08/03/18 – 11/03/18
We weren’t really sure what to expect of Chicago but it was spectacular. I speak for both of us when I say that we really loved being in this amazing city and we were so glad that we decided to stay here.
After an hour flying back to NYC and then another hour long flight, where I constantly felt I was going to have a nosebleed because of the stupid pressure in the plane, we finally arrived in Chicago. We had booked ourselves another hostel but with a twist – our own room. We felt at ease knowing we didn’t have to socialise with anyone the first night as we were so weary for travelling.
The following morning we woke bright and early, feeling fresh from probably the best night’s sleep so far. We headed downstairs to the common room where there were fresh bagels, cereals and porridge ready for us to devour. It was during our first morning that we met fellow Brit, Sarah. Tom and I were washing up when we first met her. We exchanged a friendly “Good morning” after which she said, “English?!”. So far we’ve met one English couple during our stay in Washington but didn’t get a chance to chat for long as they arrived late and checked out the following morning.
We’ve only been here about two weeks but there are things that I already miss.
- Taxes added before checkout. WHY ARE YOU NOT LIKE THIS AMERICA? Frustrating is an understatement… I’ve given up working out how much money they want at the till – just winging it from here on out.
- Meal deals! To buy a sandwich over here can cost anywhere from $7 – 10. Are you having a laugh? Where’s my £3 meal deals at?
Tom and I had the stupid idea of walking to downtown Chicago. We were nowhere near downtown and it took us over an hour to get to Lake Michigan (but I finally went to Target – amazing). We enjoyed the walk and saw more than we expected – real American neighbourhoods – so it ended up being worth it. Lake Michigan is so beautiful – you can’t beat the amazing views. We sat by the lake for a while to take it all in. Eventually, we ventured to the harbour where we found a restaurant selling banana splits that had over 1000 calories! Seriously.
Our next stop was to head into downtown and explore the city. It blew me anyway – the structure of it is bizarre and unlike anything I have seen before. The main walkway and shops are raised off the ground with cars passing through underneath. In some places you take stairs from ground level to reach the shops above. I’ve definitely seen it in films before but it was something different seeing it in real life. After wandering around I began to moan about the weather, Chicago is true to its name – The Windy City. We took shelter in a coffee shop called Peet’s coffee where I nearly got trapped in the toilet.
Food. We needed a hearty meal and because breakfast was free we decided to treat ourselves. Tom took out his phone to search for the best (and cheapest) places to eat. This is how we came to be at Eggy’s Diner. I had a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich with sweet potato fries which was delicious. Tom had a Club sandwich which was as big as the plate which also came with sweet potato fries. It was massive, that’s the only way I can describe it. He couldn’t eat all of it so he we had it boxed up to eat later.
We decided to go back to the hostel and chill for the rest of the day. We had washing to do (running out of underwear!) We made a stop at Target to gather food supplies. Dinner was light after the monstrous lunch we had. Back at the hostel, after working out how to use the washing machine, we sat in the common room and got chatting to a guy called Max. He was a really friendly guy and I had a lot in common with him, especially TV shows! We discussed different TV shows from Charmed to Riverdale.
It was Max who recommend visiting the ‘Giant Bean’ in Chicago. Tom and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. What in the hell is the Giant Bean?! He had no other information for us other than it was in Millennium Park. The Giant Bean would be be our first port of call tomorrow.
The following morning we woke early, eager to find the Giant Bean. We took the subway, getting off near Millennium Park and stopped for a while to take in the views. The tall skyscrapers towered before us. Unlike NYC where there are skyscrapers littered everywhere, Chicago’s are clustered in the centre – it was a truly magnificent view
We began the trek to the mythical Bean. It wasn’t hard to find as there were so many people who had also come to bathe in its glory. What can I say about it? It’s a giant metallic bean that reflected in the sunlight, and was designed by British artist Anish Kapoor. It was worth the walk – Tom developed a real soft spot for The Bean…
Our next stop was Willis Tower – the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere ($24 each). The wait wasnt too painful, they told us it would take at least two hours to get to the top but they definitely lied to us to get fast-track tickets $48 each!) In reality we only waited 45 minutes.
The views were extraordinary, to stand there, looking all over Chicago, realising that you are actually here; it was incredible. If you’ve seen the film Ferris Buller’s Day Off – the trio travel to the top of Willis Tower and lean their heads against the glass in the ‘Skydeck’, peering at the world below them. After a bit of a queue, we braved the Skydeck and took a few pictures.
After descending Willis tower and browsing the gift shop it was time for the main event. Giordano’s is a pizzeria that specializes in the Chicago style deep-dish pizza. It was a wait to get a table but definitely worth it. We went with a small pepperoni pizza because we both knew that small would not be small!
And we were right… We both loved the pizza but I found the crust a bit weird – it reminded me of dessert pastry (probably all the sugar) and there way too much tomato sauce. But jeeze, we had three slices each and the final slice was a massive struggle to finish. People around us were tucking into sides and all sorts but by the end of our pizza we didn’t want to look at food for a week. The cost of our “small” pizza was roughly $23 (excl. tax).
We loved Chicago, it had a good atmosphere about it and unlike NYC we felt we could take our time seeing and exploring things without feeling rushed. Walking around Lake Michigan was definitely my highlight as it was so picturesque.
Where did we stay?
Holiday Jones hostel which we would highly recommend. We had our own private room with bunk beds which wasn’t bad, and a shared bathroom. I was worried about this as there was only one on our floor but we never had trouble getting to the bathroom. The common room/kitchen was amazing. It was one open space and was huge. It felt more inviting than Duo Housing as it was much larger. It is located quite far out of downtown Chicago but the CTA (subway) is less than a 10 minute walk and is a quick ride into town for about $2/3. Bonus – there’s a coffeeshop at the front of the hostel, and you can buy toiletries etc. at the front desk quick we found pretty useful.