It wasn’t until right before I stepped on the airplane to Chicago that I realized it would have been smart to book an extra night there. Chicago is known as the birthplace of the skyscraper and has fantastic architecture. Architects such as Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe have left their marks on the city, making it all the more interesting. Old and new buildings are situated side by side and, interestingly, also compliment each other. I couldn’t get enough of it!
We were there for less than 24 hours, Chicago being the starting point of our train trip cross country, but managed to pack in a brisk before-breakfast walk (one thing jet-lag is good for!) to see as much of the downtown area as possible. If there had been time, I would have taken an architecture tour of the downtown area which also takes you into certain buildings you normally can’t get into.
The Cloud Gate or Bean is an awesome piece of art which is also extremely fun to experiment with while photographing.
Chicago is also known for it’s raging restaurant scene, another reason to spend more time there and try all the restaurants. We only had time for one (breakfast) and hopped into Rick Bayless’ “Xoco” where we sat at the bar window and watched the cars go by. The first bite into my Mexican style egg scramble brought back so many memories of my childhood and the flavors I grew up with. Flavors I create over and over in my cooking today. Ironically, the last meal I had before leaving the States, was a Rick Bayless “Fronterra Grill” three cheese sandwich with a tomatillo salsa at the O’Hare airport. I savored every last bite, committing the flavors to memory.
The city is on the shore of Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes and the only one entirely within the United States. Standing on the edge of the vast lake, it feels almost as if you are standing at the oceanfront.
The Chicago River runs through the downtown area and offers boat rides from which the buildings are easily seen.
One of the buildings one can go in is “The Rookery”. 12 stories high and completed in 1888 by John Wellborn Root and Daniel Burnham, it is considered to be the oldest standing high rise in the city. But what also drew me to it was the lobby which was remodeled in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Before we made our way to the train station, we stepped into one other building now a bank.
Chicago’s Union Station could be considered the gateway to the West as several direct trains, including the California Zephyr, heading in a westerly direction leave from this station. The Great Hall, including the grand staircases, was being renovated and there wasn’t much to see, but I was able to take a few photographs. And with that, we stepped onto the Zephyr and settled into our compartment for the two-day journey to California.