[Amtrak trip] 24h in New Orleans (2)

 9:00 AM Plantations Tour

After eating surprisingly good free breakfast (with warm sausages, egg scrambles, grits etc.) at the Drury Inn, I went for a tour to a couple of plantations in Louisiana. There are several plantation tours offered by tour companies. I made a reservation the day before to go for Gray Line (one of the biggest tour companies it seemed) Double Plantation tour ($88.) You could choose two plantations among three on the list (Laura, Whitney, and Oak Alley.) I googled some pictures and basic info, and picked Laura and Oak Alley plantations. The tour was from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM and the pick-up area was near the French Quarter, right beside the Mississippi pier.

The big coach bus was about 2/3 filled with tourists. 1.5 hour bus ride itself to the plantation was quite fun. The New Orleans native bus driver (interestingly without the accent though) was also a very good tour guide, telling us various interesting stories about New Orleans with his headset microphone (something like that New Orleans people call an avocado ‘alligator pear.’) The view of Mississippi river, the second longest river in the world after Nile (according to the driver, fourth longest river according to Wikipedia,) through the bus window was stunning.

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Mississippi River from the tour bus to the plantations

The first stop was Laura plantation. About 10 minutes after the bus dropping us off, the tour guide walked us through the plantation. Laura plantation is a typical creole sugar plantation that was happened to be run by women most of the time. I had been confused about the word ‘creole’ that was being used everywhere in New Orleans, from food to housing, and the guide finally made it clear for me. The term means people who are ‘French speaking (doesn’t need to be a French), Louisiana born (regardless of ethnicity), and Catholic.’

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Laura plantation

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Laura plantation

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A pot that was used to purify sugar in Laura Plantation

After about 1.5 hours at Laura plantation, the bus drivers picked us up again and headed to the next plantation, Oak Alley (15 mins drive.) Oak Alley plantation is one of those very photogenic spots that make you shout out ‘OMG, I must go there!’ The real thing was no less than the pictures in the internet. Big oak tree branches were making a beautiful entranceway to the front door of the main building.

There was a restaurant in one of the buildings inside the plantation complex, so I had a quick lunch there. They served mostly traditional Louisiana meals in a cozy atmosphere.  We had chicken+smoked sausage gumbo ($9.95) and fried oyster poboy royale ($14.95.)

After the lunch, the tour guide of the plantation walked us through the main house. Contrast to the beautiful scenery, we of course learned about the painful history of slavery embedded in the plantation. It was also a little bit sad to learn that the family who owned this beautiful plantation couldn’t hold it for more than two generations due to mis-judgement on some investments.

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Oak Alley plantation

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Oak Alley plantation

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Lunch at Oak Alley. (top) Poboy and (bottom) Gumbo

5:00 PM Dinner at Pier 424 Seafood Market

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(top) Boiled jumbo shrimp and (bottom) alligator fries at Pier 424 Fish Market

After coming back to New Orleans by the same bus, it was a time for an early dinner. The day before, I reserved the famous Natchez steamboat cruise ($48, without dinner) that goes up and down the Mississippi River and the boat was to leave at 7:00 PM. There was an option to eat dinner on the boat ($83, including the cruise) but eating something on the boat wasn’t my thing, so I went for a dinner before the cruise. There were still several things left on my list of ‘ten things I must eat in New Orleans’ and I was to leave the day after, so I felt like I should hurry.

I went to Pier 424 Seafood Market for the dinner because they had boiled crawfish on the menu. However, I was disappointedly told it was not the season. I tried boiled jumbo shrimp with potatoes and corns (MP, around $30 I think I paid) and fried alligator ($12, tasted like chicken)  instead. Big dishes of fresh seafoods were satisfying enough.

7:00 PM Natchez Steamboat

After the dinner, I finally headed for the cruise, the famous steamboat that had been hosting various people since 1823. The current boat is the ninth generation of Natchez, cruising since 1975. The jazz band was already playing on the boat. The vibe was lively while the boat cruised into the sunset. My last night of New Orleans was passing with the tune of jazz and the sound of the steamboat foghorn.

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Natchez steamboat (panorama)

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Natchez steamboat (panorama)

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Jazz at Natchez steamboat

9:30 PM Jazz at Musical Legends Park

The boat brought us back to the land at around 9:00 PM. For the last sprinkle of New Orleans, I headed to the casual outdoor jazz bar in the middle of French Quarter. Cafe Beignet at Bourbon St. was located in the Musical Legends Park. The tiny park is famous for the three statues of jazz legends standing near the gate (Al “Jumbo” Hirt, Antoine “Fats” Domino, and Pete Fountain.) And of course, there was a live jazz being played in the middle of the courtyard. The wind was still warm as the sound of live jazz danced through the night air.

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Musical Legends Park

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Jazz at Musical Legends Park

***Amtrak trip: Full List***

[Amtrak trip] 24h in New Orleans (1)

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Be nice or leave! Motto of New Orleans

 

10:30 AM The oldest tram in the world

I started the second day in New Orleans quite late. It seemed it was the way everybody was doing it in New Orleans. After taking a good rest, I went for a lunch at Carrollton Market in the west side of the city (Carrollton) beside the Mississippi river.

It was about 4.7 miles from my hotel. I decided to try the historic New Orleans tram #12, oldest streetcar in the world! I could buy the ticket very easily with the smartphone app ‘RTA Go Mobile.’ One day unlimited ride ticket (Jazzy pass) was $3.00.

The tram was made with wood and rattled as it went slowly. There was no window glass on the driver’s seat so the driver could announce whatever he/she wants (like “take the next tram!”) by shouting it out loud to the streets. The tram took the historic St. Charles Ave, which was filled with beautiful/huge houses and large trees.

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The oldest streetcar in the world

12:00 Lunch at Carrollton Market

Carrollton Market was reported in Forbes magazine as one of the four restaurants that you shouldn’t miss today in New Orleans. And the owner/chef Jason Goodenough had been named the chef of the year by New Orleans Magazine last year. The food was very elegant and interior was cozy. I had Oyster Goodenough French Omelet ($17) that was very unique and rich in taste.

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Carrollton Market

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Oyster Goodenough French Omelette at Carrollton Market

2:00 PM Waking around Magazine Streets

Magazine Streets are 6 miles stretching streets in the west side of New Orleans filled with local shops. The streets are abundant of vintage shops, antiques, and various local products. I was not planning for shopping but ended up buying a leather pencil case at Box Paper Scissor (beautiful stationery shop) and two vinyls (SP) of Quincy Jones and George Harrison at Peach’s Record.

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Kaweco fountain pens at Box Paper Scissor

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Peach’s Record

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Very very interesting coloring book at Peach’s Record

4:00 PM Cocktail time

We took the tram again to come back to the French Quarter. It was now sizzling and impossible to stay outside for too long. So like everybody else in New Orleans, we went for cocktails. At first, we just grabbed any seat at the bar Famous Door that was playing live music (something like Irish country songs…?) and drank a big cup of Hurricane cocktail that so many people were drinking (rum+passion fruit juice.)

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Famous Door at Bourbon Street

It was a bit early for a dinner and too hot to walk around, so I decided to go for… another cocktail, thinking it must have been weather that made New Orleans a birthplace of cocktail. My next stop was Carousel Bar at Monteleone Hotel. The bar is the only rotating (yes, spinning slowly like a carousel) bar in New Orleans and according to its website it had been spinning for 65 years now! I had Vieux Carre ($12.00), signature cocktail created in 1938 (Rey Whiskey+Sweet Vermouth+etc.) which was strong enough for a hot summer day

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Vieux Carre cocktail at Carousel Bar (minions not included :-P)

7:00 PM Seafood Dinner at Felix

I had this list of ’10 things that you must eat in New Orleans,’ from USA tourism site and felt like I was running out of time to eat them all in three days. So to check out several menus at once, I went to Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar. It was very casual restaurant that served New Orleans style seafoods. We had half shell oysters, char-grilled oysters, Crawfish Etouffee, and Jambalaya. The waitress recommended seasonal local draft beer which was watermelon (!) beer. It was perfect for the weather and the food.

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Char grilled Oysters at Felix

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The list of ‘ten things I must eat’ in New Orleans

After the dinner, it was cooler than before so we walked to the next spot, Frenchmen St. On a way, I encountered a wonderful shop (Magnolia Sugar & Spice Praline Kitchen & Hot Sauce Bar) that had hundreds (or thousands) kinds of hot sauce. They even had hot sauce tasting bar (“Taste at your own rick”) to feel the different tastes of hot sauces. I couldn’t resist but to buy one Louisiana ‘original’ hot sauce, although for me it was almost impossible to tell the difference among various kinds.

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Magnolia Sugar & Spice Praline Kitchen & Hot Sauce Bar

 

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Hot sauce tasting

 

9:00 PM Jazz time

The main street for New Orleans jazz is Frenchmen St, about 15~20 mins walk from the crazy Bourbon St.  According to the website, Frenchmen St. is “the capital of live music in New Orleans. With 20+ bars, venues, and restaurants all within a 2 block area, each hosting various live music events 7 days a week.” So how could I skip it?

The first jazz bar we hopped into was the Maison where the band, Smoking Time Jazz Club, was playing. We sat at the bar and nobody asked for a cover charge. (Later I found out the show is all free unless otherwise specified.) The show was great and so jazzy, quite different from something like $50.00 cover charged live in New York.

After the show and a glass of local IPA, we headed to another jazz bar nearby, the Spotted Cat. This time we had to pay $10.00 entrance fee but the didn’t have to order anything. We were standing in the crowd so it was not easy to drink anyway. The night was turning deeper and so was the music. It was getting warmer from heat of the crowd, but nobody seemed to care and nor did I.

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The Mason

 

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The Spotted Cat

 

[Amtrak trip] Chicago to New Orleans

Day 5. From Chicago to New Orleans

Chicago–>New Orleans
Amtrak 59 <City of New Orleans>, Reserved Coach
Departure 8:05 PM
Arrival 3:47 PM (next day)

8:05 PM Departure from Chicago

The daily train from Chicago to New Orleans, ‘The City of New Orleans’ started around 8:00 PM, just in time to enjoy the sunset of Chicago from the departing train. I remembered the docent from Chicago architecture boat tour telling us the quote from Mark Twain. “She is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.” Indeed, I shall come back one day.

The train slipped quietly through the night. It was to pass Champaign-Urbana, Carbondale, Memphis, Jackson, and arrive at its final station New Orleans after about 19 hours (934 miles.) I fell asleep as soon as it left and woke up around at 5:30 AM near Memphis. The crew announced that it was ‘designated smoking stop,’ and so many cigarette lovers jumped off excitedly. I realized the train was running about one hour early, meaning that it needed to wait for passengers for about an hour. I had more than enough time to get off and to stretch myself. After Memphis, I couldn’t go back to sleep.

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Stopping at Memphis

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Observation car in ‘City of New Orleans.’ Later this car turned into a party car.

The Amtrak train from Chicago to New Orleans was a little bit different from the train from Boston to Chicago. The biggest difference was that it had an observation car, where the chairs were installed sideways to look at sceneries through the large windows. It was the next car from my seat, so I went to take a look around 8:30 AM. Then I found out that there was a whole different world being unfolded in observation car. It was not an observation car, it was a PARTY car! People were laughing, talking, singing, playing cards and it was so loud and joyful. Someone even was playing wild music with a Bluetooth speaker and one group was having bachelorette party. The city of New Orleans in the train already!

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Scenery going into New Orleans, Lake Maurepas
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Scenery going into New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain

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Scenery going into New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain

 

2:50 PM Arrival: New Orleans

The scenery outside was changing from coolness of Chicago to warm, hot, wet, swampy scenery of the South. The driver of the train must have been pumping the gas hard, because the train surprisingly arrived in New Orleans about one hour early (!) at 2:50 PM. I was shocked that New Orleans was a large city with high rises. How stupid I was to think that it would be a small city similar to Cambridge (MA)!

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The famous Mercedes Stadium near New Orleans Amtrak station

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Colorful New Orleans Amtrak Station

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Street near the hotel. “Jazz it up”

 

It was so hot and sunny in New Orleans. I walked about 15 minutes from the station to the hotel, Drury Inn & Suite. The lobby was really luxurious, and the check-in staff was very kind. She let us know that we get three free drinks (including beer, wine, or cocktail) and free food every day from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. I couldn’t believe my ears so asked back, “you mean it’s all free?” (Yes, it really was.)

4:00 PM Walking around French Quarter

It was the first day in New Orleans, so I decided to explore the most famous spot, French Quarter, about 20 minutes’ walk from the hotel. It was only 4:00 PM the streets were filled with partying people. The live music was being played in every corner and everywhere you turn, there were street performers playing jazz.

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Park near French Quarter (Jackson Square)
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Colorful phone booth in French Quarter

Everybody walking the alleys were carrying some kind of cocktail in their hands. ‘You can drink outside, smoke inside’ has been the motto of New Orleans, I’ve read, and it seemed to be true. Nobody was covering their alcoholic drinks with brown bag and there were several cigar bars with signs ‘you can smoke inside.’ People used to really smoke inside the bars until several years ago, but it is now banned except designated cigar bars.

We headed for the first food of New Orleans,  the world-famous Beignet. The most famous spot for Beignet was Café du Monde. Luckily there was no line for the inside seats, so we just dived in and ordered iced Café au Lait ($5.00) and one dish of Beignet (3 pieces, $2.73.) According to Cafe du Monde’s website, Beignet is “a square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar.” Hot and crispy fried dough was covered with the finest powder of sugar and it tasted like heaven.

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The famous Beignet cafe <Cafe du Monde>

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Beignet with Cafe Au Lait

7:00 PM Dinner at Compere Lapin

After taking a walk for about an hour, we went to Compere Lapin (French for ‘brother rabbit’) for a dinner (about 10 mins walk from French Quarter.) It was a nice Creole restaurant serving local food. I had curried goat which was very unique and tasty. My travel companion drank the signature cocktail ‘Copper Bunny’ which was served in very heavy rabbit shaped copper cup that kept the cocktail cold for a long time.

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Copper Bunny cocktail at Compere Lapin

9:15 PM Jazz at Preservation Hall

We went back to French Quarter to watch the Jazz performance at the historic Preservation Hall. It felt weird to walk around with no cocktail at hands, so I bought the cocktail that seemed most popular among the crowd, Hand Grenade. Finally, I really felt like fitted to New Orleans.

According to Preservation Hall’s website, it has been operating since 1961. You can book for a seating ticket in advance for $35~50 dollars. We didn’t make a reservation so stood in line for walk-in ‘standing’ tickets ($20.00.) The show started at 9:15 PM and we went in with the crowd. It was not a bar, just a music hall, and we were allowed to bring our own drinks. The hall was very small and had the original decoration from 1960s (no air conditioning.) The 45 mins show (by a sextet) was truly great. Its finale was, of course, ‘the Saints.’ (no photo allowed)

It was already 10:30 PM at night but the air still felt very warm, or even hot. Nevertheless, I felt really festive. I bought a beads necklace that everybody was wearing for 50 cents to celebrate my first day in New Orleans and walked back to the hotel.

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Hand Grenade cocktail

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Lively street of French Quarter, New Orleans

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Oh-I-must-buy-this beads accessories

***Amtrak Trip 2018: the full list***

[amtrak trip] 24h in Chicago (3) + Chicago to NOLA

 

Day 4. 24h in Chicago (3) + Chicago to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA)
Check out: Holiday Inn Express Magnificent Mile
Chicago–>New Orleans
Amtrak 59 <City of New Orleans>, Reserved Coach
Departure 8:05 PM
Arrival 3:47 PM (next day)

11:00 AM Wright (3) Robie House+ Museum of Science and Industry 

I kept running into this really fun looking Pixar Exhibition (‘The Science Behind Pixar’, through Jan 6, 2019) posters while I was walking around the streets of Chicago. I love Pixar, so I made up my mind to visit the exhibition held at Museum of Science and Industry near Hyde Park. Of course, the museum itself is also historic. It was the main venue for the World’s Columbian Expo in 1893 which made Chicago world-famous.

Close to the museum was another famous architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House. The 11:15 AM tour was available, so I decided to visit Robie House first and then go to the museum. From my hotel near Magnificent Mile, it took about 40 mins by bus (#3 or #26) and another 10 mins of walk.

Robie House is a house that Wright built for the rich young entrepreneur (bicycle parts manufacturer,) Frederick Robie. It is now under construction and is open to public Thursday-Monday, only by guided tour. Robie House is a symbolic architecture showing Wright’s distinctive, so-very-American organic architecture. The guide explained to us that while ‘organic architecture’ has diverse meanings, the essence of it is that the architecture must integrate with the nature surrounding it. The style was developed as a resistance against fancy European-ish designs that were popular among mainstream Chicago architecture society in early 1900s.

Chicago is very flat city so the Robie House was also spread flat on the ground, looking like it was lying down relaxed. The particular style is called ‘Prairie Style,’ which later was developed into typical American houses: one that I saw all the time when I drove through a typical town, the houses with garages attached to the side. (According to the docent, Wright was perhaps one of the inventors of American style garage!)

After about an hour of guided tour, I had to walk fast toward the Museum of Science and Industry. Pixar exhibition ticket (you can purchase them with mobile phone) has a designated entrance time and it was 12:50 PM for me. It took about 15~20 mins walk from Robie House to the museum. As a lunch, I grabbed a quick sandwich (Italian Sub) from Medici on 57th (established in 1955!) on a way to the museum, which was delightfully delicious (and SPICY!)

Pixar Exhibition was very colorful and interactive. I could render and play around with the characters from Pixar animations and learned a lot about the production procedure. The museum is the second largest science museum in the world, huge and full of interesting scientific stuffs. Kids were excitedly jumping up and down everywhere. I wished I could stay longer, but it was sadly the last day in Chicago and I still had places to visit so left the museum at around 2:00 PM.

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Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

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Births of Woody and Buzz!

2:30 PM Art Institute of Chicago

After leaving the museum, I took another bus (#6) and headed to the Art Institute of Chicago. Since I started to learn drawing last June, I had become a big fan of Georges Seurat. I had been copying his charcoal drawings and became to admire the sensitive (almost paranoid) touch of his hand.

Art Institute is the home of Seurat’s most famous painting ‘A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.’ As soon as I entered the museum, I ran to see the painting on the second floor.

Other than Seurat’s painting, there were so many notable paintings in the museum, Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’ and Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Old Guitarist’ to name a couple. One could spend a whole day at the museum but I had to leave at around 5:00 PM because I had a train to catch and… a hotdog to eat!

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Seurat’s <A Sunday on La Grande Jatte>, room 240 at Art Institute of Chicago

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Edward Hopper <Nighthawks>

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Picasso <Old Guitarist>

6:00 PM Hot dog

Before getting the luggage back from the hotel, I headed to the hot dog chain restaurant near the hotel, Portillo’s. Chicago hot dogs are known to be so special and delicious. If I didn’t eat Chicago hot dog, I would be so miserable.

As I was dashing into the restaurant I was shocked by its huge size! It was like ten times bigger than an ordinary McDonalds! I ordered Jumbo Hot Dog ($3.55) with EVERYTHING on it. According to its website, ‘everything’ includes “mustard, relish, celery salt, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle, and sport peppers piled onto a steamed poppy seed bun.”

We celebrated our last meal in Chicago with ice cold beer. The hot dog was so good and I had an urge to eat one more but decided not to because I had been eating too much. Oh, how stupid I was!

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Portillo’s, the biggest hot dog restaurant I’ve ever seen

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Portillo’s

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Jumbo Hot Dog with EVERYTHING on it

8:05 PM Chicago–>New Orleans

At around 7:30 PM, I hopped into the train to New Orleans. The name of the train is (really) ‘The City of New Orleans’ and it runs all the way from Chicago to New Orleans (19 hours of ride.) Before people were boarding, the staff handed out the papers with seating numbers. Not like the train from Boston to Chicago, we could not select seats of our preference.

There were other differences too, which seemed interesting to me such as… 1) There’s no free WiFi for Reserved Coach 2) There is separate observation room where the seats are facing outside 3) The train is double deck and reserved coach is on the second deck. (First deck seemed to be for luggage, bathroom, A/C room etc.) 4) The train’s older and shakier  than Lake Shore Express (Boston to Chicago) 5) So many people looked like they were going to a party, very excited! However, within about one hour from the departure, most of the people on the train fell asleep.

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Double decker train ‘The City of New Orleans’

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“So long Chicago,” sunset from the train

***The things I learned today***

  1. Not every Amtrak train is alike but there’s no place to check what the differences are
  2. The staff kindly covered the lights in the corridor so people could sleep better
  3. Computer programmers play humongous role in Pixar animation
  4. I had learned that many of American innovations come from a garage (like Steve Jobs+Wozniak.) Perhaps many garage innovators owe it to Frank Lloyd Wright?

[amtrak trip] 24h in Chicago (2)
[Amtrak trip] 24h in Chicago (1)
[Amtrak trip] Boston to Chicago

 

[amtrak trip] 24h in Chicago (2)

 Day 3. 24h in Chicago (2)
Holiday Inn Express Magnificent Mile

10:00 AM Willis Tower

The great way to kick off the second day in Chicago is of course, to go straight up to the iconic 110 stories high Willis Tower (the former Sears Tower.) Willis Tower used to be the tallest tower in the US until the One World Trade Center in NY was raised in 2014. The Skydeck ($24,) has four glass boxes (the ledge, it is called) sticking out from 1,353 feet (412 meters) above the ground. And it surely looked very scary from the street. Will I be able to step into a glass box that high above? I was to find out.

It was pretty early so the line was not too long. After waiting in the line for about ten minutes I hopped into an elevator. It took only one minute to go up. The view from the top was fabulous thanks to the clear weather.

After looking around the city through large glasses, I stood in one of the four lines to get into the ledge. After waiting in line for about 15 minutes, I could step into the glass box. I felt sharp vertigo for a second, but after that it was all fun taking Insta-perfect pictures for about a minute. (Nobody was controlling the time, but ‘one minute’ seemed like a norm except for some people who were going for something like whole photo catalog shooting :-P)

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minions at Skydeck, Willis Tower

11:30 AM Millennium Park

After coming down from the Willis Tower, I walked to the Millennium Park (about 20 mins,) the most visited place in Chicago last year. Rectangular twin fountains (Crown Fountain), huge + shiny bean-shaped sculpture (Cloud Gate), post-modern geometric outdoor stage (Jay Pritzker Pavillion) all made the park feel so… Chicago!

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Crown Fountain, Millennium Park

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Cloud Gate, Millennium Park

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Inside Cloud Gate, Millennium Park

12:30 PM Lunch at Cindy’s

Cindy’s restaurant is located right across the Millennium Park on the rooftop, and it has a balcony looking over the park. I had crunchy lettuces salad and Chicken sandwich which were fresh and delicious. After the lunch, I drank a cup of iced Matcha latte from the Fairground Coffee & Tea on the ground floor, looking at well-dressed dandy Chicago people passing by.

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Cindy’s

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Crunchy Lettuces at Cindy’s

2:00 PM Frank Lloyd Wright (1) Home and Studio

The afternoon was dedicated to one of the greatest architects of the US, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959.) Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin but moved to Chicago when he was twenty to find a job.

Our first stop was Home and Studio in Oak Park. From Millennium Park, it took about 30 minutes by convenient green line subway and another 15 minutes’ walk from the Oak Park station. The house offered one hour guided tour ($18.00.) The guide took us to detailed places inside and outside the house (and attached studio.)
A bonus: on the way to the house on Chicago Ave, there were several houses that were designed by Wright for his private clients which also looked very cool. How lucky are those who live in that house!

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Inside Wright’s Studio (attached to the house)

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Inside Wright’s Home

 4:00 PM Frank Lloyd Wright (2) Unity Temple

Frank Lloyd Wright’s first public building, Unity Temple, is about four blocks away from his House and Studio. Frank Lloyd Wright Trust who manages the place recommends visitors to stop by both buildings. The temple is still actively used by Unitarian congregation, it is open to general public only on certain dates + times ($18.00, $10.00 self-guided tour.)

The young lady guide told us the temple was built on a tight budget, and Wright eventually spent about twice as much money that the church had hoped for. Nevertheless, it looked amazingly beautiful to every detail. Wright was a believer of practicality, so the temple felt very ‘user friendly,’ not like some of those fancy but inconvenient architectures. It looked very private and exclusive from outside, but once you step inside the temple, the sunlights from the stained glasses filled the temple like a blessing connecting the space with nature outside.

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Unity Temple, outside

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Unity Temple, outside

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Unity Temple, inside

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Unity Temple, inside

6:30 PM Outside Concert at Millennium Park

We came back to the city by green line subway again. There was free orchestra concert at Millennium Park as a part of Millennium Park Summer Music Series. The seats were abundant because you were allowed to sit on chairs, grass, stairs… anywhere you could sit (and of course you can keep standing as well.) People brought ice boxes, folding chairs, tents etc. I sat on one of the stairs and enjoyed Liszt and Sibelius while practicing drawing on my tiny sketchbook. Never had I realized that a Sibelius symphony resonates so smoothly with summer breeze.

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Summer concert at Pritzker Pavillion, Millennial Park

8:00 PM Dinner at Gibson’s Steak and Bar

After 1.5 hour music break at the park, we took a red line subway heading to Gibson’s Steak and Bar. One of my gourmet friends told me that Chicago is the best place to eat steaks because it features the freshest beef in the US. And I must say that absolute is true! I almost cried while eating the steak (Chicago Cut) simply because it was soooooooo delicious. I usually cannot finish the American steak because it is too large for me, but this time I didn’t leave any small piece behind because I knew I will regret it for rest of my life if I did.

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Chicago Cut at Gibson’s

***What I learned today***

  1. The ledge (glass boxes) can get pulled in for maintenance.
  2. It is good idea to visit Willis Tower early in the morning. I waited only about 10 minutes to go up to the Skydeck, but when I came back down after about an hour, there was a long line formed for riding an elevator up.
  3. Chicago is very flat city.
  4. When I did some reading about Frank Lloyd Wright there were so many materials about his famous love affair(s), the murder of his mistress etc. but nobody  seemed to ‘officially’ talk about that kind of personal stuff inside his architecture.
  5. Wright hated attics and basements.
  6. Wright had six children and most of them followed the career path of their daddy.
  7. Wright was a good piano player.