Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chicago - The Windy City

Chicago, also known as The Windy City. It didn't get that name for its literal meaning, but more for its politics.. But it is still rather windy given that it's surrounded by Lake Michigan.

Business trip to Chicago for 2 weeks (USA again, 3rd in 3 months!) which gave me the opportunity to explore this beautiful city!

1st stop upon arrival, Navy Pier. Didn't have much time to explore elsewhere so Navy Pier was the closest (like 10min walk from the hotel).

The weather was great on the day we arrived, sunny and not too cold, windy but not overly chilly. Navy Pier was crowded with kids, adults, tourists, basically people!

Where am I?

It was a nice walk along the pier from the beginning till the very tip. And you get a great view of the Lake from the tip!

At Navy Pier

The day got dark pretty early, around 6pm so that pretty much sums up my 1st day. Dealing with jet lag, tiredness and stuff.. Getting ready for work the next day.

Did you know that a gigantic statue of Marilyn Monroe is stationed at Pioneer Court in Chicago?? For whatever reason, she's there, for a limited period of time! So of course, you HAVE to take a picture with her!

Marilyn Monroe and Her Granny Panties

Me with Marilyn

The weekend was really the time to wander around and explore Chicago! And with the fantastic weather (sunny, warm), it made it all the more enjoyable! I must say Chicago is nice! I explored the night scenery of Chicago on the Friday night (the pictures and post will be uploaded in another entry specifically on Night and Day).

Woke up bright and rather early, and went for a walk to the Oak Street Beach and North Shore Beach!

Oak Street Beach

It's a really nice beach and a good feeling to have a beach right at the fringe of the city itself! Lots of joggers/runners running along the Lake Shore Drive, and with the good weather, I was tempted to follow them as well!! But well, sightseeing comes 1st!

The Oak Street Beach is pretty near Magnificent Mile (shopping district of Chicago city center), about 5mins walk from the Water Tower Visitor Center or 15-20mins from Marilyn Monroe (which is by the river).

From the beach, you get a nice view of the Chicago skyscrapers

After a long walk (maybe 30mins or so), it was time to move on and scale one of the tallest building - Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower). It was built to house all of Sears employees, but as years go by, an Insurance company - Willis Insurance came to occupy most of the building and got the rights to rename the building! It stands at 110 storeys and 1,729 feet tall!

Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower)

Without a fast pass/online purchase/Chicago pass, you'll have to wait in line to buy your tickets. It took me 90mins from start of Q to end of the entire visit.

Before you get to the elevator that takes you up at 18m/hr, you'll have to sit in a theater for a 5min history lesson about the Tower.

Then the fun part comes when you're transported up to the top, with comparison of different tall buildings around the world being shown on the TV screen in the elevator.

I'm the No 2,598,787th visitor!!!

Finally on top! You get a panaromic view of Chicago skyline!!

Then the most important part of the observatory - The Skydeck! 3 protruding balconies that are transparent and you will be literally standing in open space, except you're in a glass deck!! It's pretty cool!

Sitting on the sky dec!! Cool!

My shoes 'floating'

After spending almost the entire mid morning, time for some R&R and take in the greenery! Before the Milennium Park, I took a ride on the Loop, which circles the Financial District area (I got a 1-day pass for $5.75 so had unlimited bus/train rides).

The Park was crowded cos it was a beautiful day! Day time looked entirely different from night time! Night time was quiet and not many pple ard, good for photography. In the day the place is crowded with people! But gets a different vibe.

Interesting sculptures in Milennium Park

The Cloud Gate was crowded with people taking photos of their reflections, different poses. It was fun! The Cloud Gate is basically a dome-shaped silver reflective surface structure in the Park. It reflects all the scenery around the park (almost all) and it looks really cool!

The Jay Pritzker Museum didn't look as cool during the day as compared to night time due to the different lightings.

It was a nice stroll along Lake Shore Drive all the way down to the Museum Campus. Not too long or strenous a walk, maybe about 20-30min depending on your pace and speed. The scenery is FAB too!

You get a really good view of the Lake Michigan.

There's a Shedd Aquarium and some observatory in the Museum Campus.

Tempted by the joggers/runners, I decided to take a break back to the hotel, get changed and went for a run by myself along the beach!! I had a really good 1hr run along the lake..Cool air so you don't really feel sweaty and stuffy, and you might even think 'hey i don't think i'm getting a work out'. But once you stopped, it kicks in.

As it was a Sat night, and it's kinda like the season (Halloween or whatever), they have weekly fireworks every Sat night till end of Oct. So hey, free fireworks on show, why miss it! So at 830pm, i headed of to Navy Pier.

At 9pm, the sky burst with colours and fireworks were shooting out of a boat off land. It lasted for a good 15mins.

Video of fireworks

The next day (Sunday), I decided to do my own architectural tour on foot! They have this architectural cruise that takes you along the Chicago River and marvel at the magnificent buildings and towers but that cost you $38 for 90mins. So why spend the money when you can effectively walk along the river and look at the same buildings! SO I printed the photos and map from the cruise website and set off on my own!

It was yet another sunny and beautiful day, perfect for walking and admiring buildings and scenery.

Some of the notable buildings included below are Trump Tower, Wrigley Building, Opera House, Merchandise Mart, Chicago Mercantile Building, Carbide and Carbon building, Willis Tower, Chicago Tribune, CNBC building, Water Tower etc etc...

That's John Hancock Observatory at the back

In The Loop

Random interesting building

Merchandise Mart

Opera House

Bridge linking to Art Institure of Chicago

Carbide and Carbon Building

CNBC Building

Chicago Tribune

It was about a 2hour walk, again depending on your pace and speed but with a sunny weather, it's pleasant!

Then it was time for a tiny weeny bit of shopping!

Decided upon a vegetarian restaurant for the night (blog on food on a separate entry), and along the way, passed by a few private residences with cool halloween decorations.

Oh did I mention that I saw someone who looked freakishly like Andy Lau?? I didn't double check or anything but that person really looked like Andy.. I wonder if he has an apartment or something in Chicago...

Decided to go MP after work again and took some pretty cool shots!

That's me and Rob (Colleague) doing jumping shots while the camera was on..

All in all, a nice trip to Chicago.. The weather had been good when I need to be out and about, but it has started to get cold.... Burrrrghghghghgh...

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