Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2006-07

The Windy City is mighty pretty

I was woken by the alarm just after 7 in the morning after a deep and restful night's sleep. A look outside suggested that the weather was none too promising, but I didn't let it put me off. I had time to check for any e-mails prior to my room service breakfast of Eggs Benedict with apple juice and Earl Grey arriving promptly at 0800. It was absolutely delicious - a great way to set me up for the day ahead. By nine o'clock I was ready to hit the streets!

I soon realised that my usually dependable sense of direction had done a 180 degree flip. A short walk to the river soon had realisation dawning, but it was a bit a strange as I had to re-learn what I thought I had gathered the previous evening. Anyhow, I was soon on my way along the so-called Magnificent Mile of up-market shops and carefully manicured streetscape. I arrived at the historic Water Tower and nearby John Hancock Tower, and spent some time noseying around there.

Despite the heavily overcast conditions, I decided to go up to the observation deck of the John Hancock Tower. Being so early on a Sunday morning, it was commendably quiet. Although the view wasn't at its best, it was still very worthwhile and I was glad that I had decided to make the ascent. Only one gripe about the whole experience : "The John Hancock Tower - the world's most recognised building". What??? If they mean it in the sense of recognisable, the claim is laughably absurd; if they mean it in the sense of acknowledged, I'm not even sure what they're getting at. Sounds like a sound bite for our age

After that, I decided to stroll round towards Navy Pier. On impulse, I joined a 30-minute, so-called Skyline Cruise, which sailed out into the harbour to give better views of the downtown skyline. It was an enjoyable experience and a good way of getting a rest for half an hour, while still actually doing something. After that, I had a traditional fish and chips lunch at one of the open-air eateries on the pier.

Feeling reinvigorated, I then caught one of the little river taxis round to the Sears Tower. The journey itself proved to be one of the day's highlights.

At the Sears Tower, I had no hesitation in making the trip up to the Observation Deck, as conditions were now clearing up nicely.

I then strolled back to the hotel through The Loop, the central area named, I believe, after the closed loop made by the El tracks. (El = elevated railway, for the uninitiated ) I couldn't help noting that the atmosphere was very different from my last visit in 1991, when I had felt the need to be streetwise and alert at all times. Absolutely no question of that now - it looks as though Chicago is one of several major cities to clean up its act over the last decade or so. I also paid a short visit to the most impressive Millennium Park which, fairly obviously, was not around at the time of my last visit.

Well now, that might seem like a full programme, but the day was far from over. After a chance to rest and freshen up at the hotel, I was due to meet up with FlyerTalk friend Dale (who had run a triathlon while I was sightseeing ) and his partner Jim. We drove up along the lake shore to the attractive Andersonstown neighbourhood, where we had a most enjoyable dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant. Given that Dale had been up since 4am and had work to go to the next day, we didn't make a late night of it, but that was fine by me. Sincere thanks, guys, for your excellent hospitality

Sunday 27 Aug

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