The Windy City. Aptly named, as you will discover if you wear a skirt to walk around the city. *raises hand* Yes, I speak from personal experience.
Chicago was brilliant and brimming with life. My first thought was on how wild it was. And by that I don't mean wild, crazy wild. It's just that...my city is so much more tame, even in the rougher downtown areas.
The first thing we did downtown was visit Millennium Park. With its fountains, sculptures, gardens, and amphitheater, it was the perfect lovely spot to walk through while sipping some lemonade.
Wrigley Square has the Millennium Monument and a lovely fountain, and the Crown Fountain was a place where dozens of people cooled of in the water under the video sculptures (you can see the picture of the waterfall video which was playing while I was there).
Cloud Gate was amazing. Affectionately referred to as "The Bean," it's a huge sculpture that reflects the city around it and really messes with your head. Funny fact: the indentation inside that gives the twisted reflections is called the "omphalos"--a word that means "belly button" in Greek, as I learned in my mythology class last year. ;P Taking self portraits in The Bean's sides posed a small difficulty with the distortion, but all in all it was fascinating.
As we neared the amphitheater, or the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cassie and I gasped as we heard a familiar melody--the Broadway musical Wicked's "Defying Gravity." Turns out that it was the rehearsal for the performance later that night, which we also came back to listen to. And what was the performance of, you ask? That's right...Broadway music. I was thrilled. If something could have single-handedly made my day, that did. Walking around the park and listening to Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Hairspray, and other songs was epic.
From Millennium Park we headed to Water Tower Place, a shopping area named after Chicago's water tower which was the only building left standing in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.
We did some shopping, and then there was the American Doll Place. It was huge, and my little sisters (Tess especially) floated around it in raptures.
We went over to the other side of the restaurant to get a view of the lake, where a waiter caught us looking at the view instead of giving them business...yes, we were one of "those" people. It was hilarious--he immediately started literally waving down his manager with the napkins he held in his hand. We decided it was time to leave. ;)
We took a trolley to Navy Pier, which felt like a carnival. The atmosphere was light and breezy and happy. We were at last right by--almost in--Lake Michigan, with the seagulls soaring overhead and the flags flapping in the wind.
We looked at art, entertainment, shops, and the famous huge Ferris wheel that spins into the sky. Oh, and by the way, have I ever mentioned that I love street magicians?
We saw the Crystal Gardens, a stained glass display, and mostly, the view. :)
There's definitely something sweet about the city sitting right on the water like that.
The water was beautiful. With grandparents that live within an hour of Lake Erie, I'm used to going there. It's always very grey. But Lake Michigan was so clear and turquoisey. I love that.
After walking through a park, we came to a gloriously sandy beach where we waded. Of course, I ended up much wetter than I had hoped to be, but it was still marvelous. We went back to another beach the next day to swim, because the water was just too perfect not to.
Still in the process of drying off, we headed to Chinatown. Although the whole Oriental atmosphere isn't my favorite thing and doesn't hold my interest for too long, we made it a short and sweet visit. And we had a delicious Chinese meal that I loved.
As a random side note, I love clocks. There were so many unique and huge clocks throughout the city. I was happy.
Of course there was more complicated transportation, and there was more walking till our feet were sore and reading at night and humorous dancing and yummy meals that I'm omitting. Sad as it was to leave, I was ready to sleep in my own bed again.
In the end, after packing up our things along with a few pomegranates and cactus pears to bring home, we waved goodbye to Chicago.