Monday, May 7, 2012

Things I Learned in Chicago

Chicago River View

Traveling to IRA 2012 for work was quite the experience, as detailed in my last blog post. Even though this trip seemed extremely short, and I was disappointed that I didn't get to see more of Chicago, I not only experienced many new things, I learned a lot too. Here are some examples: 

Gas may be expensive in Florida, but it's ridiculously expensive in Chicago. As Florida's prices are starting to drop below $4 a gallon (how scary is it that THAT sounds reasonable?), regular fuel in Chicago is still up over $4.50/gallon, with Premium very close to $5!

The Downtown area of Chicago is equipped with special tunnels for not only trains, but buses too. This made for a not-so-scenic ride to and from McCormick Place, but I imagine it saved a lot of time. Pretty cool idea.
One of many revolving doors.

When staying in a high-rise hotel on Michigan Avenue, opt for the "Michigan Avenue view" instead of the "City View". What was I thinking?

Texting while driving may be against the law, but apparently working on a laptop while driving is not (or so it seemed with my airport shuttle driver). Talk about scary!

There are more revolving doors in Downtown Chicago than I've ever seen in my life. Some of them are automatic, meaning you are not supposed to push them. Others are not, meaning you HAVE to push them if you want to go anywhere. That was kind of confusing.

One-room schoolhouses still exist in rural areas of the United States! I met three teachers (two from Montana and one from Wyoming) who teach at rural schools. There are about 12 students in the ENTIRE school, ranging from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Very cool!

I really miss spring flowers! There were tulips planted everywhere along Michigan Avenue. The ones that were starting to wilt were being replaced with pansies. It was beautiful.

The architecture of buildings in Downtown Chicago is breathtaking. I can't imagine not only designing, but actually building them. I thought watching an addition being built on my house was cool! I would have loved to spend more time in the city to see even more amazing buildings.

Chicago (at least the "Magnificent Mile") is the cleanest city I've ever been in. There were guys pressure-washing the sidewalk every single morning.

Indoor pool at the Marriott
Standing among tall, tall buildings makes you feel very small and insignificant.

There are pools on rooftops and inside buildings in the city. That just blows my mind.

Walking along the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River is very unnerving when a bus drives by - the whole bridge shakes.

Having a shuttle bus stop right next to a sewer grate is just not cool. ;b

Live Blues at Buddy Guy's Legends
I couldn't walk "down by the river" without thinking of Matt Foley, motivational speaker.

Although I am partial to 80's music, I discovered that live Blues music is actually quite enjoyable.

Even though I couldn't understand the language our cabbie was speaking (most likely Hindi), I'm pretty sure he was calling the other drivers "Dumb asses."

If you ever have dinner at Mike Ditka's Steak House, keep in mind that the restrooms are up a pretty high staircase. Not good after a glass or two of wine.

Walgreens Sushi
They sell sushi at Walgreens in Downtown Chicago. Tip: You might want to add Pepto Bismol to your basket as well!

Security at Midway Airport is an absolute nightmare. There were literally hundreds of people waiting and the TSA agents were in NO hurry to move them through.

Lots of men dye their hair prior to traveling (I observed this during my long wait in the security line).

Gino's Chicago-Style Pizza
Chicago-style pizza takes a long time to bake, but it is DELICIOUS! Now, I finally understand what is meant by "pizza pie." 

Whatever line I happen to get in - that WILL BE the slowest line. (This is true everywhere, not just at Midway Airport security).

Three people can take a limo to the airport for the cost of a cab! Nice (but it would have been nicer if it didn't reek of cigarette smoke).

At the end of the trip, I have to say that I enjoyed Chicago far more than I ever expected. I would love to bring my kids there someday. Rob has "been there, done that." Just a few days before I headed for the Windy City, I learned that my former Northern-Hemisphere World Champion  Windsurfer husband was given the "Key to the Windy City" back in the early 80s. I just love it when his memory fires up and I learn new things about him! 

If you have a chance to visit, ChicaGO for it! ;)

Leaving Chi-Town in Style
With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

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