I’ve come to Chicago. It’s the first time I’ve ever been here and while I knew this was a big city, I don’t think I have felt so entirely engulfed by a city before. As I came out of Northwestern station I couldn't help but just stand there for a second, neck craned back looking up at the soaring skyscrapers that stand as huge monuments to mankind.
The weather resembled England as the raindrops fell to the ground with little enthusiasm. People were scurrying all around me trying to avoid the feeble rain shower and to them, I must have seemed like a madman standing there just looking up.
Chicago makes Boston, and probably most other US cities, seem like a town. I pretty much walked all day, exploring the streets downtown area. As the weather cleared up and the sun broke through the clouds it was almost as if someone had turned up the color of the city! I walked along the river which was greener than any river I have ever seen in my life. The architecture around the city is phenomenal. Many of the buildings reminded me of buildings from Liverpool. I snapped 3 rolls of film in just my first day walking around!
Of course, having an accent is very useful if you know how to use it. I LOVE skyscrapers and I love to ride up to the top of them and look out of the windows. This is not something that is allowed in most sky-rise buildings, but I found that just turning on the accent works a treat in getting the receptionist to let you take a walk around!
My fascination with all things American also takes in their limos. Having ridden to the airport in one I am now thinking of hiring another stretch to take me to the airport when I leave. There are not as many limos in Chicago as Boston, but it didn't stop me from finding one and talking to the driver. "Go ahead sit in it," the driver said, and I needed no second invitation.
He was telling me about the famous people he'd driven then said "Hey, this guy I'm working for today won't be out for about another 20 minutes, do you want a ride around the block maybe?" So there I was, In Chicago, in a limo, being driven around quite a few blocks and given a sort of luxury express guided tour!
Like in the movies Chicago is loud. The roads are terrible and the overhead trains that run through the streets are really noisy. Add this to the buskers, cars honking one another, street preachers, cops with whistles, mad people shouting at people who aren't there, and, of course, the traffic, and you have one very noisy environment!
Wednesday was the day of the first game of the NBA finals. The Chicago Bulls were playing away from home, but the city was certainly flying the flag for their team. I managed to stumble upon a 'street party' promoting the 'Bulls Bash'. A hoop had been set up on the street and people were invited to take shots. I couldn't resist!
Crowds of excited Americans cheered and whooped everyone who took a turn shooting hoops. I missed both shots, but the crowd still cheered and whooped enthusiastically. I got interviewed on the radio and the presenter guy called me a new 'convert' as I'd seen my first Bulls game just days before. A TV crew was there too, but I doubt they used the footage of me rather badly messing up my chance 'shooting hoops.'
Yesterday I went up one of the tallest buildings on the planet; The Sears Tower. If you ever go to Chicago, you should definitely go up to the top of this unfathomably tall building, it is amazing. There would only be one better way to see Chicago, and that would be in a helicopter.
Tonight we're going to the drive-in movie theatre. I've never been to a drive-in before and I have been told this is somewhat of a dying thing here, so I am getting that in while I can! As for plans for the weekend, I'm hoping to head out to the city again to see the skyline by night. There's a free blues festival on and loads of little spin-off events that coincide with it too. Whatever happens, I'm sure I'll have fun. I'm loving this crazy concrete jungle and my chance to explore it.
Having grown up seeing these very streets on TV and movie screens, you have to understand that walking upon them is like walking in this world that has always seemed like make-believe to me. Here I walk among giants, great goliaths that make these streets seem so narrow. Every step is a story unfolding, an adventure to behold. This is America.