The big day finally arrived. We left home very early in the morning JUST in case there might be queues on the motorway or something. But of course there wasn’t, so we arrived with PLENTY of time to spare at Copenhagen Airport. Changed planes at Heathrow which wasn’t overly crowded either, and then after many long hours on the plane we finally arrived in Chicago. Made it through immigration fingerprinting etc. Shuttle bus to pick up the little black Mazda3 which will be our home more or less for the next four weeks. Our borrowed GPS made it easy to find our way through Chicago to the home of Lisa and Michael (and their two dogs), our hosts here in the Windy City, a brand new sleek and modern house full of modern art in a peaceful leafy neighborhood. Lisa and Michael very kindly let us stay in their very nice and comfortable first floor bedroom (which is called the second floor here) facing the trees of the boulevard in front of the house.
After a quick shower we chatted with our hosts on the patio while Michael grilled huge prawns which were served with rice and a delicious green salad. We talked about home exchanging, travelling, dogs and dog day care – and of course Chicago and all that the city has to offer. But we soon began to feel the combined effects of the long journey and the time difference – Chicago is seven hours behind Denmark – so our nice bed upstairs beckoned.
Sunday morning the same time difference made us wake up quite early so we decided to go into town to have breakfast. The metro, which in Chicago is called the El, was only a short walk away, and we took it to a station near the Central Station and went to Lou Mitchell’s to have breakfast there. Lou Mitchell’s has been a Chicago institution since 1923, a very popular diner which looks like something straight out of a movie – and in fact scenes in at least 3 movies have been filmed here, just as Obama, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have all eaten here.
Here you can see my Eggs Benedict – and no, I didn’t finish all of it – which was just as well as the waitress brought us two small cups of soft ice along with the bill! There had been a short queue to get a table but the friendly waitresses brought us free donut holes – something which reminded us strongly of Danish æbleskiver! So with fuld bellies we set out to explore Chicago. We started literally from the top, as we went up the 1,451 feet tall Willis Tower to see the city from above. It took a little time to get through the queue to the lift, then the queue to the ticket counter, then the queue to the next lift, but there were a lot of interesting exhibits along the way as well as a movie about the designing and building of the tower.
From the 104th floor you have a great view of the city, in fact you’re supposed to be able to see 3 other states from up there, but we weren’t able to tell the difference between Illinois and the other states.
Back down nearer street level we took a little sightseeing trip on the El’s brown line which goes round the city centre in a loop which is why the centre of Chicago is called the Loop. The train runs on a very old high rail with wooden platforms on columns, and underneath are the streets where the cars drive. There is a great car chase scene here in the film, the Blues Brothers.
We passed the start of the famous route 66 and walked down to the Chicago river, which used to be rated toxic, but is now only highly polluted! Recently though, the city has done a lot to improve the state of it and has built some lovely walkways along the river. There were plenty of nice places to sit and watch the traffic on the river, so that’s what we did with a cold can of lemonade. The river was quite crowded with tour boats, small motorboats and kayaks. We took one of boat tour organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which took us around the three arms of the Chicago river where we looked at the many interesting buildings along the river front, both old and new skyscrapers and other buildings with interesting stories and many different building styles.
Now our stomachs had finally digested our huge breakfasts so we took the train back our own neighborhood and had dinner at the Brewery Revolution and sampled.their beers of course.