I have always loved big cities, the feeling of becoming invisible in the crowd, following the flow of people. I don't think I would ever like to live in a big city, at least not for any great length of time, but I do enjoy visiting. It had been awhile since I got my last “big city” fix but that was taken care of last week...
For Spring Break this year, I joined nine other members of the Judson College Art Club for a road trip to Chicago. The ten of us, our Art professor Mr. Adams, and his wife all loaded up in one of the schools twelve passenger vans and headed for the Windy City. It was a tight, twelve hour drive ( fourteen including, stops for food and such.) with twelve people plus luggage in that van. I am convinced that twelve passenger vans just aren’t meant for twelve fullsized
humans and their stuff. Regardless of the lack of leg room, we made it to Chicago Monday night with everyone and everything we left Judson with that morning. Upon arrival at our hotel, we quickly unloaded, settled into our rooms ( they weren't much less crowded then the van - we had five people per room) and hit the streets to start our week's adventure with some dinner.
And an adventure it was.
We decided to make the most of our few days in Chicago and so we started with eating Indian food. A few members of the group, including the Adams', had eaten Indian before and had their favorite dishes, but most of us had no idea what was on the menu. Alabama doesn't have Indian cuisine on every corner. It was kind of late when we made it to the restaurant and they were about to close, so our dining decisions had to be made quickly. Despite the necessity of a quick dish selection, I rather enjoyed my meal - a little spicier then I am used to, but good.
Tuesday the fun was just beginning. We started our morning by walking the two or
so miles from our hotel to the Museum of Contemporary Art. We took our time getting there, taking in the scenery and doing a good job playing the role of tourists, taking pictures of the buildings and sites. One of my favorite parts was the river. The City of Chicago dyes the river green every year for St. Patrick's Day. Green is my favorite color, so this obviously impressed me. Once at the museum, I learned that contemporary art, or at least the art in the Museum of ContemporaryArt, did not impress me so much. It was still an interesting experience; I am just glad that it was a somewhat small museum.
Our next stop was lunch. We had met up with one of Mr. Adam's friends, who currently lives in Chicago, before we left the museum and he and his roommate took us to a nice Irish pub where we enjoyed some delicious Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The restaurant was located back close to our hotel, so instead of walking that far again we took our first ride of the trip on the subway. Some of the girls had never been on the subway before and were rather surprised when the train lurched forward, causing them to almost lose their balance.
We spent our afternoon at Navy Pier, one of Chicago's must sees. The pier includes a giant Ferris wheel from which passengers can view the city scape with a bird's eye view. We of course had to take a ride. The pier also has a few other attractions that are seasonal, and were therefore not open, shopping, and a stained glass museum. We left the pier in time for part of our group to make it to the theater to see the Blue Man Group and the rest of us headed to the hotel for a rest before dinner.
Once we had had our power break, a group of us took to wondering the streets in search of some picture perfect night skylines. It was a nice time to get to see the city in a different light. These nightly walks became almost routine and we most often found ourselves at a Walgreens at some point during the walk. There seemed to be one every few blocks and by this time at night, everything else was surprisingly closed. It was generally around nine o'clock and we expected the big city to be open late. I guess we were relying too much on the Hollywood portrayal of large city life. The Walgreens was nice though and often had souvenirs, t-shirts and such so that we were able to get some of our shopping done.
* ok, this blog is a little long, I know, but I don't want you to miss the experience. Check back in a few days for the second part of the trip.*