Windy CityJuly 8, 2017 in the United States
After a long night on the train with very little sleep we rolled into Chicago just after 10am having travelled through yet another timezone.
Thankfully I managed to wake up for the Sunrise over Lake Erie which was very special and the stretch into Chicago itself was also very scenic.
We beelined for the hostel in desperate hope of an early check in for if not sleep, at least showers and laundry facilities! Our room wasn't ready but 2 out of 3 ain't bad. Feeling refreshed and laundered, Kate and I ventured out into the city towards Millennium Park in search of the infamous 'bean'. It was harder to find that you'd think but we eventually got there and took all the required reflective selfies (see below). Despite a breeze, it was very hot with few shaded areas and by mid afternoon I was starting to hit a wall. I decided the best thing was to go and check in and attempt to get some sleep.
We're in a 10 bed female dorm in the HI Hostel just off Millennium Park. The facilities are all very clean, beds comfortable with plenty of sockets etc by your bed and lockers. Having done the rounds of hostels in Europe with Louise in 2014, I'd put it in the 4* category. I completely forgot to bring a padlock with me so had to purchase one from the front desk. Annoyingly it's a rotary combination lock which I've always been pants at operating so don't be surprised if you hear I've locked myself out of all my belongings!
I woke up just before 7 to find Kate on her way back to the hostel and ready to go eat. Perfect. There were two must-dos for food in Chicago according to Kate. One was pizza - obviously, the other Panda Express. As there was a Panda Express right opposite the hostel, we opted for the latter tonight. It was a solid choice and we will doubtless find another in California if we can.
After dinner, Kate persuaded me to join her on a little bike ride around the lakeside. She had spent her afternoon doing just that on Chicago's answer to the 'Boris Bike' and had a 24 hour pass for 9.99. Not a bad deal. You get 30 minutes for free and then you need to re-park the bike at a suitable station and take out another. I'm not great on bikes but it was actually a real delight. It helped that most of the journey was completely flat! We are intending to use them again tomorrow. We cycled to the planetarium where we watched the fireworks being let off at the pier and then cycled back to Millennium Park. It was about then that Kate finally hit her exhaustion wall so we walked back to the hostel and crashed. I got chatting to our of our fellow dorm mates who happens to be from Herefordshire and whose boyfriend lives in Cam! What are the chances?! Just shows how small the world is.
I'll leave you with this random fact. There are conflicting stories as to why Chicago is so-called the Windy City. My preferred choice is this one: it is the effects of the tall buildings which engineers and architects apparently did not foresee that the wind is sucked down into the streets. Walk past the Masonic Temple or the Auditorium any day even though it may be perfectly calm elsewhere, and you will meet with a lively breeze at the base of the building that will compel you to put your hand to your hat. Having worn my hat today, I can testify to this.