truth is that we saw nothing, but a small neighborhood like many others with its shops and restaurants. It seemed like it was going to rain immediately!
Here we tried to take the first bus that would take us to the Campus Museum area but we waited for 15 minutes. We went back to take the subway to go up one stop and get off at Roosevelt to walk to the end of Grant Park and there to the Campus Museum. The sky was very dark but we had to take risks.
The first thing we came across at the end of Grant Park is the Agora sculpture, a set without legs. Chicago is full of outdoor sculptures and they are great. Then we enter the set called Museum Campus with the Field Museum on the right and the Shedd Aquarium a little further on the left.
We went to the aquarium and from here we had the first panoramic view of the Chicago skyline and we started taking photos like crazy. And here, as expected, the sky broke. It started to rain a lot and as we did not know how long it would last we decided the easiest thing to do is to enter the aquarium.
The entrance was very expensive with the dolphin show. The aquarium is fine. It did not drive me crazy because we have seen other beautiful aquariums too. I have to say that there are fish from all the seas and oceans and especially the children got crazy. The dolphin show seemed a bit of a bummer but we had a nice time. They have a terrace in one of the cafeterias with very good views and one can touch a lot of fish like rays, starfish, and barracudas. I did not dare to touch almost any.
When we left, it had stopped raining miraculously and a splendid sun came out. We continue walking to the planetarium where the best views of the skyline are. We enjoyed the ride a lot, constantly stopping to take pictures.
Here we peered at 12th Street Beach, which, although was small, was the first beach we saw on Lake Michigan and we were very excited. It would be 4 in the afternoon and it was very hot. So we walked back and decided that we would enter for a while in the Field Museum of Natural History. We saw a lot of animals and the famous dinosaur Sue, the star of the museum.
When we left we were quite tired and took a bus to get to Millenium Park. In the map, everything seems to be close. We took the bus that left us at the entrance of the Arts Institute of Chicago. We took Adams Street and entered the Loop. We went through the Route 66 sign where the famous route that ends in Los Angeles begins and we arrive at the Willis Tower.
I liked the view from the Hancock Observatory that is closer to the lake. The most striking are some glass balconies that protrude from the tower. When we went down, we decided to walk to the hotel on Franklin Street and then turn by the river on Wacker Street.
We rested for a while and had dinner at an Italian restaurant very close to the hotel.
48 Hours in Chicago
Today was going to be another intense day. After having breakfast with a donut and a nice coffee we took the metro in Grand towards the north until Adisson to see the baseball stadium of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field.
When we arrived there was an ice hockey game at the United Center, the stadium of the Chicago Bulls. We could only enter the store where we did not buy anything but take a few pictures with the famous statue of Michael Jordan. From the stadium and after looking at some shops where we did not shop anything especially because it was not exactly cheap either, we walked around Clark St.
My USA travel guide said that this area was full of shops. We started to go down Clark St and see bars and restaurants that were closed at this time. So there was almost nobody anywhere. We walked a lot. It reminded me of Los Angeles. We wanted to go down to Lincoln Park.
We pass Belmont St subway stop and finally found a bus that at least took us down a few streets to Belden Street. We rested at a cafe and we walked to Lincoln Park. At least we enjoyed the neighborhood because between Clark St and Lincoln Park there were some very cool houses. If we were ever going to live in Chicago we wanted to live there although they looked like they were expensive. And finally, we arrived at Lincoln Park!
It is huge. The greenhouse is a wonder, as there are thousands of rare and exotic plants and it is beautiful. There is a pond with super nice koi fish and waterfalls. I loved it and the entrance is free. At the exit on the right is the zoo. Yes, the Chicago zoo that is also free. It was full of children and we enjoyed like them.
There were rhinoceroses, zebra giraffes, monkeys, bears, lions, a house with birds and reptiles, and another with insects. Of everything, even a polar bear and sea lions. It was like any other zoo and on top of it at the exit of the zoo, there is a lake with beautiful views of the city. We spent a good time taking pictures.
I had thought about leaving to the park on Michigan Avenue near the Magnificent Mile. We took a long time to arrive. This beach is called North Avenue Beach and there was an incredible atmosphere. There was a boat-shaped bar with changing rooms and a lot of people on a bike, running, and swimming. It looked like a sea instead of a lake!
But the best was to come. Past some rocks, there were people lying on the cement sunbathing from where the views of the skyline are simply great! We had a good time resting there! We continue walking along the water to the Oak St Beach.
Finally, we arrived at Michigan Avenue, the street of the stores in which we had not been yet. We see the cheesecake shop and because we were hungry we decided to go for lunch. There was a little queue. We waited about 20 minutes and we were able to enter. The food seemed brutal to me. They put a caesar salad on a platter that was so much that I could not eat half and also eat a sandwich that was just as gigantic.
For dessert there were cheesecakes but I was so full that I almost did not enjoy it. With the gut full we walked back to the hotel on Michigan Avenue without stopping much in the stores. At the hotel, we rested for about an hour. We changed and at about 6 we took the subway to go to Addison to Wrigley Field.
We passed right away. The seats were pretty good and we enjoyed a lot. People went up and down with puppies like in the movies. The band came out to play the national anthem and we all stood up and well, in general, it was very cool. The game was a little complicated to understand but we had a lot of fun.
We did not stay until the end. I did not have dinner. We went down to the hotel restaurant to eat a giant hamburger. At 9.30 there were fireworks at Navy Pier. We were too lazy to go back because we did not know the frequency of the buses at night.
We went to Trump Street Bridge where we took some pictures. Although we lost the bus as soon as we got to the stop, we took another one that also came down State Street and goes towards Navy Pier.
The fireworks were on the right side and the truth is that there were enough people. I have to say that they were cool and since there was no fog and it was not raining we could appreciate the skyline at night with its lights.
We took another bus that this time was behind the hotel and stopped us on Clark Street. So we took the first one we saw that left us near the hotel.
We were tired. Our flight to New York left was at 5.55 in the morning. We had to leave the hotel around 3 because although it was assumed that there would be no traffic we preferred to go with time to pass the police control and not have any problems.
Chicago had enchanted us. We missed a lot of things to do. We did not ride a bike, see the Blues, eat the famous pizzas and cruise on the river and the lake. We also did not go to the neighborhoods of Pielsen, Greektown and Hyde Park, the area where Obama lived and the Gold Coast with its shops. We will repeat for sure.