This was the first stop of my almost-a-month-long trip to the US last October, and I couldn’t be happier that I finally got a break after working so hard on my book. Both my parents have been to Chicago a few times already, and their photos of the place totally convinced me that I should check it out one day. Didn’t know I could cross it off my bucket list already. And so soon!
I went with my mom to meet up with my youngest brother Calel, who has been working in a hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming since June. He had the whole month off to do whatever he wanted and decided to spend it with us.
Before I left Manila, I told a few people that I was going to Chicago and spending a few days in the city. Their initial reactions were all like, “What’s to see there?” To be honest, before my parents told me stories about Chicago, I’ve only heard about Chicago the movie, Chicago Bulls, Oprah, and deep dish pizza. Little did I know that Chicago is considered to be the architectural capital of the US, and that it has such an interesting history behind it. As a kid, American history never really interested me as much as European history, but this whole trip suddenly made me want to geek out on books and movies set during 18th-19th century America.
Expect more pretty buildings in the second Chicago post! I went on an architectural boat tour and froze my butt off trying take photos on the boat deck while it was 3 degrees C, raining and very, very windy, lol. Oh, the things I am willing to do for good photos.
Headed straight to our red-eye flight to Chicago from the LA airport. I can’t remember how many hours it took for us in total to get to Chicago from Manila but I pretty much slept through most of it so I didn’t feel like it was a long trip (even if it was).
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in North Wabash which had rooms that were just the right size for two people. Then my brother arrived and it got super crowded. Eek.
The location is wonderful though! Starbucks and Trader Joe’s were only about a minute away. The Magnificent Mile was also only about 5 minutes away.
As soon as my mom and I arrived in Chicago, we took a shower, had breakfast, and did our best not to fall asleep. So we toured so many places to keep our minds off the jetlag!
Marina City building on your right!
Michigan Avenue Bridge or DuSable Bridge, a Chicago landmark named after Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Chicago’s first resident.
The four bridgehouses that supported the bridge had these sculptures on them. This one is called Defense by Henry Herring. It shows American Captain William Wells defending civilians from the Native American attack.
The first view (of many) of Chicago that took my breath away.
Wrigley Building details.
Somewhere near the park in front of the Wrigley Building was a large space that displayed these colorful sculptures.
John Milton quote on the wall.
Best place to go shopping in the city, though I didn’t buy a single thing for the whole duration of our Chicago leg. SO PROUD OF MYSELF!
I already did all my shopping in Tokyo before this so I didn’t really find the need to spend any more on clothes, shoes, etc. I did, however, buy something totally geeky when I went to New York. More on that soon!
Window shopping was fun though! This was the Burberry display. Those colors I can’t even
Oh hello, ridiculously convenient building where I can take a gratuitous photo of myself.
Always so dainty.
My favorite place! I would’ve splurged on all the pretty coats and sweaters if only we had winter back in Manila.
Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago.
Directly across the church is the John Hancock Center! My mom and I had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory on the ground level.
This building is currently the 4th tallest building in Chicago and the 7th tallest in the whole US.
On the top floor was an observatory where you can find a 360 degree view of the city.
So crisp and clean.
The other side of the city where there are less buildings. So unbelievably organized, this city plan.
In one of the exhibits in the observatory, they mentioned that besides the World’s First Exposition, Chicago is also known for a lot of famous “firsts” including the skyscraper, zipper, Twinkies, Cracker Jack, Ovaltine, Dove Bars, roller skates, ice cream sundaes, blood banks, successful heart surgery, and lie detector.
After the observatory, we walked to the Museum of Contemporary Art or MCA…
…because I love Alexander Calder’s work and wouldn’t mind if I lived in a room full of these glorious abstract shapes.
Another cool exhibition that I liked was Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection which only ran until the 10th of November so I was lucky I was able to catch it.
Even the cafeteria looks artsy!
Chicago artists Stan Shellabarger & Dutes Miller went to the museum to knit as part of their performance called “Pink Tube”.
Taken by mom early the next morning. I was wearing a coat that you will see in all of my US photo diaries. I’m so gross.
Halloween was right around the corner so there were giant spider decorations on some buildings around the city.
When the light hits the buildings, there’s magic.
A lucky shot of birds with the Jewelers Building in the background, and Wrigley Building on the right.
Lunch time at Giordano’s before meeting up with my mom’s college friend Tita Malou. She was planning to bring us to Giordano’s for dinner but I’m glad my mom and I already tried it for lunch. There’s no way I would be able to eat this much before sleeping!
It took about 40 minutes before our meal arrived but the wait was worth it! Deep dish pizza will be the death of me. I had two of these monsters considering I just had late breakfast. EAT ALL THE CHEESE!
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to meet up with my mom’s friend and her son who were kind enough to bring us around the city in their car!
First agenda was to take a good photo of the Chicago Skyline. Thank God my balat sa pwet decided to go on a quick vacation as well because the weather was perfect for picture taking. No rain until… well, the architectural boat tour a.k.a. the most important tour, lol.
The tallest building there with the two white rods is the Sears Tower!
The Adler Planetarium is the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, opened in 1930.
Then we went to Millennium Park. RED EVERYWHERE! Craziness ensued.
The Heritage, Smurfit Stone Building, One Prudential Plaza, etc.
The Cloud Gate / The Bean by Anish Kapoor! Looks like liquid mercury. Check out that lovely reflection of the city skyline!
Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
Jet lag was starting to take its toll so we walked to a nearby coffee shop for a quick caffeine fix. My mom’s friend’s son recommended a place where a lot of young and hip(ster) people hang out.
I am still dreaming of Intelligentsia Coffee until today. Someone bring me back to Chicago and let’s just hang out here everyday!
Millenium Park Coffee Bar is at 53 and 55 East Randolph, between Michigan and Wabash Avenues. The baristas had funky hairstyles.
Had this nice, simple and epic cup of latte!
We drove around the city some more until my mom’s friend dropped us off at Sears Tower / Willis Tower while they did their own thing. On top of the tower is a skydeck similar to the one in John Hancock Center but before letting you in, they show you a short video presentation about the construction of the building.
In 1973, it was the tallest building in the world, and it held this title for 25 years. Now it is the second tallest building in the US and the eight tallest building in the world.
Thanks Chicago for exceeding my expectations.
And thank you Portillo’s for existing because you made my hungry tummy happy with your Italian beef and hotdogs! NOM
Part 2 soon! Then I’ll probably have 2 posts for New York, 2 posts for Boston, and 1 post for LA. I have 6 of these long travel diaries to go, plus my Taiwan trip with my family and a pending sponsored trip to Lausanne, Switzerland in January (if my visa gets processed in time)! Le excite!