Day 14 | Chicago and the Bean

Today, with Rich's advice, we ventured in to the city on the suburban line (the Metra). It is another warm day over the 20s which is unusual for this time of year. A trip to the local station and the tickets purchased (yes, paper tickets purchased from a person). The double level train quickly made the trip from La Grange to Union Station. 

Union Station is a massive monumental station that sits on top of the confluence of the Amtrak inter-city lines and the Metra suburban lines. There is a third tier that we rode yesterday (the El of "L"). Coming up from these lines is straight onto low platforms. These are huge trains and the platforms are way down and narrow. Without knowing exactly which way you finally come out, especially when we were wandering around looking at the busy station. 

We walked across one of the several lift bridges toward the lake to Grant Park down E Monroe St. 

Cloud Gate is one of the striking sculptures in the park. This is an enormous shiny silver bean. Wherever you are your reflection is visible and is an amazing people magnet. There is a huge number of people passing through. For a public sculpture, it has a bit of an impact. We enjoyed just sitting and watching the people.

On an adjacent park a film crew was working on recording a scene for a Chicago based police drama called APB. We learnt yesterday that a lot of the Chicago dramas (Hope, Med, Fire, etc) do as much of their work here as possible. It must have been difficult with all of us milling around gawking. They were casual with their security. One of the guards came out and whispered “please respect the filming folks, thanks”. Then he went straight back to work. 

We then walked north around the Chicago Riverwalk to the Navy Pier beneath the big lift bridges, a couple of them are double story as well as four lane. Must be dramatic when they do lift. They appear a little rusty in places but the river being freshwater the rust is superficial but they are lifted a few times every year for navigation. 

The Navy Pier is a bit of a tourist centre for tours and a couple of attractions including the Ferris wheel, one of its icons. The mega-scale-Ferris wheel was developed here for the world’s fair in Chicago in 1893 so it’s fitting they have one. It was nice to watch the sun set over the city as the sunlight receded the lights from the buildings took over. 

We took a Taxi trip back to Union Square with a north African whose brother lives in Sydney having married while studying medicine there. It is a small world. Back through the labyrinth in Union Station to return on the Metra which was much busier. Tomorrow we are packing out of here but we will miss Chicago and we do have to thank Rich for giving us a fondness for Chicago which will require us to return. 

Rosie – Sunset over the city skyline
Angus – the buildings, so massive; the polite people, so helpful and genuine.