Gorgeous, quaint and bustling with life-that’s Chicago in a nutshell. But then again, that description does no justice to one of the most charming cities in the US. Well, it beats the hell out of LA on all counts and comes perilously close to NYC. Even though I have a bias for the Empire State City, I consider Chicago as its cleaner, greener and prettier cousin. If the beautiful brick houses on either side of the quiet, tree- lined roads don’t seduce you, then the food and culture definitely will.
Crossing over the Michigan, Chicago
Urban Holiday Lofts
2014 W. Wabansia Ave., Chicago, IL, 60647
In my quest to find accommodation in Chicago, I came across one of the few hostels in the city that offered a full room with an ensuite bathroom for me and my companion. Well, comfortable it was but not cheap for sure, especially when compared to the hostels in Europe. This one was pricey, no doubt at $395 for two nights.
Urban Holiday Lofts, Chicago
Was it worth it? I guess so. I’d pick convenience and comfort over roughing it out at a cheap place, anyday. Except for a couple of hitches, it was a very comfortable stay, especially the hostel’s location was very easily accessible. The hostel ‘s caretakers were all very friendly and helpful, despite my constantly troubling them for everything from adapters to directions to wake-up calls- very patient staff.
As soon as I got off the airplane, a kind Chicago-an was nice enough to give me a free piece of advice- “Take the CTA trains everywhere or you’ll be spending a fortune in cabs- and forget the buses… unless you don’t mind being stuck in traffic for most of your time here.”
The CTA train lines, Chicago.
And that’s exactly what I did. The CTA train network ( across the various colored lines) covers Chicago from north to south and east to west so thoroughly, that you’re not more than a ten minute walk from any station, anywhere! Armed with a map and some good recommendations from a few breakfast companions, I set off on a full day ticket that cost me just $10.
Highly recommended for those on a budget and for those who really want explore the city.
Okay so I’m not a big fan of tourist-y places but the Chicago Navy pier was on my to-do list as soon as I saw pictures of the Ferris when and the bay. The Millenium Park is another touristy but a must-do, nevertheless.
Navy Pier, Chicago
The famous Cloud Gate sculpture at Millennium Park, Chicago
A trip all the way up to the Hancock Observatory for a 360 degree view of the city and it’s world famous skyline. I’m not much of a museum person but for those interested, Chicogo offers a lot in terms of art and architecture. I picked the Field Museum of Natural History over the others.
Chicago’s signature deep dish pizza style is another name for cheese and tomato sauce awesomeness, in a crust that three inches taller than the ingredients. Slurp- worthy and absolutely unmissable.
Savouring some Chicago style deep dish awesomeness
The windy city is also known for it’s diverse, inventive restaurants and bars and infact, is one of the most historically relevant drinking cultures in the world. Al Capone, America’s renowned gangster in the Alcohol Prohibition Era in the 1920s, gave Chicago a reputation and a captivating history.
Today, various pub crawls in Chicago take you on a tour of the city’s famous ‘dive bars’, unraveling the fascinating world, one glass of bourbon at a time. Duck into any restaurant/bar at the upbeat and trendy Milwaukee Avenue for both/either.
Do visit some of Chicago’s famous dive bars
A stroll in one of Chicago’s many parks
Thanks to GAP, that flew me and friend to Chicago for the Lollapalooza music festival, I’ve fallen in love and how. The waterside cafes, the quaint little bridges across the little back channels of the Michigan, the parks, the people, make Chicago an unforgettable experience – It’s best summed up as old-world charm and urban appeal, all rolled into one fascinating city.