Chicago was a happy surprise. I had heard from several people who’d been there that it didn’t have much to offer, it was just a city. Of course there were museums, one containing the ever-controversial Sue the T-rex, but those all were pricey. I spent an ungodly amount of time trying to find a parking garage with a high enough allowance to let the Jeep and it’s on-roof luggage through, and which had its prices listed. All of them said something like $5 for the first 15 minutes! Or Early Bird Special! But none had their actual prices listed.
So I drove around and around and everyone seemed to be frowning. I figured, “Great, another one of those cities…” I finally settled in the first garage I initially saw after fighting the cab drivers ferociously. They all seemed to be angry old men waving their fists and cursing even though by far they were the ones causing the problems parking in the turning lanes and trying to pass people where they just were not legally allowed. I hadn’t seen drivers this bad since California…
I ended up walking to Millennium Park first. It was supposed to be a sculpture garden in the middle of the city, which is cool, but I wasn’t expecting much of it. The first thing I saw was two huge rectangles spewing water down their sides and women with their children lined up in bathing suits and swimming trunks to play in the massive water puddle the display created. The kids made swimming motions flopped on their bellies in the two inches of water and teenagers shoved each other in it to get their companions soaked. Everyone here was happy for the respite and I was suddenly joyous watching everyone too. The park also offered shade in many parks and there was a music festival going on so in every corner there was someone else playing something else. I was really enjoying myself here. It seems in every city I go to I find all that’s good in humanity within the artistic districts. Wherever there is art, there is hope.
From the Park I made my way down State street as I thought it was their main shopping road. I found a little Chicago gift shop. The place was absolutely tiny and packed with people. Someone accidentally broke a shot glass on the floor and everyone in the shop froze and looked up for an awkward 30 seconds. It was if everyone was expecting someone to come out with a tommy gun for killing a poor shot glass. Finally a guy came around with a broom and a pan and said it was OK. A woman broke the silence as well exclaiming, “Thank God it wasn’t one of our kids!”
I asked the people here where to get a good deep dish pizza and they told me that about a block away there was a place called Giordano’s. I was very hungry so I went up there. It was a nice little restaurant and had pizzas on its menu with the number of suggested people they could feed. The smallest, the ten inch, said it served one to two people. I thought this was a misestimation. Still when the pizza came out I was a bit shocked. I ate one piece and was STUFFED… however I paid $30 for this thing and its bad to be wasteful… I attempted a second slice, got halfway through and felt like I was going to ralph it back up. I couldn’t take anymore! So one and a half slices of pizza went uneaten. “Serves one to two people?! That is so not right! Should really say serves one to two Americans…”
After the pizza I took my bloated achy belly for yet another walk, this time ending up at a little artsy store called Arts and Artists. I asked the woman there were the actual main shopping street was and she was sweet enough to lead us to the window and point it out. So we walked across the bridge, took some pretty photos there, and entered a much different looking part of town. The buildings here were ornately decorated and absolutely beautiful. We ended up browsing through Utrecht, an art supply store I went into pretty much because of its business title which is a town in Holland. They had some really nice handmade papers and neat supplies. If only..
The next place I went into was a neat surprise. I walked into this place that said it was an art gallery but it was the size of a walk-in closet. A man was there saying this was just the entrance, that the rest of the gallery was on the fourth floor. He escorted me to the elevator and pushed 4. I were a bit nervous, having no idea what just happened really. I entered into one of the largest art galleries in the country. It was isolated from a mall that took up the rest of the building and it had some of the most exquisite art I could have possibly hoped for. There were blown glass flower shaped bowls for a good 15 grand. There were portraits, still lifes, scenery, and abstract paintings. I kept picking the same pieces until I absolutely fell for this one artist, who did not sign his or her work. There were maybe ten painting, all in black, orange, and a few other dull colors, which were swirled and allowed to drip like they were melting. It looked cosmic and absolutely amazing. These weren’t on the wall, carefully labeled with artist and price. These painting were stacked one against another on the floor leaning against the wall. They were unsigned and had no price tag. I had no idea how the most beautiful pieces could be treated in such a way. I wanted to know more but what did it matter? I knew I couldn’t afford it whatever it was… I asked the woman painting up at the top of the gallery about them but she was clueless and directed us towards sales. I don’t think she understood much English. Still I left that place feeling so peaceful and intellectually fulfilled.
I eventually walked back to the Jeep, by this time feeling sooo uncomfortable from the pizza and walking. I had walked so much I was feeling sore! As I got to the Jeep I hopped in only to realize I had to pay the ticket first at the little office before they’d let me out. This was only after I was unable to find an exit to the place and ended up on too high a level for the tall roof compartment. SCRATCH, I hit the ceiling. From here I had to drive the Jeep in reverse, hoping to god that no other cars would come by to screw up the process, until two levels down I found a two-way spot to exit! Finally! Always nice to start and end every city visit with something stupid and stressful…
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