Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Chicago - a music and architecture fest in America's second city

ahhh, Chicago - it's a city I've wanted to see for a while and so glad I did :o)  Getting off the train and walking into Union station, I knew I was in a big city and I loved it already. I think it's about getting lost in that big mass of people, feeling completely anonymous with a whole world to discover. 

I arrived to see Chicago in light rain and heavy fog - which is really quite a sight when you see all these huge towers disappear into the sky (sadly, no pictures of that particular scene I'm afraid so you'll just have to trust me). I met my host, Sherry, at her work place and we made our way to her home in Andersonville nattering away on the bus. She meets lots of her couchsurfers at her workplace which amused me because the door people there (and where she lives) must wonder what the hell she does always meeting different people heavily laden with a backpack or suitcase. I guess couchsurfers who host a lot might end up with curious neighbours too!  And Sherry really is the hostess with the most-ess - and this despite not having done much surfing herself.  She'd already done her homework on what was going on in the city and had plans for a food trucks opening and/or comedy at a nearby club. We nearly made it too... but after getting thoroughly drenched just walking to the station in the crazy rain storm that was going on, we decided that being dry and drinking a bottle of vino tinto, whilst watching a movie (Black Swan - I'm giving it a thumbs up!) would do just nicely.  We did actually manage to make it out on my second night - to the Underground Wonder Bar to catch a few live bands.  First, a bluesy outfit led by France Jean-Baptiste who has one hell of a voice and then Taggart Transcontinental who had everybody on their feet dancing with their funky, hip-hop style - and with such a positive vibe, you didn't want to leave the dancefloor.  We also got to meet Lonie, the bar's owner who was just super cool. I want to be her when I grow up!  

I made a last minute decision to stay an extra night and was very fortunate (with the help of Sherry) to find another host (as she was heading out of the city) in Mox. As Mox was from the Philippines too, he treated us to some filipino take out food - ahhh, it really was like a taste from the homeland :o)  After that and some more vino tinto, we headed out to check out the legendary Green Mill. It was truly like stepping back in time to the 50s with a big band playing jazz, people dancing and drinking old school cocktails. I loved it!  Also, as Mox had never tried Pimms before (and I spotted a bottle in the bar), we had a Pimms cocktail. Yum.

I spent the days wondering the streets, admiring the buildings, checking out a wee photography gallery, walking around the lake, going for a ride on the El, trying out the deep-dish pizza Chicago's famous for. I also got to try an architectural tour by boat - which came highly recommended (and I agree). From big shiny buildings, classic and intricate architecture to spotting trains weave through the city up in the air, it really is the best way to see Chicago in all its glory. Just a damn shame I was deceived by the sunshiney day and spent the last bit of the trip absolutely freezing because I felt like dressing spring-like in the 'windy' city in April.  Still, I had a blast :o)

Chicago from the streets
Chicago (12)

Chicago (22)  Chicago (25) 

Chicago's lakeside
Chicago (13)

Millenium Park
Chicago - Millenium Park (7)

Chicago - Millenium Park (15)

Chicago - Millenium Park (26)

France Jean-Baptiste and the Sexy Menz
Chicago - Underground Wonder Bar (2)

Taggart Transcontinental
Chicago - Underground Wonder Bar (7)

Lonie (owner of the Wonder Bar), me and Sherry, my first host

Catching some old school jazz at the Green Mill
Chicago - Green Mill (3)

Chicago by boat
Chicago (56)   Chicago (62)

Chicago (34)

Chicago (63)

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