Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 8 - Last day in Chicago

Being our last day, we had a list a mile long of outstanding things to do. Prioritisation was key! We rose nice and early and actually managed to leave the apartment around 11am, not bad for us really! We started the day with a visit to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center, which conveniently is located right beside our hotel.

The Hancock, whilst not the tallest sky scraper in the city, is much loved due to it location north of the loop, giving it amazing views south of the downtown area, east to the lake and north to the gold coast and it’s beaches. We had vouchers for the audio tour, which gave us a great commentary of the city beneath us. A nice feature is the skydeck, an exposed area with the windows removed; allowing you to feel the breeze, smells the scents and hear the sounds of the city beneath. The windows here, unlike the sears tower, ran from roof to floor, approaching the edge for a clearer view is certainly not for the faint hearted!

Leaving the Hancock we headed just south to the Ohio Street beach. Yes most of the streets up this end of the city have beaches alongside the lake front. Whilst artificial, it did seem like the real deal. An 18 mile stretch of cycle/walk ways, called lake shore drive, runs along the lake front bordering the city itself. There are numerous beaches scattered along it. I can only imagine that during the middle of the summer months, this area must get really packed. When we arrived, only the odd roller bladder and cyclist were about. The beach itself was very clean. The sand was nice and hot. It really is a great treat being on a beach during the summer. The water was warm, and as its fresh water, wasn’t salty! We would have loved to have time to take a swim, but with too much to get done today it would have to wait until the evening, but when we did get time to return the weather had changed. Ah well.

We headed downtown for some food, dining in Panda Express for a change. The orange chicken really is great. Next on our list was a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, located in the museum campus area of the city. The Shedd is a massive indoor aquarium, costing around $24 each for a day pass, we only had time for around 2 hours, but you could easily spend your whole day looking and learning about all the amazing fish inside. It had areas devoted to the oceans of the world, the coral reef, the artic with whales and penguins, but the star of the day had to be the dolphins. We were treated to a really cool dolphin show, were the trainers demonstrated some of the dolphins “natural” behaviours – like jumping and swimming backwards! Natural indeed! Nonetheless great to see.

Leaving the Shedd, we headed back downtown for some final shopping along the magnificent mile which is Michigan Avenue before returning back to apartment to pack and prepare dinner. We had hopped to head out for a drink but we only managed to make it as far as the subway station. After waiting some 20 mins for a train, we decided to cut our losses and head back to the apartment for an early night.

Tomorrow we’re off to New York City on an 11am flight. We should touch down around 2:30pm local time, which is an hour ahead of Chicago, we’ll be on Eastern Standard Time. This has really been an amazing city. The skyline is awesome, comparable with New York. Its cleanliness is on par with Toronto and it’s friendless is not a match on any European counterpart. It really has everything, apart from the crowds. It’s been a very pleasurable 8 days and would highly recommend a visit to anyone back home. With AerLingus flying direct to O’Hare daily, there is no excuse. (Oh and it’s only $2 to get into the city via train, which is around 1 hour away from the city).

Until we hit New York and its bright lights!

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