6/29/09

Chicago - the fun begins

We flew in Sunday (21st) from OKC, taking many future Skywatch photo's en route and enjoying an uneventful flight, the best kind!

The first excitement of the trip, me sighting an IKEA store for the first time in four years, ahhh urban civilisation was impending!

Arriving downtown by 10am and checking into our hotel, which was 1 block off the Magnificent Mile and superbly placed. We then spent Sunday walking the immediate area, grabbing a few essentials at Trader Joe's next door, acclimatising and then an early night. Oh and we did squeeze in a little SHOPPING :-) I got a new pair of Nike trainers and the Hubster got to see every Garmin GPS in existence at their flagship store and make a handheld investment. So we are now a family of him, me, 3 cats and 3 Garmin GPS. One for each of them to navigate at home!

Next morning we enjoyed breakfast downtown at a recommended sidewalk eaterie, those Omelets were delicious and before you go "ewwww snot", that's Guacamole in mine!

The Hubster was looking like a local with his 'Chicago Cubs' cap and enjoying traffic watching, a rarity for him. We had pre-purchased a 'Go Chicago' 5 day pass each, which gets you into all the main attractions and to skip the line at the busiest. So we kinda had a plan, although it often changed based on aching feet or heat exposure. We also had 7 day CTA passes, that allowed us unlimited bus and train travel.

We then with trusty map in hand, walked to the Ogden Slip admiring the skyscrapers en route, to catch the Architectural Cruise riverboat.

It was 10am and already very HOT & HUMID, as we set off along the Chicago River through downtown. We were early enough to miss the later crowded tours and had an excellent guide who talked non-stop for an hour and then sang.

This is definitely a neck craning tour, as most of the riverside buildings are stunningly tall. They were really beautiful glinting in the sunlight and it was hard to know where to look!

This was taken at the point where the river splits north and south, we both loved the reflections of one skyscraper in another, just stunning. This building was also curved to follow the bend of the river on this side, but flat on the street side.

The Hubster had taken on the role of videographer for the holiday, and I just left him to it as he does a great job.

One of the stunning things about Chicago is the comparison of the old and new. Here are two of the oldest and most famous buildings, the Wrigley building on the left and the Chicago Tribune on the right.

I was in charge of photography, which is why this is a rare appearance by me in the pictures and will be less with each day. But here I am wearing my dearly departed Ralph Lauren sunglasses I was lamenting the loss of last week!

There's the Sears Tower standing proud, an impressive sight at 1700ft including antenna, although it was pretty hazy weather the first two days.

This petal design skyscraper was very cool. At the very top are apartments, then offices, then this slightly disconcerting car park, then shops and restaurants, and finally boats docked below - a complete lifestyle package!

The Centennial Fountain shoots water into the air every hour, except in the rush hour, when it's considered too much of a distraction to passing traffic !

A final view looking back down the river, the Trump Tower is the tallest blue skyscraper in the middle and a real stunner, The Donald did good with it.

We headed to Navy Pier and jumped on a Water Taxi across Lake Michigan to our next stop. I was happy to be back on water and the lake does a great impression of the sea, it even smells like it!

The view as we left Navy Pier, of the first ever famous Ferris Wheel and some of the cruise boats you can catch from here.

This was where we really began to appreciate the beauty of Chicago, that skyline is just stunning fronting onto the lake.

I was in heaven, I think Brits have water running partially in their veins and this was like a long cool drink after being parched.

The skyline is so interesting to look at, there are so many differing styles of buildings and even the rooflines are eyecatching.

It was seriously hot by now (just before noon) and despite Factor 85 sunscreen, we were both colouring up and glad for a breeze!

These are some very expensive boat berths in the foreground and there were some very ritzy rides out there.

The very impressive sight of the Field Museum from the lake, currently running a big pirates exhibit, hence the external decoration. This area is known as the Museum Campus, due to the presence of 3 big museums on this peninsula of land.

And our next destination was the John G Shedd Aquarium, with over 32,500 animals representing 1,500 species and amazing live coral reefs.

My favourite display was this Jellyfish tank, fab' from the outside!

The coral in the Philippines section was also stunningly beautiful and teeming with brightly coloured reef fish.

The Mick Jagger of the aquatic world! We never saw a dead or sickly looking animal in a single tank, it's quite a place.

I loved these sparkly fishes, until we noticed they were Piranha!

Also thought Mr. Dragon Iguana here was wonderful, strangely I have no fear of these and would have loved to have got up close and personal with him.

This however is another matter and may just be the worlds largest Snapper Turtle, a native to Texas and NW Okieland EEK! A man standing looking at him made us crack up laughing when he spotted it was a 'Texas Snapper Turtle'. His comment "well wouldn't you just know he's from Texas, they always have to go bigger don't they"!

The infinity pool is home to the 'shy' Beluga Whales and has stunning views across the lake towards the Planetarium.

We stopped for a very nice lunch with a view to make you smile.

We also got sight of a local high speed thrill ride, the Seadog.

Then it was back out into the stifling heat and humidity, where we took a few more picturesque shots, what a view!

The Segway Tour is a pretty cool way to see the city we thought.

The 'Tall Ship Windy' setting sail, we did have this included with our 'Go Chicago' card, but decided on other options as I do not have sea-legs, but it was an impressive sight.

A weary and hot walk through lovely Grant Park, to catch the bus back to our part of downtown.

Then a stroll along the Magnificent Mile rounded out our day.

And it seemed only right to enjoy Sushi for supper, after all that water and aquatic activity all day!

The tour continues tomorrow, with the Hancock Tower, Millenium Park and the Bean, and a visit with a fave blogger.

24 comments:

Kay said...

OH Thank you! Thank you for this post, Sarah! I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Your photos are glorious and really made me feel like I was back home again. My daughter did tell me it was extremely hot! Actually she said it was either hot or cold. The midwest is noted for its extreme weather.

Flea said...

Oh my goodness! What FUN! I love your photos! I haven't been to Chicago in years and years, but it's a beautiful city. You do it justice with your photos!

Missy said...

That was fun. Went to Chicago only once many years ago. It looks beautiful. This makes me want to go!

expateek said...

Fantastic virtual tour. I'd better go downtown, sharpish! Only 20 miles for me, so I have no excuse, eh?

Good on you to cope with the heat. It was brutal last week!

Winifred said...

That was lovely Sarah. I didn't know much about Chicago so it's great to see it through these great photos.

You must be absolutely whacked.

Jill of All Trades said...

What a great trip and your pictures are awesome. I've only been to Chicago for about 3 days and it was January, need I say more. Brrrrrrr. Going next month for the BlogHer thing. Glad you had a great time.

smitten by britain said...

Sarah, gorgeous photos as usual. There is so much to look at it's almost overwhelming. The first thing that struck me was how clean the city is, at least the area you showed us. The shots from the water are spectacular. Well done.

Ishtar said...

Wow, what an excursion! The weather is amazing and I enjoyed every place you visited! And you ended with sushi, yey! Did you see my sushi post past Saturday? I think what I learned was that most people I know (bloggers included) are weary of sushi, lol!

Greetings from a sunny Sweden,
Esther

Strange Mamma said...

What a great first day! Your pictures capture my beloved city so well. I especially love the ones across the lake that catch the reflections of the skyline in the water.

Ahhhh, Chicago. How I miss it.

Gaelyn said...

Loved the tour so far. I'd forgotten how amazing the Chicago skyline is from the lake, but do remember riding a boat on the river. And the museums seem to go forever. I also remember the heat and humidity which I don't miss a bit. Great captures. Thanks for the memories.

Sassy Britches said...

This is so wondeful! I went on the historical boat cruise a few weeks ago (P.S. I was really bummed that I left Chicago on Sunday and had to miss meeting up with you guys!), and your pictures ROCK compared to mine--be proud of your abilities!

Oz Girl said...

Sarah, that looks like the funnest day. Such wonderful photos and I just loved your boat ride between the skyscrapers. I've never been to Chicago, but I think I mentioned my sis meets her GF from Ohio there from time to time. My mom and I want to join them the next time they go - I'm looking forward to it!

Expat mum said...

Brilliant photos Sarah. I hate to tell you that today it's about 75 and not at all humid!

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

You take such good pictures. And you should be atour guide. I had no idea there was so much there. All Ive ever done is change planes there. I'll be tuning in tomorrow for the next installment.

pamokc said...

Hubster looks like he is having a blast! Tell him I love his "murse" ...aka man purse ... grrhahah! I'm really struck by how sparkling clean everything looks! Where's Oprah???

gigihawaii said...

mmm, I LOVE sushi! Am looking forward to tomorrow's photos. And the rest of the week's. Awesome, Sarah!

Daryl said...

I am SO glad you took the Architectural Tour ... did you get the book? Its wonderful.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I feel as if I've just been on a trip to Chicago. How marvelous, and here I am sitting here in California. Looks like you two had a good time. Cute shots of the two of you. I haven't been to Chicago in over twenty years, I remember it as a lovely city.

Peggy said...

Sarah;

Thank you also for this great post. My home town never looked better then it does in your photos and I can't wait for tomorrow!
It was hot...but has cooled off !
The lake helps a lot. I used to live about five blocks from the beach and it was almost always cooler then out in the western burbs! Now I live downstate and it's always hotter...oh well that's the way it goes!

Rob Inukshuk said...

Wow, you guys sure packed in a load of fun stuff into your day!

Enjoying the tour and looking forward to more.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Thanks for sharing this fantastic trip with us Sarah !
I have been to Chicago four different times, but onlty to change planes, and get a wonderful view of the city from the air.
I've heard it's a wonderful city, and now I see why.
Lovely architecture, fabulous food, and transportation galore.
Your pictures are truly wonderful, I feel as though I have had a trip !

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Thank you all, so glad I'm not boring you, lots more to come!

Jo - we were the same, just flown in and out only. But I urge you to visit, as you will see this week there's just so much to do there!

Babooshka said...

Did you order the right weather or not. The light is just beautiful. You are wearing me out virtually with this mini tour.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Man, you guys must be worn out. Great photographs.