On June 20, 2012 we arrived in Chicago at about 3:00 pm. We had not checked any bags so we were quick when exiting the airport. We left the terminal and tried to find the Metra Station. After a couple of false starts (the signage for the station was very confusing) we found the station and bought a transit card. We immediately boarded a train and about 45 minutes later we disembarked in the Loop District.
The train ride took us through many different Chicago neighborhoods, largely consisting of red brick apartment buildings. I was glad that the train was mainly above ground so we could see these suburbs as we travelled.
Once we left the transit station, we walked about 1 km to our hotel, which took about 15 minutes. We walked past the printing district and we saw the impressive new library and the tracks of the “L” train. It was incredibly hot (+34 Degrees Celsius) and we were overdressed, so this walk seemed to take too long.
We checked into our hotel, the Hilton Chicago and then we unpacked and relaxed in our room. Our room had breathtaking views of the lake and also a good view of the surrounding area so we took a few minutes to look at our map books and get oriented. At about 5:30 we went to the club lounge and had hors d’ouevres for a snack before heading out toward the Magnificent Mile.
We walked up Michigan Avenue toward the Magnificent Mile, and on the way we passed Millennium Park. It was a gorgeous evening so we stopped to look around. There was a bustling food festival and a free classical music concert in the gorgeous Pritzker Pavilion (here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pritzker_Pavilion). We watched the concert (which was absolutely packed) for a while and then we walked over to the massive Kapoor sculpture "Cloud Gate" (here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Gate). We exited the park by walking past the founder’s fountain.
We walked on through the Magnificent Mile district and looked at all of the famous buildings. The sidewalks were crowded and traffic was heavy, so the walk was extremely noisy. Late in the evening we had supper at Cheesecake Factory. I was initially hesitant about the Cheesecake Factory but I was pleasantly surprised. Why was I hesitant? Well, I hate most cheesecake, and I thought that the restaurant would have a limited menu. Also, I did not really want to eat at a chain restaurant, but at a local restaurant. But, the Cheesecake Factory was open and tables in the air-conditioned interior were available.
My meal was delicious, and it helped that I was really hungry! I had chicken tacos that were stuffed with fresh vegetables. The portion was ridiculously large and the price was quite low.
After our large supper, we walked home in the dark and saw the lit-up skyscrapers. It was a beautiful night but a long walk to the hotel. I was very exhausted by the time we went to bed. Plus…the fact that I had not entirely adjusted to the new time zone did not help…