My kind of town
As of this moment, Chicago is looking like a pretty good place to live.
The past couple of weeks in my life were eventful and non-eventful at the same time. I finished up my first week of visiting in the Twin Cities and returned to my parents’ place. My niece graduated and had a graduation party. I got my medical clearance for Suriname – I am now just awaiting the travel information.
Then a few days ago, it was time for my visit to Chicago. I had not seen one friend since college (20 years ago) and the other in a year (since she visited me in my city in Ukraine). I had looked for costs of flights (at the time I looked, around $210), a train (really wanted to take the train, but the $180 price tag for a round trip ticket – nearly the same as flying! – put me off), and bus. I ended up using a bus company that was new to me. Little did I know that the bus would have (1) more leg room than an airplane, (2) free WiFi on board, and (3) outlets to plug in a computer, tablet, or whatever – at the seats! Oh, also – air conditioning (which was actually on too cold for my taste) and a bathroom (which I did not use, but was there). Once again, I may sound like a rube when mentioning things like this, but this was an absolutely luxurious bus, especially relative to other parts of the world.
I arrived and my friend and I immediately started catching up, so to speak. A lot of talking has been going on the past few days! We also have been doing some exploring…
Unfortunately for her, the weather forecast for the week has been for 95 degrees Farenheit (35 degrees Celsius) all week! I have been fine with it, especially when I can move out of the sun and into the shade, but she is not the warmth lover that I am, and on our first day out, at one point, she actually got dizzy. Well, it was a good excuse to cool off in a “tavern” and have a beer!
So what have I been doing these few days? On day one we started at the Museum of Surgical Science. I like to seek out the more unusual museums, especially in cities where I have previously spent time (although I would always visit the Art Institute Chicago ..but right now the admission fee is too much). It is also fun to find places that have free entry days, though visitors be warned – most of the time, those free entry days are for Chicago residents only. It was interesting, though I expected a little more gruesomeness than I found. Not that I am disappointed, because I am not a fan of gruesome! If a person takes the time to read all of the information, it takes at least an hour to go through.
After that we stopped in a well-known camera shop. I have been using the built-in flash for my camera, which is not really working for me, since people usually end up looking pretty washed out. Unfortunately for me, although the store was interesting, I was dismayed at what the man behind the counter told me a flash would cost! Ah well, I guess I keep waiting…
Then we were off to Millennium Park. Last time I was in Chicago, 10 years ago, this was under construction. The math does not add up, I know – Millennium Park, but it did not open until 2003? Huh? Well, it was worth the wait. It is a beautiful space with some really nice art, and the fountains are fabulous, especially on a hot day. One of the fountains/art installations plays host to children (mostly – some adults too) running around and cooling off on a hot day. I also got a fabulous photo of “the bean” (real name Cloud Gate, but called the bean for obvious reasons)- I have been known to wait for a photo I want, and wanted one without a bunch of people posing for their own photos. My friend told me I was never going to get the photo – but it only took five minutes!
I did not have enough of the fountains, I guess, because I went to Buckingham Fountain after that, and then it was off to the Bridge House Tour. Unfortunately, it is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we did not get to go on that tour. Instead, we took a water taxi to Union Station…my friend has been so good to indulge my photographic desires. Though I was kind of harassed for taking photos there…ah well.
Next up was a long walk along the lake shore, then back to the house for wine and conversation. Yesterday we had a less full day – we started with pedicures! My friend bought a Groupon for two for one pedicures, and treated me. Indeed a treat, for I have only once or twice previously gotten a pedicure. With our newly-painted toes, we headed to the Chinatown area for lunch (and unknowingly each ordered noodles when we could have ordered one and shared it!), then off to a couple of historic homes (Clarke and Glessner). Unfortunately, we ended up not going on the tour for a a few reasons – the unfriendliness of the woman when we went in, the fact that these are small houses but the tours are an hour each, but most importantly, because they wanted me to leave my camera bag behind, in an unsecured area. If they had lockers or a monitored area, I would have been fine checking in my bag, but they did not, so we went on to other things. Not until after a photo in their garden area – I just couldn’t resist…
Fortunately for us, we were not far from the Spertus center. For anyone interested in Judaism and Jewish history, I highly recommend visiting the Spertus center. Not only has the building won numerous awards, for both architecture and environmental impact, but it provides information in an “easy to digest” format. We ended up spending about an hour there, then it was off to use another Groupon – Indian food! We made quite the evening of it by attending a play, then going to a couple of local bars – we ended up staying out all night, and going to bed at 5 a.m.!
So why the first sentence of this blog? Well, I was born in the Chicago area and really do love it – such a wonderful cultural mix, and I have, by and large, been received with a great deal of warmth and friendliness here. If I had a network and/or job opportunities here, I would seriously consider living here…even though it also gets TOO COLD in the winter!