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  • Day19

    Chicago, IL

    November 5, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    Sporting Extravaganza!

    Chicago worked its way into our itinerary for a rugby match but it has offered so much more! History was made twice over with the Chicago Cubs winning the world series baseball for the first time in over a hundred years, only to be backed with Ireland crushing an even longer dry spell to beat the All Blacks for the first time ever in a thrilling bout at Soldier Field. What a week of sport!

    The atmosphere in Chicago has been absolutely electric since we arrived. The impact of the cubs victory on this this city can be summed up quite simply: 5 million people showed up downtown on a friday to watch the victory parade, making it the 9th biggest gathering of people on record! The city was in pandemonium; roads closed, police on every corner, people on every roof and a sea of blue hats, shirts and flags - even the statues were dressed in blue! Oh and of course the river was dyed blue too! At night the buildings were lit up blue and windows blacked out to spell out all kinds of fanaticism. I believe a new colour was even invented - cubby blue.

    This insane atmosphere was heightened even more the very next day. When the green army punched through the All Blacks defense in the dying minutes, the capacity crowd erupted! Ireland had defeated the All Blacks for the first time in 111 years. Obviously stunned and gutted we couldn't help but join in the celebration. Really, was there a better time to lose?

    We also were fortunate enough to watch the NZ Maori play the eagles on Friday. The match was preceded by a luncheon, MC'd by Eric Rush and hosted by USA rugby. It was an eye opener to the difficulties rugby faces in the USA; infiltrating a country already teeming with sports rich in history and prestige. Challenges include convincing parents to let their kids play with no helmets, to getting field time and even goal posts, not to mention recruitment.

    Rugby aside Chicago is a fantastic city! The first thing that will take you is the skyline. The city boasts one of the most impressive in the world, with each building unique and beautiful in appearance. From every angle it's easy to be impressed!

    The town planning is also superb. Green belts extend north and south of the city for miles along and endless blue lakefront. Cycleways, running tracks, beaches, sculptures, marinas, playgrounds, multiple museums, soldier field and even a free zoo nestle seamlessly into these parks. The result is a recreational area which is easily accessible and fit for a huge part of Chicago. There is little compromise on lakefront real estate, as the view from the tall buildings looks down on the park and out over the water. To build on this, a large part of the central city is two stories. The lower level is almost entirely designed for vehicle throughfare while the top is largely pedestrian with local vehicle access. The result is a lot of staircases and a very confusing google maps! The space created on the upper level also has plazas, garden beds and the like which give the city a less congested and unconfining feel. That probably sounds like a bunch of faff but really, when was the last time you heard anyone speak fondly of town planning?

    Probably influenced by our toxic diet in the south (almost entirely consisting beer, burgers, fries and tacos), the food was devine! Save for a deep dish pizza and 3am McDonalds our eating was on point. All you can eat BBQ at Zed451, Tapas at cafe Babareeba, steakhouses, delicious thai and of course WHOLEFOODS were just a few of our meals well spent. I am now obsessed with wholefoods and will commander whichever ship I must to ensure the ultimate mealtime satisfaction!

    The bars and pubs needn't be raved about. Tough to go wrong, really.

    This city is the pick of the lot so far by a mile. Get it on your list.
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