Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Chicago - Part 1

Our visit to DC was wrapping up, but luckily we had a few more days of vacation left. This was a sort of hybrid vacation, we split our week of vacation between DC and Chicago. So since we hadn’t spent enough time in the airport, we went back through the TSA lines and got ready to fly out of DC. We flew out of the Reagan National airport, then had a connecting flight in Detroit. By the time we finally landed in Chicago, we had hit a total of seven airports so far (Little Rock, Dallas, Denver, Washington Dulles, Washington National, Detroit, Chicago). Most of the added flights were due to a storm messing with our flights a few days before, but I figure it’s good practice for when we're on The Amazing Race.

We landed in Chicago, and then took the train into the city. It was right at rush hour, so I’m sure all of the other riders were delighted when they saw us try to maneuver our bags on and off the subway. But we made it in, and checked into the hotel. We got a good deal on a place downtown, just a block from Michigan Avenue. This was the view from the top.


The next morning we went and visited the massive Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute is the second largest art museum in the US, and one of the most visited art museums in the world. It is definitely worth seeing when you're in Chicago.


The Art Institute has works that span over 5,000 years of human art, and has over 260,000 pieces of art in its collection (if they need more photography, I'd be happy to sell them some).



An amazingly large amount of great art hangs on the walls here. There was a room filled with Monets, and this statue by Auguste Rodin (who also made The Thinker), which represents Eve after the Fall.


It's easy to get a little overwhelmed when visiting huge galleries like this, but it is always a neat feeling to walk into a room and then say, "oh look, that was painted by van Gogh." Or "oh huh, that's a Picasso." One of the Art Institute's most famous works is A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. It's a huge painting (7 feet by 10 feet), so it's not hard to miss.


We walked a few blocks to find a Garrett's Popcorn store, which is amazing and lives up to all the hype. We snacked on the popcorn in the plaza by the Federal Building, home to the large Flamingo statue by Alexander Calder.


No trip to Chicago would be complete without a visit to the Cloud Gate sculpture, and the huge Bean was reflecting the city and the pack of tourists surrounding it. My favorite detail about this picture are the seagulls perched happily on the top of the sculpture.



And the view from under the Bean, or if you want to use the fancy term - the omphalos of the sculpture. Here it looks like a kaleidoscope.


From there we walked a few blocks down Michigan Avenue to the bridge over the Chicago River.


A walk around this part of town is a good way to see the evolution of architecture here. Old, classic skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building sit right next to modern skyscrapers like the Trump Tower. Which is a neat looking building, except for the glaringly tacky sign that is unfortunately affixed to its side.


And then a few blocks down is the old Chicago Water Tower. The tower was built in 1869, and is one of the few buildings in the area to survive the great Chicago fire a few years later. Now the tower is dwarfed by the skyscapers around it, like the 100 story Hancock Tower.


More from the trip coming soon!

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