After our beautiful morning of food, glorious food, we were left to our own devices in the Windy City. As per every other stop on our road trip, it was carefully planned for a day of organised fun, fun, fun. Sadly, not every plan comes to fruition in the way you hope…
We ended the food tour near Lincoln Park (where, by the way, there is a free zoo, if you’re ever in the area and a fan of zoos), so had a wander around there for a little bit, before jumping in an Uber called via our mobile telephones, to Millennium Park, where Cloud Gate and a bunch of other cool installations are located.
I’m sure if any of your friends have been to Chicago, you probably will have seen a million and one pictures of them at Cloud Gate, so I won’t force similar pictures of us down your throat. In case you don’t know what it is though, I shall explain; Cloud Gate, otherwise known as The Bean, is an installation designed by Anish Kapoor. It’s basically a massive silver bean shaped sculpture, that reflects the surroundings in a fun way, and gives lots of different perspectives. Mostly people use it to take pictures of themselves.
All in all, cloud gate didn’t take up too much of our time, but we weren’t too bothered as we had an appointment (according to our schedule, not a literal one) at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. It was roughly a 15 minute walk down to it, at which point we realised it was closed because a new exhibition was being put in. This was especially annoying considering we had also wanted to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art, but it’s closed on Monday’s – or at least it was at the time.
So, basically, we didn’t have much luck on the contemporary front. Thankfully, we had passed a dunkin’ donuts en route and our stomachs seemed to agree that visiting there should be our next port of call.
A sit on a bench and a lot of sugar later, we were at a bit of a loss. We could have gone to a couple of the larger galleries/museums, I do realise this, but they’re expensive. And in all honesty, we had already had our fill from DC (where the museums are generally free), so we decided to put a plug in the culture and hit up some places we had yet to… The shops.
Along the way so far the only shopping we’d managed took place in Walmart and/or gas stations; it wasn’t quite Vogue-worthy. America has so many amazing shops that we don’t have here in the UK, thus we figured hey, while we’re here and have (some, but very few) dollars in our pockets, let’s go to the mall, today. (Robin Scherbatsky, 2012 ((Yes I know all the words))
We were quite far downtown by this point, so jumped into another Uber (who I remember very well, as he is probably the most opinionated person I have ever met. He was German, and had a lot of thoughts about Chicago and America. Too many to list, in fact). He dropped us at The Magnificent Mile, which is one of the longest shopping streets in the world, and we witnessed fancy shops at their finest. Plus, some high street shops for us normos.
We didn’t really need anything, so we mostly wandered into all the shops that we’d heard of on TV, and in films, but hadn’t ever been inside. This included, but was not limited to, The American Girl Store (terrifying), Best Buy (basically Currys), Bloomingdales (Where all the makeup lives) and more, before the next entry in our schedule was upon us… Baseball!
Whilst organising the trip, one thing high on our list, was attending a baseball game, and we knew Chicago was a damn good place for it. Sadly, the Cubs weren’t playing that night and we knew we’d arrive too late the night before to manage one, so we didn’t get to go to Wrigley Field but lucky for us, there was a game on at The White Sox stadium, Cellular Field.
Now, say that out loud for me. C-E-L-L-U-L-A-R field. Not that hard right? Apparently I am terrible at saying it. Or at least, in a way an American taxi driver can understand me… I had to repeat it at least 15 times to the driver, and insist I was not trying to say Soldier field, before showing it to him written down. He still didn’t know, but google maps did, so we made it there with plenty of time.
It was really cool being amongst all the fans and feeling the atmosphere of the stadium. I’ve been to plenty of sports events in England, but it’s just not quite the same. The way Americans show their passion outwardly and so enthusiastically, is something I’ve always been slightly bemused by. But when witnessing it in context, I can see how everyone gets so hyped about stuff. I mean, America knows how to put on a good show. If I had a clue what was going on (aside from knowing it was like big rounders, I didn’t know all the little ins and outs I mean) I would probably have wooped and holla’d (is that how you spell that?!) a lot more.
Our tickets only cost $15 dollars, and were very, very high up (as expected). To be honest, I didn’t think we’d be able to see much… You know what though, I could see everything. For 15 dollars, I would 100 percent become a massive baseball fan if they had it here. (Yes I know we have cricket. No, it’s not the same).
The only thing I didn’t anticipate was the cold… If you’re going to a game, just bring your suitcase. Bring all your clothes. And the towels from your hotel room. And maybe the duvet. Make friends, share their clothing.
You get the picture; it’s a bit chilly there.
Anyway, we didn’t know all the rules but people around us did. Well, one man near us did and helpfully explained all the little things we didn’t know to us. Probably because we were loudly discussing what we thought might be happening and it got annoying…
But still, it was nice of him to oblige in telling us what the hell was actually going on. Aka, why that man was stood there, and why our team (we decided to support the White Sox) didn’t get a single point the entire game.
Turns out that happens a lot.
It lasted a few hours, and in that time we got up and got some food (I ordered a turkey sandwich and practically got a whole bird’s worth), witnessed some children have an oreo competition on the big screen and made a friend.
By the time we got back from the game, our next intended stop was almost closed (The John Hancock observatory/360 Chicago). Not to worry though, as I had research up my sleeve… I’d read about the Vertigo Sky Lounge, which is a kind of swanky bar at the top of a hotel that has free entry and an expensive view of the city.
Incredibly sadly this was Naomi’s last night with us before her flight home, so she had the challenge of getting a road trip’s worth of stuff in her bag and had to end her evening there to do so. Dan, Hamilton and I did not have this issue to we headed off to the lounge, and left her in peace with her struggle.
It’s a little bit hard to find (it’s on the corner of West Erie Street, and there’s a little fire next to the door that marks it), but it feels pretty cool when you do. Basically, it was a Monday night in April, so it wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams, and this made it feel kind of secret.
Once there, the bouncer checks your ID, and puts you in a lift, then presses the button for you as he has to scan his pass. This is important. Definitely do not just assume the bouncer said you can go, or you will be left standing in a stationary lift like a ninny. If you do do this, wait a minute and he’ll open the door to tell you you’re a ninny (slightly different wording, but in a nice way) and then send you up.
It had just the right amount of people up there for my liking – there was an atmosphere, but we could get a seat and chill out and look at the view. We got a beer, had a fun mix up when the bartender offered us limes each and another customer thought he was offering us lines of something (he most definitely was not, but found the idea pretty funny). We went with the lemon, and had a grand old time looking out the windows.
It was a lovely way to end our time in Chicago, but really cemented that it will not be the last time we’re there. So, yeh. Things didn’t necessarily go to plan, but we still had an awesome time, and I mean awesome in the most American sense of the word.
A bientot, Chicago!