From Chicago

Southside Chicago, Boston

Read from Start of USA->
Read from Start of Chicago->
Adventured away from the sky scrapers of Chicago to Damen { on the blue line train} on Saturday  which  has  similar feel to StKilda  with lots of eating places and Thrift shops. We wandered around in the heat then had lunch  in a Vegan restaurant -which has a cool name that doesn’t put people off -“Native Foods”. The food was very inspiring. Mine was brown rice with roasted sweet potato, lots of kale  tempeh  and daikon. Rick’s was, Bangkok curry, tofu on skewer and vegetables. Very filling and delicious. We walked back which was about 10km. On Sunday another beautiful day we wandered over to the river  for a Shady walk as it  was hot again; had lunch in Macys food court. On that day they had 37 foods most of which were vegetable or salad but also some meat dishes. Very impressed with these because we just put what we want in a container and at the check out it is weighed  and  we pay accordingly. There are heaps of healthy choices in America! Did a bit of shopping in Macys then headed back to our apartment. Rick had a brilliant idea that we couldn’t come to Chicago without  going to a Jazz club bar! The one he chose, Honky Tonk BBQ which was given rave reviews , just happened to be  on the south side of Chicago which is known for its high crime. He said it’s just a couple kilometers away, so  we walked over. The area looked a little rough not many people in the street just the odd drunk man loitering and one moody desperate looking African American young man hanging about. We got a pleasant surprise when we opened the door of the bar when we saw 6 grey haired women having their honky tonk BBQ dinner! Anyway we had a couple of beers and Rick had the ribs and me the fungi. The band ,called the Fat Babies , an 8 piece swing band , was good and there were plenty of people dancing a form of 1920’s swing (mainly Balboa ) ! We took a taxi home as we thought walking in the dark would not have been a good idea! The following day we had a 2.5 hour flight to Boston. We are staying in the basement apartment of a three storey house in Savin Hill. The  houses are all three storey its a short  steep climb  to get to the house from
the Metro.
Read from Start of Chicago->
Read from Start of USA->

Chicago 19-20 June

The hot and humid weather continued in Chicago. We walked down to the Lake to have a look at Grant Park and the Buckingham fountain. Early in our walk we stopped for coffee at intelligentsia , which was recommended by Loney Planet , and their coffee did not disappoint . Then we walked south to northerly island and had a look around . Lily got attacked by a very small bird which was clearly targeting her floppy white hat . After walking back into town there was a thai festival in one of the several city squares where we had lunch and watched the live entertainment. Following that we walked north along the lake front as far as Lincoln park then back home along the river .The air temperature had dropped by the time we walked back along the swimming areas and I wasn’t game to test the 16 deg C water temperatures. Though we didn’t  seem to do much we walked more than 25km .
After a bit of a sleep in we walked to the John Hancock building which is  north almost at the end of the magnificent mile along Michigan Ave. We went up to the 96th floor where there are great view and it is free as long as you buy a drink . After a couple of beers and a shared turkey wrap we continued back along the shopping district to Navy Pier. The wind had dropped and it was getting rather warm so thought the imax might be th spot , however the choice of movies were not to our liking .We walked from there to the nearby beach and I did brave the lakes waters without a wetsuit . Actually it was quite pleasant , the water being a bit warmer if you stayed closer to the concrete walkway . After dinner Lil stay in and I went to millenium park to have a look/listen to the free classical music concert. On the way there was a live band in the square where the Thai festival was yesterday – seems this is common in Chicago – and free dance lessons on Grant Park – but they start next week when we will have left – there is also one of World Triathlon Union events happening here next weekend .

Chicago

First day in Chicago we walked down through the town to the lake and then crossed the river to the Navy Pier. I guess there is no real use for a Navy here , so it has been redeveloped as a recreational area with many different eating places and imax etc and various organisations offering cruises of both the river and lake . We booked ourselves on an “architectural” cruise of the river . The was hot 33 degrees C in the end and humid ,why a place a similar distance from the equator as Tasmania gets so hot , I guess it’s hot air coming over a dry interior. The water supply for the town comes out of Lake Michigan and in the mid 1900’s 12% of the population died from cholera. So they dug a huge canal and reversed the flow of the river away from the lake .So this saved the lake but sent all the pollution down to StLouis. St Louis eventually sued Chicago for this. The river is still polluted apparently but it look like it is getting cleaned up. The flows of the lake are now strictly controlled with a maximum of 3200cubic feet allowed for both diversion and the  town water.  Chicago really is a river town so seeing it from the river really orients you to the area. It is also the City of Skyscrapers and the Willis tower was the tallest in the world for some time . Some of the buildings built in the early 1900’s are remarkable including the wrigley building with its Big Ben like clock and the cathedral looking building next to it that was done circa 1920. The cocktails were cheap too at $5 each , with Lil downing 3 bloody Marys. After the tour we walked up to the other side of the river to where there is a nice beach with swimming area -but I’d left the togs at home .
Next day in Chicago the weather started off the same , hot and humid 27 degrees by 10 o’clock. We were going to walk north along the lake front but the whether turned with a thunderstorm and steady rain and a 10  degree drop in temperature . We turned back and walked along the river trying to get some cover though we had fortunately brought our umbrellas. Back in the town we went past the cultural centre and there were free tours of this running at 1.15pm. After a coffee we came back for the tour. Our guide was a guy in his 80’s who ran a campaign to have the building saved 30 years ago. It was the original public library which was built in the late 1890’s . Inside it is amazing with marble walls of a different type for each room . Individual decorations on each ceiling , marble arch ways and stair banisters and intricate mosaics on the floors – and they were going to demolish it – instead they built a new library and converted to the centre it is today.
After dinner we were going to go to a free classical concert in Grant Park – but the thunderstorms broke out again and are still going.

Washington to Chicago

Took the metro to Ronald Regan International Airport at Washington and flew about 1:40hrs to O’Hare airport Chicago. When booking the flight there were several options; one was to take the train back to Delaware and fly from there or fly form another airport in Washington. We were telling our friendly waitress about this the night before and she said that she had made that mistake and turned  up at the wrong airport which fortunately we did not do. We’d booked an apartment through Airbnb a couple of days ago with a guy who is an electrical engineer . He had accepted the booking but did not email us back so when we arrived in Chicago airport we still had not heard from him we feared  we had nowhere to go! Rick rang and messaged him but no answer anyway turned out he was on a plane himself travelling back from New York, so we hung about at the airport for about an hour till we heard from him. We’d arrived at about 3.30 so had to wait till 6.30 for him to get back to give us the key! Here in Chicago we will be able to use train and bus with the same ticket, so from the airport , we took the train to  where the apartment is only a short walk from the station. We found the names of some of the suburbs along the way amusing  California; Washington,Harlem  etc. At the station this black man ,waving apparently a transit ID, picked us for confused tourists especially with Rick’s new checked shorts. He said “i’ll show you ,this is what I do,help (tourists)” and  just took my suitcase and walked of with it to the escalator  as he could see we didn’t know the way out (yet) .  He said ”where you folks going? “. We explained to him abut the delay in getting our accommodation and we just wanted to go to a coffee shop , or similar ,so he took a broken trolley and wheeled my bag a couple of  blocks to “Beggars Pizza” as he said Starbucks closes at 5.30. Anyway he was raising money for the homeless, apparently ,  so we  gave him a large tip and he went on his way. The apartment is roomy but this electrical engineer needs an electrician!  Lots of the bulbs are blown and  neither TV, (one because the power outlet is faulty) in lounge or bedroom work.