Day 2. Chicago
Amtrak 440 Lake Shore Limited, Reserved Coach
Arrival 11:15 AM (1.5 hour delay)
3:00 AM Passing Cleveland
The Amtrak train from Boston ran, ran, ran… and arrived at Cleveland around 3:00 AM. The train was still whistling like an owl. Another 30 minutes break was given but at this time not many people got out. I went back to sleep as well.
6:00 AM Amtrak Coffee
The Sun has started to come up. Only then I realized the train had been running right beside Lake Erie for a while. It looked like an ocean to me, endless water stretching far toward the horizon. The dawn came with gray fog delivering dreamy and unrealistic scenery. I could not go back to sleep. Ate left over fried rice from the night before as a simple breakfast and drank $2.75 coffee from the dining car to kick off the day.
10:50 AM–>9:50 AM (!)
I was so very curious about when the time would change… you know, from eastern time to central time. I did some research and learned that it should be around La Porte, Indiana. Coming from South Korea with only one time zone, I have never experienced a time change on the ground so I got excited. I wanted to capture the moment of the time change. And then, I was drawing something on my sketchbook, Bam! the time was not 10:50 AM but 9:50 AM instead.
I felt like it was a good deal because I have earned an extra hour of my life. But then I realized that it is now two more hours of train ride instead of one. 😛
11:30 AM Arrival at Chicago
The train arrived at Chicago one and half hour late. Looking at the map, I was waiting Lake Michigan to be seen through the window but after passing White Sox baseball field, the train just glided into Chicago Union Station. I have heard that the station is beautiful but too bad it was under construction.
I bought 3 days public transportation pass ($20.00+$5.00 card deposit) that can be used both for buses and subways. After 30 minutes bus ride I checked in at Holiday Inn Express near Magnificent Mile. The hotel was compact, clean, and well equipped. I liked it because it had a refrigerator! (Is it only me who feel like hotels are getting rid of refrigerators recently?)
1:00 PM Navy Pier+Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Chicago is known to be THE ‘foody’ city. I had made a reservation for a 4:00 PM architecture tour so decided to go for a simple lunch. The first lunch should be symbolic, right? So I went for Chicago pizza, the deep dish pizza at Giordano’s Pizza at Navy Pier! This way I could enjoy both pizza and Navy Pier at once.
Navy Pier (built in 1916) used to be (until last year) the most visited spot in Chicago (now it is Millennium Park.) 9.3 million people visited Navy Pier in the year 2016. Built as ‘Municipal Pier’ for recreational purposes, it was used as a training site for the World War I soldiers and was named ‘Navy Pier’ to honor the men and women who fought for the country. Over the time “the facility has evolved into a premiere entertainment and exposition center”, according to their website. The view looking out to the horizontal line of Lake Michigan was magnificent.
We didn’t wait long to be seated outside at the restaurant (Giordano’s Pizza at Navy Pier.) However I was told that I must wait 45~60 minutes for deep dish pizza. Of course, I chose to wait! After drinking about 1.5 glasses of Diet Pepsi, I was blessed with deeeeeeep, stuffed, delicious CHICAGO deep dish pizza.
4:00 PM CAF Architecture Boat Tour
Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) offers architecture boat tour ($47.00, 1.5 hour) from spring to late summer. The ticket sells out fast, so I made an online reservation for 4:00 PM tour on the day before.
The boat went up and down the Chicago river and the docent told us interesting stories about the famous Chicago buildings. According to the excellent docent Ross, Chicago “goes nuts about architecture” and Chicago is like “Grand Canyon of architecture.” It surely seemed so! I could learn a lot about the past, present, and future of Chicago architecture.
7:05 PM Baseball game at Wrigley Field
After finishing the architecture tour, we went to the famous Wrigley Field to watch Chicago Cubs vs Arizona D-back baseball game. The subway was very convenient and the ballpark was surprisingly close to the subway station (Red line: Addison), only about one minute walk.
Everybody was wearing Cubs bluish something except us. The ball park (opened in 1914), second oldest in the US to Fenway Park in Boston, was truly unique with ivy trees climbing up the red brick fences. After over-eating Chicago deep dish pizza, it was impossible for me to go for a hot dog. Instead, I drank a can of beer and ate a small cup of ice cream to get one of those cute little blue souvenir cup with red ‘C.’
We sat near a big group of Javier Baez fans wildly shouting out his name. I also rooted for Cubs (despite being a Red Sox fan), but unfortunately Cubs lost to D-backs five to one.
*** Things I learned today ***
- The automatic doors between the cars on the Amtrak trains have ‘open’ buttons at the bottom too so you can kick open the door while carrying two cups of coffee from a dining car.
- Amtrak trains are often delayed, so no tight planning on the day of arrival.
- On a boat tour, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are must (on a sunny day.)
- At Wrigley Field, they don’t check your ID for beers unless you are under 35 (not like Fenway Park or Yankees Stadium where you get ID checked even if you are over 70!)
- The train whistles pretty much throughout the night, so it is better to sit as far from the front as possible (if you have a choice.)