I was all prepared to talk about snow in Chicago when I got back. But I can’t now since none fell when we were there. A tad relieved that there was no mush to deal with and a little disappointed because my new boots didn’t meet the snow it was intended for! Dang! The weather was still cold initially at under 0 degrees Celsius though the weather warmed up later to an average of 10 degree Celsius, which is not normal for Chicago apparently – we must have brought some heat unintentionally.
Chicago, aka Windy City, reminds me of Philadelphia but without the history bit. The buildings are pretty modern, particularly for those that survived or were rebuilt after the Chicago fire. The building Al Capone supposedly stole is still there. Any traces of gangster activity is only left by the tours that bring gullible tourists around the city to scare them. Funny that its Sears Tower has been recently acquired and renamed Willis Tower, losing some of that oomph. The Bean at Millennium Park is a large, reflective sliver pod with a cavern-like hole in the middle like an upsidedown ‘n’. The Shedd Aquarium (entry fees vary according to what you want to see, but we got the US$35pp one for entry and the shows) is the second largest in the world after the new one at Atlanta, but pretty nice with their Beluga whale exhibit. Garrett’s popcorn is hugely popular there, but not so in Singapore; The locals and the shopkeeper we spoke to didn’t know Garrett’s was in China (??!!?) or South East Asia (smarter). You do see beggars and the homeless on the streets who are either bizarre or very polite.
The shopping streets were nicely decorated and were rather Christmas-y, particularly State Street where Macy’s is. The tour guide on the hop-on/hop-off bus (US$39pp for 48 hrs) quipped that the only company that made any profit in downtown Chicago during the festive season was All American Girl’s Place. You’d expect Walmart or something. But noooo, it’s a shop that sells dress-up dolls and their clothes, and matching ones for owners of the dolls. We stopped by out of mere curiosity, and found the quite fancy place to be packed with young girls, and parents at the cashier. No wonder. Could be a collector’s item too.
We stayed at Four Points Sheraton, conveniently located at corner of Rush and Ontario, and is 5-7 mins walk to Magnificent Mile or to the Restaurant District. I’d recommend trying a Chicago steak at the restaurant Wildfire along Erie St – they have set dinners for ~US$42 pp inclusive of tax and gratuity that is good value for money. The petite filet mignon and key lime pie are really quite good.
[First published: 29 Dec 2011]