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Day Trip to Chicago


Last weekend I decided to take a spur of the moment day trip to Chicago. I left on the first morning flight from DC and returned from Chicago on the last evening flight. I've been to the city many times, but the mission on this day was to walk along Navy Pier, enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Michigan and see the city from a skyscraper, which I've never done on past trips. All tasks accomplished with great pleasure. 

1. One of the main attractions on Navy Pier is the ferris wheel. Compared to other ferris wheels in the world it's not that spectacular, but I love these wheels so I happily boarded. The height is 150 feet, much smaller than other major city wheels such as the Millennium Wheel in London (about 450 feet) or the Roue de Paris (about 200 feet). I've been on all three and while the views of Lake Michigan are nice from the top it simply doesn't compare to seeing London or Paris from above. I guess things are always more exciting when you're in a foreign country.


2.  You also can see other entertainment attractions from the top of the wheel, such as these swings. I stood up in the open cart to take this photo and was immediately scolded by the wheel operator to sit down so I obeyed. 


3. From Navy Pier you have great views of the city. The pier itself is about 3,500 feet long and was built in 1916. It's been used for a myriad of purposes ranging from a cargo facility, commercial trading grounds, training, etc. Since its inception the pier has always been a public gathering place with entertainment, and it has never served a solely commercial purpose. It's considered one of Chicago's top tourist attractions.

On this trip I discovered the statue "Juliet of Verona." I've never noticed it before but it caught my eye this time. It's a replica of the famous Juliet of Verona statue in Italy, given as a gift to Chicago from the people of Verona in 2005. The statue is cool, sitting in a weird, isolated spot on the pier adjacent to the Shakespeare Theatre. Normally I find statues boring but this one is beautiful and expressive. 


4. Here's a closer look at her solemn face and heartbroken eyes. Wherefore art thou Romeo? 


5. From the pier I traveled to the John Hancock Center, a 100 story skyscraper in the city. The building is home to restaurants, stores, offices and residences. Famous American comedian Chris Farley was found dead at his residence here in 1997 from a drug overdose. The 94th floor is an observatory open to the public, reached by a 40 second ride on North America's fastest elevator. The price is $17.50 USD and the elevator is very small, boring and ordinary. In the winter there is an ice-skating rink in the building. Perhaps I'll return then to skate in the sky and check-out the night views of the city which I'm sure are spectacular. 


6. It's difficult to shoot through glass in the blazing mid-afternoon sun, but below you see Chicago's famous Lake Shore Drive. In summer season the beaches on the lake are packed with sunbathers and there are jogging trails the whole route which are used by runners, walkers and cyclists. 


7. Skyscraper views from the observatory.


8. After a while, skyscrapers become boring and all look the same. But the landscape of Chicago has nice circular lines so to me it's more aesthetically pleasing than New York City for example.


9. American cities frequently have decorative themes. Recently in Chicago the theme was artistic golf balls in honor of the Ryder Cup which was held from Sept. 28 - Sept. 30, 2012 just outside the city. To me golf is one of the most boring sports and is of no interest. But I liked the messages on this ball so here it is. :) This year the Europeans staged one of the biggest comebacks in Ryder Cup history to knock-off the Americans. 


10. Another interesting message that caught my eye "Chase Hope." Of course Chase is a large American bank and the pillar is merely a marking point for one of its Chicago locations. Its proximity to the HOPE artwork is just a coincidence but still a nice message when the marker points are read together. 


11. At the end of the day I treated myself to an indulgent dinner. Nice steak with delicious coconut rum sponge cake. 



12. Rushed cab ride to the airport after dinner but very interesting conversation with "Jama" the driver. It's like java but with a "m" he tells me. I always say you can learn a lot from cab drivers if you take the time to speak with them. Most are immigrants with compelling life stories. Usually I can guess the driver's ethnic background but I wasn't sure with this one. He's Somali and studies medicine in the city, driving a cab only on weekends to earn extra money. When I hear Somalia I immediately think of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, the subject of the film Black Hawk Down. What did Jama teach me? Somalia has progressed a lot since then. Women fully integrated into society and work force, a more stable but still corrupt government. He's happy to be in America and has no desire to return to his homeland. He's interested in politics and the current presidential race and well-informed on the issues. He doesn't like gay people but loves American women. After I landed, the cab driver back to my apartment was an older Turkish guy. Very talkative and friendly but not so keen on America. He informed me he's really into karaoke and invited me to join him that night when he dropped me off. "Only to sing" he said. I politely declined but asked what his favorite karaoke song is. His answer? "Miss, it's Separate Ways by Journey. Do you want to join me next week?" :)) It was then time to bid the Turk a quick farewell.


The day trip was a complete success. Lifted me from the doldrums and now I'm ready to head overseas for a short trip in the next month or so. Next week I'll try to write about an interesting Civil War battleground in my hometown of Manassas, Virginia. 


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 6th, 2012 10:04 am (UTC)
Great photos!
Oct. 6th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :) I should learn how to use Lightroom so I can edit photos in greater detail but first I need to figure this camera out. It's too complicated and advanced for a beginner, but eventually I'll master it. Have a great day.
May. 25th, 2013 10:10 am (UTC)
In the American movies I saw that most drivers of the cabs are immigrants. Is that so in the real life?
May. 25th, 2013 12:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's true! In any American city most of the cab drivers will be immigrants. In DC, a lot of the are from Ethiopia. But I think it's the same in a lot of countries, cab drivers are not usually natives of the country they drive in. Is it the same in Russia? It seems there are a lot of cab drivers there from neighboring countries.
May. 25th, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC)
Cab drivers are locals in my town. I don't know a lot about Moscow so I can't say about that.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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