So after we exhausted all that there was to do in Louisville, we decided to move on to something bigger and better. And what could be bigger and better than Chicago? The short answer – Nothing! It was a five hour drive across the state of Indiana with only cornfields and windmills to keep our attention. And for most of the drive all we could find on the radio was country music and evangelical talk shows. At least until we reached Illinois when the urban sounds of Hip Hop and Rock began to break through the prayer meetings and country jamborees.
Gradually the single lane rural highway we had been following all morning began to morph into an ever widening freeway that signaled our approach into a modern metropolis. I could see the skyscrapers rising in the distance, it was Chicago. Words can’t express what I was feeling inside, but that won’t keep me from trying. I was relieved (to be out of Gods country) and excited (to be in one of Americas greatest cities) and I was nervous and anxious and giddy, and hungry, hungry for a Chicago style deep dish pizza.
We parked our rental car in a garage downtown. I would like to say that I was just as uneasy as Cameron Frye was in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but I wasn’t. The garage was quite nice and nobody was going to take our Dae Woo for a joyride. In fact it wasn’t even that kind of a garage. We had a ticket and kept our keys. But how could I write about Chicago and not mention this epic film.
It was about 10am when we began our tour of the city. We were right near “the bean” this great big giant metallic looking spaceship that seemed to be a major hit with tourists. We took pictures of ourselves in its reflective surface which came out amazingly well. After taking photos with the bean we wandered aimlessly through the streets of Chicago marveling at the architecture of the century old buildings. I was most impressed with the statues and carvings that portrayed the cities history.
Mike took us to the Billy Goat bar for some beers. It was a shame I didn’t get to try one of their infamous “cheezborgers” made popular by Jon Belushi in the Saturday Night Live skit. But that’s okay because we had bigger food cravings to tackle. A deep dish pizza was waiting with my name on it. The only question was; from which one of Chicago’s many famous pizzerias would I claim my prize? We ended up settling on Pizzeria UNO for a deep dish pizza with everything on it anlong with a nice bottle of Gabbiano Chianti.
Okay seriously it was the best damn thing I ever put in my mouth. Even the leftovers which we ate a day or two later back in Louisville were amazing and possibly even better than when it was fresh out of the oven. Someday I will be returning to Chicago!
After lunch we continued to see the sights of the city. We met up with my friend Yvonne who was living in Chicago. She took us to the the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center. The view was amazing but you could feel the building swaying in the wind which gave me an uneasy feeling. Once safely back on solid ground we continued our tour of the city with a stop at the Chicago Tribune building. Since we were on a student journalism conference paid for by the school, it made the whole side trip to Chicago feel a little more justified.
At about 5pm we picked up the car and attempted to find our way out of the city. We got a tiny bit lost and found ourselves on the South Side and in a neighborhood where all the signs were in Spanish. “Yeah, we’re in the Puerto Rican ghetto!” We eventually found our way out and back across Indiana. That pretty much concludes my day in Chicago. The long drive to and from the city was well worth the seven hour tour in which we got to experience it. One of these days I will be back for a prolonged and in depth visit to Chicago.
Do you love Chicago as much as I do? What is your favorite city in the world?