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Unread 11 Aug 19, 04:55 PM  
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Join Date: Oct 11
Great Lakes Grooving: Day 1 Downtown Chicago

7 July Downtown Chicago

Despite managing to stay up until about 10.30 pm, we still woke up early this morning. And when I say "we" I mean Paul who was awake first, at around 4.30 am. Paul was Bagpuss - when Bagpuss wakes up, all his friends wake up too and there was no way I was going to go back go sleep. So we lay in bed and read and twiddled around on the internet until it was a more reasonable time to get up. The kids were in the basement, which was a lovely big room, and had 2 huge double sofa beds for them. They were awake early as well so we didn't have any trouble in getting them out of bed. It did take Hannah forever to appear at breakfast, but that was because she had dropped an earring down the sink and was trying to fish it out. More of that later . . .

Doreen had made a lovely breakfast casserole for us and it was really nice to sit and have coffee and catch up over breakfast. Our plan for today was to go downtown - they had suggested Sunday as it was likely to be less busy. We had an architecture cruise booked but other than that, no firm plans.

Clive dropped us off at the train station in Geneva and we caught the train into Chicago, The tickets were $10 each and the journey took 1 hr 20 mins. The train had an upstairs so obviously we sat there. The conductor came around downstairs and just reached up to sell upstairs tickets. Not a job for the vertically challenged.

Paul had his new Man bag, which Clive had renamed his Man purse or Murse.

We all got very excited as one of the stations was called Villa Park. The rest of the passenger must have thought we were very strange as we were trying to take photos of the station sign.

Once we arrived downtown, we walked to Buckingham fountain which is in Grant Park, near to the shore of Lake Michigan. It is one of the largest fountains in the world and very fancy. We also passed some other fountains and art installations.

The fountain itself was quite dramatic and so we decided to take a dramatic photo, copying the statues of horses.

Then I realised that I hadn't really caught the horses in the picture so it would be somewhat confusing. So we took another and Hannah was wonderfully extra in it.

Then we started to walk to the marina where we were picking up the boat for our architecture cruise. On the way we passed Buddy Guy's Legends which we had planned to visit as we wanted to hear some live blues, but we never actually managed it. Ah well, we'll have to go back then!

Queuing for the boat, we had a lovely game of "Would you rather", including "Would you rather have fish fingers for fingers, or sausages for toes?" Decisions, decisions.

Once on board, we sat on the deck upstairs and the tour itself was great, travelling all around the city on the Chicago River. The guide was really interesting and we learned about the different styles of architecture and the history of the city. We also passed under some very low bridges, including some that required the guide to duck down as we went under.

It was all really good, even if you are not a massive fan of buildings, as we learned so much about the history of the city, including the great Chicago Fire of 1871. We also learned that the nickname the Windy City was not because of the climate, but because of all the bragging that the city did to encourage visitors to the World's Fair in 1893. We also learned that the river condition has improved, going from toxic to highly polluted, which is good . This was partly due to efforts to reverse the river and send all the rubbish to St Louis. Great for Chicago, not so much for St Louis and unsurprisingly, they weren't that pleased about it.

After the tour we were ready for lunch and headed to a place we had spotted on the way to the Marina, Flacos Tacos. We had a really lovely lunch there - tacos are so good!

Big thumbs up for Flacos Tacos!

After lunch we headed to the lakeshore and spent some time paddling in Lake Michigan and people watching.

Mexico were playing the USA in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Soldier Field so there were lots of fans around all dressed up and with big Mexican flags.

We were really enjoying just hanging around the city, which was far nicer than New York had been last year. It was buzzing but not hugely busy and just seemed like a more relaxed place to be.

We called to Dunkin Donuts for iced coffee and munchkins before heading back to the station to catch the train back to Geneva.

Paul does love a train journey.

I was starting to flag a little by now as the lack of sleep caught up so tried to doze a little but didn't really manage it. I did, however, manage to overhear a conversation between some lads who had been downtown for the day.

Boy 1: Oh, I wish we would have gotten time to go to Taco Bell. What do you usually get from Taco Bell?

Boy 2: Diarrhoea, mostly

It was so funny! We cheered at Villa Park again and Clive met us at the station to drive back to the house. Once we got back, he gave us Hannah's earring which he had found in the U bend of the sink. Hurrah! This is the earring that Paul also retrieved from the bottom of a swimming pool in Estes Park, Colorado, in 2016, so it is clearly an earring that has adventures, but also has good potential for rescue!

Doreen, who is a big Chicago Cubs fan, had bought us all Chicago Cubs shirts which was so sweet of her. Clive, who is a White Sox fan, was less impressed, so we promised to definitely wear them! We had a lovely evening with them, drinking Sangria and eating steak and just talking and laughing. Clive is 10 years older than Paul and they grew up together, more like brothers than Uncle/Nephew and it was really hard on them both when Clive moved to the USA after University. He comes over fairly regularly when travelling for work but they are usually flying visits and we don't always get to see him. He's a great joker and had us in stitches a lot of the time, a lovely evening with family.
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Unread 11 Aug 19, 06:09 PM  
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Join Date: Dec 13

What a fab day! Chicago looks glorious! And mmmmm to tacos.

And how nice that Paul and Clive had time together!

Index of my trip reports
2016 Quebec - Kuala Lumpar - New York City 2017 Dubai - Eurocamps France - Ontario and Quebec - So-Cal 2018 Montreal - Bangkok - New England 2019 Argentina - Quebec City
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Unread 14 Aug 19, 04:58 AM  
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katiebaz's Reviews
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Sounds like a great day and I much preferred Chicago to New York. So lovely you got to have time with Clive and Doreen too.

Ps definitely sausage toes!

Edited at 05:00 AM.
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Unread 14 Aug 19, 01:09 PM  
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Love how your family don't mind having a photo taken! And actually having FUN! Love the would you rather game but I can never come up with questions! Looks like a great first day.
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