Day 2 - Skyscrapers & The BluesApril 23 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C
Woke up at 3.30am - not surprised. By 4.10am still wide awake in America, so decided to start my blog. Slow start it took me close on an hour to complete, when total disaster struck. I hadn’t saved it & somehow managed to hit a wrong button & lost the lot. After a lot of F**ks, I calmed down & started again. Lesson learnt, save it as you go. Have I not heard this before somewhere?
At a sensible time of morning, I looked out of the window of our 9th floor ‘Executive King Room’ to see that it looked grey & damp outside & the tops of the skyscrapers were in the clouds. I also espies 2 idiots dangling off the side of one skyscraper, presumably cleaning the windows.
At 8.30am we set out for a day of sightseeing and an early breakfast in a local cafe. We were both in our blue Rab puffa jackets, jeans, walking boots & matching rucksacks. Very Harold & Hilda!
Chicago is famed for it’s skyscrapers, architecture & sculptures. I had a loose itinerary for us to follow, so that we could see the most iconic buildings & statues. First on my list was the Wrigley Building which right on our doorstep - or so I thought.
We hunted high & low, but couldn’t find it. Great start! (We later found it next to Trump Towers). Next was the Holy Name Cathedral, which had a stunning interior. Whilst Jackie said a prayer, I snapped off a couple of photos, but felt slightly uneasy about doing so, so I tried to do it discreetly when the staff weren’t looking.
Next on the itinerary was supposed to be a stroll along the famous Navy Pier. We got to the Lake Michigan shore road, but the Navy Pier in the distance didn’t look too open, so I postponed our visit to it. Instead, we ran the gauntlet of crossing numerous multi-carriageway roads to get to Millennium Park.
En-route we crossed the Chicago River and saw Trump Towers & the elusive Wrigley Building. We then made our way to Maggie Daley Park, a kids paradise of skating tracks & climbing walls. My idea of hell, so we crossed the impressive BP Bridge into Millennium Park. We passed the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is a state of the art outdoor concert venue. In the summer they apparently have free concerts & the acoustics are superb.
Next was Cloud Gate, a public sculpture created by Sir Anish Kapoor. Cloud Gate is better known as ‘The Bean’. It is a polished chrome blob that reflects the Chicago skyline. We attempted to take the obligatory selfie & after numerous attempts we managed to produce one that wasn’t too horrendous. It appears either my arms are too short or my face is too fat or both! We then uploaded it to instagram (thanks Beth) - Get us!
By now it was 11.00am & we were now starving. We stopped at the first Café we found called Panera Bread. I ordered a breakfast wrap only to be told that breakfast was good over. Working on the theory that American portions are massive, we both ordered just a half a flatbread sandwich & coffee . Unfortunately it was as described - Half a sandwich. I accidentally used the ladies toilets & got caught by a female staff member as I was coming out. I also managed to trip up on a cleaning sign as we were leaving, which made a hell of a racket. We won’t be going back!
Still hungry, we pressed on southwards down Millennium Park. Next was the Crown Fountain which was blank because we could see it was being cleaned from the inside. The fountain should depict local residents faces. As we made to move on, the fountain burst into life & a girls face appeared without the water, surely only then qualifying it as a fountain.
Next was the Art Institute of Chicago. Apparently one of America’s premier museums and houses the ‘American Gothic’ painting by Grant Wood. The entrance fee is $25 each so we didn’t bother, instead we made do with taking a photo of the 2 lion sculptures at the front.
It was then into Grant Park to admire the following statues, ‘Spirit of Music’, ‘General John Logan Memorial’, ‘The Spearman’ & my favourite, the ‘Agora Statues’.
At the end of the park, we took the train back one stop on The Loop & went in search of the iconic buildings. We stumbled across the Harold Washington Library, the Old Colony Building , the Second Leiter Building & plenty of others too numerous to mention.
We passed Alexander Calder’s Flamingo statue, then located The Rookery I was particularly keen to see. The Rookery is in the heart of the downtown Financial District & is a looker on the outside, but is stunning on the inside, with its ornate staircase & glass ceiling.
We stepped outside a different door to be confronted by the architecturally impressive Chicago Board of Trade Building. CBOT is the first of its kind in the world! After admiring several other Banking related buildings, we moved on to see the Picasso Statue, the Chicago Temple & The Alise, considered to be Chicago’s finest boutique hotel.
Looking out of place amongst the skyscrapers, we came across St. Peter’s Church with a large statue of Jesus on the cross above the door. We went in to discover that a service was taking place. Jackie said a prayer & dabbed her forehead with holy water.
Lunch consisted of 2 pints of beer each in The Berghoff Restaurant’s bar in the Theatre District.
After a well earned rest, we walked to the Chicago Cultural Center - for some culture! The building itself was stunning particularly the stained glass domed ceilings including the world’s largest Tiffany Art glass dome (Is there another one?). We didn’t dwell on the content other than to browse a display on Chicago - The Musical.
Now feeling somewhat rather leg weary, we caught a CTA bus to Navy Pier. It is billed as one of Chicago’ highlights - I beg to differ. It is mainly touristy shops & restaurants & a big wheel. We walked halfway down the Pier until we got bored, then walked back & headed to our hotel.
En-route we stopped at a Café called Buona for a ‘Chicago Hotdog’ (when in Rome) & coffee.
We got to our hotel room around 5.00pm, Jackie went sleep, I didn’t. At 8.00pm, we dragged ourselves back out. We took the Red Line CTA Train back to Downtown Chicago & straight to Buddy Guy’s Legends, a famous Chicago music venue actually owned & occasionally frequented by the man himself.
Tonight’s scheduled show was Jamiah Rogers (His album ‘Blues Superman ‘ is on Spotify) and his band which was due to start at 9.30pm. We paid the $10 entrance fee & got ourselves a nice little table with a good view of the stage. I absolutely loved the ambiance with blues booming out from the speakers. I explored the venue, which had loads of guitars belonging to the greats - Richards, Wood, Clapton, Beck, Sumlin etc etc & other memorabilia. We had waitress service at our table, where we supped beer & wine. I had a pint of Anti-Hero IPA 6.5abv, a pint of Fat Tire 5.2abv & 2 pints of Goose Island Green Line 5.0abv. Jackie had a pint of Blue Moon 5.4abv & 3 Merlots. What really impressed me was the drinks were cheap!!
At 9.30pm sharp, Jamiah and his band took to the stage and belted out some great tunes, both oldies & his own original numbers. They were fantastic and put on a real show. Jamiah got some incredible sounds from his guitar & worked the pace up down, whilst pulling strange faces. A great showman.
At 10:30pm, mid song, an old git in an electric blue shirt & trilby hat shuffled on to the stage with microphone in hand. The audience went wild. It was only the man himself who then started singing. I didn’t know the song myself, he could have been just ad-libbing, but by god he was good. He had the audience eating out of his hand, then 10 minutes later he shuffled off.
It left me wondering whether we were exceptionally lucky to be treated to a rare performance or whether he did this every night. Either way, I felt privileged to have seen him perform.
Poor old Jamiah, then returned to the front of the stage & tried to re-engage with the audience, which he did, with old classics like ‘All Along The Watchtower’ until 11.00pm.
During this time I had noticed that Buddy was stood in reception & people were having photos with him, which were closely monitored by his bodyguards. Before Jamiah’s set had finished, I observed Buddy leave the building flanked by his bodyguards. Jackie nearly crashed straight into him as she returned from the loo, but she didn’t even notice. I was by now kicking myself that I hadn’t got a selfie with the main man.
But luck was on my side, or so I thought, because Buddy returned & sat at the bar. This was to good an opportunity, so I made my way over & asked his bodyguard if I could have a photo. Weirdly he pointed me in the direction of the girl selling the merchandise, who told me I could have a photo but only if I bought a T-shirt or poster first. No chance, not at $25 for the T-shirts. It seemed a real shame that Buddy felt the need to generate extra cash this way.
Never mind, this didn’t spoil what was a fantastic evening. We fought the Train back & we both asleep by midnight.
FITBIT shows that we walked over 29,000 steps equating to 13.5 miles. Not sure how accurate they are, but still an active day.
Note to self: Write less in future.
Song of the Day - Blues Superman by Jamiah Rogers.
Bonus Songs of the Day :-
Bad - Live by U2 (from Wide Awake In America)
Damn Right, I’ve Got The Blues by Buddy GuyRead more