Day 4 – Chicago

We didn’t get much sleep on the train. It was uncomfortable on the tiny bunks and the space between them and the door could not have been much more than a foot, making for an interesting contortionist effort to climb in. The constant movement and the sound of the train’s horn every few minites, as it approached a level crossing, made it impossible to relax. The best stretch of sleep was for an hour and a half before waking with a start shouting “STOP” – I had been dreaming the train was about the crash and Rachel wasn’t too pleased to be awoken in such a manner! That was it – we didn’t sleep again and decided to get up. It was about 6am.

Food was being served in the restaurant car so we got breakfast. I didn’t mention in our previous blog that the restaurant had ‘community seating’, meaning you didn’t get a table to yourself but shared with whoever you were put with by the attendent. This turned out to be great because we met and chatted to some very nice people. At dinner last night we had a laugh with a couple of people. The first a 22 year old girl who was doing a month long round trip across the States, visiting friends and seeing the country. She was delightful – a typical (in my mind) wholesome American with family values. The other was a middle aged lady who had been on a work’s conference and was heading home.


This morning we met Jim and Candis, who were returning to Salt Lake City after a work’s conference for Candis. Jim had been tagging along. They told us they had moved to Utah about 9 years ago after living and working in LA most of their lives. Over breakfast we discussed our families, work, our holiday and the American health system as they helped a charity, which has a children’s hospital in Utah providing kids with free treatment, which they would not otherwise get from the State. Jim was a physisist working in hosptials on something to do with radiation. As we got up to leave Candis gave us their phone number and email address and said that we should contact them if we came unstuck in Utah and needed help.

We arrived in Chicago’s Union Station at about 9:30am and took a taxi to the Essex Hotel on Mitchigan Ave. This hotel was not as plush as the one in Washington but was friendly and comfortable. We booked the hop on – hop off tour bus and the architectural water tour as soon as we arrived in the hotel and headed out immediately for the bus. We spent a couple of hours touring the city and were amazed by what we saw. We had loved Washington but this was something else! The buildings were stunning: impossibly high, seemingly brand new and extremely interesting architecturaly. The Chicago skyline is every bit as stunning as New York and, in some ways, even more impressive. We really enjoyed the boat tour and learned a lot about the thinking behind the Architecture. The reason Chicago looks so shiny and new is that it actually is quite new. Most of the city was burned down in the 1870’s and had to be rebuilt. So there are very few buidlings predating this but Chicago is now blessed with the most stunning architecture.

Here are one or two photos to illustrate this:

The Bean is one of the most recognisable attractions in Chicago. Someone said it is the equivalent of France’s Eiffel Tower – if you see it you know it’s Chicago.


In the evening we went to a great Blues club and restaurant called Buddy Guy’s Legends. He’s famous in the world of Blues and he made a guest appearance during the show, sang and told a few jokes. The regulars loved it and the music went on until about 2am, although we left about 11pm to get some much needed sleep, ready for another hectic day.

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