Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chicago recap. Tuesday July 4 was our last full day in Chicago. We took a bus to the river by the Wrigley Building on Michigan Ave. From there took an hour-long Architectural Boat Tour. The boat toured both branches of the river, with the guide informing us about the buildings and their history. It was very interesting. There are four different styles of architecture and every type of bridge. We saw the new Trump building under construction, it is right by the river. Afterwards, we took a train to the Sears Tower, then went up to the observation deck on the 103rd floor to get views of the city from every direction. By this time it is late afternoon so we took a train over to State Street where we knew there was a lot of shops and activity, and happened upon the Italian Village restaurant (a place we had read about) where we went for dinner. The atmosphere is very nice and they have pictures on the walls of all the celebrities who have been there. From there we walked back to the hotel and watched fireworks from the hotel window.

Wednesday we packed and went to the Navy Pier for a few hours. The interesting thing about this day is that we took about every type of transportation in one day. We took the free trolley to the Navy Pier. We took our time watching boats, seagulls, and checking out the downtown skyline. We also spent some time in the Museum of Stained Glass (it had some windows designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as well as Tiffany glass and much more) and had Chicago hot dogs (with mustard, relish, tomato slices, and a pickle slice on it). We then took the free trolley back to the hotel, took a cab to a nearby train station (so that we wouldn't have to schlep our luggage and bags 5 blocks), and took the orange line train to Midway airport. We took a short plane ride back to KC, a shuttle bus to the airport's economy lot, and then drove a car home.

Chicago has so many things to do - museums, parks, festivals, shopping, dining, theater, sports, etc -that a person could do different things in every trip. It also has very good public transportation. The free trolley goes to all the popular tourist spots. The bus lines and trains go everywhere, including the suburbs. People do a lot of walking downtown. We heard tourists speak all different languages. It is a very interesting city.

Monday, July 03, 2006

It is Monday July 3rd in Chicago. It rained all morning so we took a cab to the Field Museum. We already had tickets to the King Tutankhamun exhibit as they limit the number of people that go in every half hour. It was a very interesting exhibit. There were a lot of beautiful things like the gold and jewelry found with King Tut. There were also miniature items made to represent items he used or needed in the afterlife. The end of the exhibit had CAT-scan images of the mummy and the items on him or wrapped up in the cloth (like a gold dagger). We also looked at the Ancient Egypt exhibit with the life-size tomb and mummies, T-Rex Sue skeleton and info, and Pacific Spirits about tropical islands and cultures. Late afternoon we took the bus back to the hotel.

We braved the crowds to go to the Taste of Chicago for dinner (crowded is an understatement - it was wall to wall people). A lot of people were in Grant Park for the free orchestra performance and fireworks tonight. The newspapers estimate was 1 million people. We decided to watch the fireworks from the hotel.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Today in Chicago, it rained early so we slept in. Late morning we started hearing lights and sirens. We watched the firetrucks from the window then realized they were stopping in front of our hotel. Five fire trucks ended up in front of the hotel, and then a news crew arrived. We started to worry, then the firemen announced with a loud speaker that there was a fire confined to the 22nd floor and it was in control. The elevators were locked so we walked down the stairs from the 8th floor. The buses had to detour around that block so we had to walk several blocks to get to where buses were running, and then couldn't find the bus that we needed. So, we ended up walking all the way to the Wrigley Building. We stopped in the Billy Goat, a dingy little bar and grill underground that local celebrities have frequented (like Mike Royko). We shopped at the malls on the Magnificent Mile. The malls have several floors and lots of shops - mostly clothing and chains. After we spent some time in the malls, we went across the street to Finelle's Basement (which is actually upstairs) - it is a large multi-level store with designer clothes at good prices. Then it was early evening so we headed over to the Hard Rock Cafe for a beer and to look around, then went on the Gino's East for pizza. There was a long line, in the parking garage next to the restaurant. We finally got in and got our deep dish pizza. It was good.
The hotel fire was on the 10 pm news. They reported that the fire was in a linen closet on the 22nd floor. Click here for the news report.
Well, we are here in Chicago! This is Diane letting you know about our trip.

On Thursday we flew into Chicago. We took the "L" train from Midway airport to within a couple blocks of our hotel. We spent the afternoon at Navy Pier. Navy Pier is a long pier with a ferris wheel and rides, shops and restaurants, boat tours of Lake Michigan, theaters with touring shows.... We walked the whole length of the pier, ate lunch, watched the boats and seagulls, and listened to a band playing classic rock (Led Zeppelin etc) in the beer garden.

Our hotel is right across the street from Grant Park where the Taste of Chicago is from Friday to July 9th. Gregg thought we had free wireless internet at the hotel and that we could add to the blog every night but they charge daily for wireless internet so he will probably get it a couple of days.

On Friday, we went to a Cubs game. We took the train to the game - it was crowded with people going to the game and wearing either Cubs or White Sox shirts. Wrigley Field is the second oldest stadium in the country. It is surrounded by bars and souvenir shops, also people selling souvenirs from tables on the sidewalks, or selling bags of peanuts on the sidewalk. The houses on the outfield sides of the stadium have bleachers on the rooftops to watch the game from. The streets are only 2 lane so they are very close. The game was sold out and the streets were buzzing with people 2 hours before the game. After we checked out the souvenir shops, we went into the stadium. The main concession area is under the seats. They offer a lot of options for food. We then climbed up several ramps to our seats. We were in the 5th row of an upper level, between home and third base, but the stadium is so small that we were fairly close, like being in the back of the lower level at KC's Kauffman Stadium. The stadium is so small there is no video board. There is a large scoreboard, where the runs are updated by hand. It was a good game. Probably half were Cubs fans and half White Sox fans. There are 2 former KC Royals playing with the Chicago teams Jermaine Dye for the White Sox and Neifi Perez for the Cubs. During the game the seagulls flew above the stadium, and about the 7th inning all the seagulls hanging out there decided to congregate on the center field grass or fly above that area. The White Sox won 6 - 2.
After the game we walked around the stadium and went to the Goose Island Brewery. Then we took the train back to the hotel.
We went to the Taste of Chicago for dinner. They offer small tastes and also meals. The Buckingham Fountain is also in the park. This is the fountain that is in the opening credits of the TV show Married with Children. The Budweiser Clydesdales are at the fountain area while the Taste of Chicago is going.

On Saturday, we went to the Art Institute and checked out some of the well-known American paintings like American Gothic and Monet's waterlilies. In the afternoon, we walked to the new Millenium Park. It opened in 2004, with water towers and Cloud Gate. It was sunny and very hot. It was a nice park. We took the trolley back to the hotel then walked over to Buddy Guy's Legends for dinner (catfish or BBQ ribs and cornbread and collard greens) and acoustic music.