Flying into Chicago, a hub for the United States and their second busiest airport, was nothing short of amazing. Aircraft landed, taxied and/or took off like clockwork bringing to mind the term “Grand Central Station”. Just getting to the docking bridge in our aircraft took at least ten minutes and the whole visual expanse was something to experience.
On the edge of lake Michigan, on a flat landscape as far as the eye can see, impressive high rise buildings suddenly immerge out of nowhere as if competing for dominance in the sky. We were soon to learn that the title Chicago proudly held for the highest building in all of the United States, is now under threat with the birth of the replacement for the twin towers in New York. That aside, an architectural boat tour told a fascinating story of the essence of Chicago’s buildings history. The central city and business district is a monopoly of high rise buildings with an ecliptic mix of Art Deco, post modern and modern, all immaculately kept and telling their own personal stories, some of yester year and others of the here and now. If a mix of history and architecture is your thing then this tour is a must and can be linked to a bus trip as well to ensure nothing is missed.
Our hotel, whilst modern from the outside had been styled on the bygone era and you couldn’t help but be transported back in time as you made your way down the elegant hallway to your room. Half expecting to pass someone resembling the legendary Al Capone, we felt totally immersed in the 1920’s era of gangsters and flappers. Bars and restaurants where easily accessible and continued the theme with their love of Jazz and the Blues. We were continually impressed with the warmth and friendliness of the locals and not a night went by were we didn’t make a connection with someone that we truly hope will be enduring.
Chicago in November hosts a much cooler climate than what we were accustomed so the tip to bring mittens and our warmest jackets was much appreciated, thank you Tina (a friend who hails from Chicago). Fondly known as the “Windy City” Chicago lived up to its reputation and even on the sunny days a sharp, biting wind kept us on our toes. With autumn running a little late this year trees still clutched desperately to their changing foliage so the colours through the city were absolutely stunning. Our second to last day, to our awe and surprise, brought in the first snow for the season and a continued drop in temperatures. So, sitting here with a fabulous glass of Pinot Noir (actually from Marlborough) in the warmth of our hotel restaurant, writing this article seemed like the perfect end to the day.
Michigan Avenue hosts a fine array of the best of best in premium label stores from Channel, Hermes and Jimmy Choo to name but a few. The “Magnificent Mile” as it is fondly known, with its wide streets and ample pedestrian access, is a shopper’s paradise covering all the usual requirements and more. The history of this piece of retail real estate holds appeal for more than just shopping as even wedding parties stopped to pose for photos in the middle of the street. Adding an element of romance, horse and carriages for hire mingled with the usual big city hustle and bustle. However, when the snow set in this afternoon I had to fight the urge to throw a cover on each of my four legged friends as they patiently waited, heads bent to avoid the worst of it.
Only three days in the city saw us leaving with not everything accomplished but still with the thrill of being part of Chicago culture. Famous for Blues and Jazz, deep dish pizza, Mexican and Italian cuisine and of course a good collection of Irish pubs there’s something here for everyone.