The Clein Times

5 days in Chicago, The long version

We arrived in Chicago at 8:30am after a long overnight flight from Fairbanks, AK (luckily we had enough frequent flyer miles for 3 free tickets). We jumped on a train from the airport and rode for about 40 minutes to the downtown area (total cost $5, as the boys were free). We got off (at the stop our airBnB hosts recommended) and found a great place for the boys to blow off some steam. Our airBnB hosts recommended we take a taxi to their condo, but since I had looked up the address in Google Maps and noticed it was only 1  mile away, we decided to walk. We meandered our way toward the condo, venturing through Millennium Park, and finally arrived at the condo. Our host had left the key with the doorman, and he took us up to the condo. We were exhausted from the trip, so we decided to take a nap. Their condo was on the 31st floor and the views from all the windows were amazing. Those 2 lumps are the boys sleeping.DSC08782

Later that afternoon, we set off to explore the downtown area. We were intrigued by all the skyscrapers with all the varying architectural designs.DSC08699

The next day (Day 2), we decided to head to Navy Pier.  It was a touristy place, but we enjoyed walking around the little mall. We met a guy that had a small stall in which he was selling cards with all the letters from the alphabet. He told us that he was showing some of his photographs to his friends and they mentioned that many of them looked like letters (from the alphabet). So he decided to make it a business and starting looking for ‘things’ both man-made and in nature to photograph. This experience has inspired Eli to start noticing letters on our travels. He found this ‘A’ in Lima

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After eating lunch and wandering through the crystal garden which is a large indoor greenhouse with various plants and fountains,DSC08769

We headed to the 150-foot high Ferris wheel. It affords great views of Chicago as it takes 7 minutes for a full rotation.DSC08773

After a bit more wandering, and even though it looked like it was going to rain, we decided on a quadracycle ride

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All in all, this was a fun day.

On to Day 3

We  moved to a new airBnB place for the next 2 nights (since our first place was only available for 2 nights), and we got to check out another part of Chicago that was a bit farther from the downtown area. Our second host was just as friendly as the first, and after dropping off our packs, we head to the Sears (Willis) Tower to experience The Ledge.  As we were walking, we found a Trader Joe’s, and of course, we had to go in to taste the samples, drink some coffee, and most importantly, buy some Turkey Jerky. Trader Joe’s turkey jerky became a staple in our house during the year we lived in Portland OR. It was a long walk, but we finally arrived. DSC08788

Next, it was up the 103 floors to the top, by elevator, of course. There was a small informative exhibit  that could be explored while you where looking out the windows and waiting to walk out on the Ledge

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As we were heading back, we passed  the Federal Reserve Bank (Money Museum) and decided to check it out (the cost: free). We learned how to identify counterfeit money, a bit about inflation and got to see what 1 million dollars looks like. DSC08825

Continuing on our way, we passed a 5 Guys Restaurant (for those of you who aren’t familiar, check it out here)  and enjoyed a tasty dinner.

Day 4

After stocking up on some snacks, we headed to the Museum Campus, an area in which 3 museums are located  (Shedd Aquarium, Alder Planetarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History). We decided on the Alder Planetarium (there was a LONG line for the the aquarium). We enjoyed browsing the exhibits, but our favorite part was an Imax Movie we watched entitled ‘Space Junk.’

“Fifty years after launching our dreams into space, we’re left with a troubling legacy: thousands of pieces of obsolete debris are orbiting the Earth. Collisions with pieces of “space junk” are a real danger for astronauts and satellites in orbit. Space Junk 3D is a visually explosive journey of discovery that weighs the solutions aimed at restoring the orbital environment above our planet” taken from here.

After exploring the inside of the museum, we headed outside and made our way around the back and this is what we found.

This stone structure, called America’s Courtyard,  is composed of 60 stone blocks arranged to resemble a spiral galaxy. The structure was built by Brazilian artists Denise Milan and Ary Perez in 1998.

Our day ended with some deep dish pizza from the well-known Lou Malnati’s Pizzaria.

Day 5

This was our last day in Chicago, as we had a 9:30pm train to New York to catch. We decided to return to the Museum Campus and visit the Field Museum.  We enjoyed seeing the various animals and skeletons on display, and of course, the dinosaur, Sue.DSC08937

Before walking to the train station, we made one stop at 5 Guys for a last meal (and some extra food for the train).

All in all, we had a great time in Chicago. There is a good public transport system for getting around and taxis are also available. But, all the places we visited, we did so on foot. The only other place that we would have liked to visit, which would have entailed a taxi ride, is the Museum of Science and Technology. So, we will have to visit there on our next trip.

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