Days: 406-407 (5 August 2015 – 6 August 2015)
Total distance travelled: 107,954.7 kilometres (67,052.58 miles)
Just as the sun rose high enough to illuminate the early August sky, we found ourselves again on the cusp of re-entering the United States.
All was going smoothly, but for the brief ordeal for an incredibly patient Officer Johnson, as he did his best to get the information he required from an Indian several places ahead in the line (whose English seemed to extend as far as “Yes” followed by a lot of head nods).
Eventually we were through, and found ourselves in the recently bankrupted city of Detroit.
We were simply passing through, but there were signs of life during our hour or so spent in the bus terminal (right in the heart of downtown) of this former centre for the automotive industry (admittedly, the life didn’t all look totally savoury).
The view through the bus window on the ride out of the city, reflected a little more of what we’d expected.
At first the neighbourhoods looked normal.
Then we began to notice the odd one (house) that had been torched from within, those missing windows and the extreme lack of people…
It was nice that we quickly left it behind.
Several hours later and we were in Chicago, a place that the previous day had us stressing mightily.
Our last Canadian morning had seen a brief period of panic, as our Airbnb room for the following day was suddenly cancelled on us!
Queue said panic, as we were forced to make a last minute, more expensive booking before we could again look forward to our arrival.
So now, here we were.
Our new pad was out in the burbs, but still readily accessible on the train line (in fact it was probably better located for our trip to the baseball in a days time), so that was our first stop.
Our bus had pulled into town a couple of hours late, so we’d lost the better part of the day, but there was still enough daylight for us to head back into the downtown area to check things out.
The afternoon and evening that followed was hot, so there was no need to race home anytime soon, so we settled on a little exploration, followed by a most Chicago of foods, a deep-pan pizza.
We wandered the ‘Magnificent Mile‘, an upscale section of Michigan Ave as well as took in the city skyline from both the river, and waterfront finally settling on a pizza venue nearby so we could take in the skyline once it lit up at night.
Only then, when already hungry, did we discover there was going to be close to an hour long wait for a table!
Still, we took ourselves further afield, found an alternative which we shared between us then called it a night (after first wandering back to the waterfront for those skyline views).
Another sunny morning greeted us, and after dawdling a little in the morning, we got ourselves into town, intent on embracing the artistic side of the city, after being advised that it was home to two incredibly good institutions.
The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Field Museum.
With the understanding that it was the larger, it was to the Art Institute of Chicago that we travelled first, where amusingly we discovered that you can even participate in a ‘Ferris Tour’ and take in the museums exhibits and location used in the cult classic, Ferris Buellers Day Off!
Perhaps regrettably, we simply made our own way around what was a pretty impressive museum.
We knew this place had some significant collections, including a vast array of works from Monet, Degas, Picasso and Van Gogh, as well as some notable and very recognisable American pieces too (namely American Gothic and Nighthawks).
We’re so far from being art nuts, but we absolutely loved it in here!
There were some quirky pieces as well, such as a large collection of miniature house scenes, and let’s not forget the worlds largest paper weight collection (the majority of these glass gems were of French origin).
One of the highlights (listed in the museum guide, but also for ourselves) was undoubtedly Marc Chagall’s American Windows, a sea of blue in which one could get lost…
We love the colours of stained glass at the best of time, but on those rare occasions that it’s not of religious significance, it’s something we savour even more!
Having condensed hours of wandering into a few brief sentences, we were by now a little hungry, and to satisfy that hunger, we returned to a location that we’d spied the previous night (whilst being stuffed with pizza), for something ridiculously indulgent.
A donut, ice-cream sandwich from Firecakes!
Having made further pigs of ourselves, we were all set to head out to one of the most iconic ballparks in the United States, Wrigley Field.
This is the country’s second oldest ballpark, is home to the infamous Chicago Cubs (sadly for their long suffering fans, they’ve not won the World Series in one hundred and eight years) and tonight, they were hosting our very own team, the San Francisco Giants!
With its ivy covered outfield walls, and shit hotdogs, it was everything we’d hoped and more, although despite it being a tight contest, our Giants were pipped 4-5 so it wasn’t all good…
The following morning was to be our last in Chicago, so we planned to drop our packs at the bus station, before filling our last hours at that other recommended gallery, the Field Museum.
It was to prove to our detriment that morning that we’d slept in a little after a late night at the ballgame, as this place was as equally impressive as the art institute.
Sadly for our sake, we’d only left ourselves a couple of hours in which to enjoy it, and it was to prove our biggest regret for the month…
As such, despite having a great time in Chicago, we left feeling like our time there was ultimately incomplete…
* Our Greyhound coach service from Toronto to Chicago (with a change in Detroit) cost us $60.00 CAN each for the overnight journey.
* We bought our tickets to the Cubs vs Giants at Wrigley Field via Stubhub well in advance for the cost of $20.00 US per person.
* Entrance into the impressive Art Institute of Chicago cost us $25.00 US each.
* Entrance into the Field Museum was $18.00 US per person, however we had to request the basic ticket as it is not advertised!